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Georg Trakl


Dream and Derangement

In the evening the father became an old man; in dark rooms the countenance of the mother turned into stone and the curse of the degenerated race weighed on the boy. Sometimes he remembered his childhood, filled with sickness, terror and gloom, secret games in the garden of stars, or feeding rats in the dusking courtyard. From the blue mirror stepped the slender figure of the sister and as if dead he fell into darkness. At night his mouth burst open like a red fruit and stars gleamed over his speechless grief. His dreams fulfilled the ancient house of the fathers. In the evening he liked to walk over the decayed cemetery, or he watched the corpses in the dusking crypts, the green stains of rot on their beautiful hands. At the gate of the monastery he asked for a piece of bread; the shadow of a black horse jumped out of darkness and frightened him. When he lay in his cool bed, unspeakable tears overcame him. But there was no one who might put a hand on his forehead. When autumn came, he walked clairvoyant in the brown floodplain. O, the hours of wild ecstasy, the evenings by the green river, the hunting. O, the soul which quietly sang the song of the yellowed reed; fiery piety. Silently and long he looked into the starry eyes of the toad, felt with trembling hands the coolness of the old stone and consulted with the revered legend of the blue well. O, the silver fish and fruits which fell from crippled trees. The chords of his steps filled him with pride and contempt of men. On the way home, he encountered an abandoned palace. Decayed gods stood in the garden, mourning in the evening. But it seemed to him: I lived here through forgotten years. An organ choral filled him with God's trembling. But he spent his days in a dark cave, lied and stole and hid, a flaming wolf before the white countenance of the mother. O, the hour when with a stony mouth he sank down in the garden of stars, the shadow of the murderer came over him. With a purple forehead he walked into the moor and God's wrath castigated his metal shoulders; o, the birches in the storm; the dark animals which avoided his deranged paths. Hate burned his heart, lust, when in the green summer garden he violated the silent child and in the radiance recognized his own deranged countenance. Woe, in the evening at the window, when out of purple flowers death, a grayish skeleton, stepped. O, you towers and bells; and the shadows of night fell stony upon him.

No one loved him. Lie and lechery burned his head in dusking rooms. The blue rustle of a woman's dress made him stiffen into a column and the nocturnal figure of his mother stood in the doorway. Above his head the shadow of evil rose up. O, you nights and stars. In the evening he walked past the mountain with the cripple; the rosy splendor of sunset lay on the icy peak and his heart quietly rang in the dusk. The stormy firs sank heavily upon them and the red hunter stepped out of the forest. When night came his heart broke like crystal and gloominess beat his forehead. Under bare oak trees he strangled a wild cat with icy hands. To his right, lamenting, the white figure of an angel appeared, and in the darkness the shadow of the cripple grew. But he lifted a rock and threw it at the other so that he fled howling and in the shadow of the tree the soft countenance of the angel faded away sighing. Long he lay on a stony acre and gazed with astonishment at the golden tent of the stars. Chased by bats, he fell away into darkness. Breathless he entered the decayed house. In the courtyard he, a wild animal, drank the well's blue water until he became cold. Feverish, he sat upon the icy stairs, raging against God that he might die. O, the grey countenance of terror when he raised the round eyes over a dove's slit throat. Shooing over strange stairs, he met a Jewish girl and he grabbed at her black hair and he seized her mouth. Hostile shapes followed him through gloomy streets and an iron clinking tore his ear. Along autumnal walls he, an acolyte, quietly followed the silent priest; drunkenly he breathed in the scarlet of his reverend vestment under seared trees. O, the decayed disk of the sun. Sweet torments consumed his flesh. In a deserted passageway his own bleeding figure covered with refuse appeared to him. He loved the noble works of stone more deeply; the tower that nightly storms the blue starry sky with hellish grimaces; the cool grave in which man's fiery heart is preserved. Woe, to the unspeakable guilt signified by it. But when he walked along the autumnal river under bare trees pondering something blazing, a flaming daemon appeared to him in hairy coat, the sister. Awaking the stars expired above their heads.

O of the cursed race. When in maculate rooms every destiny has been fulfilled, death enters the house with moldering steps. O, that it were spring outdoors and a lovely bird was singing in the blossoming tree. But grayish the scanty green withers around the windows of the nocturnal ones and bleeding hearts still think evil. O, the dusking spring paths of the pondering. More righteously he rejoices in the blossoming hedge, the countryman's young seed, and the singing bird, God's soft creature; the evening bell and the beautiful community of men. So that he might forget his fate and the thorny sting. Freely the brook greens, where silverly his foot wanders, and a telling tree rustles above his deranged head. Thus he lifts the snake with slender hand and in fiery tears his heart melted away. The silence of the forest is sublime, greening darkness, and the mossy animals fluttering up when night comes. O the shiver when every being knows its guilt, walks thorny paths. Thus he found the white figure of the child in the thorn-bush bleeding for the coat of its bridegroom. But he stood buried in his steely hair mute and suffering before her. O the radiant angels whom the purple night wind dispersed. Nightlong he dwelled in a crystalline cave and leprosy grew silverly on his forehead. A shadow, he walked down the mule track under autumn stars. Snow fell, and blue gloom filled the house. The harsh voice of the father called out like a blind man and evoked dread. Woe of the bowed appearance of women. Under rigid hands the terrified race's progeny and utensils decayed. A wolf tore the firstborn and the sisters fled into dark gardens to bony old men. A deranged seer, the other one sang along the decayed walls and God's wind engulfed his voice. O, the lust of death. O you children of a dark race. Silverly, the evil flowers of the blood glimmer on the other one's temple, the cold moon in his broken eyes. O, of the nocturnal ones; o, of the cursed.

Deep is the slumber in dark poisons, fulfilled with stars and the white countenance of the mother, the stony one. Bitter is death, the fare of the guilt-laden; in the brown branches of the family tree the earthen faces decayed grinning. But quietly the other one sang in the green shadow of the elderberry, when he woke from evil dreams; sweet playmate, a rosy angel, approached him, so that he, a soft deer, slumbered into the night; and he saw the starry countenance of purity. The sunflowers sank golden over the garden fence when the summer came. O, the diligence of bees and the green leaves of the walnut tree; the thunderstorms passing by. Silverly the poppy bloomed also, bore in green bud our nocturnal star-dreams. O, how silent the house was when the father passed away into darkness. The fruit ripened purple on the tree and the gardener moved his hard hands; o the hairy signs in the radiant sun. But silently in the evening the shadow of the dead man entered the grieving family circle and his step sounded crystalline over the green meadow before the forest. The muted, those gathered around the table; the dying, with waxen hands they broke the bread, the bleeding. Woe of the sister's stony eyes, when at the meal her insanity appeared on the brother's forehead, when under the mother's suffering hands the bread turned to stone. O, of the putrefied ones, when with silver tongues they silenced hell. Thus the lamps in the cool room died out and through purple masks the suffering humans looked at each other silently. Nightlong the rain poured down, and refeshed the meadow. In thorny wilderness the dark one followed the yellowed paths in the corn, the song of the lark and the gentle stillness of green branches so that he might find peace. O, you villages and mossy steps, radiant view. But bonily the footsteps stagger over sleeping snakes at the forest edge and the ear always follows the raving scream of the vulture. In the evening he found a stony solitude, a dead man's escort into the dark house of the father. A purple cloud covered his head so that he silently attacked his own blood and likeness, a lunar countenance; stonily sank away into emptiness, when in a broken mirror a dying youth, the sister, appeared; night engulfed the cursed race.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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