The crows all night

(after Li Po)

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And the crows
flew out of the storm
and took their places
among the branches;

and the sun
at the world’s edge
broke through the clouds;

and she paused at her loom,
the cawing of the crows reminding her
that she was alone,
the jaundiced light
reminding her how far behind
was her home by Qin River.

The mist-green thread she wove
had neither beginning nor end.

The crows called all night long
while the rain fell like her tears.

 

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Post-Script (Anno 1945)

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German)

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I’ve traveled far in thirteen years –
Although what I looked for was hardly romantic;
But without any taste for new frontiers
Still I seem to have crossed the Atlantic.

All that I had, I’ve left behind
But the moment I look around, I find
I’ve a child like the one my parents knew:
His parents are immigrants, through and through.

My son writes “ALIEN” – learning to spell.
He tells me, “Don’t speak German, dear.”
He’s eight. He wants to know, as well,
Is it “all right” not to be from here?

Just what I once asked Rector May!
And like me, too, in another way:
For he’s sure that peace will come to stay
Once the stupid War has gone away.

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Interview with Myself (Anno 1932)

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German)

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In the talkative town where I made my debut
My parents were immigrants, through and through.
We had a church, a doctor or two,
And a loony bin with a lovely view.

My favorite word as a child was “NO.”
If I made Mother happy, it didn’t show.
And thinking back to that long-ago
I wouldn’t wish my own child so.

The Great War found me under the sway
Of the parish school and Rector May,
And thinking that peace would come to stay
If only the War would go away.

Well, I entered the academic race
And the teachers were pleased at my rapid pace –
Despite my having not a trace
Of Nordic hair or an Aryan face –

At graduation, Teacher said
We were all so smart, and so well-bred,
We could go forth, work hard, get ahead.
But I took an office job instead.

I work eight hours of every day
And my duties are light, but so’s my pay;
And at night I while the time away
With poetry – to Dad’s dismay.

I love to brave the wilderness
Of maps, and wander, bodiless;
Still there are days, I must confess
I sometimes wish for happiness.

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