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Between Nothing and Nothing

Between Nothing and Nothing

by Ernst Meister

Bilingual English / German edition

Translated by Jean Boase-Beier, with an introduction by John Hartley Williams

Part of our Visible Poets series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

Ernst Meister has rarely before been translated into English, and yet his is a poetry which deals with the big issues: love, death, freedom, security and the ambiguity of existence. For Meister, the former philosophy student, thinking and writing were the same, and in this poetry the reader is able to follow through the poet's thought-processes, triggered by the everyday and rooted in the peculiarities of worlds. Often the conclusions are uncomfortable: life inevitably suggests death, love the end of love, security the loss of freedom and these are consequences the poems do not allow us to escape.

This volume collects representative poems, the vast majority never before available in English, written throughout the poet's life.

In this compelling new translation by Jean Boase-Beier, the reader may accompany him not just into the mindset of individual poems but also through a series of poetic wrestlings with life to a final confrontation with approaching death which very few poets have attempted with such clarity. Yet there is nothing morbid or depressing about these poems: Meister's answer to Nietzsche's comment that life is lived between nothing and nothing is a simple one: love. If the poet's conclusions are unflinching they are also, in the end, both startling and uplifting.

Parallel text, German / English enviable combination of lyrical talent and existential preoccupation... this is not a peaceful, divine perception but rather a distillation of despair... derangement seems almost justified.

Will Stone, Times Literary Supplement, June 2005

...among the best German poetry written [in the '50s to the '70s], in a way altogether at odds with the dominant trends and in Hölderlin's line of succession...

Michael Hamburger

130 pages

ISBN 1-900072-38-6
Published October 2003

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