Addio, Mr Heaney

Seamus Heaney
(1939 – 2013)

(Photographer uncredited)

Back in May of this year we had the good fortune of briefly speaking to Mr Heaney here in Rome where he had been a guest at the conference Ovid Transformed. In his wonderful, musical voice with what grace he asked:

Seamus Heaney: “So, are you a writer?”
Reply: “Well, we pretend to be sometimes.”
Seamus Heaney: “Oh, don’t we all, don’t we all.”



from Zone

Rom, der funkelnden verfaulenden Stadt, suess wie eine ueberreife Frucht, Rom ist die Totenstadt, die auf manche Menschen eine nur allzu verstaendliche Faszination ausuebt

– Mathias Enard (Fock & Mueller trans). Zone. Berlin Verlag, 2010

(Rome, the glittering rotting city, sweet as an overripe fruit, Rome is the city of the dead that, on certain people, exerts an all too understandable fascination)

Translation (of the translation) Miseraestupendacittà 2011

Rome and a serparo

For, by paying a few hundred lire, I had become a snake-owner too. It was a fine grey animal over a yard long with clever little black eyes: very active, letting slip no chance of nipping my hand with its unarmed (I hoped) gums. But, when I reached Rome, and my destination on the Tiber island, it had vanished. It must have slid gently away to freedom in the tram between the city walls and the Piazza di Spagna. Perhaps, after a panic in the tram, it was put out of the way. But perhaps it is still rattling its way unobserved round the Seven Hills; or it may be curled up among the pillars of the Forum, or, best of all, basking sleepily on a warm and grassy ledge of the Colosseum, beyond the reach of all harm.

– Patrick Leigh Fermor. Words of Mercury. John Murray, 2003.

Foto from


…brick sky red above Sant’Angelo aflame this will be an apocalyptic poem of Rome in waves


On the day of your addio

da La Notte di San Giovanni

Quant’era bella e svariata la vita!
Come si succedevano velocemente
le gioie e le delusioni,
come si alternavano le stagioni,
quando il tempo ci bagnava nella sua corrente!

Sul progresso

Beati loro che pensano al progresso:
io solo penso alla morte o al sesso.

– Juan Rodolfo Wilcock. Poesie. Adelphi, 1980

from The Night of San Giovanni

How beautiful and various life was!
How quickly came
the joys and delusions,
how the seasons too commuted,
when we in time’s current were bathed!

On progress

Lucky they are who think about progress:
I alone think about death or sex.

translations Miseraestupendacitta 2011

(photograph found online, uncredited)

April 17, 1919 – March 16, 1978

Nelly Sachs


Dienstag, 8. März 2011

18.30 Uhr

Spuren von Nelly Sachs im Werk von Ingeborg Bachmann und Paul Celan

Vortrag von Thomas Sparr


Ostia will welcome you

Ostia wird dich empfangen

ich werde in Ostia sein
ich werde dich dort erwarten
ich werde dich dort umarmen
ich werde deine Haende halten in Ostia
ich werde dort sein
in Ostia
ist die Muendung des Tiber
des alten Flusses

ich werde in Ostia nicht sein
ich werde dich dort nicht erwarten
ich werde dich dort nicht umarmen
ich werde deine Haende nicht halten in Ostia
ich werde nicht dort sein
in Ostia
ist die Muendung des alten Flusses
des Tiber

Ostia will welcome you

i will be in Ostia
i will expect you there
i will embrace you there
I will hold your hands in Ostia
i will be there
in Ostia
is the mouth of the Tiber
of the old river

i will not be in Ostia
i will not expect you there
i will not embrace you there
i will not hold your hands in Ostia
i will not be there
in Ostia
is the mouth of the old river
the Tiber

– Friederike Mayroecker. Gesammelte Gedichte. Surhkamp, 2004

translation Miseraestupendacittà 2011

(photo from

from Rom, Blicke

Freitag, 24. Nov. 72, L.M., ein windiger Tag, Regenbewoelkung, bleich-graues Licht, Herbst. Kam nicht zum Arbeiten, und ging mir diesen Keller ansehen, wie bereits gestern vorgehabt./Stieg wieder an derselben Haltestelle nahe der amerikanischen Botschaft aus, ueberall wimmelte es von Polizisten, irgendein Protest gegen irgendeine der zahllosen Verwahrlosungen, die taeglich auftreten, lief ab […]

Das Licht ist duester, man muss mit den Augen tasten, & tastet mit den Augen zuerst eine Fuelle als: Knochenfuelle, & vielleicht macht es diese Fuelle, die das Empfinden betauebt, stumpf macht, vergessen laesst, was man sieht – Stapel von Koepfen Stapel von Beckenknochen, Stapel von Arm & Beinknochen, Stapel von Schulterknochen…Das Grauen kommt langsam: ein Grauen ueber die Perversion, 1 Grauen an das Show-Tod-Business mit Toten, 1 Grauen ueber Menschen & Ideen, so etwas anzustellen, zu verfertigen – & 1 Ekel, ueber Bloedheit/Das Verloeschen des Einzelnen in der Totenmasse bis ueber den Tod hinaus

– Rolf Dieter Brinkmann. Rom, Blicke. Rowohlt, 1979

Friday, 24. Nov. 72, L.M. a windy day, raincover, pale-gray light, autumn. Couldn’t work and went to see this basement, as I had already planned yesterday./Got off again at the same stop by the American embassy, the whole place teeming with cops, some kind of protest or other against some kind of degradation or other, a daily occurrence, was taking place […]

The light is dark, one has to feel with one’s eyes, & with one’s eyes first feels a glut of: bone, & maybe it’s this profusion that numbs one’s senses, makes one dull, makes one forget what one sees – a heap of heads, a heap of hip bones, a heap of arm and leg bones, a heap of shoulder bones…The horror comes slowly: a horror of perversion, 1 horror of the show-death-business with the dead, 1 horror of men & ideas that would do such a thing, create such a thing – and 1 disgust of stupidity/the extinguishing of the individual in the mass of the dead even beyond death

(translation Miseraestupendacittà 2010)

(photograph found online, anonymous)

Rom eben

Wissen Sie, wenn jemand mehrere Jahre im Rom gelebt hat und danach immer noch alles romantisch und toll findet, denn hat er die Stadt nicht kennengelernt und nicht kapiert. Und dannoch: Wer Rom einmal geliebt hat, der wird es immer lieben. Sie werden Rom vermissen, wenn Sie erst weg sind. Denn diese Stadt ist einmalig, Rom eben

(You see, when someone has lived in Rome a number of years and still finds everything romantic and wonderful, they have neither gotten to know the city nor understood it. And yet: he who loved Rome once will love it forever. You will miss Rome only when you have left. For this city is unique, in short, Rome)

– Stefan Ulrich

(translation Miseraestupendacittà)

Herzlichen Glueckwunsch, Herr Poet!

Wilhelm Waiblinger

November 22 (21), 1804 – Heilbronn

January 17, 1830 – Roma


Roemische Freuden

Corso, Theater, und Akadamie, Oktober und Giostra,
Essen und Trinken, man lebt einzig, damit man’s geniest