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Enzensberger: Don’t read poetry, my son June 29, 2011

Posted by anagasto in poetry.
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In Germany it is  included in schoolbook anthologies. The poet is hugely popular

Don’t read poetry, my son; read the timetables
For they are more exact. Roll up the maps of the sea
Before it is too late. Be alert, don’t sing.

The day will come when they will again nail lists
To the door and paint hooks on the breasts of those who say no.
Learn how to remain unknown, learn more than I:
Change your address, your passport, your face.

Those encyclica are useful to start a fire
Or to wrap up butter for the defenseless and salt.
Anger and patience are needed
To blow dust into the lungs of power ….

The fine lethal dust ground by you and by those
Who have learnt a lot, who are exact – like you.

vergissmeinnicht fressen

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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Lies keine oden, mein sohn, lies die fahrpläne:
sie sind genauer. roll die seekarten auf,
eh es zu spät ist. sei wachsam, sing nicht.

der tag kommt, wo sie wieder listen ans tor
schlagen und malen den neinsagern auf die brust
zinken. lern unerkannt gehn, lern mehr als ich:
das viertel wechseln, den paß, das gesicht.

Complete text in German

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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Wikipedia biography at http://tinyurl.com/de39kt

soll der geier vergissmeinicht fressen?
was verlangt ihr vom schakal,
dass er sich häute, vom wolf? soll
er sich selber ziehen die zähne?
was gefällt euch nicht
an politruks und an päpsten,
was guckt ihr blöd aus der wäsche
auf den verlogenen bildschirm?

Is the vulture to feed on daisies?
Would you expect the chacal or the wolf  to change his skin?
and the last two lines very freely translated are:
what about your stupid faces watching the mendacious screen?

It is so rude that the effect is almost funny, mainly because those of the stupid faces are so many that statistically speaking, imagine, since Enzensberger is so popular, among them would be his readers.

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Comments»

1. Peter Lustig - January 22, 2009

That’s great,I really like the depth of your poem & highly entertaining and meaningful.While my knowledge about poetry is not the greatest, I really have a thing for classic German Poetry and Writers.

2. cantueso - January 22, 2009

!!!

I hope you don’t think it is by me! And I am not sure what you mean by “classic”. Enzensberger wrote this about 50 years ago.

3. shivya - January 22, 2009

Brilliant poem. Thanks for the translation :)


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