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This poem is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

Twelve Poems Jakob van Hoddis

Jakob van Hoddis (the quasi-anagrammatical pseudonym of Hans Davidsohn) tends to get cast as a one-poem poet because the prototypical Expressionist text Weltende (End of the World) (1911) has been so widely anthologized. This selection aims to suggest that the author, who was deported and liquidated some time during 1942 at the age of 55, does have his own - post-Heinean, pre-Celanian - world.

* * *


The hats fly off the bourgeois' pointed heads;
Air everywhere echoes with shrill ado;
Thatchers come crashing down and snap in two;
The floodtide's rising on the coasts - one reads.

The storm's upon us, savage oceans skip
Ashore to crush wall after massive wall.
Most people have a headcold; noses drip.
And, from the bridges, inter-cities fall.


In nought-league boots we plod home, stricken, old;
The garish, yellow night's ceased blossoming.
We see that up above the street-lamps - cold,
Dark-blue - the sky is glowing, menacing.

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