Marie Luise Kaschnitz--German

       
Marie Luise Kaschnitz
(1901-1974)
 
Marie Luise Kaschnitz, born 1901, near the German Black Forest, and moved to Berlin at the beginning of her teen years. After completing her schooling, Kaschnitz worked as a bookseller, and then in 1924 became secretary in the Archaeological Institute in Rome. There she met her future husband, an Austrian archaeologist, Baron von Kaschnitz-Weinberg. Her first book, a novel, Liebe Beginnt, was published in 1933. For the next decades they lived between Rome and Frankfurt. In 1940 they became trapped in Frankfurt due to the firebombing of the city. They remained there through the remainder of the war. Kaschnitz’s future work took on the mood and impressions she experienced during the war. Her book “Hiroshima,” took on the brutality of bombing. She went on to publish extensively after the war. She died in 1974.
 
 
Not Brave
 
The brave know 
They will not rise again
That no flesh will grow around them
On Judgment Morning
That they won’t remember anything
That they won’t see anyone ever again
That nothing of theirs is waiting
No salvation
No torture
I 
Am not brave.

Translated by Eavan Boland

 

 
 
Hiroshima
The man who dropped death on Hiroshima
Rings bells in the cloister, has taken vows. 
The man who dropped death on Hiroshima
Put his head in a noose and hanged himself.
The man who dropped death on Hiroshima 
Is out of his mind, is battling with risen souls
Made of atomic dust who are out to attack him.
Every night. Hundreds and thousands of them.
None of it’s true.
In fact, I saw him the other day
In his front garden, there in the suburb—
With immature hedges and dainty roses.
You need time to make a Forest of Forgetting
Where someone can hide. Plainly on view
Was the naked, suburban house and the young wife
Standing beside him in her floral dress
And the little girl attached to her hand
And the boy hoisted up on his back
And cracking a whip over his head.
And he was easy to pick out
On all fours there on the lawn, his face
Contorted with laughter, because the photographer
               Stood
Behind the hedge, the seeing eye of the world.


Translated by Eavan Boland