Themes Beyond the Political

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Kunze has stated that he does not, in fact, choose his themes at all; rather, they choose him. In addition to its communicative intent, writing has for him also a personal, therapeutic function as a means of coming to terms with matters he can deal with in no other way. He vigorously rejects the thesis that he needs opposition in order to write and insists that he was never cut out for the role of political martyr. Kunze is relieved that the themes now choosing him—that is, the concerns impinging on his consciousness—are no longer almost all from the political sphere. Although he does not write prolifically, he has not fallen silent as many in the West feared he would, and the relative quiet that has grown around him has been productive, as expressed in the lines from a poem in Auf eigene Hoffnung: “Stillness gathers around me/ the soil for the poem/ In the spring we will/ have verses and birds.”

Ein Tag auf dieser Erde

Kunze has in fact not fallen silent and produced his first poetry collection in seven years in 1998. His collection titled Ein Tag auf dieser Erde (a day on this earth) seems to indicate a diary approach to poetry. However, the scope and purpose of the work is discernibly larger than a series of journal entries. While the passing of time sets immediate and inexplicable barriers to confine the human condition, no such limits restrict Kunze’s poetic imagination, which here elaborates on the tangible,...

(The entire section is 486 words.)