by Gottfried Benn
(translated by Constantin von Hoffmeister © 2002)
Gottfried Benn


Result of perspectives. The world power heads debate. In Central Europe unite steel works from Bengal, barrages from the Amazon River, mercury from Hungary, Korean coal. The changing hall glows in the ornament of flags of fifty nations, from the ceiling of the round room hang banners in green, purple, orange, pink, blue and red, the emblems of the five continents. The president beats the silver gong with the silver hammer.

The White Man is in parts of the Earth. Niggers, hired from the kraal hidden deep in the bushes, a pumpkin full of drink on his back, he drifts through regions without water between lions and dog-hyenas in the washed-out sand of the silver mine, at night in the tin huts on the cemented mass banks intoxication breaks out with faecal pleasure and sodomy. Through slaves, bought cheap at the Congo, in the Confederate States sold for whisky and guns, on the way back plundering a Spanish silver ship in the name of the Virgin Queen, he established his immense wealth; with the Palmadorra in the hands, the whip with holes in it, that produces blisters, he becomes biblical: who has got something, is given, therefore the cross on the mission houses and the coconuts in the storage shed. Wherever he sets his foot, it becomes green: fire water, patent leather shoes, aluminum pottery for the children of the wilderness; the Hindu women, liberated from the widow burnings, he sends to regulated work with their children for sixteen hours in the mines; the soft peach bloom he leads to life: in the bar of the Majestic Hotel in Shanghai he teaches them to drink the cocktail with the elegance of a small bird.

On top of the old castles of the Grand Moghuls antennas clap; destruction of space: on the slopes of the Himalayas, on the edge of Tibet, in view of the Mount Everest stands the eight-tube-apparatus and here Grimsby and Koenigswusterhausen dictate. First the pirates, then the military, now the scientists. Magic of technology: The Atlantic is being led into the Kalahari, new skies, new rainfalls, new climates, and from the Sudan to Nyassaland the cotton trusts from Lancashire plant their own Malvaceae.

Bicycles to Uganda! In the Punjab in turn his view encompasses the forests, the maiden-like silence. These are views, these are deep views, these are downright transpiration views -: there the palms are sweating margarine and the acacias rubber,- of the two thousand eight hundred different trees of the Indian forests, five hundred are in the world trade, sixty in high demand, this view rests on leaf-roof amortisations, bamboo mortgage bonds, the children of Flora, dreamily out of the soil pounds and guineas grow.

The evening sets. In Nanking Road, Shanghai, the most pompous shopping street of Asia, the parade of limousines floats, splendor of enamel, the dreams of women. The bully dog matches the armchair shade after shade, the gramophone covered in the leather of the cushions, purse like folding boat in the native valeurs of the yellow river, tarnished silk scarfs, newly embroidered: the Dragon of Manchu and the Leopards of the King.

Another Empire: the English-Chinese diarchy, headquarter Delhi, Imperial Delhi: Australia not much further than South Africa, Cairo as close as Singapore - the evening sets, the White Race still rules, but it taught the Yellow one, already it is above it, already high-rises on the Brahmaputra, already vines are blooming on the Ganges, another fifty years and the Unceasing sways back. A new Khan, a new flag, a new green flag of the prophet, Vishnu awakes, Asia colonizes, through the ruins of the Indian campagna, over the yellow earth, from the white flowers of the tea fields, over the Great Wall, rises, surrounded by the ghosts of the Mingh graves, a yellow God.

The White Race is finished. Technical magic, a thousand words of Rebbach, text standardized, score of numbers, that was its last dream. Import from Asia: Bicycles to Ulster, lollipops to Halberstadt, beer warmers for the union house. Farewell, opportunism from the stock market to psychiatry! Grainless land, exhausted shafts, empty docks. Who cried for the fallen family - Iliads to and fro! The Unceasing visits the Pole, sprinkles earth on Scott's grave, soon people of the fire lands are growing roses there. The Unceasing, from sea to sea, moonless worlds too early, here, down.

 - Constantin von Hoffmeister


A word
A word, a sentence
- from ciphers rise recognized life,
sudden sense the sun stands,
the spheres are silent
and everything clumps to him.

A word - a gloss, a flight, a fire,
a flame throw, a star line - and again darkness,
tremendously in the empty area
around world and I.

(by Gottfried Benn)

- (Translated by AltaVista - ed.)
A word
A word, a sentence
- out of ciphers recognized life,
sudden sense the sun climb stands,
forms itself that spheres are quiet
and everything into a ball to it there.

A word - a brightness, a flight, a fire,
a flame throw, a stars stroke - and again darkly,
enormously in the empty room
around world and I.

(by Gottfried Benn)

- (Translated by FreeTranslation - ed.)


(translated by Constantin von Hoffmeister)

The idea bonds with the sword and calls for war, entering the empire of the deed.
The storm winds are booming. It is the time to die.
He is saved who now, during victory and agony, is able to sacrifice his life.
He is doomed who now fears in horror. He will be cast, by fate, into damnation.
Ruins rise out of millenium-old walls. The flames of the world inferno rise to the stars in the firmament.
And out of the pains of death groans, out of ominous terror-filled mourning, a new world is born.
He is saved who did not hesitate in death, and in defiance struck the blow with his sword.
He is saved who did not lament at the destruction, and did not ask fate for a miracle.
He is saved who remained strong. He will resurge even stronger.
But he who trembled shall fall into the deepest night.
He is doomed whose heart wavered during the fight.
It will break in the last battle.
Once the last stone bursts asunder, the ruins blackened with smoke, the living spirit of tumultuous pains shall rise. The last cry of death fades out when life first whines in the newborn eternity.
And cheering, the song of life moves towards the clouds and stars, is wed with the harmony of the spheres,
and returns, sanctified by the law and pregnant with life, to give birth to the millenium.

Posted by New Nation News
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