Three Poems by Robert Walser, translated by Daniele Pantano

From the Collection The Poems

December 21, 2022  By Robert Walser and Daniele Pantano

(A Ballad)

They should not clench their fists,
it is my longing that is drawing near to them;
they should not stand there full of rage,
my longing is timidly drawing near to them;
they should not be ready to pounce like vicious dogs,
as if they wanted to tear my longing to shreds;
they should not threaten with broad sleeves,
that pains my longing.
Why have they suddenly changed?
As great and deep is my longing.
No matter how difficult, no matter how menacing:
I must reach them and I am already there.



There laugh, there rise
in the coming and going
of the world many deep worlds,
all wandering again
and fleeing through the others,
regarded as ever more beautiful.

They surrender in their orbits,
become large in their escape,
their vanishing is their existence.
I am no longer troubled,
for I can unpulverized strive
through the world as a world.



Grey days, on which
the sun carried itself
like a pale nun, are gone.
A blue day is blue above,
a world has freely risen,
in which sun and stars sparkle.

All of this transpired in silence,
without racket, as a great will,
and without much ceremony.
The miracle opens up smiling.
There is no need for rockets
or matches, only a clear night.


Excerpted from The Poems by Robert Walser, translated by Daniele Pantano. Copyright © 2022. Available from Seagull Books.

Robert Walser and Daniele Pantano
Robert Walser and Daniele Pantano
Robert Walser (1878–1956) was a German-speaking Swiss writer who produced as many as seven novels and more than a thousand short stories and prose pieces.

Daniele Pantano is a Swiss poet and literary translator, and a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Lincoln.

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