The Nacreous Oughts

05 August 2008

    "Song of The Western Countries"

Oh the nighttime beating of the soul’s wings:
Herders of sheep once, we walked along the forests that were growing dark,
And the red deer, the green flower and the speaking river followed us
In humility. Oh the old old note of the cricket,
Blood blooming on the altarstone,
And the cry of the lonely bird over the green silence of the pool.

And you Crusades, and glowing punishment
Of the flesh, purple fruits that fell to earth
In the garden at dusk, where young and holy men walked,
Enlisted men of war now, waking up out of wounds and dreams about stars.
Oh the soft cornflowers of the night.

And you long ages of tranquillity and golden harvests,
When as peaceful monks we pressed out the purplegrapes;
And around us the hill and forest shone strangely.
The hunts for wild beasts, the castles, and at night,the rest,
When man in his room sat thinking justice,
And in noiseless prayer fought for the living head of God.

And this bitter hour of defeat,
When we behold a stony face in the black waters.
But radiating light, the lovers lift their silver eyelids:
They are one body. Incense streams from rose-colored pillows
And the sweet song of those risen from the dead.

--Georg Trakl (tr Wright & Bly)

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