Cool time-jump stuff


In the year 1995, before there was Google, a woman requested a translation of a German Poem from 1910ish (Weltende by Jakob von Hoddis) into English on a Newsgroup. She didn’t even paste the poem, instead listing several books where one could find the text. In a time when we actually walked to the library, plodded through a lot of cards, went downstairs, got skin-numbing rashes (I always did), and citation-surfed.

Anyway, she got exactly zero replies and the thread died right there.

Nineteen years later, in 2014, as I was trying to Google what the hell expressionist literature is, I stumbled upon her request in a Newsgroups Archive.

I decided to take it upon myself to fulfill her request and replied with not one, but two, translations. I wonder if she’ll read it. Maybe she became a tenured Prof at the same Uni and has the same Email and gets an alert and like, totally dies!!!

» skip directly to my best translation of the poem

» or read my response to her and the various translations

» or just read the entire thing including her 1995 Newsgroups request including a very long list of books related to the poem (this was before Google, remember?).

The Newsgroups page (note: her list of books is somewhat long, so you’ll be scrolling a bit for my reply). misc.education.language.english ›

English translation of the German expressionist poem “Weltende”

1 post by 1 author

Christin Bolewski

25/10/1995

Hello,
Maybe this is an unusual question to this newsgroup, but perhaps one could help me:

I’m a German video artist from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. I did a video about a German Expressionist poem called “Weltende” written by Jacob van Hoddis 1910 / 1912 ???

I need an English translation of this poem to show my work at international exhibitions and festivals. Could you help me and send me a translation??

It’s a short poem and very famous for German expressionist poetry.

I found several books in the library of the London University, which could contain the poem.

Please answer me, if you can help me or tell me what ever I can do to find this translation.

Thank you very much, Christin Bolewski

The list of books from the library of London University follows now:

Allen, Roy F.
German expressionist poetry / Roy F. Allen.
Boston : Twayne, 1979. – 158p. – (Twayne’s world authors series ;
543). – 0-8057-6386-4
German poetry – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism
Waller, Christopher
Expressionist poetry and its critics / Christopher Waller.
[London] : Institute of Germanic Studies, University of London, 1986.
– 190 p. : 22 cm. – (Bithell series of dissertations ; v. 11)
Distributor from label on t.p – Includes index. – Bibliography: p.
171-186. – 0-85457-132-9
German poetry – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism
Bibliography of German expressionism : catalog of the Library of the
Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the
Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Boston, Mass : G.K. Hall, c1990. – xv, 272 p : ill ; 28 cm. –
0-8161-0494-8
Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies. Library –
Catalogs
Expressionism (Art) – Germany – Bibliography – Catalogs
Art, Modern – 20th century – Germany – Bibliography – Catalogs
Michaels, Jennifer E.
Franz Jung : expressionist, dadaist, revolutionary, and outsider /
Jennifer E. Michaels.
New York : P. Lang, c1989. – viii, 238 p. ; 23 cm. – (American university studies. Series I, Germanic languages and literature ;
vol. 70)
Includes index. – Bibliography: p. [221]-233. – 0-8204-0758-5
Jung, Franz, 1888-1963
Authors, German – 20th century – Biography
Chick, Jean M., 1952-
Form as expression : a study of the lyric poetry written between 1910
and 1915 by Lasker-Schüler, Stramm, Stadler, Benn, and Heym / Jean M.
Chick.
New York : Peter Lang, c1988. – viii, 210 p. ; 23 cm. – (Studies in
modern German literature ; Vol. 10)
Revision of thesis (Ph. D.) – University of Waterloo, 1983. –
Bibliography: p. [197]-206. – Includes index. – 0-8204-0441-1
German poetry – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism
Samuel, R. H. (Richard Herbert), 1900-
Expressionism in German life, literature and the theatre, 1910-1924 /
Richard Samuel and Richard Hinton Thomas.
Cambridge : Heffer, 1939. – 203p, 4 leaves of plates : ill.
Bibliography: p192-196. – Includes index. – x-19-025026-6
Theater – Germany – 20th century
German literature – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism (Literature) – Germany – 20th century
Drama – Germany – 20th century
Expressionism – Germany
German expressionism : documents from the end of the Wilhelmine Empire
to the rise of national socialism / edited and annotated by
Rose-Carol Washton Long with the assistance of Ida Katherine Rigby ;
with contributions by Stephanie Barron, Rosemarie Haag Bletter, and
Peter Chametzky ; translations from the German edited by Nancy Roth.
New York : G.K. Hall, c1992. – xxiv, 349p, [32]p of plates : ill. –
(The Documents of twentieth century art)
Includes bibliographical references and index. – 0-8057-9954-0
Expressionism(Art) – Germany – Sources
Art, German – SourcesArt, Modern – 20th century – Germany – Sources
Allen, Roy F., 1937-
Literary life in German expressionism and the Berlin circles / by Roy
F. Allen.
Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI Research Press, c1982. – x, 404p. – (Studies
in fine arts. The avant-garde ; no. 25)
: Revision of thesis (Ph.D.)–University of Wisconsin, 1972. –
Includes index. – Bibliography: p. [385]-393. – LC82-004762
German literature – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism
German literature – Berlin (Germany) – History and criticism
Jones, M. S.
Der Sturm : a focus of expressionism / M.S. Jones.
Columbia : Camden House, c1984. – xx,275p : ill. – (Studies in German
literature, linguistics, and culture ; v16). – 0-938100-26-2
German literature – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism
Sturm
Dube, Wolf-Dieter
The expressionists / Wolf-Dieter Dube ; translated from the German by
Mary Whittall.
London : Thames and Hudson, 1972. – 215p : ill(some col) ; 22cm. –
(The world of art library. history of art)
Bibliographyp.208. – Includes index. – 0-500-18129-2
Expressionism (Art)
Dube, Wolf Dieter
[Expressionismus in Wort und Bild. English]
Expressionists and expressionism / Wolf-Dieter Dube ; [translated
from the German by James Emmons].
Geneva : Skira, c1983. – 170p : ill.
Translation of: Der Expressionismus in Wort und Bild. – Bibliography:
p.161-164. – LC83-042910
Expressionism (Art) – Germany
Art, German
Art, Modern – 20th century – Germany
Pascal, Roy, 1904-
From naturalism to expressionism : German literature and society
1880-1918 / Roy Pascal.
New York : Basic Books, c1973. – xi, 349p.
Bibliography: p.[315]-336. – 0-465-02577-3
German literature – 19th century – History and criticism
German literature – 20th century – History and criticism
Literature and society
Sokel, Walter H.
The writer in extremis : expressionism in twentieth-century German literature.
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1959. – 251 p ; 25 cm.
Includes bibliographies. – LC59-007430
German literature – 20th century – History and criticism
Expressionism


==========MY REPLY=============

Click here to Reply

me (Chicawhappa La Escritora change)

22:19 (4 minutes ago)

On Wednesday, 25 October 1995 08:00:00 UTC+1, Christin Bolewski wrote:

> Hello,

Maybe this is an unusual question to this newsgroup, but perhaps one could> help me: …..SNIP…..I found several books in the library of the London University, which could> contain the poem….

DEAR MS. BOLEWSKI

I have accidentally stumbled upon this request of yours, nineteen years after you wrote it. It is now 19 years in the future and I found the German poem rather easily on Google. I present to you, for your reading pleasure, two of my English translations for this poem. Don’t stop that tear that is rolling down your now slightly-lined face – it is testament to how agape-type love can transcend anything, even time.

Love, a stranger from Berlin in the year 2014.

ORIGINAL GERMAN POEM BY JAKOB VON HODDIS:

Dem Bürger fliegt vom spitzen Kopf der Hut,

In allen Lüften hallt es wie Geschrei,

Dachdecker stürzen ab und gehn entzwei

Und an den Küsten – liest man – steigt die Flut.

Der Sturm ist da, die wilden Meere hupfen

An Land, um dicke Dämme zu zerdrücken.

Die meisten Menschen haben einen Schnupfen.

Die Eisenbahnen fallen von den Brücken.

My first translation for you (xoxo):

Hats fly off from citizens’ crowns

all the air resonates with a howl,

roofers crash down and split in two

and on the coasts – one reads – the flood is rising.

The storm is here, the wild seas hop over

to squash bulky dams on the land.

Most people have got the sniffles

the trains are falling off the bridges.

Or perhaps you’ll like this, my second translation, better:

Hats whacked off from bourgeois crowns

air waves swarming with howlish sounds,

roofers crash down to split in two

and the coasts – say the rags – are flooded under.

The storm is here, the wild seas flounce

to quelch the bulky dams on land.

Snot is dropping from people’s noses

while rails are dripping from the bridges.

So Ms. Bolewski, I hope you enjoyed my small effort to give you a little bit of sugar by reaching across nineteen years into an ever-flowing stream of bits and bytes, to give your desperate uni-student soul a bit of hope on the day you wrote this post in 1995.

If you wish to thank me personally I am reachable at my first name at gmail. Of course I won’t hear from you, I never hear from anyone. Life of a writer, eh!

Yours humbly,
Chicawhappa La Escritora.

UPDATE

After some input, I have improved these slightly.

An improved translation (scroll down for the best one):

Hats fly from citizens’ crowns

all the air resonates with a howl,

roofers crash down and split in two

and on the coasts – one reads – the flood is rising.

The storm is here, the wild seas hop

to squash bulky dams on the land.

Most people have the sniffles

the trains are falling off the bridges.

The best translation, in my opinion:

Hats whacked off from bourgeois crowns

air waves swarming with howlish sounds,

roofers crash down to split in two

and the coasts – the rags say – are flooded under.

The storm is here, the wild seas flounce

to quelch the bulky dams on land.

Snot drops from people’s noses

while rails drip down from the bridges.

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