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“When I’d reported to the couple, thus”

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The Augsburger walks with Dante through the hell of the departed. He addresses the inconsolable and reports to them that on earth some things have changed.

When I’d reported to the couple, thus
That up there no one murders now for gain
Since no one owns a thing, the faithless spouse

Who’d beguiled that woman so improperly
Lifted his hand, now tied to hers by chains
And looked at her and turned perplexed to me

So no one steals, if  there’s no property?
I shook my head. And as their hands just touched
I saw a blush suffuse the woman’s cheeks.

He saw it too and cried, She hasn’t once
Shown so much since the day she was seduced!
And murmuring, Then there’s no abstinence?

They moved off swiftly. And the ties that fused
Them tight were of no weight or consequence.


 Translated from the German

“When I had reported to the couple, thus” (“Als ich den beiden so berichtet”) copyright © 1964 by Bertolt-Brecht-Erben/Suhrkamp Verlag and copyright © 2015 by David J. Constantine and Thomas Mark Kuhn.
Source: Poetry (November 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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“When I’d reported to the couple, thus”

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