This is a liberal translation of Kurt Tucholsky’s “Spanische Krankheit”, which was written in 1918.
Something’s slithering around industrialised states,
Shifting infected protective clothing
From the rat race into our homes.
Who here has seen it? Who could recognise it? Who dare mention it?
Headache, sore throat, loss of taste:
It all looks ‘foreign’ to me.
But! when I consider it more closely
And pay better attention to the symptoms,
All of a sudden, I realise:
This sickness is not globalised.
It looks anything but ‘foreign’ to me.
Slight fever, aches and pains,
The nice doctor says, “You’ll be all better tomorrow”.
We lie awake at night in cold sweats -
Anxiety, quackery, and hallucinations -
At noon, boiling up; shivers in the evening.
The next day, everything is back to normal!
This is no flu, cold or virus:
This is a Western political crisis.