Hugo Ball, The Sun

Hugo Ball at the Dadaist Cabaret Voltaire 1916

My translation of Hugo Ball’s The Sun:

Between my eyelids a pram is moving.
Between my eyelids there’s a man walking a poodle.
A clump of trees becomes a knot of snakes and hisses to heaven.
A stone holds a speech. Trees on green fire. Fleeing islands.
Swaying and shell noise and fish head as on the ocean floor.

My legs are stretched out to the horizon. A royal coach cracks
Over them. My boots loom up the horizon like the towers of a
Sinking city. I’m Goliath the giant. I digest goat cheese.
I’m a little mammoth calf. Green grass-hedgehogs sniff at me.
Grass arches green swords and bridges and rainbows across my belly.

My ears are giant pink shells, totally open. My body is expanding
With sounds that have been caught there. I hear the whingeing
Of great Pan. I hear the vermillion music of the sun.
It is standing in the upper left corner.
The bits spray vermillion out into the world night.
If it falls it will squash the city and church steeples
And all the front yards full of crocus and hyacinths, and will produce a sound
Like the tin of children’s trumpets.

But in the air there’s an adversarial inter-blowing of purple and egg yellow
And bottle green: swings firmly holding on to an orange fist with long threads,
And there’s a singing from bird throats hopping over twigs.
A very tender pole arrangement of children’s flags.

Tomorrow the sun will be loaded onto a large-wheeled cart
And driven to the Caspari art gallery. A negro with the head of a beast
And bulging neck, distended nostrils and wide gait will hold fifty whitely
Itching donkeys hitched to the cart during the building of the pyramids.

A heap of blood-colourful people will stack up: female child cribbers and wet nurses,
Sick people in a lift, a stalking crane, two female St Vitus dancers,
A gent with a rep bow tie and a redly aromatic cop.

I can’t contain myself: I’m blissed out. The window crosses
Are exploding. A child nanny is hanging out of a window up to her navel. I can’t help it: the domes are exploding with organ fugues.
I want to create a new sun. I want to crash two together
Like cymbals and reach out a hand to my lady. We shall float off
In a violet sedan chair over the roofs of your
Light yellow town like tissue paper lamp shades in a migratory wind.

[Hugo Ball 1886-1927, as a dramaturge part of early expressionism in Munich, then co-founder of the Dadaist Club Voltaire in Zurich 1916 with Arp, Tzara, Janco and Huelsenbeck, later return to a mystical Catholicism; ‘The Sun’ was written in 1914]


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 18, 2010.

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