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This review is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING GEORG HEYM, Poems (bilingual edition). Translated and introduced by Antony Hasler (Libris) £14.05 pb, £30.00 hb

This is the final volume in a series devoted to Georg Heym (1887-1912): first a biography, Poet of Expressionist Berlin, by Patrick Bridgwater (1991), then The Thief and Other Stories translated by Susan Bennett (1994), and now the first collection in English translation of Heym's poems - 74 in all. (Heym wrote several hundred but most of these were teenage explorations.)

Heym's death was a horror. He was out skating on the river Havel in Berlin with his best friend who fell through the ice and disappeared. Fishermen on a distant shore heard Heym shout for help and saw his tiny black figure gesturing. Then he too disappeared. The shouts continued for half an hour as he clung to the edge of the ice where he was found later. His friend happened to be a mediocre poet. Heym knew, unaffectedly, that he was already a 'great' poet. He wrote when he was 22: 'I believe my greatness lies in this, I have realised there is not much onething- after-another ["Nacheinander"]. Most lies in a plane. It is all a one-thing-beside-another ["ein Nebeneinander"].' He was not interested in cause. His vision was of a timeless world.

Heym was in some ways not unlike his British contemporaries, Brooke, Sassoon and Graves (though eight years younger) who similarly despised their nineteenth-century fathers (Heym's was a Prussian military lawyer), whether they were amiable or not, for what they stood for - as in Samuel Butler's The Way of ...

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