Neu! Post-Truth Poetics DAY SIXTY-FOUR – Peter Rühmkorf (translated by Peter Russell)

Stay Shockable – and Fight Back

So today: first, second and last shout
To all that’s been chased round and wrung out
Which I, though lowly, saw sway and crack
What’s empty tomorrow but yesterday was full:
Before your head is frozen to death, a bare skull:
Stay shockable – but fight back.

Those who fuck up our earth, water and air
(Forward march! Trust in god and the motor car)
Before they talk you round the houses and into a sack
To be stitched up, bought and sold
While you wait for the transmutation of puke into gold
Stay shockable – and fight back.

So sweet, how mortals stir themselves and start
Targetting coshes to the kidneys and the heart
So soon failed courage betrays love behind its back…
If you stand head bowed, others bowed will follow
(And then you won’t need to seek your sorrows
Everything you fear, now it all comes true -)
Stay shockable
Stay shockable – and fight back.

Fight back, all of you! Unpractised in victory;
Between Scylla here and there Charybdis
Is the swinging exchange rate of the Odyssey…
Darkness flows out after the rich and sweet
But when you and your comrades – go out and find them! –
Share the gloom, the danger will easily
And soon crack…
Stay shockable …
Stay shockable…
Stay shockable – but fight back.  

 

Peter Russell was born in London in 1954. He grew up near Portsmouth and studied Comparative Literature with German in Norwich and Regensburg. He now writes and performs in Glasgow, where he has lived since 1985. His translation of ‘Schulpause/Breaktime’  by Günter Grass was commended in the Stephen Spender Prize for Literary Translation 2016. 

 
Peter Rühmkorf  was born in Dortmund in 1929 and died in Roseburg in North Germany in 2008. 
He believed that poetry in the modern age could be “a Utopian space where we can breathe more freely, feel more deeply, think more radically and nonetheless feel more connected with each other than is possible in the so-called real world.”
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