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This poem is taken from PN Review 184, Volume 35 Number 2, November - December 2008.

Three Poems (translated by Christopher Middleton) Wulf Kirsten

Translator's Note : Born in 1934 at Klipphausen, near Meissen, Wulf Kirsten was until 1989 a citizen of the DDR. He was in business, a book-keeper, and a construction worker before returning to school and eventually studying for a degree in pedagogy at Leipzig. He then became a school teacher, but, later, an editor at the (formerly East) Berlin publishers, Aufbau Verlag. Between 1970 and 2004 he published seven collections of poems; there are also prose volumes (1998, 2000, 2003). His writings are said to be in a broad line continuing principally through Peter Huchel and Johannes Bobrowski; some poems entail a treasury of neglected rustic words. I follow Kirsten's rather eccentric punctuation and rejection of capital letters except when confusion might have occurred.


the country house of carl maria von weber (1973)

faded in the boxwood rondel a balmy stillness.
a travelling rug enwraps the traceries of shade.
through the maze of topmost fruit-tree boughs
a pellucid Oberon light glides towards the Elbe.

stone spheres not at all to be outdone
by the winging vocals of a country summer
at the foot of hilly vineyards: far from town.
only the memory of the grotto was not dimmed.

breakfast was served behind curtains of ivy,
the bill of fare by and large composed
to suit the throat and quite poetic.
joys of the holiday table mid bushes of green.

the fresco of flowers, hushed tendrils of vine
as they reflect a brief summer's seclusion in happiness,
...


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