The Plumtree, by Bertolt Brecht

Below is Brecht’s poem, The Plumtree, as published in the original German.
Beneath it is a version I have been working on.

Der Pflaumenbaum

Im Hofe steht ein Pflaumenbaum,
Der ist so klein, man glaubt es kaum.
Er hat ein Gitter drum,
So tritt ihn keiner um.
Der Kleine kann nicht größer wer’n,
Ja – größer wer’n, das möcht’ er gern!
‘s ist keine Red davon:
Er hat zu wenig Sonn’.

Dem Pflaumenbaum, man glaubt ihm kaum,
Weil er nie eine Pflaume hat.
Doch er ist ein Pflaumenbaum:
Man kennt es an dem Blatt.

The Plumtree

after Brecht

In the backyard, a plumtree,  
so small it’s hard to see,  
fenced off, so it doesn’t 
get trodden on.
The tree won’t grow anymore,
straining for sun
that hardly touches its corner.    

You might not guess what it was,
because it’s never had any plums.
But it is a plumtree:
look at its leaves.   

Version 2

The Plumtree

after Brecht

In the yard is a plumtree,  
small enough to be hardly noticeable
and fenced off
so it doesn’t get trodden on
or knocked over.
It won’t grow any taller,
straining to reach the sunlight
that hardly touches this corner.    

It would be hard to say what kind of tree
it was, since it’s never had a plum.
Still, it is a plumtree:
you can tell by the leaves.   


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