Thursday, 3 September 2009
70 years on from World War II (Georg Trakl)
Molotov, Dulles and the poet at the end of the war
Bloggers like Weaver of Grass are remembering that it's exactly 70 years today since Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war with Germany.
The poem chosen to mark this date is one from the so-called Great War and is by the Austrian poet Georg Trakl who died following a complete nervous breakdown on witnessing the terrible scenes on the eastern front as a medical orderly.
In the following translation I've taken a few liberties to make the English version of the poem stronger than it would otherwise be. Trakl held back. A sensitive man, I feel he knew the breakdown was imminent.
In the East
Wild organs in the winter storm,
the dark pains of the people,
the purple surge of battle,
the fallen leaves and stars.
Broken browed and silver armed
night hauls the dying soldiers.
In the shadow of the autumn ash
the deafeated spirit sighs.
Thorny wildness grips the town.
On bleeding steps the moon
pursues the frightened woman.
Wild wolves break down the doors.
Georg Trakl (1887-1914)
(translation / gw 3 Sept 2009)
Den wilden Orgeln des Wintersturms
Gleicht des Volkes finstrer Zorn,
Die purpurne Woge der Schlacht,
Mit zerbrochnen Brauen, silbernen Armen
Winkt sterbenden Soldaten die Nacht.
Im Schatten der herbstlichen Esche
Seufzen die Geister der Erschlagenen.
Dornige Wildnis umgürtet die Stadt.
Von blutenden Stufen jagt der Mond
Die erschrockenen Frauen.
Wilde Wölfe brachen durchs Tor.