Spoor of Desire: Selected Poems
is available for $16.00 from FootHills Publishing, P.O. Box 68, Kanona NY 14856 or see www.foothillspublishing.com.

Tourist Snapshots is available for $8.95 from Randy Fingland, CC Marimbo, P.O. Box 933, Berkeley CA 94701 or see www.ccmarimbo.com.

Dada Poetry: An Introduction was published by Nirala Publications. It may be ordered on Amazon.com for $25 plus shipping. American buyers may order a copy from me for $23 including shipping.

The other books are also available from the author William Seaton. Write seaton@frontiernet.net.

A categorized index of all work that has appeared on this site is available by looking under the current month in the Blog Archive section and selecting Index.

This site is listed in BlogCatalog and
Literature Blogs
Literature blog

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Poems by Hugo Ball

In Munich Ball was associated with Wedekind in the court theatre, the Kammerspiele. An actor who actually enlisted when the First World War began, Ball was in the army when German invaded Belgium, upon which he concluded that "the war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines.” He deserted, emigrated to Switzerland, and pursued art and anarchism, translating Bakunin.
A few years later, however, he followed a spiritual tendency, perhaps similar at root to that animating Arp and Huelsenbeck, but which, for him, resulted to orthodox Catholicism and a pious and quiet lifestyle.
Ball was a major practitioner of the sound poem. In the Dada Manifesto of 1916, he says “I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows,” and that document itself several times leaves off attacking the philistines to lapse toward abstract sound. His most celebrated work of this sort “gadji beri bimba,” was performed by The Talking Heads on a 1979 album.
Ball’s other work includes a biography of his friend Hermann Hesse, a novel titled Flametti or The Dandyism of the Poor, and a number of plays, including Michelangelo’s Nose.


jolifanto bambla o falli bambla
großiga m'pfa habla horem
egiga goramen
higo bloiko russula huju
hollaka hollala
anlogo bung
blago bung blago bung
bosso fataka
ü üü ü
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tatta gorem
eschige zunbada
wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu
tumba ba-umf
kusa gauma
ba - umf

The Dance of Death (Ball)
to the tune of “That’s how we live”

That’s how we die, that’s how we die,
We die every day.
Because it is so comfy to let go.
Mornings still in sleep and dream,
Noontime already there,
By evening at the bottom of a grave.

Slaughter is our house of joy.
Blood is our only sun.
Death is our sign, our magic word.
We leave both wife and child,
What have they to do with us?
If one relies
on us alone . . .

So we murder, so we kill.
We murder every day
our comrades in a dance of death.
Brother, figure it out with me –
brother, your breast,
brother you must fall and die.

We don’t murmur, we don’t growl,
We’re quiet every day.
Until the joint of the hip-bone turns.
Our camping ground is hard.
Our bread is dry.
Bloody and soiled our dear god.

We thank you, we thank you,
Dear Kaiser, for your grace
in deciding to lie down and die.
Just sleep, sleep soft and still.
Until you waken our poor body,
Now covered by the lawn.


  1. All wisdom points to this death. You can see it in Heraclitus, Nietzsche, Plath, Carpenter, Rousseau, Marx, even Hegel - the living through dead life. “That’s how we live”. "That’s how we die".

    "Because it is so comfy to let go" of the emotional elasticity that is snapped by the advancement of dead life - of social ossification. The bow snapped under the lyer - Dionysis was sliced by Apollo.

    Our whole world, its structure, its conceptual divisions are the accumulation of bloody labour, now dead labour. "Slaughter is our house of joy. Blood is our only sun." Blood gets us to the moon and the bottle drowns it out. "Death is our sign, our magic word." Death is word; dead memory, dead life, accreting and displacing us from our life.

    "Our camping ground is hard.
    Our bread is dry."

    Love it

    "Bloody and soiled our dear god."

    love it

    "We thank you, we thank you,
    Dear Kaiser,"

    My favourate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is a great poem.

  2. Clearly this is exactly what I call a stunning article! Do you run this portal for your personal goals solely or you actually use it as an additional source of income?

  3. No ads -- we're anti-profit. The Dada book is, nonetheless, for sale. WS

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for this, but it should say

    'for choosing us to die'

    and 'Until you will be risen
    By our poor body...'.

    Silvie Fisch