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David Bergman: Three Poems after Heine

Heinrich Heine translated into English by David Bergman


[Wie schändlich du gehandelt]

I’ve kept your dirty secret,
in public stayed aloof,
but rowed my little dingy out
to tell the fish the truth.

I won’t keep your reputation
from spreading near and far,
but just beyond the shoreline
they know how sick you are.


[Das Meer erstrahlt im Sonnenschein]

The ocean’s melted by the sun
to strings of beaded gold.
When I die just set me out
to drift among the shoals.

I’ve always loved the open sea
for each  wave’s cooling touch
dims the flame beneath my heart.
Thank you very much.


[Und als ich euch meine Schmerzen geklagt]

When I declared my love to you
in simple words of plainest prose,
you looked as if I’d lost a screw
and titled up your perfect nose.

But when I decked them out in rhyme
and made my references abstruse,
you thought my sentiments divine
and prayed I’d choose you as my muse.