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Selected Poems and Prose

Gottfried Benn

Edited by David Paisey

Translated by David Paisey

Selected Poems and Prose by Gottfried Benn
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Categories: 21st Century, German, Translation, War writings
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Nov 2013)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • ‘A Word’

    A word, a sentence – out of ciphers
    climb life untangled, sudden sense,
    the sun stands still, the spheres quieten,
    all things about that point condense.

    A word – a flash, a fire, flamethrower,
    flight, a shooting star of pain –
    then dark inexorably taking over
    in space, the world and self again.
    Gottfried Benn ranks among the most significant German poets of the twentieth century. His early work, with its shockingly graphic depictions of human suffering and degradation, was associated with the Expressionist movement; the overriding theme of his later work was the isolation and fragmentation of the human being adrift in a nihilistic world.

    David Paisey here presents two selections, of verse and prose respectively, from Benn’s large oeuvre, ordered chronologically to enable readers to perceive the developments of Benn’s art and thought. In an important biographical introduction, Paisey tackles the difficult question of Benn’s compliance with the Nazi regime and its impact on his life and work.
    Translator’s Preface
    Biographical Introduction

    Finish / Schluss
    Schöne Jugend / Nice childhood
    Kreislauf / Circulation
    Blinddarm / Appendix
    Mann und Frau gehn durch die Krebsbaracke / Man and woman walk through the cancer shed
    D-Zug / Express
    Nachtcafé / Night café
    Gesänge / Songs
    Da fiel uns Ikarus vor die Füße / Then Icarus
    Untergrundbahn / Underground train
    Englisches Café / English café
    Drohungen / Threats
    Schnellzug / Express-train
    Räuber-Schiller / Robbers-Schiller
    Hier ist kein Trost / No comfort here
    Nachtcafé IV / Night café IV
    O Nacht / O night
    Karyatide / Caryatid
    Durchs Erlenholz kam sie entlang gestrichen / Through the alder wood it was making its way
    Reise / Journey
    Der Arzt / The doctor
    Pappel / Poplar
    Kokain / Cocaine
    Synthese / Synthesis
    Das Instrument / The instrument
    Marie / Marie
    Curettage / Curettage
    Schutt / Rubble
    Palau / Palau
    Trunkene Flut / Drunken flood
    Das späte Ich / The later I
    Staatsbibliothek / State Library
    Nebel / Mists
    Die Dänin / The Danish girl
    Der Sänger / The singer
    Banane / Banana
    Schädelstätten / Golgothas
    Theogonien / Theogonies
    Wer bist du / Who are you
    Schleierkraut / Gypsophila
    Osterinsel / Easter Island
    Orphische Zellen / Orphic cells
    Qui sait / Qui sait
    Sieh die Sterne, die Fänge / Behold the stars
    Was singst du denn / What are you singing?
    Aus Fernen, aus Reichen / From distances, from kingdoms
    Immer schweigender / Ever more silently
    Primäre Tage / Primal days
    Zwei Auszüge aus dem Oratorium ‘Das Unaufhörliche’. Musik von Paul Hindemith. I Lied, II Knabenchor / Two extracts from the oratorio ‘The unceasing’. Music by Paul Hindemith. I Song, II Choirs of men and boys
    Dennoch die Schwerter halten / Hold the swords in defiance
    Am Brückenwehr / On the bridge
    Valse triste / Valse triste
    Tag, der den Sommer endet / Day, when summer ended
    Auf deine Lider senk ich Schlummer / I give your lids the gift of slumber
    Das Ganze / The whole
    Turin / Turin (I)
    Am Saum des nordischen Meers / On the edge of the Baltic Sea
    Einsamer nie / The loneliest time
    Wer allein ist / He who’s alone
    Die Gefährten / The companions
    Du trägst / You bear
    So still / So tranquil
    Wenn dir am Ende der Reise / If at your journey’s limit
    Dann gliederten sich die Laute / Then the sounds created a structure
    Wer Wiederkehr in Träumen weiss / He who dreams the dead recur
    Monolog / Monologue
    Gedichte / Poems
    Verse / Verses
    Ein Wort / A word
    Abschied / Departure
    Verlorenes Ich / Lost I
    Nachzeichnung / A drawing after
    Welle der Nacht / Wave of the night
    V. Jahrhundert / Fifth century
    September / September
    Ach, das ferne Land / Ah, the distant land
    Chopin / Chopin
    Überblickt man die Jahre – / If you survey tradition
    Statische Gedichte / Static poems
    Orpheus’ Tod / The death of Orpheus
    Gewisse Lebensabende / Certain evenings of life
    Kleines süßes Gesicht / Sweet little face
    Du liegst und schweigst und träumst der Stunde nach / You lie in silence
    Acheron / Acheron
    Berlin / Berlin
    Radar / Radar
    Notturno / Notturno
    Der Dunkle / The dark one
    Restaurant / Restaurant
    Was meinte Luther mit dem Apfelbaum? / What did Luther mean by the apple tree?
    Künstlermoral / Artistic ethics
    Reisen / Journeys
    Spät / Late
    Du übersiehst dich nicht mehr / What does your retrospect lack?
    Satzbau / Sentence-construction
    Verhülle dich / Muffle yourself
    Wir ziehn einen großen Bogen / We draw a great arc
    Die Gitter / The barriers
    Verzweiflung III / Despair III
    März. Brief nach Meran / March: letter to Meran
    An – / To –
    Nimm fort die Amarylle / Away with the amaryllis
    Eingeengt / Hemmed in
    Auferlegt / Laid on us
    Was schlimm ist / What’s bad
    Bar / Bar
    Nur zwei Dinge / Only two things
    Melancholie / Melancholy
    In einer Nacht / In a night
    Tristesse / Tristesse
    »Abschluss« / “Closure”
    Kommt / Come
    Worte / Words
    Gedicht / Poem
    Aprèslude / Aprèslude
    Herr Wehner / Herr Wehner
    Kann keine Trauer sein / Can be no mourning
    Wie sehn die Buchen im September aus / How do the beeches look
    Von Bremens Schwesterstadt / From Bremerhaven
    Epilog 1949 / Epilogue 1949

    Brains (Gehirne)
    The birthday (Der Geburtstag)
    Diesterweg (Diesterweg)
    The garden of Arles (Der Garten von Arles)
    an extract from The modern self (Das moderne Ich)
    extracts from Lyric self (Lyrisches Ich)
    How Miss Cavell was shot (Wie Miss Cavell erschossen wurde)
    Primal vision (Urgesicht)
    an extract from On the problems of being a poet (Zur Problematik des Dichterischen)
    an extract from After nihilism (Nach dem Nihilismus)
    extracts from Speech to the Prussian Academy of Arts, 5 April 1932 (Akademierede)
    Eugenics I (Züchtung I)
    Extracts from Expressionism (Der Expressionismus)
    extracts from Mind and soul of future generations (Geist und Seele künftiger Geschlechter)
    an extract from The people and the writer (Das Volk und der Dichter)
    Doric world (Dorische Welt)
    an extract from Writing needs inner latitude (Die Dichtung braucht inneren Spielraum)
    an extract from Pallas (Pallas)
    extracts from On the theme of history (Zum Thema Geschichte)
    three extracts from The phenotype’s novel (Roman des Phänotyp)
    an extract from Marginalia (Marginalien)
    extracts from Double life (Doppelleben)
    extracts from Problems of lyric poetry (Probleme der Lyrik)
    extract from Speech in Darmstadt, 21 October 1951 (Rede in Darmstadt)
    extracts from Speech in Knokke (Rede in Knokke)
    an extract from Should poetry improve life? (Soll die Dichtung das Leben bessern?)

    Index of Poem Titles and First Lines (English)
    Index of Poem Titles and First Lines (German)
    Gottfried Benn
    Gottfried Benn was born on 2 May 1886 in Mansfeld (a village in Westpriegnitz, North Germany). He went to Marburg University to study philology and theology, but after two years changed to the study of military medicine at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Akademie in Berlin. His first small collection of poems, Morgue and Other ... read more
    David Paisey
    David Paisey was educated in Cardiff and London and once met Gottfried Benn in Berlin. Paisey worked as a German specialist in the British Museum Library (later the British Library) where he produced its catalogue of German books of the seventeenth century. ... read more
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