16 January 2011

Ann Cotten

The use of two languages clearly adds to the literariness of this stanza from Ann Cotten's "Die Klassenfahrt":

Ich bin ein Pechvogel, darling
was willst du von mir
Das Gastschampoo
fällt ins Klo
I wanted to kill you
but you said no
so what are we for?
Jetzt sitzen wir da
und weinen bitterlich
und niemand ist froh
weil nämlich
es stimmt gar nicht

Notice how the rhymes are possible because of the shift in languages (froh instead of happy; the initial syllable of darling and da; you to match Gastschampoo; etc.).  The words are chosen as much for their meanings as for their sounds.  In fact, the shifting of language complements the theme of the whole poem.  In translation, the stanza loses its power.  If the original were all in German or all in English, it would lose not just its power but its point.

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