Oskar Marischler-Rotterheim (1891-1976) was a contemporary and friend of famed Austrian writer Alexander Lernet-Holenia. Born in Vienna, the cosmopolitan Marischler-Rotterheim was an imperial Austro-Hungarian officer, a Juris Doctor, and served as a city district official in East Tyrol before he became a writer. His poetry is influenced by impressionism and surrealism, and often displays a subjective magical realist style that is quite ahead of its time. Frequently signing himself simply "Oskar Rotterheim," his work has remained mostly unpublished. These striking selections are from a manuscript of 30 love poems dated 1944, which were no doubt unacceptable to the artistic dictates of the Third Reich. They appear in print and English translation for the first time courtesy of the author's nephew, Marcus von Blumencron.

Robert Dassanowsky
ROBERT DASSANOWSKY's recent book, Telegrams from the Metropole: Selected Poems 1980 - 1998 (University of Salzburg Press), was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001.  His poems and translations (poetry by Alexander Lernet-Holenia and Hans Raimund) have been seen in such publications as Abraxas, Albany Review, PEN International (U.K.), Poet's Voice (U.K./Austria), Salz (Austria), Caracteres (France), High Performance, Jacaranda Review, The Manhattan Review, Osiris, etc.  He is currently Chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures, and Director of Film Studies at The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He serves as founding president of the Colorado Chapter of PEN USA/West (1994-1999; 2002- ) and is founding Vice President of both the Austrian American Film Association and the International Alexander Lernet-Holenia Society. In addition to his widely published literaty and film criticism, he is an independent film producer and corresponsing editor for such literary journals as Osiris (USA), Rampike (Canada), and Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria).
The Adirondack Review
I.


Ich geb Dir einen Namen, süss wie Wein --
Gleich einer Beere schmiegt er sich im Munde
Auf der sich manche milde Sonnenstunde
Verträumte in die Dämerung hinein.

In diesem Namen warst Du immer mein
Solang ich meine Sehnsucht mir erkunde
Und alles Wehgeschlagene und Wunde
Heilte der Glaube an Dein Nahesein.

Ich kenn Dich gut -- Du bist mir oft begegnet
In vielen Wesen aufgeteilt: oft nur
In einem Aug, von Tränen aberrant

In einer leisen eingekerbten Spur
An liebem Mund, in einem Beben nur
Von Händen, die mir meine Not gesegnet.


        
                   Oskar Marischler-Rotterheim




                            I.


I give you a name, sweet as wine --
Like a berry it is pliant in the mouth
By which many a mild hour of sun
Dreams its way into the dusk.

In this name you were always mine
As long as I recognized my longing
And all that is beaten and wounded
Is healed in the belief of your nearness.

I know you well  you have often appeared to me
Divided into many beings: often only
In one eye, washed over by tears

In a softly indented trace
On your dear mouth, in a simple
Tremble of hands, which bless my needs.


                  
Translated from the German by Robert Dassanowsky




                            IX.


Ich weiss von Deinem Körper nur die Hand
Denn Dein Gesicht ist Seele ganz und Ferne.
Und wenn ich drin such langsam deuten lerne
Gleich schwindet mir, was ich noch kaum verstand.

Ganz träumend wölbt der Stirne blasse Wand
Sich tief ins Gold, und wie von einem Sterne
Geht holdes Licht von ihr. -- Gott hat Dich gerne.
Ich weiss von Deinem Körper nur die Hand.

Sie ist für Reize, die Du streng verborgen
Nur ähnen lässest in der Mädchentracht
Ein rein Symbol -- und doch schon sehr erwacht.

Denn manchmal sehe ich am klaren Morgen
Nach einer sturmdurchwühlten Frülingsnacht
An ihr noch Wünsche und ein wenig Sorgen.


Oskar Marischler-Rotterheim





                            IX.


Of your body, I know only one hand.
Because your face is all spirit and distant.
And even if I slowly begin to understand
It immediately disappears, that which I hardly understood.

Dreamingly, the pale wall of the forehead
Curves itself deeply into gold, and as from a star
She gives a sacral light -- God favors you.
Of your body, I know only one hand.

She desires excitement, which, deeply hidden
You only hint at within this girl's costume
This symbol of purity -- and yet already quite aware.

For sometimes on a clear morning I see
That after a storm-tossed spring night
She has her wishes and a few concerns.



Translated from the German by Robert Dassanowsky





                             XXII.


Heut nacht ist Föhn. Ganz aufgerauht und wund
Von seinem Wühlen ist der Felde Glätte.
Der Bach wältz fiebernd sich in seinem Bette
Gross glost der Mond auf, rot und ungesund.

Im Dorfe heult wo ein verliebter Hund.
Man hört sein wütend Zerren an der Kette.
Der Wälder ausgezackte Silhouette
Steht drohend hingeballt im Hintergrund.

Ich drücke meine Kniee, die so müd,
An etwas Hartes, dass ich mich empfinde
Indes mein Blick zu Deinem Fenster glüht.

Da grüsst mich leise Eine vom Gesinde.
Der gebe ich in dieser wirren Nacht
Was meine Lippen Deinen zugedacht.


Oskar Marischler-Rotterheim




                            XXII.


Tonight there is the sirocco.  The smoothness
Of the fields is raw and wounded by its agitation.
The brook waltzes itself feverishly in its bed
The moon swells, red and unhealthy.

In the village, a love-struck dog howls.
One hears his angry straining on the chain.
The hacked-out silhouette of the forest
Stands threateningly clenched in the background.

I press my knees, which are so tired
Against something hard, so I might know myself
As my gaze glowers towards your window.

There, one of the servants quietly greets me.
In this disordered night, I give her
What my lips meant for yours.


Translated from the German by Robert Dassanowsky




                           XXVIII.


Sie ist die Eine, die wie ein Magnet
Die Wünsche anzieht, dass sich nichts zerstreue.
Sie ist die Gestrige und immer Neue
Die Ratende, die ohne Wink versteht.

Sie ist der Rausch, der sich bacchantisch dreht,
Nach dem es weder jammer gibt noch Heue
Sie ist die Dirnenhafte and die Treue
Die rote Orgie and das Gebet.

Sie ist die Lust, durch die der Geist gesiebt,
Leicht wird und stark, die Gipfel zu erschweben --
Vielleicht nur einer fernen Stimme Beben

Der Traum von etwas, das es niemals gibt
Doch den geträumt zu haben und geliebt
Erträglich machen könnte dieses Leben.


                   Oskar Marischler-Rotterheim




                            XXVIII.


She is the one, who like a magnet
Attracts wishes, so that nothing is lost.
She is the one from yesterday and always the new one
The divine one who understands without a sign.

She is intoxication, which swirls in a bacchanalian way
After which there is neither misery nor regret.
She is the whorish and the loyal
The red orgy and the psalm.

She is the joy, through which spirit is sifted
To become light and strong, to float above peaks
Perhaps only the trembling of a distant voice

A dream of something that can never exist.
Still, to have dreamt and loved it
Could make this life bearable.


                   Translated from the German by Robert Dassanowsky