Many of the Gottfried Benn poems found at Poetry Foundation contain notes by translator, Michael Hoffmann. Among them:
Yeats says the poet “is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.” Not so Benn, not in these last poems. He is absolutely the bundle seated—if not to breakfast exactly, then at least in the corner of the bar after work, where he downs two or three beers, smokes his Junos, listens to the radio, listens to the chatter of the other customers, scribbles something lugubrious on a pad. It is rare for art to be so perspicuous, to be made from so very little, so to pair grace with dailiness, discretion with unmistakeableness, a shy wistfulness with humility. He makes Larkin seems like an equestrian—like Byron, like Flashman.
The striking thing about Benn is that he writes as though there were no other poets, and as though everything he wrote was self-evidently a poem. Everything comes through in an effortlessly and wholly personal timbre, so to speak, a personal typeface. On some level he did manage to transcend the duality of cerebral and biological (“All else is natural world and intellect”) and write as simply as a flower flowers. Imagine a Larkin less veiled, discreet, conciliatory, half-optimistic, teetering, and somehow more lovable; for whom desolation was acknowledged as a fundamental and inescapable condition of being; for whom “groping back to bed after a piss” was not at the further reaches of his writing, but more or less where it began; and I think you get a little nearer to Benn.
Larkin's work never had an immediate appeal to me, unlike Benn.