This little slip of printed paper slipped out of a German book of mine. I’m not sure which book, since it happened when I was moving a lot of books.

I’m also not sure what it says (this is Merzkunst, not Kommerzkunst).

I like it immensely.

Here’s an attempt to translate the untranslatable:


Kurt Schwitters
The chair is a screw, bracketspirals firm.
And bang by bang beheads of the voice.
The legs screw arms throttling lett.

The last word is the most troublesome for a translator, as is the genitive “of the voice” (or is it dative?).

Any suggestions?

About Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at
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One Response to Merzkunst

  1. flowerville says:

    no other suggestion than what you wrote. it’s oddly spelled though, actually ließ, but then that’s schwitters so it doesn’t matter. i love schwitters too and looked it up in the complete works and couldn’t find it but then i found many other nice things…


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