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The City, 1852

by Hans Theodor Woldsen Storm (1817-1888)
translated by Dusty Grein

Past the gray beach, beside the gray sea,
lies a wondrous gray city of old.
Heavy fog blankets the roofs all around
and in silence, the sea roars quite bold.

No rustling of trees in the Spring month of May,
nor can birds be heard calling in the air;
even geese only pass during long Autumn nights,
and beach grass blowing in the breeze doesn’t care.

But the whole of my heart lies there, deeply inside
your walls, my gray city by the sea;
for the magic of youth still rests smiling within,
my beautiful gray city by the sea.

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German Original

Die Stadt, 1852

Am grauen Strand, am grauen Meer
Und seitab liegt die Stadt;
Der Nebel drückt die Dächer schwer,
Und durch die Stille braust das Meer
Eintönig um die Stadt.

Es rauscht kein Wald, es schlägt im Mai
Kein Vogel ohn Unterlaß;
Die Wandergans mit hartem Schrei
Nur fliegt in Herbstesnacht vorbei,
Am Strande weht das Gras.

Doch hängt mein ganzes Herz an dir,
Du graue Stadt am Meer;
Der Jugend Zauber für und für
Ruht lächelnd doch auf dir, auf dir,
Du graue Stadt am Meer.

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Dusty Grein is an author, poet, graphics designer, professional editor, and book publisher. Originally from Federal Way, Washington, he currently lives in the hills of central Oregon, where many of his 21 grandchildren occupy much of his free time. When he is not busy writing, editing, and producing books for others, he donates a great deal of his time and graphics talent. In honor of his first-born grandson Eddy, lost to SIDS at 13 weeks old, he creates free memorial images for bereaved families, with a special focus on infant and pregnancy loss. His blog, From Grandpa’s Heart… is followed by fans around the world.


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7 Responses

  1. Murray Alfredson

    Es tut mir Leid es Ihnen zu sagen, Herr Grein. Ihr Englisch klingt bei weitem nicht so einfach als Storms Deutsch.

    Reply
  2. Allegra Silberstein

    Thank you for translating this lovely poem and for all you do for others.

    Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    Sounds like the setting for a Brothers Grimm tale. The monochrome veneer of the city comes through (I was going to say ‘shines through’), coloured by the last stanza and the author’s nostalgia. I liked it.

    I’m reminded of Aberdeen, in northern Scotland, where the weather’s cold and rainy and the grey buildings have given the city the name ‘the Granite City. Apparently, a lively place, though, due in no small part to the university and oilmen.

    Thanks for the read and the Gothic imagery, Dusty.

    Reply
  4. Yael

    Die Englische Übersetzung hört sich hübsch an weil sie sich reimt, aber sie nimmt sich zu viel Freiheit mit dem Original. Der Reiz dieses Gedichtes stammt von der sachlichen und schmucklosen Beschreibung der Landschaft, wo das Grass am Strand keine Gefühle hat und die Stadt ist nur grau und sonst nichts, und wo die Natur Geräusche zur Monotonie der Szene beitragen die im Kontrast zu den warmen und herzlichen Gefühlen des Erzählers steht. Ich bin aber froh dieses Gedicht hier zu lesen bekommen, also vielen Dank.

    Reply
  5. Cheryl Corey

    We often associate the color gray with all that is gloom and dreary. This poem elevates it to a thing of beauty. I enjoyed both the poem and the illustration.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    Romantic reflections interior and exterior, as the walled city reveals the heart within. Nice poetic concept.

    There seems to be a date mistake of a century in the German title as presented here.

    Reply

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