Why I’m Not A Great Lover
The inner uncertainty.
The lack of belief
in something after.
The wrong music
at the wrong time.
The creaking chandelier
in the next room.
The shouting of drunks
down in the street.
The frost patterns on the window.
The poem by Rossetti.
By John Donne.
The thought of giant octopuses.
Of umbilical cords.
The squeaking of the bedsprings.
The bitter smell
of oranges consumed this morning.
The tons of soap, accumulated in the course
of an entire life.
The three-legged dog, seen
in a park fifteen years ago.
The power outage in ’98.
The atmosphere in the apartment
in winter around four o’clock in the afternoon.
The cold, insect-speckled light
of the fluorescent tubes above us.
The toys under the bed in the box.
The neck muscle pains.
A Sentence from the Great French Encyclopédie of 1756
The human population
on the planet
is, in its size,
and will remain constant
until the end of humanity
when no one is left
on this earth
Theory of Literature
An infinite number of monkeys
with typewriters, it is said,
would ultimately produce
the complete works of Shakespeare.
And shortly thereafter the work of Dante,
followed by Joyce, Goethe, Kafka,
Then, after a few months,
a few pieces of their own about things like
paws, trees or
Then a little Dostoyevsky again
and all of Shakespeare, once again from the beginning,
line by line.
In between pieces about trees,
about paws, about bananas,
and about eternal repetition.
These poems were selected for inclusion in the January 2015 Translation Issue by Daniel Medin, a contributing editor of The White Review. He helps direct the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris, and is an editor of The Cahiers Series and Music & Literature.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Ross Benjamin is an acclaimed translator of German literature living in Nyack, New York. His most recent translation is Clemens J. Setz’s novel INDIGO, and he is currently at work on a translation of Franz Kafka’s complete DIARIES, to be published by Liveright/Norton.