Sunday, February 26, 2012


Gottfried Benn
translated from the German by Michael Hofmann

One says: please no inner life,
manners by all means, but nothing affective,
that's no compensation
for the insufferable
difficulties of outward-directed expression—
those cerebralized

when my little prince
pokes his chubby little legs through the bars of his cot
it melts my heart, it was like that with Otto Ernst,
and it's no different now

the contraries are not easy to reconcile
but when you survey the provinces
the inner life
has it by a neck.


dan said...

from Poetry magazine (March 2012)

tracey said...

I just came here looking for some discussion on this poem.

Did you realise that in the last line you have used "the neck" not "a neck" as it appears in the translation?

I find this alters the meaning entirely! The neck of what? I would be really interested to know how you read this…