Zukofsky, Heine, and Greenberg

I’m awaiting an ordered copy of Louis Zukofsky’s poem A. In the meantime, I was reading his Wikipedia page. There, I spotted mention of how

“The final lines of [another poem] Autobiography express Zukofsky’s fear of permanent alienation from his upbringing and tradition as a bitter triumph of successful assimilation: ‘Keine Kadish wird man sagen’. The lines are a variation on lines from Heinrich Heine’s poem Gedächtnisfeier [Memorial]: ‘Keine Messe wird man singen, / Keinen Kadosch wird man sagen, / Nichts gesagt und nichts gesungen / Wird an meinen Sterbetagen’. (‘No Mass will anyone sing / Neither Kaddish will anyone say, / Nothing will be said and nothing sung / On my dying days’)”

That Heine poem is quite interesting. Looking around for a translation, I found that Martin Greenberg’s had been published in the New Criterion in 1993. Here is an excerpt:

Keine Messe wird man singen,
Keinen Kadosch wird man sagen,
Nichts gesagt und nichts gesungen
Wird an meinen Sterbetagen.

Doch vielleicht an solchem Tage,
Wenn das Wetter schön und milde,
Geht spazieren auf Montmartre
Mit Paulinen Frau Mathilde.

Mit dem Kranz von Immortellen
Kommt sie mir das Grab zu schmücken,
Und sie seufzet: Pauvre homme!
Feuchte Wehmut in den Blicken.

No mass will be sung for me,
No Kaddish recited either,
Nothing said and nothing sung
When I depart forever

But maybe on a morning when
The spring has brought fine weather,
Frau Mathilde with Pauline
Will walk out in Montmartre.

With a bunch of immortelles clutched in
Her plump hand, she will come
And lay it on my grave and say,
Tears in her eyes, “Pauvre homme!”

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