Hugo Ball: I Did Not Like

A poem a day
International WWI Poetry Month

Hugo Ball was a leading light of the Dada movement founded in Zurich and Berlin and born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World War I. Ball protested several times "against the humiliating fact of a world war in the 20th century." He was disillusioned after witnessing the invasion of Belgium, saying: "The war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines."

I Did Not Like

Hugo Ball (Germany, 1914)

I did not like the Death’s Head Hussars
And the mortars with girl’s names
And when at last the great days came,
I quietly slipped away.

I must confess to God and to you, mesdames:
While they were sobbing over biers,
I, like Absalom, was caught by my long hair
In the tree of woe of all their dramas.

You will find in these lines too
Many a martyr play and dashing adventure.
One does not only die from mines and rifles.

One is not only torn to pieces by shells.
My nights were invaded by monsters
Which made me experience Hell.