Poetry       Prose       Letters

Georg Trakl


Metamorphosis of Evil

Autumn: black striding along the forest edge; moment of mute destruction; the forehead of the leper eavesdrops under the bare tree. Bygone evening, that now sinks over steps of moss; November. A bell rings and the shepherd leads a herd of black and red horses into the village. Under the hazel bush, the green hunter disembowels a deer. His hands smoke with blood and in leaves over the eyes of the man the shadow of the deer sighs, brown and reticent; the forest. Crows, that scatter; three. Their flight resembles a sonata full of faded chords and manly sorrow; quietly a golden cloud dissolves. By the mill boys light a fire. Flame is the brother of the palest one, and the other one laughs buried in his purple hair; or it is a place of murder passed by a stony path. The barberries are gone, year-long it dreams in leaden air under the pines; fear, green darkness, the gurgling of a drowning man; from the starry pond the fisherman pulls a large black fish, countenance filled with cruelty and madness. The voices of reeds, of quarreling men in the back, the other one sways in a red boat across the freezing waters of autumn, living in the dark legends of his race and the eyes opened stony over nights and virgin terrors. Evil.
What forces you to stand silently on the decayed stair in the house of your fathers? Leaden blackness. What do you lift with silver hand to the eyes; and the eyelids sink as if drunk with poppy? But through the wall of stone you see the starry sky, the Milky Way, Saturn; red. Raging, a bare tree knocks against the wall of stone. You on decayed stairs: tree, star, stone! You, a blue animal that quietly trembles; you, the pale priest who slaughters it on the black altar. O your smile in the darkness, sad and evil, so that a child turns pale in sleep. A red flame jumped out of your hand and a moth burned up in it. O the flute of light; o the flute of death. What forced you to stand silently on the decayed stair in the house of your fathers? Below at the gate an angel knocks with crystalline finger.
O the hell of sleep; dark alley, small brown garden. Quietly in the blue evening the shape of the dead rings. Surrounded by little green flowers, their countenance has left them. Or it bends faded over the cold forehead of the murderer in the darkness of the hallway; adoration, purple flame of lust; dying, the sleeper fell over black steps into the darkness.
Somebody left you at the the crossroads and you gaze back for a long time. Silver step in the shadow of small crippled apple trees. The fruit shines purple in black branches and in the grass the snake molts. O! the darkness; the sweat that appears on the icy forehead, and sad dreams in wine, in the village inn under the smoke-blackened rafters. You, still the wilderness that conjures rosy islands from the brown tobacco clouds, and draws from its core the wild cry of a griffin that hunts around black cliffs in sea, storm and ice. You, a green metal and within a fiery face that wants to go there and sing away gloomy times and the flaming fall of the angel from the hill of skeletons. O! despair, which breaks to the knee with soundless cry.
A dead person visits you. From the heart self-spilt blood runs and in the black eyebrow an unspeakable moment nests; dark encounter. You - a purple moon, as the other one appears in the green shadow of the olive tree. After this everlasting night follows.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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