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The Guinness parable
The barman’s teachings as expounded in ‘The Brazen Head’, Dublin

Translator: Hans-Christian Oeser
published in: Sphärenmusik - Music of the Spheres - Ceol na Sféar
Original title: Das Guinness-Gleichnis - Matthias Politycki
07/02/2008
published in: Die Sekunden danach
- Germanistik in Ireland. Hg. H.-W. Schmidt-Hannisa u. F. Krobb. Vol.3/2008; A. Leitner u. G. Trinckler (Hg.): Gedichte für Nachtmenschen. München 2008; enth. in: Die Sekunden danach

I.

Stop! said the barman, not so hasty there!
when I’d already grabbed the glass which he’d placed
so casually on the counter: A Guinness,
that takes time, it’s still alive when drawn
from the keg below, don’t you see yourself
how it’s churning – ash-grey, startled –
before it settles? Another three, four
minutes and it’s set, quite black
in the glass, quite white the froth, no higher than
half a priest’s collar and so solid that a mouse
could trot across, leaving not the slightest
trace. Not until then! Yes, then it’s ready,
then you’ll have the perfect pint! But until then:
reflect.

II.

Abashed I looked around: eight hundred years of thirst
concealed in dark wood panelling; and
when my time had come, the barman used the tap
to carve the outline of a harp into the froth,
the logo of his brewery. But: Stop! says he
as I was reaching for the glass again, for he had
realized I was a stranger to his town and thick
besides: Not quite so greedy there! Take every swig
in moderation so that eventually you’ll have one
booze ring after the other inside your glass, a precise
measure of your thirst and, on top of everything,
a parable. That so? Of what? He wouldn’t say. Come on,
then, cheers!

III.

There I stood. In front of me the glass, and in it
black smoke and mist, a smell of turf, and song ...
the whole of Ireland awaiting me. The barman
at the far end of the counter pointing out to all
and sundry that he’d almost ruined
some moron’s thirst: him over there,
that stranger! Who now, most cautiously, reached
for his glass at last and, instead of gulping it,
just sipped.




© Matthias Politycki
© Matthias Politycki