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This review is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

LEAVE-TAKING Günter Grass, Die Rättin (Luchterhand) 39DM

Although it does not occur until Chapter 4 and (and p. 115) of Günter Grass's book Die Rättin, the translated poem (below) announces and summarizes its themes like an overture, and could well have been the nucleus of the whole work.


I dreamed that I must take leave
of all the things that surrounded me
and cast their shadows: all those possessive
pronouns. And of the inventory, list
of diverse things found. Take leave
of the wearying odours,
smells, to keep me awake, of sweetness,
of bitterness, of sourness per se
and the pepper-corn's fiery sharpness.
Take leave of time's tick-tock, of Monday's
  annoyance,
Wednesday's shabby gains, of Sunday
and its treacheries, as soon as boredom sits down.
Take leave of all deadlines: of what in the future
is to be due.

I dreamed that of every idea, whether stillborn
or live, of the sense that looks
for the sense behind sense,
and of the long distance runner hope as well
I must take leave. Take leave of the compound interest
of saved-up fury, the proceeds of stored dreams,
of all that's written on paper, recalled as analogy
when horse and rider became a memorial. Take leave
of all the images men have made for themselves.
Take leave of the song, rhymed belly-aching, and of
voices that interweave, that ...


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