Grass und Gaga – Im Ei

So, here’s something you probably already know, but wish you didn’t. Lady Gaga showed up at the Grammy Awards last night in an outfit that, in evolutionary terms, represents a sort of neoteny relative to the meat dress she was sporting at the MTV Video Music Awards. Here she is arriving. She’s the one you can’t see, because she is inside the egg.

Lady Gaga is carried inside an egg by four of her muscular servants, who are so poorly paid that two of them can not even afford shirts. Later, the slave-mistress would mount the egg and let out guttural screams until the singer emerged, soaked in amniotic fluid. At least, I am assuming that is what happened. Image via CBS News.

But really, I just wanted to use this as an excuse to share a poem that I love. It is by Günter Grass, and is probably a reasonable approximation of what Lady Gaga was muttering to herself in a Gollum-like rasp while contemplating which of her servants she would consume first. The difference is that she would no doubt be muttering in the original German, whereas I am presenting you with an English translation, taken here from the 1977 bilingual edition of In the Egg and Other Poems. The English translation of this poem was done by Michael Hamburger.


In The Egg

We live in the egg.
We have covered the inside wall
of the shell with dirty drawings
and the Christian names of our enemies.
We are being hatched.

Whoever is hatching us
is hatching our pencils as well.
Set free from the egg one day
at once we shall make an image
of whoever is hatching us.

We assume that we’re being hatched.
We imagine some good-natured fowl
and write school essays
about the colour and breed
of the hen that is hatching us.

When shall we break the shell?
Our prophets inside the egg
for a middling salary argue
about the period of incubation.
They posit a day called X.

Out of boredom and genuine need
we have invented incubators.
We are much concerned with our offspring inside the egg.
We should be glad to recommend our patent
to her who looks after us.

But we have a roof over our heads.
Senile chicks,
polyglot embryos
chatter all day
and even discuss their dreams.

And what if we’re not being hatched?
If this shell will never break?
If our horizon is only that
of our scribbles, and always will be?
We hope that we’re being hatched.

Even if we only talk of hatching
there remains the fear that someone
outside our shell will feel hungry
and crack us into the frying pan with a pinch of salt.
What shall we do then, my brethren inside the egg?

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