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Erich Kästner 133  Erich K ästner (1899–1974) Autobiography For those who weren’t born, it’s all the same. They perch above some tree in Space and smile. Myself, I never thought of it. I came, A nine-months child. I spent the best part of my life in school, Cramming my brain till I forgot each word. I grew into a highly polished, model fool. How did it happen? I really never heard. The war came next (it cut off our vacation). I trotted with the field artillery now. We bled the world to ease its circulation. I kept on living. Please don’t ask me how. Inflation then, and Leipzig, and a whirl Of Kant and Gothic and Bureaucracy, Of art and politics and pretty girls, And Sundays it was raining steadily. At present I am roughly 31, And run a little poem factory. Alas, the greying of my hair’s begun, My friends are growing fat remorselessly. I plop between two chairs, if that’s appealing, Or else I saw the bough on which we sit. I wander down the garden-walks of feeling (When feelings die) and plant them with my wit. I drag my bags around despite the pain. The bags expand. My shoulders grow unsure. 134 German In retrospect, permit me to explain: That I was born. And came. And still endure. Jerome Rothenberg, 1958 ...


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