Song of My Song
At last you return, wretched wanderer,
with head held high –
to me, here, in hostile isolation.
Don’t look back with dark words
of fright and vexation –
I know everything…
But you must know too: they died there
the devil and god together .
Come to me. come into me. Tell me:
where haven’t you been, where haven’t I been
hot on your trail?
Zigzags everywhere out of reach…
Where did I not burn from jealousy
in summer sweat and winter frost?
Weren’t you in the poky cellar
of a shabby worker, icy famished –
and say, pauper, didn’t he lie
about festivity, fresh air and sky?
In the fields with uncultured peasants
did you not
waste whole days with him,
ventured yourself for your dreams?
Out in the scree of dark mountains –
a brigand sister – and over the grave
did you not shed giant tears
measuring mourning with a wretched slave?
And faced by wantonness with beggarly dread
did you not sob for a look and a smile
and faced by innocence did you not whisper
a word of seduction shamelessly
to remain forever without shame!
And now that you come back exhausted,
frightened, rejected, broken.
…A mouth from whose lips
more than one drunkard’s drained your rubies.
Through those days, unclean hands
have untangled, mangled, befouled
the silk of your hair.
In the bloody embrace of a butcher
did you not bend once?
Did I not hear debauchery mock your innocence
and innocence shower you
with howls of the damned?
And now that you come back, exhausted,
frightened, rejected, broken.
Don’t look back – there’s no-one living
among the crowd of the dead:
a few stayed back there
skeletal through the silence
of memory fog.
The same ruffian, I followed in your wake
and I demanded:
What she hated what she loved?
I was helpless in jealousy, strong in hate
and I pondered:
what’s her fancy, what turns her on?
Your voice deafens my steps everywhere.
I searched high and low
then I searched for them –
souls imprisoned for a moment
In vain I sought out truth from them,
founded on sin and deceit.
In vain I sought even the lie –
god of eternity, soul in the soul.
Suffering! A suffering that’s banal,
there somewhere in the middle
of the truth and the lies…
And here’s me now: look the zenith – loneliness.
And you return, my beauty!
So there’s no evil, pain, life
outside my heart – a tomb,
where the ashes lie
of every truth-falsehood.
So there is no spirit and there’s no thing
outside my breast – a furnace
of eternal living flame,
a temple of full eternity.
And you return! – festive day…
I’ll puff and with a bloody flame
Wood and stone will flare.
Be with me – be in me…
Midst bloody flame and smoke,
through the sweltering smog,
the heavens in your gaze
will be savagely reflected.
Soul will yearn for them!
You gaze at them and sing to me
of cold peace and eternal forgetting.
Midst flames and hellish smoke
the pair of us shall burn,
beautiful in black ugliness
and ugly in radiant beauty –
through sweltering smog,
in yearning for heavenly peace,
the pair of us shall burn here.
You and me together, our song.
translation: Christopher Buxton