This poem by Mariella Mehr appeared in the 2003 volume Das Sternbild des Wolfs [The Constellation of the Wolf]. At the time of writing, this is her most recent collection of poetry.
The untitled poem opens with an impressive image that refers to Mariella Mehr’s intensive study of Greek mythology: Cerberus, as is explained in the first two verses, is ‘tired of the wake’ (‘der Totenwache überdrüssig’).
Cerberus, Kerberos in Greek, is a figure from ancient mythology, a dog that is usually represented with several heads and guards the entrance to the underworld, so that no living being can enter and none of the dead can leave.
In the very first line of Mariella Mehr’s poem, Cerberus is fed up with his task and starts laughing at people’s goals, including that of the narrator of the poem, the lyrical ‘I’. The realm of the dead, which Cerberus has been guarding, now appears open. But at the same time, since it is no longer closed, it is no longer a desired destination.
With respect to the individual restrictions enumerated by it, the lyrical ‘I’ is now without ‘image’, without ‘certainty’, without a ‘shore’. Death appears to have become remote – what remains is the possibility to ‘happily run wild’ (‘fröhlich zu verwildern’).
Source of text sample
Mehr, Mariella. 2003. Das Sternbild des Wolfs. Klagenfurt: Drava, 17.