Monday, August 9, 2021



This is my cap,

this is my coat,

here's my shaving gear

in a linen sack.

A can of rations:

my plate, my cup,

I've scratched my name

in the tin.

Scratched it with this

valuable nail

which I hide

from avid eyes.

In the foodsack is

a pair of wool socks

and something else that I

show to no one,

it all serves as a pillow

for my head at night.

The cardboard here lies

between me and the earth.

The lead in my pencil

I love most of all:

in the daytime it writes down

the verses I make at night.

This is my notebook,

this is my tarpaulin,

this is my towel,

this is my thread.


Gunter Eich

Valuable Nail

translated from the German by

Stuart Friebert, David Young & David Walker

Field, 1981