15 June 2005

100 words on a poem: No.6

Günter Grass's poem 'Die Vogelscheuchen' voices the ruminations of a domestic gardener. The opening 'Ich weiß nicht, ob man Erde kaufen kann' sets up Rousseauean overtones, but as the I-don't-knows accumulate, one detects paranoia: the gardener reports air-rifles behind the net curtains, scarecrows who talk to lettuces and who guard not vegetables but 'us', and the threefold 'läuten' at the poem's close refers to the scarecrows' spoons tinkling spookily. An ordinary garden with beans and weeds reveals itself as site of the uncanny; whether it is peopled by golem-like scarecrows or whether the gardener's mind is unhinged remains open.

See Günter Grass, Gleisdreieck (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1960).