Hans Arp, three poems

Max Ernst, The Fireside Angel (1937)

My translations of three poems by Hans Arp:

Kaspar is dead

Alas our good Kaspar is dead.
Who will now conceal the burning flag in the cloud’s plait and daily darkly trick.
Who will now turn the coffee grinder in the primal barrel.
Who will now entice the idyllic doe from the fossilised bag.
Who will now blow his nose-ships umbrellas wind-udders bee-fathers ozone-spindles and de-bone the pyramids.
Alas alas alas our good Kaspar is dead. Holy smoke Kaspar is dead.
The shmarks clank in heartrending pain in the bell-barns when his given name is uttered. That’s why I continue to sigh his surname Kaspar Kaspar Kaspar.
Why have you left us. Into what form has your beautiful large soul now wandered.
Have you become a star or a chain of water on a hot whirly-gig or an udder of black light or a transparent brick or a moaning drum of the rocky essence.
Now our tops and toes are drying out and the fairies lie half-burned on the pyre.
Now the black bowling alley is thundering behind the sun and no one winds up the compasses and barrow wheels anymore.
Who now eats at the lonely barefoot table with the phosphorescent rat.
Who now chases away the Sirokkoko devil when he seeks to seduce the horses.
Who now explains the stars’ monograms.
His bust shall garnish the mantelpieces of all the truly noble but that is no consolation and snuff for a skull.

My Own Face

In the twilit grey streets
grey masses marched up and down.
They hummed and psalmed like samovars.
I could no longer recognise
any particulars.
Then they dissolved
and became a grey space.
The space seemed to be a wide, endless passage
becoming ever darker in the distance,
sinking into the deep, the inner.
I slept and awoke
and already while asleep busy
with unpacking grey eggs from inconspicuous grey dice.
Once such an egg dropped from my hands,
fell to the ground and broke,
and from inside rolled out a myriad of small grey dice
covered with colourful, sparkling dreams.
At a dark window pane I saw my own face
pressed against the glass
watching myself with interest.

Second Hand

that I when I
one and two is
that I when I
three and four is
that I when I
what does it say
that I when I
ticks and tocks it
that I when I
five and six is
that I when I
seven and eight is
that I when I
if it stops it
that I when I
if it goes it
that I when I
nine and ten it
that I when I
eleven and twelve it.

[Hans Arp: 1887- 1966, French-German poet and artist, member of the expressionist Der Blaue Reiter in pre-Great War Munich and founded the Dadaist Cabaret Voltaire 1916 in Zurich with Ball, Tzara, Janco and Huelsenbeck.]


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on October 2, 2010.

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