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In Clear Perspective, by Gunter Grass

July 28, 1996

Come, fog, o come! Make us anonymous.

We have been caught red-handed in the (undone) act.

Our salad wilts with too much of the salt it lacked,

as guileless as once Blum, our Minister, was,

expecting guests that others pay for, raising no objections.

We lived on credit, privileged and certain,

but somebody (a God?) who lifts the long fog's curtain

has leaked the figures for the next elections.

Dressed up, all shortened to the medium size,

tears plastered over, class differences most crass

all cloaked. No whiff (oh no!) reminded them of gas.

The anthem's third stanza only valid (hummed with lowered eyes).

On the victor's side we lived, divided, safe from stress,

till unity struck us and proved merciless.

From "Novemberland: Selected Poems 1956-1993" by Gunter Grass, translated by Michael Hamburger (Harvest/Harcourt Brace: $25; 176 pp.) Copyright 1996 Reprinted by permission.

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