"What else is love
but an eternity
of pain and joy
in one single breath?"

Those who are not students of philosophy or 19th-century German history probably know Ludwig Feuerbach not by name but by the phrase he penned: “you are what you eat.” Though we have lost the context for that comment in everyday vernacular, this book presents the thoughtful, epigrammatic poems that Feuerbach wrote, translated into English in a way that maintains the structure and the message of these profound but brief works. Examining such big questions as the identity of the self, the nature of faith, and the attainment of happiness, each poem provides a sharp, snappy perspective that makes these great unknowns feel more manageable. While Feuerbach may not be a household name in the United States, his quick wit and sensible perspective will be easily digested by any and all readers of this collection.

The author does a wonderful job of explaining not only what an epigrammatic poem is for those who aren’t aware of the style but also the differences between the American expectations and the German expectations for this style of poetry. These differences inform his translation decisions, leading to a style of writing that is very matter-of-fact and which comes off in common speech rather than in high academic language. The wisdom and wit remain, however, and though this compilation of poems reads quickly, readers with an open mind will absorb a lot of powerful thoughts that will help them in their approach to many situations in everyday life. Part verse, part witticism, and part everyday wisdom, these poems provide much to ponder over while still eliciting a laugh or a smile at their simple and direct approach.

Return to USR Home