3&4 - 1976/77
The Wrong Way Round
from Die Innenwelt der Aussenwelt der Innenwelt, 1967
Gone to sleep I wake up;
I do not look at things, and things look at me;
I do not move, and the floor under my feet moves me; .
I do not see myself in the mirror, and I in the mirror look at me;
I do not speak words, and words pronounce me;
I go to the window and am opened.
Having got up I lie there:
I do not open my eyes, but my eyes open me;
I do not listen to sounds, but the sounds listen to me;
I do now swallow water, but the water swallows me;
I do not reach out for things, but things attack me;
I do not take off my clothes, but my clothes take off from me;
I do not persuade myself with words, but words dissuade me from me;
I go to the door, and the handle depresses me.
The rolling blind is raised, and night falls, and to snatch air I submerge mysself in water.
I tread on the stone floor and sink up to my ankles;
I sit on the driving-seat of a coach and place one foot in front of the other;
I see a woman with a parasol and night sweat breaks out of me;
I extend one arm into the air and it catches fire;
I reach out for an apple and am bitten;
I walk barefoot, and feel a stone in my shoe;
I tear the plaster off my wound, and the wound is in the plaster;
I buy a newspaper and am skimmed;
I frighten someone to death and can no longer speak;
I stuff cotton wool into my ears and scream;
I hear the sirens howl, and the Corpus Christi procession passes;
I open my umbrella, and the ground burns under my feet;
I run out into the open and am arrested.
Over the parquet floor I stumble,
with my mouth agape I make conversation,
with the balls of my thumbs I scratch,
with my policeman's whistle I laugh,
from the tips of my hair I bleed,
on the opening of the newspaper I choke.
food with an attractive smell I spew up.
about the future I tell stories.
To things I speak.
me I see through.
dead people I kill.
And I see sparrows shoot at guns;
and I see the despairing man being happy;
and I see the suckling babe harbour desires;
and I see the milkman in the evening.
: and the postman? asks for mail;
and the preacher? is shaken up;
and the execution squad? lines up against the wall;
and the clown? throws a hand grenade into the audience;
and murder? does not happen till there are witnesses.
And the undertaker eggs on his football team;
And the head of state assassinates the baker's boy;
And the general is named after a street;
And nature is painted faithfully after a picture;
And the Pope is counted out on his feet —
and listen: The watch runs outside itself!
And look: The candles burning down grow longer!
And listen: The scream is whispered!
And look: The wind petrifies the grass!
And listen: The folk song is roared out!
And look: The raised arm points down!
And listen: The question mark is commanded!
And look: The starved man is fat!
And smell: The snow is rotting!
And morning sets,
and the table stands on one leg,
and the refugee sits crosslegged like a tailor,
and on the top floor you'll find the bus stop:
Listen: It's deathly quiet! — It's rush hour.
Gone to sleep I wake up
and escape from the unbearable dream into gentle reality
and merrily hum: Stop thief! Murder! —
listen how my mouth waters: I see a corpse!
Translated by Michael Hamburger
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The