My soul mate’s soul is like delicate silver,
Two lissome white seagull wings
Her feet,
And in her dear blood
Rises a blue intimation
Of things
All miraculous

– Peter Hille

English version by Johannes Beilharz, who writes:
In this translation I deviated quite noticeably from the German original, e.g. by avoiding the second person address and using third person instead ("her"), with the intention of rendering more the feeling of Peter Hille's poem or its inner intention, as I experienced it, than the actual words.
Peter Hille (1854-1904) traveled widely in England, Holland and Italy before settling in Berlin, where he became friends with Detlev von Liliencron (Germany's leading impressionist poet), Richard Dehmel, Rainer Maria Rilke, Otto Julius Bierbaum and Else Lasker-Schüler (who mystified him in her Peter Hille book of 1907). Lived most of his life in poverty, helped by friends. The Rowohlt Literaturlexikon 20. Jahrhundert (1971) calls him "the fragmentist of impressionism, who succeeded in recording momentary sensual and psychic impressions in an idiosyncratic manner." Along with Lasker-Schüler, he is also considered a precursor of German expressionism.


Peter Hille: Abbild


Seele meines Weibes, wie zartes Silber bist du,
Zwei flinke Fittiche weißer Möwen
Deine beiden Füße,
Und dir im lieben Blut auf
Steigt ein blauer Hauch,
Und sind die Dinge darin
Alle ein Wunder.

– Peter Hille (1854-1904)

Von und über Peter Hille sind im Buchhandel und Online-Buchhandel, z.B. Amazon, etliche Werke erhältlich.


Distant greeting by telephone

I call you on the telephone:
Good morning! – How are you, my dear?
I’m listening to your voice’s tone.
It’s lovely, soothing and so very clear.

Through wire I kiss you on your distant ear,
You’re mine – aren’t you, my sweet?
How ever I hurt you when I was near:
Please do forgive me – I entreat!

You’re fine? – Great! – Worried about money?
Never you mind, the cost is not that much.
I have to go now and hang up, my honey.
Next time I’ll write to get in touch.

Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934)

Translated from the German (which can be found here) by Johannes Beilharz.

This poem was written in the days when not everybody had a telephone and definitely before the advent of free local calls or flat rates. If Ringelnatz were alive today, he'd have to rethink and write about wireless communication and e-mail. No doubt he would.

Copyright of translation by Johannes Beilharz 2008.