Tuesday, 3 February 2009

From Thomas Bernhard's Under the Iron Moon (part 2)

Here's the second Poet-in-Residence poem newly translated from Thomas Bernhard's collection Unter dem Eisen des Mondes as part of the ongoing Thomas Bernhard (20th anniversary of his death) tribute. Once again, it must be stressed that these Poet-in-Residence translations aim to capture the spirit and finesse of Bernhard rather than word-for-exact-word.
Bernhard was nothing if not dramatic, nothing if not musical, nothing if not theatrical, nothing if not deep-thinking.
Seeking after the truth we must find the subtle and hidden notes and cogitate at length to find the way to bring them out.

Speak grass

Speak grass, yell my words to the sky;
From wooden stake to wooden stake and over roots
The wind's red and yellow brothers leap.

Hear how the brushwood burns and smoke shoots
Through the moist mouths and gaps,
Hear the cry of the dead in the poisonous stems and tops;
Poisoned are the umbels and the laments.

The sickly mother sits in the tree and cries,
And counts the tears as if in paradise,
A thousand strings are stretched over the wood
From my breast to the face of the sun.

Translated 3rd Feb 2009
Gwilym Williams


  1. Lovely.Thanks Gwilym,
    Chris Major

  2. Many thanks these comments and much appreciated,
    Gwilym Williams

  3. It's wonderful waking up each mornng to read such beautiful work. Thank you.

  4. Superb stuff - I love the way the words just roll off the tongue - they are beautiful in themselves without thinking of the meaning - would they roll off the tongue the same in the original language?

  5. Cathy, Thank you, I hope to put up more of Thomas Bernhard's poems in the next few days, and also some other stuff, as I will be attending 2 or 3 of the events being held in his honour.

  6. Weaver,
    the poem I've titled Speak Grass starts like this:
    Sprich Gras, schrei in den Himmel mein Wort,
    von Pflock zu Pflock und über die Wurzeln
    springen des Windes rote und gelbe Brüder.
    - so I would say, Yes, they do!


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