22 May 2005

100 words on a poem: No.3

Thomas Kielinger’s poem ‘Eingeschaltet’ addresses the mediated nature of experience. It uses a quotation from Simonides in Herodotus’s Histories which is rendered in German as ‘Wanderer, kommst du nach Sparta, erzähle dorten, du habest uns hier liegen gesehen, wie das Gesetz es befahl’. Heinrich Böll alluded to the same quotation in his Second World War story Wanderer kommst du nach Spa of 1950. In Kielinger’s unification poem, the ‘Gesetz’ of the pass-me-down saying is replaced by ‘TV’, ‘Sparta’ by ‘Dresden’, and ‘liegen’ by ‘einig’. The Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC: the failure of the Greeks to hold the pass enabled the Persians to invade Attica, capture Athens and sack the Acropolis.

See Thomas Kielinger, Orpheus im InterCity (Pfullingen: Neske, 1991)