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This poem is taken from PN Review 113, Volume 23 Number 3, January - February 1997.

Five Poems (translated by Michael Hamburger) Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Translated by Michael Hamburger


Privileged Instructions

It is forbidden to set fire to persons.
It is forbidden to set fire to persons in possession of a valid residence permit.
It is forbidden to set fire to persons not suspected of endangering the constitution and
     security of the German Federal Republic.
It is forbidden to set fire to persons whose behaviour and attitudes are not conducive to that
     suspicion.
More specifically, juveniles, too, who in view of deficient leisure facilities and in ignorance of
     the relevant regulations or because of difficulties of orientation are psychically
     endangered, are not permitted to set fire to persons indiscriminately.
Indeed that course is urgently inadvisable in consideration of the German Federal Republic's
     reputation abroad.
It is not seemly.
It is not usual.
...


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