Friday, July 16, 2010

Agnes Miegel: "There Was A Country"

Agnes Miegel (9 March 1879 in Königsberg, East Prussia - 26 October 1964 in Bad Salzuflen, Germany) was a German author, journalist, and poet. Her best-known lyrical works are ballads written in the classical tradition and poems about her East Prussian homeland.

In his book "A Terrible Revenge" (Palgrave/Macmillan 2006, ISBN 13: 978-1-4039-7308-5) the American lawyer and historian Alfred de Zayas writes about the literature of Germans from East Prussia, Silesia and Sudetenland, including Agnes Miegel, who personally suffered the expulsion from East Prussia at the end of the Second World War and expressed her loss and consternation in many poems published (mostly posthumously) in "Gedichte, Erzählungen, Erinnerungen" (Eugen-Diederich Verlag Cologne 1977). Her touching poem "Es War Ein Land" was translated into English by de Zayas: [1]

"Once there was this land—we loved this land—yet horror fell upon it just as dunes of sand. As elks in marsh and meadow vanished, so the trace of man and beast is lost. They froze in snow, they scorched in flames, how miserably they wasted in the hands of strangers. Deep under the Baltic waves they lie, their bones awash in bays and straits, they sleep on Jutland's sandy bosom, -- and we, the lone survivors, wander homelessly, like seaweed strewn about after the storms, like autumn leaves that drift and sob. Alone You, Our Father, You do know What this our desolation means."


Wheeler MacPherson said...

This is beautiful and important.

Thank you for digging and finding such gems, and especially for posting them for all to enjoy.

Also, thank you for the sustained pace of hard work you are doing here on your blog.

May God bless you and your house, brother.

Lone Wolf said...

Thanks Wheeler. Stumbled across this on a forum, and was struck by the poem.