Gottried Benn – Driven to Music

19 Feb

Night Café

824: The Love and Life of Women.
The cello has a quick drink. The flute
belches throughout three beats: his tasty evening snack.
The drum reads on to the end of the thriller.
Green teeth, pimples on his face,
waves to conjunctivitis.
Grease in his hair
talks to open mouth with swollen tonsils,
faith hope and charity round his neck.
Young gointer is sweet on saddle-nose.
He stands her three half pints.
Sycosis buys carnations
to mollify double chin.
B flat minor: sonata op. 35.
A pair of eyes roars out:
Don’t splash the blood of Chopin round the place
for this lot to slouch about in!
Hey, Gigi! Stop!
The door dissolves: a woman.
Desert dried out. Canaanite brown.
Chaste. Full of caves. A scent comes with her. Hardly scent.
It’s only a sweet leaning forward of the air
against my brain.
A paunched obesity waddles after her.

— 1912, translated by Michael Hamburger

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