Category Archives: German Matters

German places and poetry and my humble attempts at translation- oh and yes, politics!

Herbstwanderung

Herbstwanderung

Golden und rot leuchtende Blätter
in tief stehender Sonne.
Farben explodieren
verschwenderisch
trunken
vergehend.

Reife Früchte
Beeren unbekannten Namens
aromatische Fülle
Ahnung von Fäulnis.

Vögel sammeln sich
Kraniche ziehen
Wespen umsummen das Obst
Waldtiere bereiten sich vor.

Altweiberfäden zeigen sich
in schrägen Sonnenstrahlen,
auf Spinnweben glitzern Tautropfen,
ein Blatt dreht sich herabfallend
in seiner farbigen Schönheit.

Es riecht feucht
intensiv
erdig
nach Pilzen
nassem Holz
Tannennadeln
sich zersetzenden Blättern
Wildschweinen.
Dieser Geruch:
unvergesslich
Heimat.

Ich sammle bunte Zweige
die letzten Blüten
Äste mit Beeren
anmutige Gräser –
sie werden das Zimmer schmücken.

Bald sind die Zweige kahl,
tragen die Äste nur noch sich selbst
die Gräser hängen,
sie haben ihre Schönheit überlebt.
Die Vase bleibt leer.

Bald wird der weich-feuchte Waldboden
frosthart
Schnee bedeckt die abgestorbenen Blätter.
Die große Stille zieht ein.

Text from Renate Augenstein

Lazy Days -Listening to the Radio and Podcasts

It is a time when political matters appear to be quite falling apart as the boring pedantic  Johnson  scrabbles his way to power. The badly led opposition seems occupied in necessary self-immolation.Consequently, everyone needs some relief from the current tedium and the dear old Radio Times proves useful as it suggests highly interesting programmes in odd recherche places.

New angles on post-war Germany and Austria

proved to be one such opportunity and last night’s programme compared by the heyzerik  but delightful  Anne McElvoy with Florian Huber, Sophie Hardach, Adam Scovell and Tom Smith have produced a very interesting programme. If you have time, you will find it at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0006sjx

Thefull  details are at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006sjx-

Among the topics discussed is the work of the great Austrian novelist and prize-winner, Thomas Bernhard

Image result for thomas bernhard

The programme includes Bernhard’s account of his days in the Cafe Braunerhof.

Image result for cafe braunerhof vienna

 

.The following 1948nEast German poster sets the tone of the programme too.https://www.reddit.com/r/PropagandaPosters/duplicates/2znorc/this_east_german_postwar_poster_shows_how_the/

For anyone interested in literary podcasts and programmes, the following link may prove of use-

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2019/feb/the-best-literary-podcasts-for-book-lovers/

 

 

The ingenious poetry of Szymborska

I love these lines from this Polish Nobel Prize-winning poet, Wislawa  Symborska:-

“We stand in the meadow where it became flesh,
and the meadow is silent as a false witness.
Sunny. Green. Nearby, a forest
with wood for chewing and water under the bark-
every day a full ration of the view
until you go blind. Overhead, a bird-
the shadow of its life-giving wings
brushed their lips. Their jaws opened.
Teeth clacked against teeth.
At night, the sickle moon shone in the sky
and reaped wheat for their bread.
Hands came floating from blackened icons,
empty cups in their fingers.” They come from her poem “Some like poetry” which can be read at http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/wislawa_szymborska/poems/11678

Her poems are also available in German from Suhrkamp

Budapest circa 1913 – “Sunset”-a brilliant, intriguing film by László Nemes

One of the better reviews on this film comes from Paul Whitington at https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/movie-reviews/sunset-review-kafkaesque-melodramatic-enthralling-38163466.html where he writes:-

Laszlo Nemes’ sumptuously photographed drama is set in 1913 in Budapest, where the existential anxieties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are embodied in the slender form of Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab), a young woman with a dark past.

She bears the name of the city’s most stylish hat store, Leiter’s: her parents died there in a fire when she was two, and Irisz was raised elsewhere but now returns, looking for work, and answers.

Instead she finds secrets, a wall of silence, and dark rumours about a murderous brother she never knew she had.

Full of dark portents of the continental carnage to come, Sunset is Kafkaesque, melodramatic, enthralling.”

This is not an easy film to understand and it certainly is not in the usual genre of an historical film. Much is about the contrast between the superficial elegance and the arduous and dangerous conflicts beneath this attractive outward view. However, it has to be said that I very much enjoyed the visual presentation of the surface; the milliner’s store with its stupendous colourful hats and the horse drawn carriages. History crept in when a news-vendor announces that the Austro-Hungarian empire is to launch another battleship- jogging the memory that this primarily land locked empire held a port at Trieste. As I have yet to visit Budapest, although I have visited both Vienna and Bratislava, this area intrigues me. This point in time too is the subject to much of the concerns of the novels of Joseph Roth and the magnificent films of that other brilliant Hungarian director, from a previous generation, stván Szabó. Also, for good measure, the Empress Sisi arrives from Vienna in a somewhat grumpy personification. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archduchess_Elisabeth_Marie_of_Austria

Image result for laszlo nemes sunset

In thinking about this film, I remembered that the famous psychoanalyist, Melanie Klein was living in Budapest at this time. She received her psychoanalytic education with Sándor Ferenczi in Budapest during World War I. She specialized in his advice in child analysis and became one of the first in this field. I mention this because much of the film really deals with states of mind like confusion, exclusion and certain feminist attitudes. It is interesting to see what the film is saying about issues in the contemporary world and in its concentration upon one individual’s perceptions and their attempts to understand relationships with siblings, we seem to be in territory where Klein’s work is uniquely valuable. Here is her photograph wearing an elegant hat.

Image result for Melanie Klein in Budapest

A slideshow of Klein’s life and theories may be found at https://slideplayer.com/slide/6193313/

 

Watching this film, one is reminded that the film-maker has stated that he has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick and indeed some of the themes do seem rather similar to those Kubrick examines in “91/2 Weeks”. This latter film was an adaptation, of course, of Arthur Schnitzler’s  “Traumnovelle” (Dream Story” but without the anti-anti-Semitic aspects of the earlier work which seems based upon Viennese secret societies. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/24/alternative-ending-discovered-to-book-behind-eyes-wide-shut  

 

 

 

Der September-Kästner

“Der September

Das ist ein Abschied mit Standarten
aus Pflaumenblau und Apfelgrün.
Goldlack und Astern flaggt der Garten,
und tausend Königskerzen glühn.

Winsculpture-Tremenheere- September 2018

Das ist ein Abschied mit Posaunen,
mit Erntedank und Bauernball.
Kuhglockenläutend ziehn die braunen
und bunten Herden in den Stall.

Das ist ein Abschied mit Gerüchen
aus einer fast vergessenen Welt.
Mus und Gelee kocht in den Küchen.
Kartoffelfeuer qualmt im Feld.

Das ist ein Abschied mit Getümmel,
mit Huhn am Spieß und Bier im Krug.
Luftschaukeln möchten in den Himmel.
Doch sind sie wohl nicht fromm genug.

Die Stare gehen auf die Reise.
Altweibersommer weht im Wind.
Das ist ein Abschied laut und leise.
Die Karussells drehn sich im Kreise.
Und was vorüber schien, beginnt.”

(Aus: Kästner, DIE DREIZEHN MONATE)

Well here is a rough translation by a good friend.
It´s September

This is a farewell with flags
coloured plum-blue and apple-green.
The garden is flagging wallflowers and asters,
and thousand mulleins glow.

This is a farewell with trombones,
with guldize and farmers´ ball.
Tolling their cowbells the brown
and colourful herds are stable bound.

This is a farewell with scents
of a long forlorn world.
Jams and Jellies simmer in the kitchens.
Potato fire smoulders in the field.

This is a farewell with turmoil,
with chicken on skewer and beer in jug.
Swingboats want to go to heaven
But they might not be piously enough.

The starlings start their journey.
Gossamer waves in the wind.
This is farewell noisy and gentle.
The merry-go-rounds are spinning in circles.
And what seemed past, starts.