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back to life / chronologie

Peter Töpfer

The River

once there was a flat land so green & so wide
wild meadow & willow the whole countryside
and through all these pastures & earth edenlike
flowed a strong and blue large river

this way of water and that fertile floor
and the beautiful country much men they did draw
the banks became stone and so the land more & more
it was stretched out for window & door

cobbles collected, stones spread around
an enormous area, no meter missed out
and all the dirt that was brought about
got in the good old river

and today it flows the same old way
through concrete & steel, stones so grey
through iron & glass, there’s no more clay
by the bank of that orphan river

it winds the same way for thousands of years  
but things around changed, it all disappeared
the calm where birds sang in the air so clear
the talk of flowers with bear & deer

now it’s noisy & near, the fawns they sear
and rabbits rear their young in fear
but it stayed the same in commotion & haste
though it shares its bed with sewage & waste

the ones that it welcomed pour dirt into it
they exploit-its power with stations they fit
they make use of it it's got no defence
they abuse it and its confidence

bank reinforcement, surveyor’s slats
on which divers climb down in gears and helmets
they dive in slowly into water like wax
in the dark looming dykes weirs embankments

they will build it up from above utterly
with highways & houses, it won’t be seen
beneath slabs it will flow to the sea
the hidden out-driven river

it won’t tell anymore from the former times
that treasure of knowledge will be dumb & blind
and in its grief it will start to dry
losing belief it will decide to die

and after weeks alone through stone
it comes into nature, finally home
then it’s glad it starts to glitter
the always young and happy river

it says hello to cow & tree
to sparrow & sheep, meadow & bee
to all the friends that it knows
since the beginning long ago

for all the dirt it feels ashamed
but to its friends it’s still the same
and though it lost a bit of size
they love it still and recognize
(their companion the river)

the river still carries depth & peace
and the wisdom of the centuries
but that powerful quietness is overcome by disease
it writhes for spitting out the lees
and all the friends stand there & shiver
what happened to the branded river

the cow too is no more the same
the trees are sick, they all have been changed
but the river still loves them and sends them a wave
and they wave back from the grass where they stay

and on its bank are the nature-loving people
the good-hearted humans they sit there & weep
its grief is big, don’t let it deepen
in this morning bath don’t let your tears steep

but in their presence it’s glad & pleased
although the suffering they cannot cease
these people give comfort to it and ease
climb on the Eiffel tower there you’ll see
this silent impressive river

 

 

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