Someone hands you an English thriller,
You don’t read English.
You’ve worked up a thirst
for something you can’t afford.
You have deep insights,
brand new, and they sound
like an academic glossing Hoelderlin.
You hear the waves at night
ramping against the shore
and you think: that’s what waves do.
Worse: you’re asked out
when at home you get better coffee,
silence, and you don’t expect to be amused.
Awful: not to die in summer
under a bright sky
when the rich dirt
falls easily from the shovel.
‘This is Bad’ translated from the German by Harvey Shapiro
Gottfried Benn was a German essayist, novelist, and expressionist poet. A doctor of medicine, he initially welcomed but soon thereafter criticized the National Socialist regime.