Friday, September 07, 2007

Brecht: evil strains

There on my wall hangs a Japanese wood carving
Mask of an evil demon, painted with gold lacquer.
Full of pity I see
The veins swollen on the forehead, suggesting
How strenous it is to be evil

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Die Maske des Bösen (1942)
Mad Hun's translation

Here's a (probably better) translation:

On my wall hangs a Japanese carving
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer
Sympathetically I observe --
The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating
What a strain it is to be evil

Translation by Reinhold Grimm & Caroline Molina Y Vedia
In Bertolt Brecht, Selections (New York: Continuum 2003)

Here's the original:

Brecht: die Maske des Bösen

An meiner Wand haengt ein japanisches Holzwerk
Maske eines boesen Daemons, bemalt mit Goldlack.
Mitfuehlend sehe ich
Die geschwollenen Stirnader, andeutend
Wie anstrengend es ist, boese zu sein.