Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Walter Flex (1887 - 1917) – German poet

Walter was one of the poets featured in the commemorative exhibition of Poets of Arras, 
Messines, Passchendaele and More held in 2017

Born in Eisenach on 6th July 1887 to a secondary school teacher, Walter studied at the University of Erlangen.  Walter also became a school teacher.

When war broke out, Walter volunteered to join the German Army and, with the rank of Lieutenant, was sent to the Eastern Front. Wounded fighting during fighting at Oti Manor, Saaremace in Estonia, Walter died on 16th October 1917. His grave in Konigsberg, which is now Kaliningrad in Russia, was destroyed during the Second World War.

Walter Flex has a memorial in Eisenach in Germany with a replica of the cross in Peude, which originally marked his grave.

Walter’s poetry collection “Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welter” (Tr.: A Wanderer between two worlds) was published by Verlag C.H.
Beck in 1916 and was very well received. One of his poems –

“Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht” was set to music.

Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht
Mit schrillem Schrei nach Norden –
Unstäte Fahrt! Habt acht, habt acht!
Die Welt ist voller Morden.

Fahrt durch die nachtdurchwogte Welt,
Graureisige Geschwader!
Fahlhelle zuckt, und Schlachtruf gellt,
Weit wallt und wogt der Hader.

Rausch' zu, fahr' zu, du graues Heer!
Rauscht zu, fahrt zu nach Norden!
Fahrt ihr nach Süden übers Meer –
Was ist aus uns geworden!

Wir sind wie ihr ein graues Heer
Und fahr'n in Kaisers Namen,
Und fahr'n wir ohne Wiederkehr,
Rauscht uns im Herbst ein Amen.

Translation:  Wild Geese soar through the Night

Wild geese soar through the night
With a shrill cries they steer to the north -
An unsteady ride! Take care, Take care!
The world is full of murder.

Fly on through the night-swollen world,
Gray-headed squadrons!
Pale dawn begins to appear, and battle cries ring out,
As the squadron floats far and wide.

Forge onwards, drive forwards, gray army!
Drive on, drive on to the north!
Travel south over the sea -
What have we become!

Like the geese, we are a gray army
And in the name of our Kaiser,
We drive ever forward without looking back,
And in the autumn the sound of an Amen reaches us.