Saturday, March 17, 2007

Translations: Kurt Schwitters: Three Poems

Here are my translations of several poems by Kurt Schwitters (1887 – 1948). Schwitters was primarily an artist, one of the twentieth century's masters of collage. Occasionally he penned a few verses and hung out with some of the Berlin Dadaist. Schwitters thrived on public opposition. In January 1937 Schwitters fled to Norway, and in the same year, his Merz pictures were included in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art (entartete Kunst) in Munich. Unable to live in Germany, he immigrated to Norway, then to England. A sampling of his art can be found at

To Anna Bloom

Oh you, beloved of my 27 senses, I love you!
You, yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, does not belong here.
Who are you, countless broads? You are, are you?
People say you would be.
Let them say they can’t find the church steeple.
You wear a hat on your feet and walk on your hands,
you walk on your hands.
Hello, you red clothes sawed into white pleats.
Red I love Anna Bloom, red I love her.
You, yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, belongs in the cold embers.
Anna Bloom, red Anna Bloom, what are people saying?
               The grand prize question:
               1. Anna Bloom has a screw loose.
               2. Anna Bloom is red.
               3. What color is the screw?
Blue is the color of your yellow hair,
red is the color of your green loose screw.
You plain girl in everyday dress,
you lovely green animal, I love you.
You yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, belongs in the ember box.
Anna Bloom, Anna, A----N----N----A!
I drizzled your name.
Your name drips like soft tallow.
You know it Anna, you already know it,
You can be read from the back also.
And you, you most marvelous creature of all,
You are the same from the back as the font:
Tallow trickled fondling my back.
Anna Bloom,
You drippy animal,


Unknown woman,
I love you.
I have never seen you
And know you.
I love you,
Because you are one of those
Who I understand,
Who forgives me all this.
All this, what I do and what I think
Filled with love
And good luck.
You, unknown woman, you weigh on my dreams, my longings.
And once I find you,
Yes, then??
The world is large and deep.
You weigh on my dreams,
Only you!

Banalities from the Chinese

Flies have short legs.
Haste makes waste.
Red raspberries are red.
The beginning is the beginning of each end.
The beginning is the end of each beginning.
Banality becomes each citizen.
The middle class is all citizens’ beginnings.
Citizens have short flies.
Spice makes short jokes out of rice.
Each woman has an apron.
Each beginning has its end.
The world is full of smart people.
Smart is dumb.
Not everything that is called expressionism is expressive art.
The smart are still dumb.
The dumb are smart.
The smart remain dumb.

© 2007 Jim Doss