Static Poems
Deafness to imperatives
is profundity in the wise man,
children and grandchildren
don't bother him,
don't alarm him.

To represent a particular outlook,
to act,
to travel hither and yon
are all signs of a world
that doesn't see clearly.
In front of my window
--- wise man says ---
is a valley
where shadows pool,
two poplars mark a path,
leading you will know where to.

is another word for stasis:
you draw lines,
they ramify
like a creeper ---
tendrils explode ---
and they disburse crows in swarms
in the winter red of early dawns

then let them settle ---

you will know --- for whom.

§   §   §

Feel it --- but remember, millennia have felt it ---
the sea and the beasts and the mindless stars
wrestle it down today as ever ---

think it --- but remember, the most exalted
are wallowing in their own bow-wave,
are no more than the yellow of the buttercup,
while other colors too play their game ---

remember and endure the hour,
there was never one like it, all are like it,
people and angels and cherubim,
black-winged, bright-eyed,
none was yours ---
was ever yours.

--- Gottfried Benn (1886 - 1956)
Michael Hofmann, Translator
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