01 September 2005

100 words on a poem: No.9

Volker Braun’s poem ‘Hiroshima, 57 N.D.B.’ marks a ‘Treffpunkt’ – where rivers meet, where the barefoot shrine-visitor bows, and where the atom bomb’s ash and fire return. The use of hexameter in this Japan poem cannot but recall Goethe’s Italy poem ‘Froh empfind ich mich nun auf klassischem Boden begeistert’, another first-person encounter with a foreign culture. However, Braun’s is also a poem of neologisms: a borrowing (der homeless), a compound (BaumohneÄste), and a derived feminine (der Schatten / die Schattin). City and shrine elide and a speaking shadow closes the poem with the injuction ‘Geh und lebe mit Lust’.

See Volker Braun, ‘Japangedichte’, Neue Beiträge zur Germanistik, 111 (2003).