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Friederike Mayröcker


Will Wither Like Grass. My Hand too and Pupil


will wither like grass . my foot and my hair and my silentest word

will wither like grass . your mouth your mouth

will wither like grass . how you gaze into me

will wither like grass . my cheek my cheek and the little flower

which you know is there will wither like grass

will wither like grass . your mouth your purple-coloured mouth

will wither like grass . but the night but the mist but the plenitude

will wither like grass will wither like grass


                 —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




effulgence of hair


in the effulgence of hair

this effulgence of hair in the window

hair-effulgence, never seen anything like it

reflection of a tail of blond hair

in the front window of a car

hair-effulgence of a woman who remained invisible

eyes mouth nose chin not to be made out, just the angle

of the hair

blond hair

(drum) dripping dropping of hair, chimera

in the morning


                   —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




you wake up from the inside to the outside, for Marcel Beyer


in the vase the feverish palm-fingered

twig in between the rigid aging

lily-blossoms the brown lock the pallid

face staring at years to come. I see

on wide lines the wet

washing of Greek marble-blocks in sepia-coloured



                  —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




proem on the tailor Aslan Gültekin


and had seen each other I mean

cast a glance and the glances boundless

terrain, gazed at each other gazed one moment two moments long

while passing the door of his shop that is had touched

each other with one eye each while stealing past with contemplation, then

into the river-knee the man as it were profilewise

such a raptus scene, while a drop of sweat

slowly runs down my arm from my armpit

a letter suddenly from my name

falls to the ground I can see it fall, vanish –

with FERN-EYES, Breton


                   —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




bloody Mary


                         for Bodo Hell


a word on a notepad behind it a question-mark

beside it the discus of music dessous, the writing-block

covered with bright dust-crust scurf or semolina on paper

and the mere thought of poems by Andrea Zanzotto

makes me bleed to death above the writing-place. Like

ox-blood / bloody Mary. No “while” no affected

since high-backcombed (Hölderlinesque) comma at the end

of the final line – imitated all too often, but

the lark I really this year for the first time

I mean heard her sing and saw how she changed

her altitude from one second to the next, an eddying

and skipping up the sky without necessarily associations of Franz Schubert.

CLEAN NOTHING HERE says the warning sign for the cleaning lady,

stuffed into the side of the cardboard medicine-box

decaying beneath the concert grand, the Inverness coat yes

on such a June morning! The whole time the sun

goes up and down and past the elder shrubs, -plantations

one of nature’s assistants doffing his hat


                   —Translated from the German by Richard Dove






                   for Ernst Jandl


this DINKY OPUS MINOR OF THUNDER in fledgling morning,

with tender bolts. In the kitchen, by the gas-flame

the Cyrillic hieroglyphs of a clump of honey, of three

drops of water, on a paper plate, of a sucking bee.

Slipping from my hand, a deep-blue felt-tip pen

assails my left foot, dyes my big toe.

Red is not red blue is not blue green is not green :

My painter’s character, says E.J,



                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




to a nightingale that’s just died


she had no more song

she had already fallen silent

but with deep sadness her eyes snow-eyes

were gazing at me

still lying somewhere with a halo / so to speak

her last letter / I don’t know

the little room where she slept sewn up

while the remembered sight of the blue

nightingale villa beyond the water

makes me cry

this tattered I mean half moon at the window

in whose light she gave up her battle

then the undertakers wrapped her up in a shroud

in which she swung like in the old days

in her hammock in D, beneath the trees

when she could still sing

when she could still laugh

when she could still run

across the wind-draped hills

through the fields of barley flowing up to the sky


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




there’s also flat-painted lamentation,


          for Jackson Mac Low on his 75th birthday


the deep

pear-gorge that is

scent of pear-trees from the depths

of memory has elicited

something like SENSATION : feeling

of deep childhood from me: with hanging-down

branches of the two pear-trees in front of the gate

painted green, rubbing the pear-trees’ leaves between the finger-tips

of my left hand, that long

this veiled childhood

wafts in the singing of evenings that the yellow / the

sun which summons up the bee – the bepeared boughs

again and again . .

while the barberry-lock of past summers

swarms into my blood,

a barberry horizon storms through my blood with

a sky that’s frowning suddenly

sultanas wearing shoes chary flying

sunshades and pennants


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




has 1 invisible bird here

drawn its song from its throat

in mid-winter I hear

the sound as though played with a bow from the throat

hear the throat of that bird

and don’t know from whose throat

in truth I mean it’s quite possible

I’m drawing that asthmatic breath

from my own throat

or some loved being remaining invisible

is drawing this sound from an unseen throat

a flame, a water-drawing smoke-extreme

an unbridled rose in the window – farewell.


for Ernst Jandl


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




on a Brecht poem


this tear which you feared I mean this

raindrop could fell your sweetheart

I think of it for days, nights on end (it could be 1 male lover too),

though, he or she were always so very much on their guard: pro-

spectively cautious so even 1 tear I mean that raindrop

couldn’t harm them. The point is you cannot

shelter him or her in any case from some calamity with your

love, etc.


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove






I no longer know which airport

Italy? French part of Switzerland? Grenoble maybe?

couldn’t stand, my legs without vigour /

my foot was hurting, whirring round my ears the lovely

language I scarcely understood, which both

excluded and enveloped me with its melody.

In the recess coffee and cake, I squatted then

on the floor of the baggage-trolley, i.e.

GROUND FLOOR –     so that the little Goya dog, peering over the curve

of the sandy desert, could have embraced me


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




Lord Jesus in the raspberry garden,


                       for Maria Gruber


raspberry drops 3 x today.

Raspberry drops upon your finger.

In the Middle Ages, my friend says, the cultivation of raspberries started

in monastery gardens . .

the raspberry garden in your hand.

Raspberry on my left cheek I think a heat-spot sprouted up overnight.

You’re fearful but indestructible, my friend says, while we’re sitting

beneath the tree’s wide crown in the guest-house garden : my left

hand on the linen cloth on the tavern table without moving, a long time,

as though it could feel the wood fetching breath. I’d eaten

my fill or somehow roused myself, felt body and spirit

had been won back again.

The hedged-in colony raspberry arbour.

Your raspberry-coloured smile which conceals all, makes all known.

The raspberry-red notes on the daily dose.

I saw the treetops in the window cut-out from my bed in the morning and saw

you coming and your wind-blown hair, in shorts and vest, but

next time I looked you were standing leaning against the tail of your car

in a long flowing garment (strapless) : hair halo smile.

Paint it like this, I say, you thought above all of raspberry-fragrance wood-verges

I mean in every moment you lose and gain your life in equal measure.

(Have grown quiet in recent days so averted

from people as though I’d already passed on to where no one speaks.

For a long time now I only speak in my head : if I really

speak to a person it’s like a poor copy of a predetermined slogan n’est-ce pas).


                             —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




infant / dotard :


: so close to each other / born out of mud or was it foam

the plastic-spoon catches pinches fiddles resists

the closing of the sideboard drawer which shoots

on smooth quiet soles (kind of almond connection)

like cooking poodle cleaning mother’s tart-art :

panama crown bananas cakes wafer-plastered

chocolate tower / witch-craft / zephyr lemon through chamber

and meadow -

pastel-coloured fever-curve. No knocking your way down mercury

columns any longer, all just DIGITAL : fingerly or

WITH A FINGER? as the doctor asks, HEADLIGHT / cotton-twill

nose and closing-garment, but somewhere you must have 1

outlet outbirth outflow because so anaemic.

From somewhere you’re losing all your fluid, your

whole blood-mind, your lupin-red.

Deep-red felt-tip pen is effusing onto writing-pad :

huge strawberry mark


for Stefanie Kolowratnik-Seniow


                              —Translated from the German by Richard Dove




to Elisabeth von Samsonow


you said “the mouse in the poem” and “how it has

leapt, SACK-WISE” and you have seen it, have shown

it off, to a friend, have translated it into the other

language, I shed tears over this mouse, i.e. that it,

as a spinning-top – driven by I don’t know whose

whip-hand – WAS TRILLING               could you

in that overheated rustic guest-house (Ruhrmoos / mountain station)

find it again?

yesterday evening when I went into that clapped-out smoked-out

pub to buy 2 rolls, the lady took 1 thin

napkin and wrapped the stuff up for me, I

pressed the rolls and said they were already hard.

As I looked at her, I recognised the whole

downtrodden history of her life in her old face.

In the corner DOG growled, outside the weir of the sky,

Sunday in February


                              —Translated from the German by Richard Dove






half-open the lean-to window traveller’s joy above the garden’s

archways, what was that name on the phone NOVELLO spoken very

rapidly then smudged, etc., outside sweet and fit to

break, from Artic circle, writes Sirkka K, where it’s so

warm and singular the trees yellow red, outside beyond the window

in the garden the crickets are making music quite audibly if you

hang a bit loose –                                                             we

sleep in rucksacks i.e. outside with children and tomato

pulp. The stars only somewhat mislaid : slipped southwards, the south of

the insane and outlandish. Am quite resigned, creep wholly / halfly into my

fur, on the reverse of these hills 1 sun askew surrounded  

by sleep 1 sun with penumbra it must be deceptive, no

birds so covered-up in the trees’ cones : before a sm.audience the

philharmonic, the sun is milky the sky, back then

when we saw “Hiroshima mon amour” we were at a loss, back then

4 decades back, but my hand has dissembled on me, in my dream last

night flew blissfully or else glided on roller-skates, mother’s brain

apostrophe : areas, grown ever smaller . . was clothed in sm.lace-

dress, where red waterfall : Lassingfall / Ötschergräben with

Guido and Egon the two twin children, back then when the Feldparthien

by Joseph Haydn


                              —Translated from the German by Richard Dove



Born in 1924 in Vienna, Friedericke Mayröcker attended business school before being drafted, from 1942 to 1945, into the Lufwaffe. At the same time, she trained as a school teacher, and after the war taught school until 1969, when she returned to devote full time to her writing.

     Among her many collections of poetry, prose, radio plays, and essays are Tod durch musen (1968, death through muses); Minimonsters traumlexikon (1968, minimonster’s dream dictionary); Fantom fan (1971); Das licht in der landschaft (1975, the light in the landscape); Fast ein frühlilng des markus m. (1976, almost a spring of markus m.), and Heligenanstalt (1978), translated by Rosmarie Waldrop and published by Burning Deck in 1994. Another collection, je ein umwölkter gopfel (1973) was translated by Rosmarie Waldrop and Harriett Watts and published by Sun & Moon Press as with each clouded peak in 1994, a book which will be reissued by Green Integer in an upcoming season. The poems above  are …raving language: Selected Poems 1946-2006, translated by Richard Dove and scheduled for publication by Carcanet Press.


English language copyright ©2006 by Richard Dove