Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany

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Editorial Reviews

5 & 10 + 2
These are completely accessible poems, deeply felt, carefully composed....For anyone drawn to family history of an area and its real people going back for generations, Krapf gives us a full plate and more of his rich German-Indiana heritage.
Academic Library Book Review
These are strong poems about things that matter...they are specific to a region, yet they reveal in their fine language and vision what universal may be found in the specifics of the world. And that is what makes for good poetry in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Arts Indiana
Although these poems are deeply rooted in the....lives of Krapf's German-Catholic ancestors, their ultimate concerns are what Faulkner called the "old universal truths" of "love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice."
The mix of sunny and dark images places the poet in a Frostian tradition as well as a Whitmanian one; Krapf's poems reverberate with the mystery of human character at the core of his family roots.
German Life
With poet David Ignatow you may call Krapf's work "a book of rural psalms" that celebrates the chain of generations past and still unborn. No doubt, Norbert Krapf is today's strongest poetic voice in search of German heritage.
Sycamore Review
With its emphasis on the specificities of a place and its people, Krapf's poetry has deep affinities with the local color tradition of American literature. But like Kentucky poet Wendell Berry, Krapf's forte is in recognizing the spiritual interaction between a people and their place...For Krapf, the relationship is that of a son who has been much blessed through the sacredness of place and familial love.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568090351
  • Publisher: Time Being Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Pages: 125
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Freiburg im Breisgau

for Maggie Mills

No matter where you enter town,
you will be pulled toward
the medieval Marktplatz.
You will have no choice but
to feel cobblestones push
against the soles of your shoes.

You will want to feel your
own limits transgressed
by the fretwork of a spire
outlined against the foothills
of the Schwarzwald beyond.
You will not resist the urge
to run your fingertips along
the grain of the salmon-pink
sandstone walls of the cathedral.

You will delight in watching
the cool water of the Dreisam
rush along the stone runnels
between cobblestone and sidewalk.

If you are alone,
as you may want to remain,
you will not care to join
the tourists sipping Kaiserstuhl
wine at tables in outdoor cafes.

You will not buy cut flowers
or fruit from vendors on the right.
They do not grow what they sell;
they stand between those who
grow and those who consume.

You will find your feet
following the contours
of cobblestones to the left
of the cathedral, where farm
women and men sell what
they have dug from the earth
or plucked from a bush or tree.

You will look at their weathered
faces and simple clothing
and be glad to feel rough
fingers place an apple
or bag of plums in one hand
and return coins in the other.
You'll add your Bitte
to a hearty Danke schon.

After savoring the local fruit
you will stroll toward the cathedral,
push open a heavy wooden door,
and come into atextured darkness
layered with rays of light
filtered through colored glass.

You will have to sit down
on a wooden pew to let it
all enter into you. What
presses down upon you will be
more than the sum of human
history. A largeness will
rise up within you, and a force
from beyond will match
this pressure from within.

When your breathing returns
to normal, you will sense
a presence at your side.
You will not be able to
overcome a sensation that
you are drawing breath
within a work of art your life
and the life of your people
have somehow helped to create.

Tannenbaum, 1940

For Louis Daniel Brodsky

It stands in middle-class
dignity on a platform
glazed with cotton snow,
before lace curtains
gathered on the bay windows.

Burning wax candles give off
halos and add a romantic
glow to the glass globes
and a shimmer to the tinsel
dangling in elegance
from evergreen boughs.

Listen: you may even hear
a familiar Christmas melody
and the line Wie treu sind
deine Blatter! You may hear
the lullaby Ihr Kinderlein
kommet and Stille Nacht,
Heilige Nacht! Yes, you
may hear the angelic voices
of a Knabenchor winging
through the air from
the radio in the corner.

Now look up. Do you see,
in all this glow, the image
of the Infant King,
the future Prince of Peace,
hanging near the crown
of this tall Tannenbaum?

Have a sip of Gluhwein,
have a taste of Stollen,
but do not forget: This
is Deutschland. This is 1940.

Now look down. Look down
near the bottom boughs
of this evergreen wonder
and behold other ornaments
suspended in the haze.

See how these metal crosses
are hooked like angry claws?
Say Hakenkreuz. Say Swastika.
Now what songs do you hear?
What pastry do you taste?
What wine do you sip?
What boughs do you smell?
What light do you see?




Copyright © 1995 Madison Books. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Flax: A Prologue 17
Part One: Waking In Europe
Waking in Europe 21
Freiburg im Breisgau 22
At Durer's Self-Portrait 24
Frau Brummer in the Garden 25
A Swabian Scene 27
Digging 28
Song of the Black Forest 30
Black Forest Snowfall 31
Black Forest Song 32
Freiburg Still Life 33
Black Forest Woodcarving 34
A Scene from the Spessart 36
In Lohr am Main 37
Tugendorf 38
Hesslar 40
Part Two: Landscapes of the Masters
Rural Lines After Brueghel
1. Returning from the Hunt 43
2. Making Hay 44
3. Harvesting Wheat 44
4. Bringing Home the Herd 45
5. A GloomyDay 46
Village in Snowstorm 48
Homage to Tilman Riemenschneider, 1460-1531 49
Stag Hunt 51
Lines Drawn from Durer
Prologue 53
A Son Is Born 54
Apprenticeship 54
Walking Beyond Nuremberg 55
Wanderjahre 56
He Feels Warm Winds from the South 57
He Reaches a Wide Audience 59
He Portrays Himself on Wood 60
A Piece of Turf 61
He Dreams of Animals 62
He Sketches His Mother in Charcoal 63
He Illustrates Emperor Maximilian's Prayer Book 64
He Sketches Agnes in the North 65
Last Days and Words 66
Epilogue 67
Part Three: Stones for the Dead
A Hill near the Rhine 71
The Summer the Poppies Bloomed 74
The Name of a Place 75
In the City of Bach 76
Goethe and Others in Weimar 78
Franconian Flames 79
St. Martin's Day 82
The Woman in the Erlangen Photograph (1938) 84
Stones for the Dead 86
Dream of a Cave 88
Tannenbaum, 1940 90
The Name on the Wall 92
The Meditation Room 94
If I Could 96
A Jewish Cemetery in Franconia 97
Letter to Klara Krapf from the Village of Wonfurt 98
To the Brothers and Sisters of Klara Krapf from Wonfurt 101
To Babetta Reinstein from Gochsheim 104
A Freight Yard in Wurzburg 108
Meditation in the Israelite Cemetery, Wurzburg 111
Fragments on Theresienstadt 114
Stanzas from a Crematorium 117
Song for Klara Krapf's Ashes 120
Franconian Vision: An Epilogue 123
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