July 4, 2011

August Stramm


August Stramm [Germany]
1874-1915

Born on July 29, 1875, August Stramm is still seen today as a radical poet and dramatist who changed German literature before the First World War
.
Stramm was the son of a railway official, who encouraged him to pursue a career in the German Postal Administration, while his mother hoped he might become a priest. By the age of 20, Stramm has established a career with the Postal system. At the same time he remained in the University of Halle, where, in 1909, he received a PhD.

As early as 1902, Stramm penned his first drama, continuing to write both poetry and drama throughout the decade.

In 1913 he met Herwarth Walden, the editor of the Expressionist journal Der Sturm, who found the young poet to have a strong voice, publishing several of his poems in his magazine.

Nearing 40, Stramm was made a captain in the Prussian Army, and his war experiences became a major topic for his continuing poetic works, written often on the frontlines of war. After being involved in more that seventy battles, Stramm was killed in Russia in September 1915.

Although he was planning the publication of his first volume of poetry at the time of his death, Stramm did not live to see his work collected, nor did he see any of his plays, Die Haidebraut (The Bride of the Moor, 1914) and Sancta Susanna (1914), performed. However, the plays were in print. Several composers, including Paul Hindemith and Milton Babbitt, have set Stramm's work to music.

Upon his death, Walden gathered Stramm's poetry, publishing it in two volumes, Du: Liebesgedichte (Thou: Love Poems, 1915), and Tropfblut (Drip-Blood, 1919).
The powerful staccato effect of his poems was an important influence on the later Dadaists, and his poetry has grown in stature over the years.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Du: Liebesgedichte (1915); Tropfblut (Berlin: Verlag der Sturm, 1919)

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

Twenty-two Poems, trans. by Patrick Bridgwater (Wymondham, England: Brewhouse Press, 1969)



Melancholy

Living desires
Shouldering to stand
Glimpses searching
Dying grows
Striding to strive
What is to come
SHRIEKS!
Deep
Dumbing
We.

—Translated from the German by Marshall Hryciuk

(1913)


Wounds

Earth under the helmet flowers
Falling stars
Grope through space.
Roaring shudders
Whirl
Alienation.
Distance
Mist
Weeping
Your glance.

—Translated from the German by Marshall Hryciuk

(1914)



Frost fire

Toes deaden.
Breath smelts to lead.
Hot needles dance in fingers.
Backs turn to snails.Ears hum coffee.
The fire swaggerswith logs
andwith a shrivela crack
a satisfactionyour simmer heart
sips
from high in the skya seething sleep.

—Translated from the German by Alisiair Noon

(Berlin, 1914)



Battlefield

Tender sods fallen asleep at their iron
Blood fluffing outpost scum
Rusted crusts
Slimy flesh skinned
Sucking scores the dessicated.
Baby-faced
Killerkillers
Winking

—Translated from the German by Marshall Hryciuk

(Berlin, 1914)


Primal Death

Space
Time
Space
Travel
Raining
Aiming
Space
Time
Space
Expanding
Uniting
Increasing
Space
Time
Space
Sweeping
Restraining
Stretching
Space
Time
Space
Wrestling
Throwing
Throwing up
Space
Time
Space
Falling
Sinking
Overturning
Space
Time
Space
Whirling
Space
Time
Space
Disturbing
Space
Time
Space
Whirring
Space
Time Space
Erring at
Nothing

—Translated from the German by Marshall Hryciuk

(Berlin, 1915)


Wonder

U Stands! U stands!
And I
And I
I wing
Spaceless timeless lost my way
U stands! U stands!
And
Raging bearishly shrieks myself
I
Bears my very self!
U!
U!
U binds time
U bends the circle
U souls the spirit
U gazes the look
U
Circles the whirled
The whorled
The world!
I
Circle the all
and u
and u
U
Stand
The
Wondrous

—Translated from the German by Marshall Hryciuk

(Berlin, 1915)


_______________
"Melancholy," "Wounds," "Battlefield," "Primal Death" and "Wonder"
English language copyright ©2011 by Marshall Hryciuk

"Frost fire"
English language copyright © Alaistair Noon.

1 comment:

Sue Blue said...

This article is incorrect in that August Stramm DID receive the printed books of his plays (definitely "Erwachen" and "Die Haidebraut") and his first volume of poetry "Du" by post, sent by his publisher Herwarth Walden while in the war trenches. See: "August Stramm. Alles ist Gedicht. Letters, poems, images and documents. Edited by Jeremy Adler. Arche, Zurich, 1990; see letter of 14/02/1915, pp. 37/8.