Poetry       Prose       Letters

Georg Trakl


Three Gazes into an Opal

To Erhard Buschbeck


Gaze into an opal: a village wreathed in dry vines,
The stillness of gray clouds, yellow cliff,
And the coolness of evening springs: twin mirrors
Framed by shadows and by slimy stone.

The way and crosses of autumn fade into evening,
Singing pilgrims and the bloodstained linens.
The lonely one's figure turns inward,
A pale angel, and moves through the empty grove.

Out of blackness the foehn blows. Slender women
Are together with satyrs; monks, pale priests of lust,
Their insanity adorns itself with lilies beautifully and somberly
And lifts hands to God's golden shrine.


Moistened, a drop of dew hangs rosily
In the rosemary: a whiff of grave-smells fades away,
Of hospitals, filled with confused fever-screams and curses.
Skeletons rise from the family vault moldered and gray.

In blue slime and veils the old man's wife dances,
Her dirt-stiffen hair clotted with black tears,
The boys dream confused in dry strands of willows
And their foreheads are bald and rough with leprosy.

Through the arched window, an evening sinks melodious and warm.
A saint steps leaks from his black stigmata.
Purple snails creep from broken shells
And spew blood in threads of thorn stiff and gray.


The blind sprinkle incense into ulcerating wounds.
Golden red robes; torches; singing of psalms;
And girls who embrace the Lord's body like poison.
Figures walk rigid as wax through embers and smoke.

A fool leads the midnight dance of lepers
With dry bones. Garden of strange adventures;
Distorted; flowery grimaces, laughter; monsters
And rolling stars in a black thornbush.

O poverty, beggar's soup, bread and sweet leek;
Daydreaming of life in huts before the forests.
The sky above yellow fields hardens into gray
And according to old custom an evening bell sings.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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