Peter Handke’s TO DURATION

Cannon Magazine / The Last Books, Amsterdam, has just announced that my translation of Peter Handke’s long poem To Duration will be published in December. 48 pages. Click HERE to pre-order the book.

And here a foretaste:

. . .

Duration cannot be relied on:

not even the pious

who attend mass daily,

not even the patient, the masters of waiting,

not even the loyal

who will always, steadfastly, be yours,

can be assured of its lifelong presence.

I know, perhaps,

that it becomes possible only

when I am able

to stay at my task

and to be vigilant at it,

attentive, unhurried,

presence of mind to the tips of my fingers.

And what is the task

that demands my persistence?

It will manifest itself

in affection for the living

– for one of them –

and in the awareness of an attachment

(even if only imagined).

This task, it is not large,

not special, not unusual, not superhuman,

not war, not a landing on the moon,

not discovery, not the work of a century,

not the scaling of a peak, not a kamikaze flight:

I share it with millions,

and with my neighbour as well as

with the dwellers at the ends of the earth

where, through a common task,

a world-centre arises identical

to my own.

Yes, this task from which, over the years, duration springs,

it is fundamentally inconspicuous,

not worth talking about

but worth holding on to through writing:

for it must be my main task.

It must be my true love.

And I must,

if the moments of duration are to spring from me

and give my stiff face a form

and insert a heart into my empty breast,

practice, year in and year out,


my love.

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
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Peter Handke’s TO DURATION

  1. flowerville says:

    this is really good to see. do you have any more handke translation projects going on at the moment or in the future?


  2. Scott Abbott says:

    nothing new at the moment. trying to get zarko’s and my second book out and reading the last proofs for wild rides, wildflowers and working on lyn’s and my book about barbed wire. but can’t stay away from handke for long.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s