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When we were first divided into two...

When we were first divided into two
And one of our beds stood here and one stood there
We picked an inconspicuous word to bear
The sense we gave it: I am touching you.

The pleasure of such speaking may seem paltry
For touch itself is indispensable
But we at least kept ‘it’ inviolable
And saved for later, like a surety.

Stayed ours, and yet removed from you and me
Could not be used yet had not ceased to be
Not rightly there and yet not gone away

And standing among strangers we could say
This word of ours as in the common tongue
And mean by it: we know where we belong.

This poem comes from an exchange between Brecht and his lover, Mrgarete Steffin. Read more here. 

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About the translation:
Bertolt Brecht
David Constantine
Original language:
2014 Number 2 - The Constellation

About the author

Original poet

Bertolt Brecht

BERTOLT BRECHT, one of the twentieth century’s finest dramatists and lyric poets, was born in Germany and forced into exile in...

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David Constantine


David Constantine

David Constantine was born in Salford in 1944. For thirty years he taught German at the Universities of Durham and Oxford. He...

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