January 10, 2015

Herbert Zand

Herbert Zand [Austria]
Born in Bad Aussee, the son of a farmer, Herbert Zand served in the Army in World War II, when he was seriously wounded on the Russian front.
     After the war, Zand worked as a publisher’s assistant, and later began writing. He started as a novelist, publishing his first fiction in 1947, and by 1961 had written three other titles, followed by his renowned fiction Erben des Feuers (Otto Müller) (Heritage of fire), which was highly critical of post-war Austrian society. The fiction was published in English as The Last Sortie, the Story of the Cauldron by R. Hart-Davis in London in 1955. A new translation, Legacy of Ashes appeared on Ariadne Press in the U.S. in 2001.
    He also wrote poetry, his most notable work being Die Blaskugel (The crystal ball), a collection which appeared in 1953. His complete works were published as Gesammelte Werke, complied by Wolfgang Kraus in six volumes, published by Europa Verlag in 1973. 
   Zand died of the war injuries he had received years earlier, in 1970.


Die Blaskugel (Vienna: Donau-Verlag, 1953); Aus zerschossenem Sonnegeflecht. Gedichte, ed. by Wolfgang Kraus (Vienna: Europa Verlag, 1973)
Selection in Austrian Poetry Today, edited and translated by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner (New York: Schocken Books, 1983; selection in Beth Bjorklund, ed. Contemporary Austrian Poetry in Translation: An Anthology (Teaneck, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1986)
Dreams, Your Time Hasn’t Come
Dreams, you time hasn’t come.
Your time will be like yesterday,
when you wake up one morning in a strange city,
when you wake up in a strange home,
when you wake up with a name
that’s called despair, or perhaps patience.
Dreams, it’s still too early, too late.
It isn’t yet the time of many suns,
not the time of the hemlocks;
now is the time for bees to collect honey,
not the time for marriage-flight.
—Translated from the German by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner
My Whole Life Long
My whole life long
I’ve tried
to understand a few things;
calm confidence,
the power of love,
the power of free choice,
and the power of the word
when used.
I know that there is happiness,
and that there is sadness,
and I fold up papers,
and I close books,
they don’t tell me enough.
They call things by name.
I’m now on the track of other things,
that have no name,
between happiness and sadness,
between joy and pain,
all the nameless things
which are as mute as at time’s beginning.
—Translated from the German by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner

They are more beautiful than domestic animals,
and more delicate,
without trust, born
to be in flight for a lifetime,
in freeze to death in the snow
at dawn in January.
Sometimes they are brought into the village on sleds.
Heads hanging down. Resting in utterly
horrible beauty.
Children turn away from this sight,
as if they were demons in a play, even more terrifying
than the giants in fairy tales, and could
ruin their lives. Women
turn away. Blood. The branch of a fir tree.
This is their death.

If they could, they would leave this earth
for other planets,
where there are countless trees and mild winters.
They would wander lonely fields
grazing in the silver dew where the moon goes pale.
And the wind rushing from the forests would never bring
the scent of danger.

 —Translated from the German by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner
English language copyright ©1983 by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner. Poems reprinted from Austrian Poetry Today, edited and translated by Milne Holton and Herbert Kuhner (New York: Schocken Books, 1983.

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