Before, during and after The “Wende”

(Vor, während und nach

der Wende – ein englisches Gedicht)

 

I once came to study in the G.D.R.

Totalitarian, like a game of solitaire

Was the old defunct state,

The people grew to hate.

Twenty years gone, still its memory fills the air.

 

In 1989 came the “Wende”,

State socialism came to an end, for

Without the iron curtain

Nothing more was certain:

What fool would a fallen wall defend?

 

The gates opened, in flooded much enjoyment,

A revolution without bloodshed, great merriment!

It was such a sweet relief,

There came freedom, new belief-

Helmut Kohl’s prosperity but also unemployment.

 

Real estate buccaneers ambitiously staked their claims,

On freedom’s wave came western supermarket chains,

Thus hungry mouths were fed,

And dm-filled wallets daily bled,

Landscapes bloomed and calls for “a third way” were in vain.

 

G.D.R. dinosaur industries were vanquished

By Chancellor Kohl, the dm now much relished

Became accepted currency,

Democracy new fluency,

The “Third way” exhortations seemed to perish.

 

Amidst such prosperity they seemed absurd,

Just Stalinists, much disappointed,

Bewailed their loss at hour appointed.

The masses deemed S.E.D. and stasi as history’s turds.

 

Now “Börsenkrach” and credit crunch

Mean western life’s not such a cinch.

Disappointed voters come to hate

The bonus payment, rich man’s tax rebate,

And bankers who won’t budge but one small inch.

 

It reminds us of the “Betonköpfe”,

And we feel like victims – “Opfer”,

And the “third way” voice

‘Midst lost illusions doth arise,

Conclude, is heard - “This society’s not fair either.”

 

 

The west is steeped in moral crisis,

People, politicians realise – not nice this.

But history exceeds mistakes,

It upturns states, demasks all fakes,

And future forms from past transformed to living antithesis.

 

 

People as the true pillars of time

 

Not great houses or tall trees

Which line fine city allées

But human beings

Are the true pillars of time.

 

Not high towers or impressive banks,

Along the highways busy phalanx,

Speak of joy or sorrow

But human beings.

 

Voiceless mountains hold up nothing,

But human beings hold up time,

They are the speaking pillars,

Who relate time’s joys and sorrows.

 

The whirling earth has an axis.

World history gyrates,

Has countless axes;

Human beings are the axes of time.