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Poems in Terza Rima
On the Transitory
I still feel her breath upon my cheeks
How can it be, that these close days
Are gone, gone for ever, completely passed?
This is a matter that no one fully comprehends,
And it’s far too grim for any complaint:
That everything slips and passes away.
And that my own Ego, limited by nothing,
Slips away from a small child
To me unearthly silent and alien like a dog.
Then: I existed a hundred years ago
And my ancestors, those in the shroud,
Are as related with me as my own hair.
Are as one with me as my own hair.
The hours! In which we stared into
The pale blue of the sea and understood death,
So simply and festively and without dread,
Like small girls, who appear very pale,
With big eyes, and who are always chilly
Silently gazing out into the evening
And know that life is silently flowing out
From their limps drunk with sleep
Into trees and grass garnished with faint smiles
Like a saint who pours out her blood.
We are made of the stuff of dreams,
And thus dreams open their eyes
Like small children under the cherry trees,
From whose crown the pale golden course
Of the full moon lifts up through the great night.
…Not otherwise appear our dreams,
They are there and live as a child, that laughs,
No less large in floating up and down
Than the full moon is, awakened by the crown of trees.
The innermost is open to her weavings;
Like the hands of ghosts in a locked room
They are within us and always have life.
And the three are One: a human, a thing and a dream.
On occasion never-loved women appear
Before us in a dream as small girls
And are unspeakably touching to behold.
As if they had accompanied us on a distant path
Once on an evening
While the tree-tops moved, breathing
And scent descended, and night, and fear
And along the path, our path, the dark one,
By the evening’s light the silent ponds are resplendent
And, mirror of our desire, in dreamlike flashes,
And all softly-spoken words, all breezes
Of the evening air and the first starlight
The souls quake deeply and sisterly
And are sad and filled with the jostle of triumph
In the face of deep apprehension, which the great life
Comprehends, with its magnificence and strength.
–Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Terzinen I-IV: Über Vergänglichkeit (1894) (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Estimated temperature of Hell, according to two Spanish physicists ‘ interpretation of the Bible:
The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.
A TSA agent in Seattle was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of women in the airport, a Maryland police officer was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of an off-duty colleague, and the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that taking up-skirt photos is legal in the state.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”