Potsdamer Platz in an endless roar
Glaciates all resounding avalanches
The street complex: trams on rails,
Automobiles and the refuse of mankind.
People trickle over the asphalt,
Ant-like in their diligence, nimble as lizards.
Foreheads and hands, flashing with thoughts,
Swim like sunlight through the dark forest.
Night rain wraps the square in a cavern,
Where bats, white, with beating wings
And lavender jellyfish lie – colorful oils;
They multiply, dissected by the cars. –
Berlin squirts up, glistening nest of the day,
From the smoke of the night like the pus of a pestilence.
Source: Paul Boldt, “Auf der Terrasse des Café Josty” [“On the Terrace of Café Josty”], Die Aktion, Jg. 2, November 13, 1912.
Original German poem reprinted in Jürgen Schutte and Peter Sprengel, Die Berliner Moderne 1885-1914 [Berlin Modernity, 1885-1914] Stuttgart, 1987, pp. 328-30.
Translation: Richard Pettit