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Love Poems: 1920 - 1933


Click on poem titles for German original.



I never loved you so much

I never loved you so much, ma soeur
As when I left you in the evening’s red sunset
The woods swallowed me, the blue woods, ma soeur
Above which the pale stars of the west have always stood.

I laughed not a bit, no, not at all, ma souer
While I walked casually towards a dark fate
While the faces in back of me were
Already growing dim in the blue night of the forest.

Everything was lovely on that one sole night, ma soeur
As it never was again afterwards, and never before had been -
Though the one thing that did remain were the great big birds
That grow hungry in the vast dark skies at dusk. 


ma soeur, english

Click on poem titles for German original.


To Bittersweet

Half asleep in the pale light of dawn
By your body, many a night, the  dream:
Ghostly avenues under evening skies
Gone very cold.  Pale winds. Crows
Screaming for food, and nights the rain comes
With wind and clouds, year after year
Your face, blurred, my bittersweet, returns.
And shivering in the cold wind I feel
Lightly by your body, half asleep at dawn
In my brain still a bit of bitterness.   


to bittersweet

Paula Banholzer: Bi, for Bittersweet

Click title for German original


Mimento for Marie A.

On that day in the blue moon of September
So still, that pale dear love of mine
There beneath a young plum tree, I  held her
In my arms like a dream sweet and fine.
And above us sailed a fair white cloud
That I watched for long in the summer sky
So white and so enormous way up there
And when I looked up, it had gone on by.

Since that day so many, many moons
Have floated down and floated past.
The plum trees probably were felled
And what's become of love you ask?
I'll answer you: I simply can’t recall
Yet  what you mean, I certainly know.
But her face, I really just can’t remember
I kissed it then, that’s all I know.
And that kiss too I’d long ago forgotten
If that cloud had not been there in the sky
That I recall and will never forget
Far above, white, and huge in the sky.
Maybe the plum trees still have blossoms
And the woman seven children by and by
But the cloud blossomed only for minutes
And had faded in the wind when I lifted my eyes.



Click on title for German original
Song of My Beloved

1. I know, my beloved, now my hair is falling out due to this crazy life I'm leading, and I lie down on the cobbles in the middle of the road. All of you see I'm drinking cheap whisky, and walking naked in the wind.

2. There was a time, beloved, when I was pure.

3. I had a woman, who was stronger than I, the way grass is stronger than a grazing steer, because afterwards, it rises up again.         

4. She saw that I was evil and she loved me.

5. She asked me what road we were going traveling,  what road was hers, and if maybe it was going downhill. When she gave me her body, she said: this is all there is. And hers became my body.

6. Now she no longer exists, she’s disappeared like a cloud after the rain, I let her go and she fell downwards, because that was the way she was going.

7. But nights when you see me drinking, I see her face, pale in the wind, strong and turned towards me, and I bow down into the wind.

early poems, (1920) part of the play, Baal.    

Click title for German original


To M.

That night, when you did not come
I did not fall asleep, but often went and stood before the door
And it was raining, and I went inside again.

Back then I did not know; but now I know:
That in that night things were already as they would be in later nights
When you would never come, and I did not sleep
And was almost no longer waiting
But often I would go outside in front of the door
Because it was raining and cool there.

But after those nights and in later years, too
I heard your footsteps before the door
When the rain was falling, and your voice in the wind
And your weeping at the cold corner, because
You could not come in.

That is why I got up in the night and
Went out before the door and opened it and
Let in whoever had no home.
And beggars came and whores, riff-raff
And all sorts of lowlife.

Now many years have passed, and even if
Rain is still dripping and wind is on the move
If you were to come now in the night, I know
I would no longer know you, nor your voice
Nor your face, for they are all so different
But I still hear footsteps in the wind
And weeping in the rain and that
Someone wants to come inside.

(Though it was you, my beloved, who did not come, and it was I who waited -!)
And what I want to do is go to the door
And open it and see if someone hasn’t come after all
But I don’t get up and I don’t go out and do not look
And neither has someone come.

To M.

Click on title for German original


The Lovers

See the wild cranes fly in their great sweep!   
The clouds that now enshroud the pair       
Have moved with them in their leap    

From one life to another in the air.       
Clouds and birds in same haste   
Seem both close and floating there.  

Cranes, clouds,  both placed   
In the heavens where they briefly fly,    
Hover,  neither to be traced,

Seeing only each other lulled on high,   
Born on the wind,  both sensing   
Each other’s closeness in the sky

Where winds mislead and carry hence,      
If they should not perish, nor stray     
For that while they need no defense    

Nor spot where they can not be forced away,   
Should rain threaten, or gunshots ring out.
Beneath indifferent panes of moon, sun by day

They fly on, completely in each other’s thrall.
Where away, you two? –  Nowhere. –  From whom? –  From all.   
And you ask, how long have they been so?     

A while. And when will they part ways?  Before long.  
And so love seems to lovers a place where they are strong.

(about 1928)



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