Georg Trakl


(translated by Stephen Tapscott)

Paper $14.95
(ISBN 0-932440-42-8)

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Georg Trakl was born into a bourgeois household in Salzburg in 1887; he died in 1914, on the Eastern Front of WWI, of self-inflicted wounds. During his short, meteoric career, he moved Continental poetry from the Romantic reverie of the nineteenth century into a new interiority. The searing poems of his last months point toward an experimental verbalism, informed by an eerie, almost impersonal intensity: a poetry of great beauty and social power.

Trakl, whose brief and dramatic development left an enduring mark on poetry, not just for German-speaking writers but for the world at large, is freshly presented in this remarkable new collection of translations by Stephen Tapscott.

Tapscott's brilliant introduction, his careful selection of poems, and his sensitive and unerring versions of the originals, will make this volume a welcome addition to the library of all poetry lovers, both those who are already familiar with this great poet and those who are yet to meet him.

"Trakl's poems have astonished generations of readers with their fierce sadnesses, deceptive complexity, and subtle elegance. Tapscott's translations are a marvel, capturing in English the vitality of Trakl's silences; his lean, succinct poetic lines; his grim wit; and his quest for the ineffable in the face of often harrowing circumstances. I have long admired Georg Trakl's poetry and, with the help of Tapscott's nuanced introduction and fine translations, I read it in fresh and startling ways."
                                                                                                 —Kevin Prufer

"Stephen Tapscott's translations and eloquent preface will bring a new generation of readers to the 'mirror-image-world' of an essential poet (and a primal poetic myth). Trakl's work bridges Romanticism and Expressionism and could be seen to prefigure Sachs, Celan, Bachmann, while, perhaps unbeknownst to both poets, standing in tandem at the gate of European modernism with Apollinaire. Tapscott's translations are themselves haunting poems in English, recreating Trakl's signature landscapes and landslides from lyric to horror."
                                                                                                —Marilyn Hacker

Stephen Tapscott is the author of five books of poems. He has also translated the Selected Prose and Prose Poems of Gabriela Mistral and 100 Love Sonnets of Pablo Neruda, and edited the bilingual anthology Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry.



At evening the cuckoo stops
its crying in the woods.
The wheat bends lower,
the red poppy.

A black storm threatens
over the hill.
The old song of the cricket
fades in the field.

Unmoving, the leaves
of the chestnut.
Along the spiral stairs
your dress rustles.

Quietly the candle glimmers
in the dark room;
a silver hand
extinguishes it.

Wind-quiet, starless night.



Damn you, dark toxins,
white sleep!
This bizarre garden
of dusk-lit trees--
full of snakes, of night-moths,
spiders, bats.
Stranger! your shadow, lost
in the sunset:
a grim corsair
on misery’s salt sea.
White birds flap up on the margin of the night,
over collapsing cities
of steel.

--Georg Trakl
translated by Stephen Tapscott

Translation copyright c 2011 by Stephen Tapscott. May not be reproduced without permission.

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