27 September 2015

Comparisons for the Incomparable



(This is a translation of Peter Handke's poem "Vergleiche für nichts Vergleichbares", which is taken from his collection Die Innenwelt der Außenwelt der Innenwelt.  As with all of the translations I've posted recently, this is my own work.)








Comparisons for the Incomparable
by Peter Handke




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               a
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               the fountain pump
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               the sign GÖSSER BEER in a horror film:

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               the tenants who are at church,
               when the airplane crashes into their house like
               the gap in the straw, into which the fugitive,
               after he had holed himself up in the barn, sank:
               then fell: then suffocated, like
               the train windows, which, after they had been
               pushed down while the train was stopped on
               an open route, now, as the train
               sets off again, are bit by bit pushed
               up again:

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               one
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               when one sees a child far away
               running in the street in a gale
               and at the same time hears in the hotel room next
               door the whispering of a man and then the
               laughter of his wife
               and at the same time sees trickles of glue from
               freshly pasted signs dripping on the sidewalk
               and at the same time sees how someone
               remains seated alone at the table while his escort,
               in order to freshen herself up, goes out
               and at the same time sees the the one accused
               hiding his face in his hand:

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      when
               Like when one wants to breathe in an iron maiden
               and then wakes up and sees the walls sweating
               and then sees one's eyelid drying out
               and then sees a pregnant woman on the bridge railing:

               like the fat in the bottom of the rotisserie machine
               like milk in the streetcar rails
               like the winking of the television chef
               like the shadow of the cameraman
               like the inner city
               like the big G
               like:
"how a swarm of grasshoppers claps from the violence of the fire into the water and the heavens resound with the shouting of the cranes and the grains are crushed by the trot of the braying cattle and the other fish in the bay, fleeing the immense dolphin, tussle with each other and the sheep of the rich man, bleating unceasingly, countless in their pen, fill the bucket with foaming milk and the man who caught sight of the queue and went back full of horror and the innumerable assembly of flying things, when the milk drips off of the butter, swarm restlessly through the enclosure of the country shepherd and the cicadas, which sit on the trees, set the forests abuzz with their bright voices":
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Like when one throws a sheet over the cage, in order to silence the screeching bird.