LEV NEZNANSKY

 

 

 

DO NOT WEEP, BELOVED

 

 

POEMS

 

 

 

TRANSLATED BY VANESSA McMAHON

 


CONTENTS

 

 

Foreword†††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3

Spring†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 4

Stretch out your hand††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 5

In Galilee††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 6

Once again itís spring††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 8

Nostalgia††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 9

Childhood††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 12

A Dream†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 13

Blue†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 14

Jealousy†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 15

Grains of sand along the roadway†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 16

Jerusalem†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 17

Storm††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 18

Legend†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 19

Parable††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 20

The Wind†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 22

The Seasons††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 23

Amadeus††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 24

Eternity†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 25

Resurrection††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 26

Instinct†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 27

Boomerang††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 28

Bodhisattva†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 29

The Cry††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 30

Marble††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 31

Was it a dream††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 32

Beneath blue skies†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 33

Sunset††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 34

Do not weep, beloved††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 35

Shadows††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 36

I cannot grasp it††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 38

The Return†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 39

Surrender†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 40

Breathless††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 42

A Prayer†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 43

Drinking Song†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 44

Farewell††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 46

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 


FOREWORD

 

On first meeting Lev Neznansky in 1982, I was immediately struck by the truly enormous versatility and flexibility of his interests and intellect.The poems in this collection reveal yet another facet of his talents, and reflect the astonishing amalgam of religious, political and artistic experiences that he and his family have undergone.They are in the finest traditions of Russian poetry, tempered by the authorís inherent aptitude for adapting the conventions of the past to the requirements of the present.They are heartily recommended to anybody who loves the Russian language.

In its own way, this little volume is historic, for surely it must be the first example of the ďsimultaneous translationĒ of poems from Russian to English by a person from this country.Vanessa McMahon has collaborated with Lev Neznansky to achieve the almost impossible task of adhering faithfully to the content of the original, while at the same time producing versions which are worthy to stand in their own right.

This, of itself, adds another dimension for those fortunate enough to read the original Russian, for they will rarely find a better example of artistic translations on which to model their own efforts.

†††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Martin D. Bates,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Russian Lecturer,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† University College Dublin.

 

 

 

 

 

Lev Neznansky: sculptor,

essayist, poet.He was one

of the leading art critics in

the Soviet Unionbefore

emigrating to Israel with

his family in 1975.Since

1982 he has been living and

working in Wexford.

 

Vanessa McMahon: professional

violinist, linguist.She lives in

Dublin.


SPRING

 

 

A crown of cherry-blossom

†††††††† Fell from the sky

And hung before the window

†††††††† Of the second floor.

Black rocks,

†††††††† White flowers,

Dawn over Dublin.

†††††††† Stillness.

April

†††††††† Twenty- sixth.

 


STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND

 

 

Stretch out your hand,

Feel the touch of mist and rain.

Open soft the curtain

To the gentle smile

Of sunshine and of warmth.

Know, I pray,

The sadness of our parting.

Through the movement of the clouds

Beyond earthís edge

Light up the sky with rays

Of evening sunset,

Then silently enfold yourself

In darkness and in sleep.


IN GALILEE

 

 

Blindly then I made my way to

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Galilee

And cooled my brow on stone,

Ran my hand across it

Felt the roughness of its surface.

††††††††

Again the pain.

Her features there.

I touched them Ė

But theyíd gone.

I turned the stone around Ė

In vain.

 

I seized upon an axe

But the stone would not submit.

A line appeared,

A voice was heard

Then Ė silence.

 

I left the stone abandoned

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in the heat

And went and sat Ďneath eucalyptus

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† shade

With vacant stare.

Time was all forgot, an eternity

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† it seemed,

 


It could be that I prayed.

I donít recall.

 

Then suddenly the stone began

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to crack,

I took the axe and helped her

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to appear.

The oval of her face!

 

The rest came by itself,

I only prayed

†††††††††††††††††† -Donít leave me, Lord!

 

And there she was, yet Ė different.

She wanted to be silent like

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† the Sphinx.

I circled all around and round,

Trying to catch her gaze.

It slipped away.

She looked on past, beyond.

 

I took the axe about those eyes!

They closed.

 

Empty sockets, still remaining.

A tear lies trembling there.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† My tear.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††

††††††††


ONCE AGAIN ITíS SPRING

 

 

The moment you are

Lost from view

The moment you are

Out of hearing

The worldís avoid,

††††††††††††††††† the sky goes dark.

But for an instant

††††††††††††††††† when youíre near,

Itís spring!

The mystery

And wonder of rebirth.

 


†††††††††††††† NOSTALGIA

 

(Impressions of Tarkovskyís film)

†††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††† I

 

 

The stubborn sower Ė

†††††††† Grim swing of shoulders,

Has scattered Russia to the winds

†††††††† For partings without end.

As our native ground-wind in a draught

†††††††† Blows in from slightly-open doors,

So ice creeps in beneath the heart.

†††††††† So be it.

I consent to light the candle,

†††††††† And carry it far off,

Shielded by my palm.

 

Mother of God,

†††††††† Warm me with a breath,

Be it ever so little,

Thereís no need of wind,

†††††††† Only let there be stillness.

 

 


†††††††††††††††††††††

 

††††††††††††††††††† †††† II

 

 

Were it not for the trumpetís

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† voice

††††††††††† Yearning in the night

I would sleep like all those

††††††††††† Who have died in foreign

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† lands,

And dream a dream, always

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† the same,

††††††††††† I am walking ever on

And now to meet me, open-armed,

††††††††††† Comes Russia, all arrayed

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† in white,

A smile of welcome on her face. . .

††††††††††† At this point I awaken.

The radiance of the Risen Christ

††††††††††† Is drowning in the dungeonís

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† gloom.

 

††††††††††† The trumpetís voice,

Searching, searching in the night

††††††††††† Laments and moans

With death-like tone. . .

††††††††††† Awaken all those who have

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† died,

Russia weeps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

††

 

 

†††† †††††††††††††††††††III†††††

 

 

The fire alarm

The snore of bells

Scarlet stallion

Scarlet banner

Of a world-engulfing blaze.

 

And suddenly

A peal of bells

†††††††† Is ringing over Russia.

I will return

†††††††† Beneath the golden domes,

And saving canopy

†††††††† Of Faith and Hope and Love,

Dazed, Iíll fall down on my knees

†††††††† Upon the threshold

Humbly then a prayer

†††††††† Iíll whisper Ė

Lord, forgive me,

†††††††† I am the prodigal son.

 

The moment when those bells

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ring out

Iíll cross the world on foot

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to be there.


CHILDHOOD

 

 

The flowering of gardens

The movement of treetops

†††††††† †††††††† green and pink and white

Brings memories of childhood back.

When boles of organ pipes

Went shooting towards the sky,

And I was soaring there

†††††††††††††††††††††††† in lofty heights,

A boy Ė

†††††††† conductor of the orchestra

Lord of rhythm

†††††††† and of musicís heavenly spheres.


A DREAM

 

 

Whether my soul took leave of me

Or I took leave of it,

A cannot tell, I fell asleep,

And dreamed that I was dying,

So sadly,

Irreversibly.

With breath already fading,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Faint,

I looked around the orchestra

Where every blessed day

I played upon the violin.

The bow falls silent now,

The strings make no sound Ė

Why sing a moment here

And then for all eternity be

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† deaf?

A sudden shadow fell, a gentle

†††††††††††††††††††††††† tap was heard

I flinched

The conductorís arm was raised,

The stick was grasped

I raised the violin and my soul

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† did pass away

Was borne aloft on sound

And I became eternal.

 

 


BLUE

 

 

Gaze all-seeing

As in centuries long past

Slipping towards tomorrow,

To eternity.

Blue Ė

Colour of anxiety

Streaming without tears

To separation.

Gaze

Entreaty

Groans

O heaven

Raise me up

Wrap and comfort me

Work for me

This miracle

Dissolve

Dispel

This blueness of anxiety.

 


JEALOUSY

 

 

When it happened

†††††††† That the scalded heart

Burned within the breast,

†††††††† A hammer then I took

And tore

†††††††† The jealous bonds apart

Striking blow on blow.

†††††††† I sculpted out

A gravestone to our love.

†††††††† And there she entered in,

She sat upon the slab,

†††††††† Half sprawled across it,

She smoked and with

†††††††† ††††† a shrug of shoulders

†††††††† Tossed at me

A casual ďso longĒ

†††††††† And left.

Where leads her path?

†††††††† In whose embraces

Does she lie?

†††††††† The stone was silent then

Until, being cast in bronze,

†††††††† It cried aloud.


GRAINS OF SAND ALONG THE ROADWAY

 

 

The moment of farewell was only marked

By a silent drawn-out stare,

An independent movement

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† of the shoulders,

By a courteous remoteness, and again

That offhand shrug,

By a beating all about the bush

With purposely indifferent words

Not to find the end

Of the bond which had united us.

We do not seek it.

 

The wind swirls grains of sand

†††††††††††††††††††††††† along the roadway.

 


JERUSALEM

 

 

High above the Dead Sea

The birds are killing hope.

In the pre-dawn hour

At the centre of the earth,

Golden wings of sorrow

Set the cupolas and crosses

Of Jerusalem on fire.

And the birds return

To the starkly-kneaded mountains,

All crushed by the hand of God.

 

 


STORM

 

 

A bush

†††††††† Shudders

Whistles

†††††††† Groans.

Rose-coloured light

†††††††† Of cherry blossom.

A storm with jarring laughter

†††††††† Lashes.

 

Dawn will come

†††††††† In the fading years.

 


LEGEND

 

 

On the mountain stood a prophet,

Sinful and devout.

Moses.

Stern he was,

Yet humble before God,

Though used to wielding power.

He wished to live, not to perish,

Not grow cold.

Moses prayed, implored.

God appeared, and said:

ďYou will not die, go down,

Stand henceforth among the crowd,

You will have power no moreĒ.

Moses fell, and offered thanks.

Immortal!

He went and stood among the others.

A holy place can not remain deserted.

Another came, began to speak.

His blood did boil.

ďWretched boy, not that, absurd!Ē

Ran up, hand raised impatiently

And died.

 

O Lord have mercy and forgive!

 


PARABLE

 

 

†††††††† There was noadmittance to the

Recovery ward.Every night he paced

beneath the windows, knowing that if

death should come the light would go

out.

†††††††† One night his courage failed him.

Numb with fear, he dared not raise his

head to look at the window.

†††††††† And then he heard a voice asking

what it was that so tormented him.He

answered that his cross was too heavy,

an unendurable burden.

ďCome,Ē he heard it say.

†††††††† He found himself in a place where

crosses lay all about, faintly lit by

moonlight.They were many, and all

different.

†††††††† ďPut down your crossĒ he heard

ďand take whichever one fitsĒ.

†††††††† He wandered all around trying them

out.They all felt clumsy: one chafed

his back, another his neck, yet another

stuck out like a stake.He was becoming

weary when he saw a cross which looked

as if it might do well-formed, not large.

He shouldered it Ė the very one.

And said:

 


††††††††

ďThis is the one.Thank you.Ē

ďSo be it.Take back your cross.Ē

ďMy cross?Ē

ďYours.You have taken up that which

you cast away.Ē

When he returned beneath the window

The light had gone out.

 


THE WIND

 

 

Whistling wind, howling wind,

Moaning long with drawn-out sound,

The land lies heavy in the gloom,

The terrors of the night abound.

 

It would be good to bow our heads,

Falling to our knees to pray,

It would be good to stand up

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† straight,

And drive these fearful dreams away.

 

Never, never, gusting stronger,

Ever fiercer blows the storm,

Devil, tame yourself, be still,

The night is long, all strength is gone.

 

Whistling wind, howling wind,

Moaning long with drawn-out sound,

The land lies heavy in the gloom,

The terrors of the night abound.

 

 

 

 

††††††††


THE SEASONS

 

 

Autumnís not autumn,

You vex yourself for nothing,

The cycle of foul weather

May pass over or may not.

 

Despondency in twilight years,

Vanity of vanities and all is

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† vanity.

Summerís not summer.

It blazes and is gone,

No sunshine, no light,

No warmth for the spirit.

 

Always alone on the finishing

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† straight,

He fell on the tape and howled.

 

It is, it isnít,

Itís spring again,

Water, water

Of vernal tears.

 

Dreams are more substantial

†††††††††††††††††††††††† than the past,

Than days gone by, than years

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† long fled.

 

But winter now, is winter,

Smothered in a shroud,

Blankets wonít be needed,

Heíll not be seen again.

 

Thereís rest all the same

†††††††††††††††††††††††† salvation too,

Though it gets ever harder

†††††††††††††††††††††††† to pass away.

 


AMADEUS

 

 

O Mozart, you are answerable for

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† everything!

For the brassy clashes of

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the cymbals

Whichassail your ears in Chopinís

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Funeral March,

And for the death of Desdemona,

For your laughter,

That sobs above the graveyards

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of the world,

And for the brass of horns,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† which rust,

And for the strings that

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† do not sound.

Are you not the God of harmony,

Master of the music of the spheres?

Then pity Chopin, so he

Should not weep.

 


ETERNITY

 

 

When I am dead

Iíll wing my way to you

And I will find

Among the stars of heaven

Your star

And float towards it

Evermore.

 

 


RESURRECTION

 

 

Imagine now an aged house

Pillars on the front,

Stained glass in the windows,

And we,

Pressed against the panes

Within,

Spread-eagled and immobile.

 

†††††††† And in the mirrored depths

†††††††† A smile from ear to ear

†††††††† Is grinning soundlessly.

 

We are alone.

 

†††††††† People pass by in the dark

†††††††† Someone waves a hand

†††††††† Someone even turns to look.

 

Do they see this smiling face?

 

†††††††† Morning.

†††††††† It comes towards us now,

†††††††† That grin from ear to ear,

†††††††† Like a ghost incarnate

†††††††† It strips off from the glass

†††††††† The membrane of our skin

†††††††† Gives a puffÖ

 

And we become

As toy balloons.
INSTINCT

 

 

Primordial torso,

Swell of breast.

Instinct repeating itself

Simply, crudely.

Returning to the source.

 


BOOMERANG

 

 

The flourish of the

†††††††† ††† Boomerang

Forms an eyebrow arch

†††††††††††† In marble

In the search

†††††††††††† For itself.

 

 

 

 


BODHISATTVA

 

 

Fallen by the wayside

Leading to the summit towards

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Buddha,

The dream is shattered in

†††††††††††††††††††††††† a thousand pieces

This marble is the witness

†††††††††††††††††††††††† of ascent and fall

Haughty visage, secret gaze.

Impenetrable mystery

†††††††††††††††††††††††† of Bodhisattva.

 

††††††††


THE CRY

 

 

In the depths of the bronze

A cry is frozen.

Symbol of terror, despairing.

Craving our compassion.

 


MARBLE

 

 

Marble is alive and dead,

It has a dual nature:

In art Ė bestowing life,

In graves Ė the chill of death.

 


WAS IT A DREAMÖ

 

 

Was it a dream, or half awake,

A movement of the lips,

A glance of farewell

From afar?

Is it the light

Fading,

Or the past

Returning,

Or my dream is

Not a dream,

But eyes, once dead,

Come back to life

In the shadow of a smileÖ

 


BENEATH BLUE SKIES

 

 

On wings of happiness

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and love

Beneath blue skies

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† we glided.

Below, the waves were rolling,

†††††††††††††††††††††††† surf was breaking.

And in the chilly

†††††††††††††††††††††††† sky

The wind squeezed out

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a tear,

Softly then I wept.

†††††††††††††††††††††††† So good it is!

Rain began to fall,

†††††††† But she with flashing eyes

Burst out in laughter.

†††††††† And in the rainbowís arc

Were heaven and earth enclosed.

 


SUNSET

 

 

With sunset skies

Ablaze

She came

With eyes that said

I love you

 

I believe her

And am glad.

Nearby wife

And children

Sleeping

 

Her eyes say

Forget

Lose yourself

Donít be afraid

Aím your friend

A love you

 

What a moment

Youth

Fate

Blood racing

Soul singing

How beautiful

She is

 

I thought on itÖ

The sun set

Her eyes dimmed.

Wife

And children

Slept.


DO NOT WEEP, BELOVED

 

 

Do not weep, beloved

Do not weep my dearest heart

Only pull aside

The veil that screens the sky

And the sun will shine on us.

Look now Ė

The vault of heaven sparkles

With hopeís reflected light

Instant and eternity

†††††††† Are filled

With tender peace.

†††††††† Let sadness

Pass away and lift this grief

†††††††† And join the realm of memories

Without the torment of

†††††††† Forebodings on the night,

Of ghosts and monsters

†††††††† Sticking fast like fear.

Embrace me

And Iíll hold you close.

 


SHADOWS

 

††††††††††† I

 

Shadows, shadows, shadows,

That were and are, and wonít be more,

Only sound can live

Outside of time, outside of shadow.

 

Sound alone endures,

Most ancient of the muses.

Consonance swift-winged

Incorporeal and fleeting.

 

Light endeavours, and is jealous

Slave of seconds, time obeying

Declines,-goes out, - nothing.

 

What is colour, then?

The visible accord of light?

A ray transformed in matter?

Who knows where lies the answerÖ

 

The answer is in God

But thereís no God.

 

 


††††††††††††† II

 

Ö.No God?

Yes, God is,

And answer too.

 

A ray past strings

Does softly brush,

The heavens are awakened

In the gaze of the Gioconda.


I CANNOT GRASP IT

 

 

I cannot grasp it with the mind,

This earthly lot, a thousand paths

Of anguish, flights, defeats and joys,

Of partings and re-unions.

 

Are they real, your hands, your lips?

They are no more, and yet I sense them,

And the trembling of your eyelash

At the moment of your last farewell.

 

Forgive me, I have lingered long

To fashion out a gravestone,

Inscribing on it words of love

And a date without beginning,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† without end.

 

 


THE RETURN

 

 

Ever the same return

†††††††† To that same place

To homeland

†††††††† To abandoned friends

In dreams or waking

†††††††† I am ever running back

To smiles in the past

†††††††† To the swoon of

†††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† Embraces

Some day in truth

†††††††† I shall return

In verses or in bronze

†††††††† Or stone

 

 


SURRENDER!

 

 

Surrender, he says, surrender

Submit, he says, submit

Restrain yourself

Curb your obstinacy.

I alone

I alone

Am yours.

 

Go away, she says, go away

Get lost, she says, get lost.

Iím not yours

Iím no-oneís

Get out.

 

I canít, he says, I canít

Donít be cruel

Let me stay

Cherish me

Kiss

Put your arms

Around me.

 

Go away, she says, go away,

I hate you

Leave off

Iíll kill you

Another I want

Not you.

 

 


You swore, he says, you swore,

You took me

In your arms

You lived

For me

Your words.

 

For you, she says, I lived,

To you, she says, I swore,

Knelt down

On my knees.

 

Itís finished

Burnt out

Whatís past is past.

 

 


BREATHLESS

 

 

If there should be gloom

Sepulchral silence,

Empty howling

Of the doublebass,

And hearing penetrates

The dumbness,

Eyelash falls from eye

With the thunder of a landslide?

I tumble backwards, stupefied.

And then Ė what?

Downwards, ever down I fall,

And grasp the edge,

Suspended.

Terror-stricken, breathless,

All past life

Flashes by before my eyes

Towards the source,

In images disjointed;

Fragments of disgrace,

Of infamy, of weakness,

For fulfilment of the sentence.

 


A PRAYER

 

 

I pray

Implore

On the brink

Of the abyss

O Lord

Have mercy

On my soul,

Forgive.

But now

Immortals gather round

A meeting with the past?

A stop upon the way?

Forwards?

Or back?

Dark

Night

Sleep.

 


DRINKING SONG

 

 

In the half-dark pub a guitar is

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† strumming,

A guitar is strumming with an

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Irish voice.

I sit there with my sweetheart,

†††††††† the tenderest of sweethearts

The sweetest of expressions

†††††††††††††††††††††††† on her gentle face.

 

Now she tells the story, she tells

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† everybody

How she saved me from the drink,

†††††††† ††††††††† from the demon drink,

In this very pub, where weíll have

†††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† a wedding party

With a bit of luck, with a lot of

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† luck.

 

We donít need a roof, we donít need

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a house,

Thereís everything here, for body

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and soul.

The counter will be fine as

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a marriage bed

Thereíll be food enough and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† drinking too.

 

 


Donít grieve, brothers, donít leave,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† brothers,

Hold out your pints, together raise

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† them up,

Shoulder to shoulder with our arms

†††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† around each other

Weíll drink like we used to

†††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† in this same pub.

 

In the half-dark pub a guitar

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† is strumming

A guitar is strumming with an Irish

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† voice.

I sit there with my sweetheart,

†††††††† †† the tenderest of sweethearts

The sweetest of expressions on her

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† gentle face.

 


FAREWELL

 

 

Farewell,

†††††††† Dance of stars,

Domes of churches,

†††††††† Smells of night,

Blue of lilac-coloured headscarf,

†††††††† Glimmer of the moon.

Remember me with kindness.

†††††††† I am leaving

To return again,

†††††††† In spite of everything,

To meet the New Word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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