Saturday, April 25, 2009

Durs Grünbein: 'Consmopolite'


The day after getting back from my longest journey,
I realize I had this traveling business badly wrong.
Penned in an airplane, immobilized for hours on end,
Over clouds that bear the appearance of deserts,
Deserts that bear the appearance of seas, and seas
That are like the blizzards you struggle through,
On your way out of your Halcion-induced stupor,
I see what it means to stumble over the dateline.

The body is robbed of time, and the eyes of rest.
The carefully chosen word loses its locus.
Giddily you juggle the here and the hereinafter,
Keeping several languages and religions up in the air.
But runways are the same gray everywhere, and hospital rooms
The same bright. There in the transit lounge,
Where downtime remains conscious to no end.
The proverb from the bars of Atlantis swims into ken:

Travel is a foretaste of Hell.

Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann. From Ashes for Breakfast, Faber&Faber. (Audio here. MP3).


Von meiner weitesten Reise zurück, anderntags
Wird mir klar, ich verstehe vom Reisen nichts.
Im Flugzeug eingesperrt, stundenlang unbeweglich,
Unter mire Wolken, die aussehn wie Wüsten,
Wüsten, die aussehn wie Meere, und Meere,
Den Schneewehen gleich, durch die man streift
Eeim Erwachen aus der Narkose, sehe ich ein,
Was es heißt, über die Längengrade zu irren.

Dem Körper ist Zeit gestohlen, den Augen Ruhe.
Das genaue Wort verliert seinen Ort. Der Schwindel
Fliegt auf mit dem Taush von Jenseits und Hier
In verschiedenen Religionen, mehreren Sprachen.
Überall sind die Rollfelder gleich grau und gleich
Hell die Krankenzimmer. Dort im Transitraum,
Wo Leerzeit umsonst bei Bewußtsein hält,
Wird ein Sprichwort wahr aus den Bars von Atlantis.

Reisen is ein Vorgeschmack auf die Hölle.


km said...

Come on, who's writing love songs for air travel? I want to read that guy.

Space Bar said...

km: :D glad someone else feels that way (sometimes) about travel. you must. and when you do, xerox the whole book for me please.

Szerelem said...

Hah, this is great. Thanks for posting - I hadn't read Grünbein before.

Though I disagree on a general level about travel being hell, I do agree about the being stuck in an airplane bit.

dipali said...

Absolutely awesome. And quite true.
One needs to remain hopeful while travelling:)

Falstaff said...

Come on, who's writing love songs for air travel?Walcott, anyone?or Campbell McGrath?Also, see (book I haven't read, but seems relevant.