Today the German Süddeutsche Zeitung published a poem by Günter Grass about the conflict between Israel and Iran. The usual subjects immediately condemned the writer.

The following is my unauthorized (amateur) translation of the complete poem into English. I tried to stay as near as possible to the, sometimes seemingly awkward but certainly intended, original line breaks and punctuation.

What has to be said

Why am I silent, conceal too long,
what is obvious and in war games
has been trained, at whose end we as survivors
will at the most be footnotes.

It is the alleged right of first strike,
with which the Iranian people,
subjugated by a loudmouth
and steered towards organized elation,
could be snuffed out with,
because the building of a nuclear bomb
within its fiefdom is assumed.

But why do I prohibit myself,
to name that other country,
in which for years – though kept secret –
a growing capability exists
though out of control as
not open for audit?

The general concealment of this fact,
to which my silence subjugated,
feels for me like a burdoning lie
and a coercion, which promises punishment;
the verdict “antisemitism” is commonly used.

But now, because from my country,
which for its very own crimes,
which are incomparable,
is called up again and again and taken to task,
repeatedly and businesslike, though
by slippy lips declared as reparation,
another submarine to Israel
shall be delivered, whose specialty
consists of, steering all-annihilating warheads
whereto, the existence
of a single bomb is unproven,
but as a fear shall be conclusiveness,
I say, what has to be said.

But why my silence so far?
Because I though, my origin,
which has a not redeemable taint,
prohibited me, to strain,
with this fact as spoken truth,
the country Israel, to which I am
and want to stay beholden.

Why do I speak only now,
aged and with my last ink:
The nuclear power Israel endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because it has to be said,
what already tomorrow could be too late;
also because we – as Germans burdened enough –
could become supplier for a crime,
which is foreseeable, which is why our complicity
could not be redeemed
with the usual subterfuges.

And admittedly: I no longer remain silent,
because I am disgusted with
the hypocrisy of the west; additionally there is hope
that many may liberate themselves from their silence,
to request the originator of the discernible danger
to abstain from force
and also insist,
that unhindered and permanent control
of the Israeli capability
and the Iranian nuclear installations
through an international authority
shall be allowed by both countries governments.

Only this way can all, the Israelis and the Palestinians,
even more, all people who live in the delusion occupied region
near by near as enemies and in the end even us,
be helped.

Posted by b on April 4, 2012 at 01:32 PM | Permalink


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