Heinz Winfried Sabais' poetry first appeared in English translation by Ruth and Matthew Mead in 1968. Reviewing "Generation and other poems" in "Tribune", Richard Burns wrote: 'Whether he is concerned with public statement or private emotion, Sabais reveals himself as a commanding spokesman for individual conscience and personal commitment'. "The People and the Stones" includes most of the poems collected in the earlier book, together with two long political poems written in the 1970s - "Agenda" and "Socialist Elegy" - and a selection from the posthumously published "Self or Saxifrage", a sequence of autobiographical and historical poems written shortly before his death in 1981. Sabais' distinctive gift lay in presenting the conflicts of the post-war German experience without self-pity, his style is fully conveyed in these translations by a poet of his own generation who has 'on occasion been surprised to find myself writing down things which, even allowing for the ventriloquist's-dummy aspect of translation, I might have written myself'.
Heinz Winfried Sabais was born in 1922 in Breslau. He studied literature and philosopy at the University of Jena. During the war he was a pilot. He fled to the West in 1950 and settled in Darmstadt, where he was active in politics as a moderate Social Democrat. From 1954 he was in charge of the city's cultural affairs; he was elected Chief Burgomaster of Darmstadt in 1971. He published four main collections of poetry in his lifetime, and a literary-ideological study of power, 'Gotter Kaiser Diktatoren'. A selection of his poetry and prose, 'Fazit', appeared in 1982 with a foreword by Karl Krolow. Ruth and Matthew Mead have translated selections from the poetry of Horst Bienek, Johannes Bobrowski, Elisabeth Borchers and other German poets. Matthew Mead's collections of poetry are 'Identities' (1967), 'The Administration of Things' (1970) and 'The Midday Muse' (1979).