Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Two versions of "Here in This Land" by Karl Kraus

On Facebook, John Michael Colón shared this translation of Karl Karus's "Here in This Land":
Here in this land no one is deemed absurd
but who should speak the truth. And all defenseless
he stands before the sneering, grinning herd,
which holds a sense of honor senseless.

Here in this land, where God is bought and sold
and manhood is pursued with execration,
all infamy is coined to purest gold
and lords it high in honor's station.

Here in this land you run a gauntlet's lane
of cut-purses who fervently despise you
and either get your purse by some chicane
or pat your back to show they prize you.

Here in this land, whatever be your boast,
you are not the master of your own decision.
The pest of greed obtrudes by every post,
effectively to blight your vision.

Here in this land you beat the empty air
as you denounce one evil or another,
and every grinning rascal debonair
in this land hails you as his brother.
Googling for more about it, I found another take:
Here in this land no one gets ridicule
but he who tells the truth. He then must stand
defenseless and attract some smirking, cool
disdain. Nothing dishonors in this land.

Here in this land a person's wickedness,
which elsewhere would lead straight to prison's door,
mints him pure gold, brings glory and success,
and garners honor for him evermore.

Here in this land a gauntlet you must run
of petty thieves with deep contempt for you,
who wish to steal your purse and, when it's done,
will try to win, besides, your handshake too.

Here in this land you never will find rest
when fleeing from contaminated schemes,
for to your house the post comes like the pest
and mercilessly kills your pleasant dreams.

Here in this land you strike an idle blow
if you attempt to hit this wily band,
and every knave will grin and let you know
you're his compatriot here in this land.

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