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This poem is taken from PN Review 10, Volume 6 Number 2, November - December 1979.

from 'Lazarus' (translated by Alistair Elliot) Heinrich Heine

7. Imperfection
Nothing is perfect in this world. The rose
Keeps company with thorns, and I suppose
Even the angels in the highest places
Are not immaculate, though full of graces.

The tulip lacks a scent. Rhinelanders say
Honest John stole a sucking-pig one day.
If Lucrece hadn't stabbed herself so fast
She might have found she had a child at last.

The proudest peacock has disgusting feet.
The wittiest woman, though she's always sweet,
Can sometimes bore us - like the Henriad
(Voltaire) or Klopstock's epic (good, but bad).

The smartest cow's a flop at Spanish, dumb
As Massmann is at Latin. The stone bum
Of Canova's Venus has too much patina:
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