David Constantine

posted in: 2019, Participants | 0

David Constantine was born in 1944 in Salford, Lancashire. He read Modern Languages at Wadham College, Oxford, and lectured in German at Durham from 1969 to 1981 and at Oxford from 1981 to 2000. He is a freelance writer and translator, a Fellow of the Queen’s College, Oxford, and was co-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation from 2004 to 2013. He lives in Oxford and on Scilly.


Transformations: Music and Poetry 19:00-20:45 | Sage Gateshead, Sage 2


Of all works …

Of all works the dearest

To me are the used.

Copper vessels with dents and flattened rims

Knives and forks whose wooden handles

Many hands have abraded: such forms

Seemed to me the noblest. Likewise the flagstones around old houses

Trodden by many feet, worn down

And tufts of grass growing between them, these

Are happy works.

Gone into use by the many

Often altered, they improve their shapes and forms, becoming tasteful

By being often tasted. Even the fragments of statues

With their smashed-off hands are dear to me. They also

Were alive for me. Though let fall, once they were carried.

Though overrun, they never stood too tall.

Half-ruinous buildings

Have again the appearance of those not yet completed

Planned large: their beautiful proportions

Can already be sensed; but they still need

Our understanding. On the other hand

They have already served, indeed are already superseded. All this

Gladdens me.

Brecht, translated by David  Constantine.