[No Comment ]Enzensberger’s ‘The Peace Conference’ | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[No Comment]

Enzensberger’s ‘The Peace Conference’

Adjust

An airplane lands with a hundred liars on board.
The city greets them with a handful of flowers,
With a smell of naphthalene and sweat,
With a wind from the plains of Asia.

Beneath the floodlights the liars say
In fifty languages: We are against the war.
Quietly, I consider the liars to be right,
The liars are telling the truth, but
Why do they need fifty hours
For a single sentence?

When they depart, the flowers have turned gray.
The ashtrays overflow with butts joined in solidarity,
With unswerving cigar stubs
And unconquerable stumps.
Peace is swimming in the spittoons.

In the White House, under the floodlights
The honest people announce at the same hour
A new truth. The war is growing.
Only the liars are unswerving.

In the White House, the flowers are fresh,
The spittoons have been disinfected
And the ashtrays are as clean as bombs.

A blast of wind passes over the city,
A wind from the plains of Asia. A throttled woman
Whistles this way, as she battles for her life.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Friedenskongreß in: Die Gedichte p. 270 (1983) (S.H. transl.)

More from

More