German poet

Hilde Domin--German


Hilde Domin


Born in 1909 as Hilde Löwenstein in Cologne, Domin took the name Domin in 1951 in honor of the Dominican Republic where she lived for fourteen years. As a young woman Domin studied law, economics and philosophy at universities in Heidelberg, Cologne, Bonn and Berlin. When the Nazi’s started to come to power, she emigrated to Rome with her friend Erwin Palm. In 1935, she received a doctorate in political sciences in Florence and began to teach. In 1939, she moved to England with her Palm, whom she had married in 1936. In 1940 she and Palm left for the Dominican Republic. They both returned to Germany in 1954. Her first book of prose, Das Zweite Paradies was published in 1968. She continued writing poetry through the remainder of her life and conducting poetry readings until her death in 2006.

Abel arise
Abel arise
it must be played again
daily it must be played again
daily the answer must lie ahead
the answer yes must be made possible
if you don’t arise Abel
how shall the answer
the only significant answer
how shall it ever change
we can close all churches
abolish all law books
in all the languages of the globe
if only you rise
at make it unspoken
the first false answer
to the only question
that counts
so that Cain says
so that he may say
I am your keeper
how could I not be your keeper
daily arise
that I may lie ahead
this yes I am here
your brother
so that the children of Abel
may no longer be afraid
because Cain will not be Cain
I am writing this
I a child of Abel
daily afraid
of the answer
the air in my lungs diminishes
as I wait for the answer
Abel arise
that there may be new beginnings
among all of us

The fires that burn

the fire that burns on the earth
shall be the fire of Abel
and at the missiles’ tail
shall be the fire of Abel.

when my house burns
when I am cast out again
when I lose everything
I'll take you with me,
dove of worm-eaten wood,
because of the gentle sweep
of your single unbroken wing."

The sunken city
for me alone
I swim
in these streets.
Others walk.
The old houses
have large new doors
of glass.
The dead and I
we swim
through the new doors
of our old houses.



August Stramm

Like many of his fellow German military poets, Stramm was killed in action.  Though Stramm worked for the German Post Office Ministry, he was an accomplished writer prior to the war. As a reservist with the German Army Stramm rose to the rank of Captain and in 1914 was called to active service. He was sent to the Eastern Front in 1915. A recipient of the German Iron Cross, Stramm was a Battalion Commander. He was shot through the head in a hand-to-hand fight. A collection of his poems, Dripping Blood, was published posthumously in 1919.

“War Grave”

Staffs fliehen* cross arms
Writing zag* pale unknown
Flowers impudent
Dust shyly.

Hoist applaud.
Your laughter blows.
Seize a seizing
Bellow ferrules


Reflective Questions: “War Grave” and “Attack”

The meaning for the German words in the poem “War Grave” are: fliehen (to run away; escape); zag (meek, fearful); glas (glass).

  1. Describe what the images in the first stanza of “War Grave” suggest to you.
  2. What is meant by the phrase “flowers impudent?” How might you rewrite this phrase?
  3. What is the mood expressed in “War Grave?”
  4. Describe “Attack” in your own words. 
  5. What is meant by the phrases, “hoist applaud” and “bellow ferrules?”
  6. What does “nothing” signify at the end of the poem?

Subscribe to German poet