Think of the Unsatisfied Ones

By Gottfried Benn Gottfried Benn

Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann Read the translator's notes

When despair—
you who enjoyed great triumphs
and walked with confidence and the memory
of many gifts of delirium and dawns
and unexpected
turns—
when despair wants you in its grip,
and threatens you from some unfathomable depth
with destruction
and the guttering out of your flame:

then think of the unsatisfied ones,
with their migraine-prone temples and introverted dispositions,
loyal to a few memories
that held out little hope,
who still bought flowers,
and with a smile of not much luminosity
confided secret desires
to their small-scale heavens
that were soon to be extinguished.

Source: Poetry (March 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2011

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