Friday, January 06, 2006

Augen in der Grossstadt

Eyes in the Big City (1930)
by Kurt Tucholsky

When you go to work
early in the morning
when you stand in the station
with all your troubles:
the city shows you
asphalt-smooth
in a funnel of people
a million faces:
Two strange eyes, a quick glance,
the brows, the pupils, the lids -
What was that? Your happiness, perhaps...
gone, passed, no more.

All your life you walk
on a thousand streets;
you see on your way,
those who forgot you.
An eye winks,
the soul rings;
you found it,
only seconds long...
Two strange eyes, a quick glance,
the brows, the pupils, the lids -
What was that? No one turns back the time...
gone, passed, no more.

You're obliged on your way
to wander through cities;
you see for a pulsebeat
the unknown other.
It could be a fiend,
it could be a friend,
or could in the struggle
offer a hand.
A looking over
then passing by...
Two strange eyes, a quick glance,
the brows, the pupils, the lids -
What was that? A piece of grand humanity!
Gone, passed, no more.

David Raphael Israel's rendering of the poem is here.
The German original is here.

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