By Gottfried Benn Gottfried Benn

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

One says: please no inner life,
manners by all means, but nothing affective,
that’s no compensation
for the insufferable
difficulties of outward-directed expression—
those cerebralized

when my little prince
pokes his chubby little legs through the bars of his cot
it melts my heart, it was like that with Otto Ernst,
and it’s no different now

the contraries are not easy to reconcile
but when you survey the provinces
the inner life
has it by a neck.

Source: Poetry (March 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2012

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