Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
If it were not for Carcanet, my library would be unbearably impoverished.
Louis de Bernieres

Shadow Lands

Selected Poems

Johannes Bobrowski

Translated by Matthew Mead and Ruth Mead

No Text
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (208 pages)
(Pub. Jun 1997)
Out of Stock
Hardback (208 pages)
(Pub. Jun 1997)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author


    Drifting down with the rafts,
    in the lighter grey of the strange
    shore, in a
    splendour, which withdraws, in the grey
    of slanting surfaces, light
    shot at us from mirrors.

    The Baptist’s head
    lay on its torn brow,
    a hand with loose bluish
    nails clawing
    the ragged hair.

    When I loved you, restless
    your heart, the food on the beating
    fire, your mouth, which opened,
    open, the river
    was a rain and flew
    with the herons, leaves
    fell and filled its bed.

    We bent over numbed
    fish, the cricket’s song,
    clad in scales, crossed
    the sand from the foliage
    of the bank, we had come
    to sleep, Noman
    circled the bed, Noman
    extinguished the mirrors, Noman
    will wake us
    in our time.

    Translated by Ruth and Matthew Mead

    In the four years between the appearance of his first collection of poems in 1961 and his death at the age of forty-eight, Johannes Bobrowski gained lasting international recognition as the outstanding East German poet of his time. He received major literary awards for his poetry and fiction in Austria, Switzerland, East and West Germany. The first selection of his poems in English translation – Shadow Land, 1966 – was greeted with enthusiasm by critics and readers alike, and was rapidly reprinted. A second selection, From the Rivers, appeared in 1975.

    Shadow Lands demonstrates the range of Bobrowski’s poetic achievement by bringing together all the poems which Ruth and Matthew Mead have been able to translate. It revises and consolidates their earlier selections, adding some fifty new poems. Michael Hamburger discusses the background and special qualities of Bobrowski’s work in his introductory essay.
    Johannes Bobrowski
    Johannes Bobrowski was born in 1917 in Tilsit, East Prussia, the son of a German railwayman. He was conscripted at the outbreak of war in 1939. He began to write poetry on the Eastern Front in 1941, and was a prisoner of war in Russia from 1945 until 1949. He lived ... read more
    Matthew Mead
    Matthew Mead (1924–2009) was born in Slapton, Buckinghamshire. He served in the British army from 1942 to 1947, including three years in India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Singapore. He edited the poetry magazine Satis . From 1962 he lived in Germany and, with his wife Ruth, translated many German poets, ... read more
    Ruth Mead
    Ruth Mead has translated the work of several German poets together with her husband, the late Matthew Mead. They include Horst Bienek – who shared a Penguin Modern European Poets selection with Bobrowski in 1971 – Heinz Winfried Sabais ( The People and the Stones ), Nelly Sachs and Johannes Bobrowski ... read more
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog Jenny King: Moving Day read more Iain Crichton Smiths New Music: John Greening read more John Gallas: The Extasie read more Roped to Catullus: Isobel Williams read more New Poetries VIII: Vahni Capildeo on Padraig Regan read more Louise Glck: On Realism read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2021 Carcanet Press Ltd