On the Tidings of Time
by Ralph Gunther Mohnnau (translated by Christopher Martin)
Trafford Publishing

"but time just simply
passed them by
even as they lay the pendulum
beneath the guillotine it kept on
running like the water
of a stream that
runs to sea"

Utilizing various philosophical and scientific concepts of time to balance reflections about existence, history, passions, and futility, this collection propels readers into intimate conversations so often reserved to one’s conscience. Poems like “time and the clockmaker” portray human vanity in the face of the inevitable. Others, such as “the stream” personify streams and rocks as a means of explaining the juxtapositions of time and timelessness in the human realm and the natural one. At its core, however, this collection humanizes the concept of time as a complex, labyrinthine individual making fleeting acquaintances as it passes and reaffirms to all that no matter humanity’s efforts, time and its consequences cannot be stopped.

In sparse, experimental verse, this work tackles questions and ideas regarding mortality, memories, and the small experiences that often do not reveal their true significance until years after they happen. The collection blends philosophical insights with humble wits and ironies conveyed not only in words but in style, as the poems in this book disavow traditional forms, rhymes, and stanza construction. The blend of Zen-like short and erudite long poems creates metaphysical fires that quickly engulf and stun the reader. They set one to thinking about the imposed roles of history, religion, and science on one’s own beliefs. For readers with a knowledge of the German language and those interested in translation at a beginning or an advanced level, the easy-to-follow bilingual translations of German to English create a dual reading experience. However, any who read it will likely appreciate this book because of its contribution to world literature, philosophy, and language studies.

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