Ernst Jandl, Four Poems

Banksy graffito on Israel's wall

[The following are my translations of four poems by Ernst Jandl (1925-2000, popular Austrian concrete and performance poet. Jandl is best heard in the original German. For examples try:]


Two Kinds of Hand Signals

Before every church

I cross myself.

Before every orchard

I plum myself.

How I do the first:

every catholic knows.

How I do the second:

I alone.



some suppose

reft and light

cannot be


what a brundel!



all those letters

that can’t get out of their words

all those words

that can’t get out of their sentences

all those sentences

that can’t get out of their texts

all those texts

that can’t get out of their books

all those books

covered with all that dust

the good cleaner lady

with the duster


In the Deli

I’ll have a maymeadow marmalade please

a little higher altitude but not too steep

just so you can still sit on it

well, then maybe a snowy slope, deep frozen

no skiers. a pine nicely snowed up

can go with it

no, OK then. let’s see – I see you’ve got hares hanging over there

two, three would do, and of course a hunter

where have you hung the hunters?

MC Escher, Crocodiles

[Still can’t get WordPress to recognise stanza breaks. Most annoying. Have been told: ‘that’s just what happens with HTML sometimes’. Hmm.]


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on June 11, 2010.

5 Responses to “Ernst Jandl, Four Poems”

  1. […] I just found this poem translated into English by Peter Lach – Newinsky in his Word and image lab: […]

  2. i’m lucky to find your translation of Two Kinds of Hand Signals, i posted it on my blog and i link to you:

    thank you very much!

  3. Wonderful poems.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: