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Georg Trakl


Revelation and Decline

Strange are the nightly paths of men. As I moved sleepwalking past rooms of stone, and in each a lamp calmly burned, a copper candlestick, and as I sank freezing onto the bed, the black shadow of strangeress stood overhead, and silently I hid my face in slow-moving hands. Also at the window the hyacinth had blossomed blue and an old prayer rose on the purple lips of the breathing, crystalline tears wept over the bitter world sank from the eyelids. In this hour I was the white son in my father's death. In blue showers the night wind came from the hill, the dark lament of the mother dying away again and I saw the black hell in my heart; minute of shimmering stillness. Softly an unspeakable countenance stepped from the chalky wall - a dying youth - the beauty of a race returning home. Lunar-white the coolness of stone embraced the waking temple, the steps of the shadows faded on decayed stairs, a dance of roses in the small garden.

Silently I sat in a deserted inn under smoky rafters and alone with wine; a radiant corpse bent over a dark shape and a dead lamb lay at my feet. Out of moldering blueness the pale figure of the sister stepped and her bleeding mouth spoke thus: stab with black thorn. O my silver arms still resound from wild thunderstorms. Flow, blood, from the lunar feet, blossoming on nightly paths, over which the rat shoos screaming. You stars, flicker in my arched brows; and the heart rings quietly in the night. A red shadow with a flaming sword broke into the house, fled with snowy forehead. O bitter death.
And a dark voice spoke out of me: I broke my black horse's neck in the nocturnal forest because insanity leapt from his purple eyes; the shadows of elms fell on me, the blue laughter of the well, and the black coolness of the night, as I, a wild hunter, roused a snowy deer; my countenance died off in stony hell.
And a drop of blood fell shimmering into the wine of the lonely; and when I drank, it tasted more bitter than poppy; and a blackish cloud encircled my head, the crystal tears of damned angels; and softly blood ran from the silver wound of the sister and a fiery rain fell over me.

I wish to walk by the edge of the forest, a silent shape, from whose speechless hands the hairy sun sank; a stranger at the evening hill, who weeping lifts eyelids over the stony city; a deer that stands silently in the peace of the ancient elder trees; o restlessly the dusking head listens, or hesitating steps follow the blue cloud at the hill, also earnest stars. To the side the green seed quietly guides, shyly accompanies the doe on mossy forest paths. The huts of the villagers are closed in silence, and the blue lament of the wild brook is frightening in the black wind-lull.
But as I climbed down the rocky path, insanity seized me and I screamed loudly in the night; and as I bent with silver fingers over the silent waters, I saw that my countenance had left me. And the white voice spoke to me: kill yourself! Sighing, the shadow of a young boy arose in me and gazed at me radiantly out of crystal eyes, so that I sank down weeping beneath the trees, the mighty dome of stars.

Peaceless wanderings through wild stone far removed from evening hamlets, flocks returning home; far away the sinking sun grazes on a crystal meadow and its wild song convulses, the lonely cry of the bird fading away in blue rest. But quietly you come at night as I lay watching on a hill, or raging in a spring thunderstorm; and always blacker gloom clouds the abandoned head, horrible lightning bolts terrify the nocturnal soul, your hands tear my breathless breast.

As I walked in the dusking garden, and the black figure of evil left me, the hyacinth stillness of the night embraced me; and I rode in a curved boat over the dormant pond and a sweet peace touched my petrified forehead. Speechless I lay under old willows and the blue sky was high above me and filled with stars; and as I passed away beholding, fear and the deepest pain died inside me; and the blue shadow of the boy rose, radiant in darkness, a gentle song; over greening treetops, crystal cliffs, the white countenance of the sister rose on lunar wings.

With silver soles I descended thorny stairs and I stepped into the whitewashed chamber. Calmly, a candlestick burned inside and I buried my head silently in purple linen; and the earth ejected a childish corpse, a lunar shape, which slowly stepped out of my shadow, plunged with broken arms down stony abysses, flaky snow.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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