Saturday, April 26, 2008

German Poem

German Poem


Recently I came across this German poem. It was printed on an end-of-term exam paper from 40 years ago, in that type-written Roneo system, that made 25-30 copies before the copies became so faint they were of no further use.

There is no title and it seems to be identified by its first line which is underlined. The exam question asked us to read the poem and offer a prose translation of it. I vaguely remember that someone in our class foolishly and facetiously translated “grungolden”(umlaut on “u”) as Golders Green. The German teacher was not amused.

I can’t imagine why I kept this old paper. Perhaps the poem moved me in a way I did not grasp fully at the time. Or perhaps it is just my archaeological filing system which preserves and conceals at the same time. Now, re-reading it after the long interval, I hope the translation I offer - with the help of my Collins German Dictionary - is better than the one I did for the exam.

The name at the bottom of the poem is H.Heinze, which I assume is a typo for Heine. I’m not sure. There is a Helmut Heinze, who wrote novels and plays – perhaps it is him.


Grungolden und goldfarben leuchten die Blitzen auf…


Green-yellow, yellow-green
The lightening flashes
Suddenly across the sky:

I can’t be sure
Whether that’s you across the street,
As out of a charged cloud,
Heavy rain splashes down.

The heavy rain
Makes people run for cover –
Anywhere to find
An awning or a doorway.

While, I stand stock still
Alone on the pavement,
My Summer shirt stuck close,
The rivulets washing my back.

I saw you there,
From two Summers ago:
The love I lost.

I saw you
With your dark blue eyes
And pale smooth skin,
As the lightening flashed
Yellow-green, green-yellow,

And the rain,
In rivulets, anoints me
With your blessings
From two Summers ago.

5 comments:

Lucy said...

Shades of 'Le Grand Meaulnes' there in the adolescent wistfulness of it. A lot of sensation in there too.

How funny you found it like that, one of your disappearing objects re-emerging!

Lucas said...

Many thanks for your comment. It does indeed seem to depict the journey through adolescence. I believe there is still an adolescent in all of us.

Dave King said...

Once, probably, I would not have appreciated this, but I am old enough now to be moving back into my second adolescence. Thanks for it.

Plutarch said...

I can't help wondering whether W S Gilbert was familar with this poem when he referred in Patience (Act 2), to: "A greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery,
Foot-in-the-grave young man."

tristan said...

well, it isn't difficult to see why you kept it, and i'm very grateful that you did