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Not Orpheus: Selected Poems

Ernst Meister

Translated by Richard Dove

Cover Picture of Not Orpheus: Selected Poems
Categories: 20th Century, German
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Deep in his sleep Man crosses yellow legs.
    He kneels on the profound floor of his mouth.
    A sombre eye dreams up a sombre body.
    His head, upturned, revolves round in a dream.
    His dreams dream groundless dreams dream groundless sooth.
     

    from `L'Homme machine bleue II'

                  
    Ernst Meister, described by Walter Jens as `the tenderest epic poet
    imaginable
    ', was an outsider, out of step from the start, publishing his first book months before the Nazis came to power. After the war he re-emerged, writing runic verse in the teeth of a Brechtian orthodoxy that emphasised relevance and political definition. He defied the trends of the 1960s and early 1970s, preferring to refine and deepen his explorations. His philosophical concerns are never abstract: the paradoxes of Heidegger, the challenges of Nietzsche, are urgently real. His integrity recalls the very different struggle of Paul Celan.
    `We're shoes that do not fit God's feet,' he says. God may be dead, but his shadow moves on Meister's world and fans the embers that the poet tends.
    Ernst Meister
    ERNST MEISTER (1911-1979) was born in Hagen, Westphalia, and lived there until his death. He studied theology, philosophy and German, serving as a soldier in the war, mainly in Italy. He devilled in his father's factirt before becoming a freelance writer in 1960. His first collection appeared as early as 1932. ... read more
    Richard Dove
    Richard Dove was born in 1954 in Bath. He read Modern Languages at Oxford (D.Phil. on the late romantic poet August von Platen) and lectured in German and English at the Universities of Exeter, Regensburg and Wales before moving to Munich in 1987. His publications include one book of German poems ... read more
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