Five Poems

Günter Eich

translated by Michael Hofmann

Report from a Spa

I haven’t tried the water yet,
that can wait.
But the redecorated station
implies future,
which makes me mulish.

Corpuscle count and forest ozone,
suspicion of the spa doctors.
Nature
is a form of negation.
Better to stick to
the ditties in the spa newsletter.

Brothers Grimm

Nettlebush.
The burnt children
Wait behind the cellar windows.
Their parents have gone out,
saying they will be back soon.

First came the wolf,
bringing rolls,
the hyena wanted to borrow a garden fork,
the scorpion came for the TV guide.

Without flames
the nettlebush burns outside.
Their parents
are gone a long time.

Perspective from the Spezial-Keller

A backdrop for my bibulousness
and smoke towards Julia’s sketches,
no fortune
to make me attractive to anyone,
and my friends
have yet to show.

Tips from the Posthumous Papers

Asked after the limekiln:
polecats live there
and kindly girls.

To the scrapheap
the onset of cataracts,
creation right up against
my reading-glasses.

I don’t hear much:
gear changes,
screams for help in silence.

I have always loved nettles,
and only now learned
of their usefulness.

Confined to Bed

Angina days, blue snow,
time tucked away
in cut-out arches,
time is blue, time is snow,
red sleeves, black hat,
time is a yellow woman.

Angina days, Swiss,
blue Devon,
black Cambrium,
commedia dell’arte time,
slipper red and Silurian red,
wall map of England yellow and time.

Angina days, blue Kent,
time so yellow that none
can tell it, a black index finger
protrudes from a blue glove
and points you the way home
along the red wall.