That Old Feeling

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German) 

Erich Heckel, Still Life with Wooden Figure, 1913The first time that I thought to die
–I still recall the scene–
I died with so much skill and grace
In Hamburg, just the perfect place,
And I was just eighteen.

And when I died the second time,
It filled my heart with woe
That I could leave you nothing more
Than just my heart, laid at your door,
And footprints, red in snow.

And when I died the third time,
I hardly felt the pain;
Familiar as my toast and tea,
Like an old shoe, is death to me.
I needn’t die again.

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Against Alphabet Picture Books, the Gods Themselves Contend in Vain

abc2 Capture

Alphabet books – cease doing!
Everybody’s fails, goes headlong into
jangling, klanging lines.
Meaning no offense, please quit.
Readers’ll say thanks, ultimately.

Very warmly,

XXX,

Yours —

Zeus

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In Memoriam (two translations from the English)

Dear reader, I’m curious: of the versions below, which do you prefer (if either), and why?

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I.

They built a grand monument to the dead
And the place where the stone was quarried
Soon filled up with rainwater
And the young couples would meet there.

II.

Built to commemorate the dead
This palace stands, untenanted.

By the still pool in the quarry pit
The lovers sometimes come to sit.

 

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