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Another Dawn Watch Song

by Volker Braun

translated from the German by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright

White the forest path icy
dark the underground
where I’m standing
Serene, with quaking body.

Trees lain down
Get up! the bare half-there prisoners

I keep in view

Who are these two in the woods
Ignaz hauls the cart
Martin mumbles:
forget it.

Pushing up the mountain
words and bones
a stone quarry at Weimar
a noble man it was said

Any circumstances which the working hours . . .
must be at an irreducible . . .

to be exact Schiller
SS-First Lieutenant

Do volcanoes
make the mountains
or does the water
assemble them neatly together?

Winterstein, minister at rest
and under boot heels
went, a smoking
over the chain of guards

Or the sea lifts
instead of the fog
Again, my dear fellow, to the slopes—
one more time down the hell!

shalt leave me my earth
And the ovens
in their glow

Life sentence
A grave cloud cover
eerie thickets
you water from veins


Volker Braun (b. 1939), winner in 2000 of the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize, started his career in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) but soon had difficulties with the authorities because he criticized their view of the world from the left (?). His recent books include Tumulus (Burial Mound, Suhrkamp, 1999) and Lustgarten Preußen: Ausgewählte Gedichte (Pleasure Garden Prussia: Selected Poems, Suhrkamp, 2000). He lives in Berlin and also publishes plays and prose.

Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright is a literary translator who lives in Waltham, Mass. She spent a year in Berlin translating work by non-native German authors, and her translations of the German-Turkish poets Zafer Senocak and Zehra Çirak have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Delos, and Dimension2. She recently translated Ernst Peter Fischer’s Beauty and the Beast: The Aesthetic Moment in Science. She works as a German-language financial typesetter. (2000)


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