Else Lasker-Schüler

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At night I used to steal the rose of your mouth, so that no other woman could drink there. The one who now embraces you is taking away the shivers I drew around your limbs. I am your wayside. The one to touch you is bound o fall. Can you feel my essence all over, as if it were a distant hem?

Else Lasker-Schuler was born in 1869 in Elberfeld, Germany to an assimilated Jewish family. She knew she was Jewish but was unaware of Jewish tradition.

Due to illness she left school at eleven and was homeschooled by her mother, also a poet.

After her mother and brother passed away she grew into an unusual, for that time, woman. A queen of the bohemian circle, she won the Kleist Prize in 1932 for her poems.

A feeling of alienation dusts her poetry from this time, not quite Jewish but not quite German either.

She married twice and divorced twice and had a son, who died in 1927 from tuberculosis.

In 1933, aged 64, she was beaten on the street by Nazi thugs and on impulse fled Germany to Switzerland. From there she travelled to Palestine to visit Jerusalem and during a visit in 1939 war broke out and she was denied re-entry to Switzerland.

The reality of life in Jerusalem compared to her imaginings was harsh and full of loneliness and poverty for her.  She died in 1945 after completing her last collection of poems, My Blue Piano.

My Blue Piano/ Else Lasker-Schüler, 1943

At home I have a blue piano.

But I can’t play a note.

 

It’s been in the shadow of the cellar door

Ever since the world went rotten.

 

Four starry hands play harmonies.

The Woman in the Moon sang in her boat.

Now only rats dance to the clanks.

 

The keyboard is in bits.

I weep for what is blue. Is dead.

 

Sweet angels, I have eaten

Such bitter bread. Push open

The door of heaven. For me, for now —

Although I am still alive —

Although it is not allowed.

 

Articles referenced: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/else-lasker-schuler-the-poetry-of-alienation/

http://meetingbenches.com/2017/05/german-poetry-love-poetry-else-lasker-schuler/