Jakob van Hoddis

Strong Wind Over the Pale City

Starker Wind über der bleichen Stadt

With this bilingual edition a large selection of poems by Jakob van Hoddis will be published in English for the first time. The collection was made possible by his heirs in Israel and the US and by the Ursula Lachnit-Fixson Foundation, Berlin.


The Contributors:

Mitch Cohen lives as a translator and author in Berlin since 1977.

Gregory Divers is a translator, an author und professor of German studies in St. Louis/USA.

Irene Stratenwerth, the editor, has been working as a journalist, curator and author on the life and works of Jakob van Hoddis for more than 20 years. 


End of the World

From the burgher's pointy head, wind takes his hat.
All the air resounds with shrieks and cries.
Steeplejacks plunge from rooftops and so go splat.
And on the coasts − we read - the waters rise.

The storm has come; the wild seas hop and skip
Onto land; great dams are crushed by watery pestles.
Most people have post-nasal drip.
And trains are toppling from the trestles.

Jakob van Hoddis, 1911

 

He speaks his short verses with defiance and rage; they have such a radiant sheen that one could steal them from him.


 -  Else Lasker-Schüler, 1910

 

These two stanzas, oh these eight lines appeared to have transformed us into other people


 - Johannes R. Becher, 1957

 

This eight-liner proved to be one of the most resilient type of earworms.


 - Robert Gernhardt, 1990

Jakob van Hoddis

Jakob van Hoddis is one of the founders of literary expressionism. Born Hans Davidsohn in Berlin in 1887 into a Jewish family, the son of a physician. Between 1907 and 1913, he published his poems in literary magazines, reciting them at events held by the Neue Club in the Hackesche Höfe in Berlin. As of 1914, he spent his life in psychiatric clinics and institutions and in 1942, being a Jew, he was deported to Eastern Europe where he was murdered.

The translators:
Mitch Cohen is a translator and author. He has lived in Berlin since 1977.
Gregory Divers is an author and Professor Emeritus of German at St. Louis University in Missouri/USA.

The editor:
Irene Stratenwerth is a journalist, curator and author. Over the last 20 years she has worked on numerous projects involving the life and work of Jakob van Hoddis.