Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany

by Norbert Krapf


Waking in Europe

After hanging suspended
       between cultures,
                  above valleys
of rolling clouds
        with the Atlantic
                  turning below,
        then spinning
on an express train
        from easy Amsterdam,
I reel into bed
        in a Cologne hotel.

Next morning, as cathedral
bells lift me out
of a first-night sleep,
my eyes open to gothic
towers climbing outside
the window, then skip
down the cobbled street
to the corner where two
little girls chattering
German jump rope.

Smiling, I set my watch
to European time
and tune my ears
to the guttural waters
of the ancient Rhine
flowing behind the medieval
cathedral from the hills
of my ancestors in the south.



This exploration of a poet's German heritage embraces his travels with his family to the land of his ancestry, his reflections upon Brueghel and Dürer, and his confronting of the Holocaust's legacy.


Norbert Krapf is a poet-historian. In this volume, Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany, he has undertaken a journey to the land of his Indiana immigrant ancestors. Finding his roots, Krapf enriches his own and his children's lives, and ours, too.
— Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame

Norbert Krapf's literary pilgrimage to his ancestral Germany begins and ends in a field of flax, the "blue-eyed grass," whose celestial blooming might have made feudal laborers of the Old World dream of the "blue-sky paradise" across the sea. . . . Whether America . . . turned out truly to be a paradise for those immigrants is a question his new book doesn't propose to answer. Surely the land of Bach and Cologne has as strong a claim. But neither country escapes this harrowing collection of poems without exposing paradise's flip side.
The Indianapolis Star

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