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Ach/Last Call

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Right up to my final hour
I'll be obliging and polite.
Should I hear death firmly knocking,
I'll blithely shout: Come in all right!
      
What's on the schedule? Dying, is it?
Well, that's something rather new.
But I'm sure that we can swing it,
showing them a thing or two.
      
What is this? Your hourglass?
Interesting! And good to grasp.
And the scythe is for grim reaping,
did you say? I thought I'd ask.
      
Which way should I turn from here?
To the left? From where you stand?
Well, all right then. To the graveyard?
Where I take my final hand?
      
Yes, the glass is out of sand now.
Oh, I see, you want it back.
May I ask you where you got it?
So unusual, all in black.
      
Is it antique? Oh well, whatever.
I only meant to ask, old chap—
What? No questions? No more talking?
That's fine by me. I'll shut my—
      
* * *

Ach, noch in der letzten Stunde
werde ich verbindlich sein.
Klopft der Tod an meine Türe
rufe ich geschwind: Herein!
      
Woran soll es gehn? Ans Sterben?
Hab ich zwar noch nie gemacht,
doch wir werd'n das Kind schon schaukeln—
na, das wäre ja gelacht!
      
Interessant so eine Sanduhr!
Ja, die halt ich gern mal fest.
Ach—und das ist Ihre Sense?
Und die gibt mir dann den Rest?
      
Wohin soll ich mich jetzt wenden?
Links? Von Ihnen aus gesehn?
Ach, von mir aus! Bis zur Grube?
Und wie soll es weitergehn?
      
Ja, die Uhr ist abgelaufen.
Wollen Sie die jetzt zurück?
Gibt's die irgendwo zu kaufen?
Ein so ausgefall'nes Stück
      
Findet man nicht alle Tage,
womit ich nur sagen will
—ach! Ich soll hier nichts mehr sagen?
Geht in Ordnung! Bin schon

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Ach/Last Call

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  • Born in Estonia, Robert Gernhardt studied painting and literature in Stuttgart before becoming a well-known German cartoonist, satirist, writer, painter, and poet. Gerhardt, along with other artists, helped to create the New Frankfurt School, which was not only satirical but also self-referential. This playful style became popular in Gernhardt’s poetry, prose, and caricatures, which often looked irreverently at cultural and literary traditions.
     
    Gernhardt contributed to the satirical magazine Pardon in the 1960s, and later co-founded another satirical magazine, called Titanic, in 1979. During the next decade, he wrote material for one of Germany’s most popular comedians, Otto Waalkes.
     
    Gernhardt’s awards include the 1983 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, an annual award established to recognize outstanding works of children’s literature in Germany, and the Heinrich-Heine Prize, which he was awarded in 2004. In 2006, he received the Wilhem Busch Prize.
     
    Gernhardt died in Frankfurt in 2006, after a...

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