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This poem is taken from PN Review 31, Volume 9 Number 5, May - June 1983.

Two Poems Gottfried Benn

FINIS POLONIAE

Finis Poloniae
a turn of speech
which, apart from its historical context,
means the end of powerful empires.

An atmosphere bewitched.
Everyone choking with anguish.
The air a hybrid-its one thought, if it had any,
of monsoon, European
and yellow seas.

Greatness bears the seed of its own destruction,
and utters its last words to itself:
an alien song, mostly mistaken
or tolerated now and then.

Finis Poloniae.
One rainy day perhaps, not over popular
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