The Gottfried Benn Electronic Library includes an English translation of this poem (click through to read it side-by-side with the original):
A Fine Childhood
The mouth of a girl who had long lain in the reeds
looked so chewed up.
When we broke open the torso, the esophagus was so full of holes.
Finally in a bower under the diaphragm
we found a nest of young rats.
One little sister rat lay dead.
The others were living off liver and kidney,
drinking the cold blood and enjoying
a fine childhood.
And fine and fast was their death too:
we threw the whole bunch into water.
Oh, how those little snouts squeaked!
As for the film, this is a bit of a remake with extra audio effects added. Here’s what Lasse Kuhlmann posted in the description at Vimeo (italics added):
Schöne Jugend (A Beautiful Youth) is an award winning 60 seconds short film based on the same-titled poem by Gottfried Benn. This modern interpretation of Benn’s classic (poem) illustrates today’s society in a clear-cut formal structure. It is shot in only one take, one steady camera-spin of 360 degrees. The PoV (point of view) is thought to be in the middle of a table, around which eight people are eating in a gross manner. The well-thought-out visual concept is both enhanced and contrasted by the raw cruelty of human disgust.
Schöne Jugend was entirely reworked for the KLX 3D Sound format. While the original clip features only a narrative voice and “silent” pictures, Lasse Kuhlmann and Patrick Leuchter enriched the soundtrack by breathing life to those eight people shown in the frame. And while the camera spins around, the sound will spin AROUND YOU just accordingly.
Schöne Jugend wonderfully demonstrates the immersive real-life experience of the KLX sound format and was kindly provided by the director himself, who is highly enthusiastic about the new version.
make a film of the poem [meine heimat] by Ulrike Almut Sandig. The directors of the three best films will be invited to come to Berlin to meet the poet and have the opportunity of presenting their films and talking about them.
“This short animation features a collaged portrait composed of various contemporary world leaders reciting Bertolt Brecht’s poem ‘The Interrogation of the Good,” says Esteban del Valle in the description at Vimeo.
Argentinian-born artist and composer Mario Verandi directed and wrote the music for this “audiovisual composition,” as he calls it, which appears to have benefitted from a very active collaboration with the poet: that’s Monika Rinck’s face in the film and her voice reciting the German text. I was also interested by the fully bilingual nature of the compostion, the German in the soundtrack alternating with English in a different voice (that of Douglas Hendenson). The film premiered at the 2008 ZEBRA International Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.
For more on poet, essayist and actress Monika Rinck, including English translations of some of her poems, see her page at Poetry International Web.
The last of the three collaborations between German poets and Israeli filmmakers sponsored by the 5th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. Christian Hawkey is credited as translator for the English subtitles. I was struck by how the inclusion of a song at the end, during the credits, helps unlock the meaning of the videopoem.
For more poems from Daniel Falb in English, as well as a bio, see Poetry International Web.