Featured Poem

Torso of Polyphemus

For Bernhard Andreae

The tuft of chest hair was proof enough for them.
The vast shank of marble, relinquished by the earth,
Its brutish melancholy, this brooding muscle-man
Could only be him: the savage from the wilder myths
About the artful sea-wolf, plaything of Poseidon.
Spliced like a tree trunk he came to the museum,
As though disfigured by an axe.
                                                 What had they done
To the monstrous birth, a real life infant, prepared

In formaldehyde and displayed there as a specimen?
Forehead smashed, where once that one eye stared?
Was this a second chance to whop the Golem Greek,
Like Odysseus’ shock troop back in the day? To blight
The Devil’s handiwork was held to be a Christian deed.
So the Cyclops was left a rump, for fear of the evil eye.

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About the translation:
Poet:
Durs Grünbein
Translator:
Karen Leeder
Original language:
German
Issue:
2014 Number 2 - The Constellation

About the author

Original poet

Durs Grünbein

Durs Grünbein was born in Dresden in the former East Germany in 1962. He has lived in Berlin since 1985, working as poet, essa...

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Karen Leeder

Translator

Karen Leeder

Karen Leeder is Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor in German at New Colle...

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