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Answer

by Peter Huchel

 

translated from the German by Joel Spector


Between two nights
the brief day.
The farm is there.
And in the thicket, a snare
the hunter set for us.

Noon’s desert.
It still warms the stone.
Chirping in the wind,
buzz of a guitar
down the hillside.

The slow match
of withered foliage
glows against the wall.
Salt-white air.
Fall’s arrowheads,
the crane’s migration.

In bright tree limbs
the tolling hour has faded.
Upon their clockwork
spiders lay
the veils of dead brides.

 

Peter Huchel was born in Lichterfelde, near Berlin, in 1903, and died at Staufen, in 1981. Following his release from a Soviet war prison he returned to East Germany, where he served as editor of Sinn und Form until forced to resign by the East German authorities for his objections to party interference in editorial policy. Thereafter, he lived under house arrest, unable to work or publish in his own country, until he was allowed to emigrate to the West in 1971. One of twentieth-century Germany’s greatest poets, the author of verse plays and the recipient of many honors, he is not well known in the United States. (10/2004)

Joel Spector has translated the work of Peter Huchel, Yvan Goll, and other modern German poets for over twenty years. He is currently finishing a selection of Huchel’s later poetry and is at work on a translation of the poems of Johannes Bobrowski’s Wetterzeichen. He is a rare book and paper conservator living in Portland, Maine. (10/2004)


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