From My Commonplace Book - 65

Refuge Behind Refuge

for Peter Huchel

by Reiner Kunze

Here only the wind comes uninvited through the gateway

only god calls

He has countless lines laid
from heaven to earth

From the roof of the empty cow-house
to the roof of the empty sheep-house
the jet of rain
shrills from wooden gutters

What are you doing, asks god

Lord, I say, it's
raining, what should
one do

And his answer grows green
through every window

Reiner Kunze (German, born 1933) left the GDR state party in 1968 in response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1976 his critical examination of life behind the Iron Curtain, called The Lovely Years, was published in West Germany, and in the following year the GDR expatriated him. He settled in West Germany and presently lives in Bavaria. He has published both poetry and prose and also translations of Czech literature.

Poet Peter Huchel (German, 1903-1981), after his release from a Russian prisoner of war camp at the end of World War II, worked in radio in the GDR and edited an influential poetry magazine. He eventually fell afoul of authorities and for more than a decade was under Stasi surveillance. In 1971 he was allowed to emigrate and after first living in Rome, moved to Breisgau in West Germany.
Likes: Enid


Lovely to see your poetry back again Merry. And this one is joyous - especially the last two verses. Marvellous greens in the UK rains though we are tending to wear down our Wellington boots. And as pure poetry this is delightful - thank you.

The biographical pieces you add are so very interesting too.
Thank you, Enid. I was thinking of you when I chose this poem to post. I just read that an editorial appeared in The Times of London calling for an end to the rain in the UK: "Let us make our position crystal clear. We are against this weather. It must stop raining and soon." Funny, but I then read a list of major events in the UK this summer that have had to be cancelled. :( May the weather clear up for the Olympics.

I forgot to say that I don't know the source of the poem"Refuge Behind Refuge" or the name of the translator. I found a copy of the poem in my filing cabinet and think I must've read it in a literary magazine, perhaps twenty or thirty years ago.

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