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This poem is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

Poems Ernst Meister
Translated from the German by RICHARD DOVE

Ernst Meister, who died in 1979 at the age of sixty-seven, was unknown or underestimated for almost the whole of his life: it is no coincidence that he heard he had been awarded Germany's foremost literary prize, the Georg-Büchner-Preis, only a few hours before his death. Today, thanks mainly to the mediation of a philosopher (Hans-Georg Gadamer) and of a number of fellow poets, he is at last being mentioned in the same breath as Celan, Huchel, Eich and Bobrowski. The following poems derive from Meister's middle period: all were written between 1957 and 1968, 'Precipice', 'Gentle chasm', 'Rubbing its eyes', 'Down with the sun' and 'The cockerel' during an extended stay on a still exotic Ibiza. A different selection from Meister appeared in 1980, in PNReview 18.

Delta region (Deltagebiet)
Silence. Camargue.
The blade can taste salt.
The sea is still giving way.

Ship or sea or horizon,
where are you travelling to?
Horizon, exhorted, and called
in despair, by the towers of fire,
why are you slyly retiring?

Dolphin that in this night
leapt over the edge of the world,
how will I ever reach you?

The captain's/snow-white hair… (Schlohweißes Haar…)
The captain's
...


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