Across seven bridges

Bruce bridge in San Diego
Sometimes I would walk the street without remorse
Sometimes wishing back my littl’ rocking horse
Sometimes I don’t find a resting spot
Sometimes I bolt the doors behind me shut
Sometimes I spew fire and sometimes ice
Sometimes I don’t know that I am wise
Sometimes I am tired right at morn
And then I seek solace in a song:

Across seven bridges you shall go
Seven years will come and leave
Seven times you are the ash of grief 
Then once again your light will glow

Sometimes ’t seems the clock of life stands still
Sometimes ’t seems you’re loping in a hamster wheel
Sometimes you are lame on itchy feet
Sometimes you squat quiet on a seat
Sometimes you grab for the golden orb
Sometimes you see your lucky stars send blur
Sometimes you take, when you can endow
Sometimes you hate, who you truly love: 

Across seven bridges you shall go
Seven years will come and leave
Seven times you are the ash of grief
Then once again your light will glow

1978. This song was produced for the radio in East Germany by the rockband Karat, who also toured in West Germany. Most East German bands never had that chance. The West German singer Peter Maffay heard the song at one of their concerts, asked whether he could do a cover version, and made the song even more popular. After the German unification, they performed together. It has been covered by many to this day. The lyrics were written by Helmut Richter. The song has its own Wikipedia entry.

My English translation has gone through a number of versions. I am very grateful to the musician Tillmann Spiegl for his help with making some lines as singeable as the German original.


Karat - Über sieben Brücken musst du gehn (1978) 

Manchmal geh' ich meine Straße ohne Blick, 
manchmal wünsch' ich mir mein Schaukelpferd zurück, 
manchmal bin ich ohne Rast und Ruh, 
manchmal schließ ich alle Türen nach mir zu. 
Manchmal ist mir kalt und manchmal heiß, 
manchmal weiss ich nicht mehr, was ich weiß, 
manchmal bin ich schon am Morgen müd, 
und dann such ich Trost in einem Lied: 

Über sieben Brücken musst du geh'n, 
Sieben dunkle Jahre überstehn, 
Sieben Mal wirst du die Asche sein, 
Aber einmal auch der helle Schein. 

Manchmal scheint die Uhr des Lebens still zu steh'n, 
manchmal scheint man immer nur im Kreis zu geh'n, 
manchmal ist man wie vom Fernweh krank, 
manchmal sitzt man still auf einer Bank. 
Manchmal greift man nach der ganzen Welt, 
manchmal meint man, dass der Glücksstern fällt, 
manchmal nimmt man, wo man lieber gibt, 
manchmal hasst man das, was man doch liebt. 

Über sieben Brücken musst Du geh'n, 
Sieben dunkle Jahre überstehn, 
Sieben Mal wirst du die Asche sein, 
Aber einmal auch der helle Schein. 

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Still

Photo by Domenico Farone on Pexels.com
Noch
17. Januar 1991  

Schuhe noch nicht zu-
gebunden schlugen Bomben 
meinen Schlafkopf Morgen 
peitschte Radiowellen
Sündengeißen treiben  

Seit Uhr wird ge-
schlagen
heilige Schlacht 
Moscheen scheinen
Wunderlampen Öl ver- 
siegt Himmel dämmert 
Abbruch  

Noch …
Still
January 17, 1991  

Shoelaces still not 
tied bombshells beat
my dream head morning
whipped radio waves
scape nannies stay afloat  

Since a.m. we are
blasting back holy war 
mosques queer
magic lamps oil runs 
dry sky dawning 
abruption  

Still … 

I have rediscovered this poem, which I wrote in German on January 17, 1991. I woke up that morning and found a note on top of two library books: Could you return the book on top and renew the other one? Thank you. PS: You might not want to turn on the radio. 

This is a text for my year-long online writing course Uncovering the Authentic Self on dailyom.com. The prompt was rediscovery. Previous texts are on Home and Giving.
Rediscovering this poem, editing it a bit, and translating it into English today reminded me that I only wrote poetry again twenty years after in 2011.