Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Inspector Kobold, Durs Grunbein, poem

Translated from the German by Michael Eskin, and featured in the 9/27/10 issue of The New Yorker magazine:

Inspector Kobold

Sea horses-who knows
What he was thinking.

Chess pieces made of fruit jelly
Or hand-blown glass?
Photo from
Appearing only in profile,
Sad clowns of the moody sea,

They turn Poseidon's fields
Into a Spanish riding school:

Tiny ocean Lipizzaners.

Only, they don't seem to enjoy the dressage-
Judging by their faces-
These flute mouths, slightly piqued.

 Does the current bother them, the kelp
In which their tails get caught?

Upright in their fish-bone corsets,
Ash-brown waistcoats, on their rounds of inspection
Through the dark algaeous spaces-

Unfazed by the sea urchins' sarabande.

I'm currently reading The Bars of Atlantis by Durs Grunbein, a selection of essays, so I was especially amused by this poem in The New Yorker.  It's true, isn't it, sea horses do usually look a bit surly?

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