Peter Handke’s TO DURATION

Copies of the beautiful little book arrived yesterday from Amsterdam (after a long transAtlantic voyage). Scan 2

My translation of Peter Handke’s Gedicht an die Dauer is the first English translation of the poem, published in German in 1986.

Philip Baber instigated the translation, edited and designed the book. It is part of his Cannon Magazine project and can be ordered at their website.

ScanThe poem is an investigation of duration — what it is, how it is (sometimes, surprisingly) achieved, what the task of the writer is in regard to duration.

A couple of pages here.

The poem is strikingly simple, I thought again last night as I read it in this new form. Simple and profound. It is remarkably personal for a writer whose plays and novels and essays draw heavily from his own experience but do so in the third person or from some formal narrative distance. This is a philosophical poem, that rarest sort of philosophy: personal and poetic philosophy.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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4 Responses to Peter Handke’s TO DURATION

  1. Topher Rasmussen says:

    A beautiful poem, Scott. I am reminded of a speech from Pythagoras in Book XV-

    “——————Nature knows
    No stedfast station, but or ebbs or flows:
    Ever in motion; she destroys her old,
    And casts new figures in another mould.
    Ev’n times are in perpetual flux, and run,
    Like rivers from their fountain, rolling on;
    For time, no more than streams, is at a stay;
    The flying hour is ever on her way:
    And as the fountain still supplies her store,
    The wave behind impels the wave before:
    Thus in successive course the minutes run,
    And urge their predecessor minutes on,
    Still moving, ever new: ————-“


  2. A. F. Moritz says:

    Is it possible to purchase a copy of your To Duration? I cannot find it.


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