English Gedichte

Morgenstern, in English, is not Morning Star

Following on from my recent series of poems about The Position of the Pug in Poetry, I’ve translated another poem by Christian Morgenstern, this one of his best known works, Der Lattenzaun, from 1905 – The Picket Fence. Here it is:

The Picket Fence

There once was a picket fence
with gaps through which to glance.

An architect perceiving this,
one evening, thought it looked amiss

and snagged the gaps, took them away,
and out of them built a chalet.

The fence, meanwhile, was founded dumb
his gapless pickets made it glum,

a sight so ghastly and confounded
the Senate had the thing impounded.

The architect away he stow
to Afri – or – Americo.

And here’s the original:

Der Lattenzaun

Es war einmal ein Lattenzaun,
mit Zwischenraum, hindurchzuschaun.

Ein Architekt, der dieses sah,
stand eines Abends plötzlich da –

und nahm den Zwischenraum heraus
und baute draus ein großes Haus.

Der Zaun indessen stand ganz dumm
mit Latten ohne was herum,

ein Anblick gräßlich und gemein.
Drum zog ihn der Senat auch ein.

Der Architekt jedoch entfloh
nach Afri – od – Ameriko.

A picket fence

A differently challenged picket fence
photo: Martin Bartholmy (a hi-res version is available her)