Poetry       Prose       Letters

Georg Trakl


Sebastian in Dream

For Adolf Loos

Mother bore the infant in the white moon,
In the shadow of the walnut tree, the ancient elder,
Drunk with poppy juice, the lament of the thrush;
And silently
In compassion a bearded face bent over her

Gently in the darkness of the window; and the old household goods
Of the fathers
Lay in decay; love and autumn reverie.

So dark the day of the year, sad childhood,
When softly the boy climbed down to cool waters, silver fishes,
Rest and countenance;
When stony he cast himself before raving black horses,
In gray night his star subdued him;

Or when he walked at the freezing hand of the mother
In the evening over Saint Peter's autumn cemetery,
A frail corpse lay still in the darkness of the chamber
And another raised cold eyelids over him.

But he was a small bird in bare branches,
The bell long in the November evening,
The father's silence, as in sleep he descended the dusking spiral stair.


Peace of the soul. Lonesome winter evening,
The dark figures of the shepherds by the old pond;
Infant in the hut of straw; o how softly
The countenance sank in black fever.
Holy night.

Or when at the hard hand of the father
He silently climbed gloomy Mount Calvary
And in dusking niches of rock
The blue figure of man passed through His legend,
Blood ran crimson from the wound under the heart.
O how softly the cross rose up in the dark soul.

Love; when the snow melted in black corners,
A blue breeze was cheerfully snared in the old elder,
In the shadowy arch of the walnut tree;
And softly a rosy angel appeared to the boy.

Joy; when in cool rooms an evening sonata sounded,
In the brown rafters
A blue moth crept from its silver chrysalis.

O the nearness of death. In stony wall
A yellow head bowed, silencing the child,
When in that March the moon decayed.


Rosy Easter Bell in the burial vault of night
And the silver voices of the stars
So that in showers a dark insanity sank from the forehead of the sleeper.

O how silent a walk down the blue river,
Pondering on things forgotten, when in green branches
The thrush calls a stranger into decline.

Or when he walked at the bony hand of the old man
Evenings before the decayed wall of the city,
And another bore a rosy infant in a black coat,
The spirit of evil appeared in the shadow of the walnut tree.

Groping over the green steps of summer. O how softly
The garden decayed in autumn's brown stillness,
Scent and sorrow of the old elder tree,
When in Sebastian's shadow the silver voice of the angel died.


© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt



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