No Comment, Quotation — June 27, 2010, 6:52 am

Heym – War

ernst_ludwig_kirchner_-_nollendorfplatz

Aufgestanden ist er, welcher lange schlief,
Aufgestanden unten aus Gewölben tief.
In der Dämmrung steht er, groß und unerkannt,
Und den Mond zerdrückt er in der schwarzen Hand.

In den Abendlärm der Städte fällt es weit,
Frost und Schatten einer fremden Dunkelheit,
Und der Märkte runder Wirbel stockt zu Eis.
Es wird still. Sie sehn sich um. Und keiner weiß.

In den Gassen faßt es ihre Schulter leicht.
Eine Frage. Keine Antwort. Ein Gesicht erbleicht.
In der Ferne wimmert ein Geläute dünn
Und die Bärte zittern um ihr spitzes Kinn.

Auf den Bergen hebt er schon zu tanzen an
Und er schreit: Ihr Krieger alle, auf und an.
Und es schallet, wenn das schwarze Haupt er schwenkt,
Drum von tausend Schädeln laute Kette hängt.

Einem Turm gleich tritt er aus die letzte Glut,
Wo der Tag flieht, sind die Ströme schon voll Blut.
Zahllos sind die Leichen schon im Schilf gestreckt,
Von des Todes starken Vögeln weiß bedeckt.

Über runder Mauern blauem Flammenschwall
Steht er, über schwarzer Gassen Waffenschall.
Über Toren, wo die Wächter liegen quer,
Über Brücken, die von Bergen Toter schwer.

In die Nacht er jagt das Feuer querfeldein
Einen roten Hund mit wilder Mäuler Schrein.
Aus dem Dunkel springt der Nächte schwarze Welt,
Von Vulkanen furchtbar ist ihr Rand erhellt.

Und mit tausend roten Zipfelmützen weit
Sind die finstren Ebnen flackend überstreut,
Und was unten auf den Straßen wimmelt hin und her,
Fegt er in die Feuerhaufen, daß die Flamme brenne mehr.

Und die Flammen fressen brennend Wald um Wald,
Gelbe Fledermäuse zackig in das Laub gekrallt.
Seine Stange haut er wie ein Köhlerknecht
In die Bäume, daß das Feuer brause recht.

Eine große Stadt versank in gelbem Rauch,
Warf sich lautlos in des Abgrunds Bauch.
Aber riesig über glühnden Trümmern steht,
Der in wilde Himmel dreimal seine Fackel dreht.

Über sturmzerfetzter Wolken Widerschein,
In des toten Dunkels kalten Wüstenein,
Daß er mit dem Brande weit die Nacht verdorr,
Pech und Feuer träufet unten auf Gomorrh.

Arisen is he who slept so long,
Arisen from deep below, from catacombs.
Large though unrecognized he stands in the twilight,
Crushing the moon in his black hand.

He descends broadly upon the evening bustle of the cities,
The frost and shadows of a strange darkness.
The whirling vortex of the markets turns to ice.
Quiet comes. They look about. And no one knows.

In the street it lightly grasps her shoulders.
A question. No answer. A face goes pale.
In the distance a bell shivers thinly,
And the beards shiver around their pointy chin.

Upon the mountains he commences his dance,
And he cries: You, warriors, all of you, arise and march!
And it echoes, as he shakes his black head,
Adorned with a chain of a thousand skulls.

Like a tower he stomps out the dying embers,
As day flees, the streams flow with blood.
Innumerable the bodies already stretched in the reeds,
Dressed white by the powerful carrion birds of death.

Over the rounded walls blue with flame
He stands, over alleyways filled with the retort of guns,
Over gates whose watchmen have been laid low,
over bridges buckling under mounds of the dead.

Into the night he chases the fire across country,
A red dog with the barking of wild muzzles.
Out of darkness springs the black world of night,
Its rim illuminated menacingly by vulcanoes.

And with a thousand redcaps, pointed far and wide,
The dark plains are covered in blackness,
And what teems in the streets below
Passes into forests on fire, the flame hurling forward.

And the flames devour forest by forest,
Yellow bats grabbing with their claws at the greenery,
Wielding his rod like a charman,
Into the trees, stoking the fire.

A great city sank in a yellow cloud,
Throwing itself silently into the belly of the abyss.
But he stands towering above the glowing ruins,
Three times twisting his torch against the wild skies.

Over the reflection of the stormy skies,
In the cold desert sands of deadly darkness,
As he spoils the night with his fire,
Pitch and flames rain down on Gomorrah.

Georg Heym, Der Krieg first published in Der ewige Tag (1911)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells
Article
Interesting Facts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My husband is forty-six. I am forty-five. He does not think that, in my forties, after cancer, chemotherapy, and chemically induced menopause, I can get pregnant again, but sisters, I know my womb. It’s proven.”
Photograph by McNair Evans
Post
Kid Chocolate’s Place·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Cuban eyes often look close to tears.”
Illustration by the author
Article
Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If you short-circuit the bottom, you threaten the entire cycle,” Joye told me. “Without a healthy ocean, we’ll all be dead.”
Illustration by John Ritter

Amount that Egypt owes the United States in unpaid parking tickets:

$1,700,000

Studies of humankind’s original states—in China, Egypt, the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, and Peru—suggest that the emergence of bureaucracy catalyzed predatory imperial expansion.

An Egyptian court sentenced former president Mohamed Morsi and 106 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death for killing and kidnapping police; conspiring with Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah; participating in a 20,000-man jailbreak; and stealing chickens.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today