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The End Of The Owls



by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (translated By Jerome Rothenberg)

I speak for none of your kind,

I speak for the end of the owls.

I speak for the flounder and whale

in their unlighted house,

for the seven cornered sea,

for the glaciers

they will have calved too soon,

raven and dove, feathery witnesses,

for all those that dwell

in the sky and the woods,

and the lichen

in gravel,

for those without paths,

for the colorless bog

and the desolate mountains.


Glaring on radar screens,

interpreted one final time

around the briefing table,

fingered to death by antennas,

Florida’s swamps

and the Siberian ice,

beast and bush and basalt

strangled by early bird,

ringed by the latest maneuvers,

helpless under the hovering fireballs,

in the ticking of crises.


We’re as good as forgotten.

Don’t fuss with the orphans,

just empty your mind of its longing

for nest eggs, glory or psalms

that won’t rust.

I speak for none of you now,

all you plotters of perfect crimes,

not for me, not for anyone.

I speak for those who can’t speak,

for the deaf and dumb witnesses

for otters and seals,

for the ancient owls of the earth.



Hans Magnus Enzensberger (11 November 1929 – 24 November 2022) was a German author, poet, translator, and editor. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Andreas Thalmayr, Elisabeth Ambras, Linda Quilt and Giorgio Pellizzi. Enzensberger was regarded as one of the literary founding figures of the Federal Republic of Germany and wrote more than 70 books,[1] with works translated into 40 languages. He was one of the leading authors in Group 47, and influenced the 1968 West German student movement. He was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize and the Pour le Mérite, among many others.





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