Requiem

Posted on 2nd June 2020 by simonbeattie

I had a very nice response to last week’s post, on Anna Akhmatova. This week, I thought I’d write about another poet I have translated: Gottfried Benn. I originally came across his first published poem sequence, Morgue (1912), when I was at university and had always been disappointed at other English translations which, to me at least, just did not sound like poetry. The expressionist verse, inspired by Benn’s work as a pathologist, shocked readers at the time, and the edition, printed in 500 copies, sold out within eight days. Here’s the final poem in the sequence, ‘Requiem’, the only one to rhyme in the original German:

My translation was published in 2018, in a limited edition of 250 copies. I shall have it available at the Firsts Online book fair later this week. At £12 a copy, it may well be the most affordable book at the fair.

The first edition of Gottfried Benn, Morgue … A new translation by Simon Beattie
(Breitenweg, 2018)

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