Hymn

By Gottfried Benn Gottfried Benn

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

That quality of the great boxers
to be able to stand there
and take shots,

gargle with firewater,
encounter intoxication
at sub- and supra-atomic levels,
to leave one’s sandals at the crater’s lip
like Empedocles, and descend,

not say: I’ll be back,
not think: fifty-fifty,
to vacate molehills
when dwarves want space to grow,
to dine alone,
indivisible,
and able to renounce your victory—

a hymn to that man.

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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