03 August 2005

100 words on a poem: No.8

The physical capacities of sound are prominent in Durs Grünbein’s poem ‘Versprich mir’: an ‘ich’, for example, sounds within the words ‘versprich’, ‘dich’, ‘versprichst’, ‘sich’, ‘bricht’, ‘Nichts’, ‘spiegelbildlich’, before the assertion ‘Ich denke’. This translated and abbreviated cogito ergo sum is declared to be a rush of blood in the brain. The poem interweaves body imagery with other image-worlds: references to sonar, blindness, mirror and telescope thematize extensions and retractions of sight; there is a border-crossing here too ( ‘Kontrolle’, ‘Wände’, and mutual staring through binoculars). The ‘Fraktur’ in the brain thus suggests body-volatility as a political force.

See Durs Grünbein, Schädelbasislektion: Gedichte (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1991).