Everything continues much as before, especially the war,
But also the daily dressing and undressing. The left and right half
Of the body remained conjoined, and there's still that chasm
Between reflection and self. And people kill and breed
Not just out of desperation, but to pass the time.

Poets, so they tell us, are awkward customers
Not up to much. Even laughter has a keener, full-throated edge
When they're not around. They're not very amusing.

After hymning evil and violence in six long cycles,
Lauttéamont the scorpion wheeled around.
His magnum opus on good remained a pious sketch.

Baudelaire, prepared to saw through his throat with a blunt knife
When the first broadsheet newspaper was printed,
Thought, not for the last time, the end of poetry was nigh.

Copyright © 2005 by Durs Grünbein and Michael Hofmann. From Ashes for Breakfast. Reprinted with permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.