Poetry       Prose       Letters

Georg Trakl


On the Way

In the evening they carried the stranger into the chamber of the dead;
A smell of tar; the soft rustling of red sycamores;
The dark flight of jackdaws; a guard entered the square.
The sun has sunk into black linens; always this bygone evening returns.
In the adjoining room, the sister plays a sonata from Schubert.
Very gentle, her smile sinks into the decayed fountain
Murmuring bluish in the dusk. O how old is our race.
Someone whispers down there in the garden; someone has left this black sky.
On the cabinet apples smell sweet. Grandmother lights golden candles.

O, how mild is the autumn. Softly our steps resound in the old park
Under tall trees. O, how earnest is the hyacinthine countenance of the dusk.
The blue spring by your feet, the red silence of your mouth mysteriously
Shadowed by the slumber of foliage, the dark gold of decayed sunflowers.
Your eyelids are heavy from poppy and dream softly on my forehead.
Soft bells tremble through the breast. A blue cloud,
Your countenance has sunk over me in the dusk.

A song accompanied by guitar sounds out in a strange inn,
The wild elderbushes there, a bygone November day,
Familiar steps on the dusking staircase, the sight of brown rafters,
An open window in which a sweet hope stayed behind -
All this is so unspeakable, o God, that one breaks down on the knees shaken.

O, how dark is this night. A purple flame
Expired at my mouth. In the stillness,
The anxious soul's lonely string music dies down.
Cease, when drunk with wine the head sinks into the gutter.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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