(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German)
In the talkative town where I made my debut
My parents were immigrants, through and through.
We had a church, a doctor or two,
And a loony bin with a lovely view.
My favorite word as a child was “NO.”
If I made Mother happy, it didn’t show.
And thinking back to that long-ago
I wouldn’t wish my own child so.
The Great War found me under the sway
Of the parish school and Rector May,
And thinking that peace would come to stay
If only the War would go away.
Well, I entered the academic race
And the teachers were pleased at my rapid pace –
Despite my having not a trace
Of Nordic hair or an Aryan face –
At graduation, Teacher said
We were all so smart, and so well-bred,
We could go forth, work hard, get ahead.
But I took an office job instead.
I work eight hours of every day
And my duties are light, but so’s my pay;
And at night I while the time away
With poetry – to Dad’s dismay.
I love to brave the wilderness
Of maps, and wander, bodiless;
Still there are days, I must confess
I sometimes wish for happiness.