Guenter Eich, Three Seasonal Poems

Bruegel, Winter Landscape

For my northern hemisphere readers, my translations of three seasonal poems by Guenter Eich marking the transition from summer to winter.

[Günter Eich: 1907-1972; first published in 1930 but made a name for himself as a poet after 1945, founding member of influential Gruppe 47; also Sinologist.]

End of a Summer

Who would want to live without the consolation of trees!

How good that they participate in dying!
The peaches have been gathered, the plums are colouring
while under the bridge’s arch time rages.

I entrust my despair to the flock of migrating birds.
Calmly it weighs off its part of eternity.
Its reaches
become visible in the foliage as a dark compulsion,
the movement of its wings colours the fruit.
Patience is now necessary.
Soon bird writing will be deciphered,
under the tongue the taste of the coin.

The Beginning of Cooler Days

In the window autumn grows towards us small,
we’re flooded by river and stars,
what just now was ceiling and light becomes rain
and falls into us, ecstatic and unrestrained.

The moon is washed up to us. It enters
In white bull and fish.
We’re overcome by woods and grass and beasts,
forgotten paths flow into us.

The flood hits us, we’re so to ourselves diminished
that all becomes questionable and full of danger.
Where is it flowing to? If the boat has found us,
what then was real, what wind, what hair?

Brook in December

The green hair of the water plants,
current-combed into
the stone’s brow.
make the water icy.

The lines of the ice edges register disquiet,
the reeds’ fever, the earthquakes of snails.
We await their diagrams.

The oil stain drove down like a boat,
the rod’s shadow forgotten.
Current, the insight of fish –


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 24, 2010.

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