These Numbered Days, poems by Peter Huchel, tr. Martyn Crucefix (Shearsman Books, 2019). Blurb: Joseph Brodsky hailed Peter Huchel as one of the finest poets of the last century, possessed of “the severest and most elegiac voice in German poetry”. Contemporaries in the German Democratic Republic referred to him as ‘the secret king’ and, in Iain Galbraith’s view, “lifted out of the schismatic currents of the Cold War era by Martyn Crucefix’s supple and arrestingly sensual translations, Huchel surprises us as a fresh and startling voice for our own numbered days”.
The calm of the stream,
the fire of the earth,
empty darkness of sky,
are my dangerous neighbours.
In her fascinating Introduction to this book, Karen Leeder comments, “knowing Martyn Crucefix’s work as I do, it is not so very hard to see a spiritual affinity here, which has resulted in pitch-perfect translation as intense and yet particular as the originals”.
“These beautifully nuanced new versions by Martyn Crucefix serve to reawaken Huchel as a prime European poetic voice mournfully shaped by a swiftly receding past, the signalling of an irretrievable loss which seems pressingly relevant to our supremely alienated epoch . . . With this finely curated collection, Huchel’s arresting and beguiling visions should now be fully credited in the Anglophone world” – Will Stone.