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Penguin Modem European Poets

Advisory Editor: A. Alvarez

Selected Poems . Vladimir Holan


Vladimir Holan was born in Prague in 1905. For seven years he worked in a pensions office in Prague. In 1933 he became editor of the arts reviewZivot (Life), and since 1940 has given all his rime to writing. He has published more than twenty books of poetry, four prose works, and translations of Rilke, Baudelaire, Ronsard, Lermontov, and selected Chinese poets. After 1948 Holan was accused of 'decadent formalism' and, though he continued to write throughout the fifties, no new book, except for a few earlier narrative poems, was published until 1963. In 1965, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, he was granted the highest Czechoslovak literary award and in 1966 the international Etna-Taormina poetry prize for A Night with Hamlet, which has been translated into 11;;ilian.French, German and Swedish.

Selected Poems
Vladimir Holan
Translated by
Jarmila and Ian Milner

With an Introduction by
Ian Milner

Penguin Books

Contents
Penguin Books Ltd, Hannondsworth, Middlesex, England Penguin Books Inc., 7110 Ambassador Road. Baltimore, Maryland 21207, U.S.A. Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood. Victoria, Australia First published by Penguin Books 1971 Copyright ( Vladimir Holan, 1971 Translations copyright Jarmila and Ian Milner, Made and printed in Great Britain by Cox & Wyman Ltd, London, Reading and Fakenham Set in Monotype Bembo This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, b~ lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

Introducticm 9 Translators' Note

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TITLB 20

from

WITHOUT

Horoscope 19 No, Don't Go Yet The Hour 21

from
1971

ADVANCING

I
f

Nothing Mter All 25 On the Pavement 26 Dead Man's Complaint 27 Building the Tower of Babel 21 Death 29 Today There Is . 30 In a Village Cemetery by the Suicides' Wall Eodem anno pons ruptus est 32 Encounter V 33 She Asked You 34 Passion Week 35 Smiles 36 Human Voice 37 In the Kitchen 3& The Child 39 Bequest 40 October 41 Presentiment 42 Mother 43 Still Life by a Lake 44 Night After Night 45 Rope .. 46 Yes or No? 47 Stay 48 Listening to a Record 49

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from

TRIALOGUB

The Wall

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'Introduction
Vladimir Holan was born in Prague in 1905. He spent his childhood in the rolling wooded countryside of central Bohemia but returned to Prague for his secondary schooling. In 1926 he published his first book of verse. For the next seven years he worked in a social insurance (pensions) officeand during this time published two further volumes of poetry. In 1929 he visited northern Italy; the fascination of its architecture, scenery and cultural past colours some of his later poetry. In 1933 he became editor of an arts review, Zivot (Life), but since 1940 has given all his time to writing. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry, apart from various selections and anthologies, and four prose works, including Lemuria (1940), his diary of the years 1934-8. When Holan began writing in the late 1920S the prevailing poetic manner, practised by leading poets like Vltezslav Nezval, Jaroslav Seifert and Konstantin Biebl, was 'poetism', a Czech adaptation, with its own higWy coloured fantasy and easy charm, of surrealism and dadaism. Holan's early work went along with this mood of avantgarde virtuosity. His early volumes of poetry show a command of inventive imagery, of metre and stmcture, and an unusual skill in verbal play. It is a self-sufficient, Mallarmean poetry of magic artifice. But the lights were going out in Europe and 'poetism' went with them. The outrage of Munich and the full Nazi occupation in March 1939 caused Holan, like his fellow poets Seifert, Halas, Nezval and Hora, to respond with a new poetry: direct, focused on stark realities, impassioned in tone, voicing the popular mood of shocked resentment at the Munich betrayal, and an unbroken will to survive as a nation.
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The liberation in May 1945 brought its own kind of poetry. Collections like D{k Sovetskemu svazu (Thanks to the Soviet Union, 1945), and Rudoarmljci (Red Army Men, 1947), render, sometimes rhetorically, sometimes informally, both the hopes of the immediate postwar years and the genuine feeling of appreciation for the human qualities of the ordinary Russian soldier. After 1948, by one of the absurd yet tragic ironies in which recent Czechoslovak history abounds, Holan, the author of the postwar tributes to the Soviet Union and the nation-stirring anti-fascist poems of 1938-40, was accused by party dogmatists of decadent' formalism' and was abused, or ignored, in the press. Until 1963 no further volume of his poetry was accepted for publication. By nature very reticent, he responded to exclusion from public life and letters by withdrawing to his house in Prague on the small Kampa island on the Vltava; he scarcely left it for the next fifteen years. From this long vigil comes his finest poetry, a poetry which fuses, with compelling force, personal feelings of bitterness, scorn, anxiety, despair, mystification, with social moods of oppression and fear. To his official critics he replied with saeva indignatio in his 'To the Enemy' (1949) : To be, you would have to live, but you will not be because you aren't alive, and you aren't alive because you do not love, because you don't love even yourselves, let alone your neighbour ... In 1963 the wind changed. Three volumes of his verse were published in that year alone, followed by three major collections, Na postupu (Advancing) and Trialog (Trialo-zue) in 1964, and Bolest {pain} in 1965. His long reflective-dramatic poem Noc s Hamletem (A Night with Hamlet) was aho published in 1964, the year of Shakespeare' s quatercentenary. 10

On the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1965, Holan was given the title of National Artist, the highest official literary award. A Night with Hamlet was written during 1949-56, the grim years of isolation, and was finished in 1962. Interviewed in the weekly Literarn{ noviny, when the poem was first published, Holan remarked: The years of writing A Night with Hamlet were the cruellest of my life. In my desperate loneliness I was well' earthed' to receive, and survive, all the horrors of that time. But it would 'be mistaken to think of the poem as merely an expression of those particular events, since I have always been concemed with man and the human drama in general, with man's condition and unhappy lot, which he endures at all times The question that was on my mind was: who was Hamlet? I'm sure of one thing: for many tragic nights he became my companion. He stepped through the wall and there he was. We talked to each other .... The conversations went on ad infinitum, not always tolerant, not always friendly, but always passionate. Something of those talks I've caught, I trust, in A Night with Hamlet. The poem is a long, loosely connected sequence of dramatic dialogues, in close-textured and finely modulated free verse, between Hamlet and the poet; there is also an entracte in which Orpheus and Eurydice, saved from the underworld, reflect on the nature of human love. The abrupt transitions of theme, the wild plunges of poetic thought, bizarre imagery, the baroque rhetoric, are characteristic of the poem as a whole. Its semi-dramatic form is not there to dramatize the inner world of the human personality and its tensions. It is more in the tradition of Socratic dialogue - polemical encounters in which the characters wrestle with ultimate questions: the nature of art and the artist, the eternal war between those 'drest in a little brief authority' and the human spirit, the meaning of death, the mystery of being. In the poem Hamlet stands for the timeless and
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indestructible spirit of man. He speaks as Renaissance and modem man in the same breath. Holan's poetic world, represented in this volume mainly by work done during 1948-56, is frequently dark, gloomy, full of strange menace or mysterious presences. Death is a recurring motif: he sees the skull beneath the skin mocking human endeavour. Like some modern dramatists he is deeply aware of the strict limits of effective human communication. Few other poets of our time know so intensely the meaning of isolation, of being shut in by a 'wall' (his own image: see the poem, ' The wall ') of uncomprehending Authority. Hence his 'Ubi nullus ordo, sed perpetuus horror': To live is terrible since you have to stay with the appalling reality of these years. Only the suicide thinks he can leave by the door that is merely painted on the wall. There is not the slightest sign that the Comforter will come. In me the heart of poetry bleeds. The darker poetic moods come from a mingling of personal and social impulses. Behind Holan's awareness of the fears, tensions and sense of alienation brought on by the condition of society lies an older, personal conviction. Man has been driven out of Paradise and is doomed to suffer his exile. The suffering is in the remembering: he strives to recover his lost innocence. The recurring motifs of virginity lost or abused, of love frustrated, twisted, defiled, are the image of man's fallen state. But there are other recurring motifs, particularly those of mother and child: images of simple unsentimentalized motherly love and of the fresh spuntaneity of the child's world. These are Holan's primary sources of hope and redemption. Behind them is something more shadowy but distinctly felt: the presence of the divine Spirit of which maternal love and a child's innocence are
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expressions. Not that Holan is a religious poet in a strict, theological sense. He is more conscious of and interested in the enigma of God's presence in a godless and.1awless world. His short poems are a kind of gnomic monologue in which some concrete, often everyday, incident is evoked. Then, in the last line or two, the poem suddenly leaps away from the particular, familiar experience and shows it as a small fragment of the knowable in the void of the unknown. In that sudden confrontation of the tiny known and the vast unknown, the God of Holan's world is born. In his constant relating of the concrete t'b the abstract, in his sensing of a numinous quality in the familiar features of the natural world, in his finding of analogies between the natural and the human worlds, Holan is at times like Rilke, whom he admires and has translated into Czech. 'Human Voice', especially the opening, is an example: Stone and star do not force their music on us, flowers are silent, things hold something back, because of us, animals deny their own harmony of innocence and stealth, the wind has always its chastity of simple gesture and what song is only the mute birds know, to whom you tossed an unthreshed sheaf on Christmas Eve. To be is enough for them and that is beyond words. But we, we are afraid not only in the dark, even in the abundant light we do not see our neighbour and desperate for exorcism cry out in terror: 'Are you there? Speak!' Holan's verse is often reading and sometimes method partly accounts here he has turned away metre and poetic forms difficult to understand at a first remains obscure. His formal for this. In the work represented from the earlier use of traditional and created his own adapted free

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verse. In an interview given to Literarn{ noviny in 1964, he said: To write free verse meant for me a new search .. a search for the primordial meaning of words and a discovery of their inner semantics. By 'atonal harmony' (the term used in A Night with Hamlet) I understand a special toneless instrumentation, a harmonious disharmony. I was interested in the inner rhythm of images, their tonelessharmony, and in the casual connections and mutual relations between words, their hidden inner tension. And in fact his poetry has in it a good deal of verbal play and semantic exercising. He likes to explore to the furthest limits the expressive resources of the poetic word, arranged in strange and startling combinations, placed in the most unlikely context. His syntax is at times deliberately distorted, ellipsis a common device, and aposiopesis a characteristic ending. Like Eliot, he believes in 'dislocating the language into meaning'. N ot, however, in the surrealist manner of an unchecked tide of images. His free verse is firmly knit, its structure and texture intellectually controlled, however abrupt the shifts of imagery. Behind the verbal craft lies the poetic vision that it expresses and by which it is shaped. Here at times Holan is obscure, perhaps consciously. He uses ambiguity at a number of levels, to heighten his sense of modern man's enigma. Sometimes the enigma itself seems impenetrable. This is Holan's way of showing the strangeness of human existence - the sudden intrusions of mystery, of the numinous, of God - in a world where the devices of scientific, social and political control over individual life are more and more intrusive. The elliptic idiom matches the enigmatic vision. The range and variety of Holan' s work is very impressive. Few modern poets can show such creative development through more than twenty volumes of verse. The style, theme and genre constantly change and mature, but at any 14

stage the poetry reveals a highly competent control of its chosen mode. In his own country, many regard him as the outstanding living Czech poet. In 1966 he was awarded the international Etna- Taormina Prize for A Night with Hamlet, which has been translated, along with various selections of shorter verse, into Italian, French, German and Swedish.
IAN MILNER

IS

Translators' Note
The poems are arranged chronologically according to date of publication and their order is the same as in the original volumes in which they appeared. The period in which the poems were actually written, often important for a full understanding of mood and symbolic reference, is indicated in footnotes. The selection is intended to be as representative as possible of the whole range of Holan' s work in the forties and fifties. In view of the limited space available, it was therefore decided editorially to include, along with the shorter poems, only the opening third of A Night with Hamlet. While the poem's total effect cannot thus be felt, the opening is selfcontained and gives a representative idea of overall method, theme and quality.

from Without Title*

* Published
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1963: poems from 1939-42.

Horoscope
Early evening .... Cemetery .... And the wind sharp as bone splinters on a butcher's block. Rust shakes its model out of tortured form. And above it all, above the tears of shame, the star has almost decided to confess why we understand simplicity only when the heart breaks, and we are suddenly ourselves, alone and fateless.

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No, Don't Go Yet


No, don't go yet, don't be afraid of all the excitement, it's the bear opening beehives in the orchard. He'll soon be quiet. I too will hold back words that rush like the serpent's sperm to the woman in Eden. No, don't go yet, don't lower your veil. The fuel of crocuses has lit up the meadows. That's what you are then, life, although you say: - By desire, we add something. But love remains love.

The Hour
This is the hour: music cannot and the word is unwilling. The gloomy line of nothing drawn by the breath hungrily shows that the whole of reality is needed for act to become image. It is beginning to rain. Red fades from the dahlias. The murderer washes his hands at the well.

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21

from Advancing*

* Published

1964: poems from 1943-8.

Nothing After All


Yes, it's dawn and I don't know why the whole week I hurried down the cold avenues to this door where now I stand before my time. I didn't want to force the future. I didn't want to wake the blind man. He'll have to open the door for me and go back again.

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On the Pavement
She's old and hobbles here every day to sell papers. Tired and beyond it she flops on her boodle of extras and falls asleep. Passers by are so used to it they don't see herand she, mysterious and mum as a sibyl, conceals what she should offer.

Dead Man's Complaint


I was allowed to return a while to my people. On home groood I recognized the boat-house and soon came to the village. The wind slid into the willow's sleeves. It was Sooday, the family were sitting in the orchard. My sister was taking the milk to the cellar. It didn't occur to me Iwould scare them. But since they didn't believe it was really me I shouldn't have said I was alive. Everything vanished in thin air amidst the cries of violets and pansies . and in front of me crumbled the webbed landscape, wild poppy, moonlight and alarm-clock on the cemetery wall.

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Building the Tower of Babel


You were working off your sentence as a hodman. From dawn grimace to evening grin the work was like winter earth to a gravedigger. Long ago it had knocked the wind out of us and hope of escape was no more than . a gob of spittle trodden by a bare foot. The transience of anything spiritual was so frightening that many of us would have gladly believed in the immortality of the flesh. We began to meet our doubles As for you .... But no! It was enough for that woman of Babylon to walk across the high asphalt rampart and the whole vast inhuman pile meant for eternity suddenly seemed to you rather brash. The ruins were so immediate they were like the certainty of love.

Death
You drove it out of you many years ago, closed the place, tried to forget it all. You knew it wasn't in music and so you sang you knew it wasn't in silence and so you were quiet you knew it wasn't in solitude and so you were alone. But what could have happened today to ~are you like one who in the night suddenly sees a beam of light under the door of the next room where no one has lived for years?

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In a Village Cemetery by the Suicides' Wall


Here where the corn-cockle kisses the photo of the dead and the tombstone nun has the worn movement of marble in the cackling of geese ... ah yes, here everything nods the same approval that man was not created but ready-made. Things are also ready-made. Man and things made at the persuasion of the dead! Things wait. Man forebodes. Things importune. He resists. Things age and outlive their time. He is immortal and perishes. Things are desolate and he is alone, and is not alone only when his life turns against itself ...

Today There Is . . .
Today there is deep in you a not long dried-up spring, though how quickly it fills with tears. Today there is deep in you a not long abandoned airfield, though how quickly it's overgrown. You'll have to go on foot now, your spring of grief within. But you stand frozen while in front of you cockroaches cross the street moving from butcher to baker.

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Eodem anno pons ruptus est


Joy! There is joy, there really is. And he felt it not as something merciless which rushes on us and puts out our unguarded tre nor as a vertigo which in the double light of irony brings us a bottle and shoes to make us dance no, what he felt was a quiet, simple, unfounded joy, given rather than granted for an hour, the joy of a man walking over a bridge who will go on singing for ever ... But it was enough for the wind to toss a withered at his feet and the bridge was overloaded.

Encounter V
Stopped by a woman at the gates of an unknown town, I asked her: Let me pass, 1'm only gomg in and out, and in and out again, because like any man I'm afraid of the dark. But she said to me: I did leave the light on !

leaf

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She Asked You


A girl asked you: What is poetry? You wanted to say to her : You are too, ah yes, you are, and that'in fear and wonder, which prove the miracle, I'm jealous of your beauty's ripeness, and because Ican't kiss you nor sleep with you, and because I have nothing and whoever has nothing to give must sing ... But you didn't say it, you were silent and she didn't hear the song.

Passion Week
Am I really and keeping and thinking because I've alone again, loving a little silent a little, suffering a little myself free never fulfilled my fate?

Don't I understand that a man gives only because he was left short of something? Was I so full of those proud colours that tease the empty light until it fades them? Even art, where feeling serves the pulses as the type-setter his lamp, has left me for my double . and is somewhere lowering my stocks, the better off the more my barren husks deserve trampling. Outside it is raining, just the time the wolf goes after the swan, while from the paranoiac river resounds the roar of floating logs, coffms for us all.

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Smiles
There are many smiles. But I am thin,king of the most difficult, the simplest smile. It is deep-set, cut on every side by the vinegrower's blade of time, a smile that needs just one more wrinkle to unravel everything and be ready for God's full name. A smile like that stays on the face somewhat longer than the joy from which it came _ or it's the smile that goes before the joy and disappears leaving the whole face to joy alone.

Human Voice
Stone and star do not force their music on us, flowers are silent, things hold something back, because of us, animals deny their own harmony of innocence and stealth, the wind has always its chastity of simple gesture and what song is only the mute birds know, to whom you tossed an unthreshed sheaf on Christmas Eve. To be is enough for them and that is beyond words: But we, 'we are afraid not only in the dark, even in the abundant light we do not see our neighbour and desperate for exorcism cry out in terror: 'Are you there? Speak!'

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In the Kitchen
You haven't been here for almost a year. You were afraid to come in. And when you did, the emptiness once so entreating and then spurned took its revenge, wilfully demanding you atone for your presence with your presence. Everything here disgraces you: linoleum, kindling, dead flies, bread mould, the brackish vinegar of cracked plaster, the sorrel of stains and the tan of taut air, the sputter of spiders lurking in corners and, underneath it all, the silence where the moon shines only in day-time. But in the middle of all this you suddenly see (with the finality of a lifetime, cruel, ordinary, mysterious) a coffee-cup stained by the lips of the girl who left you.

I
I

The Child
A child with its ear to the rails is listening for the train. Lost in the omnipresent music it cares little whether the train is coming or going away ... But you were always expecting someone, always parting from someone, until you found yourself and are no longer anywhere.

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Bequest
What poets leave behind has always something in it hurt by time, sin, exile. The truest of them, the least known, quietest and most loving doesn't force anything on you: neither by his image, scorn nor solace, least of all by love; Present, he is absent. And Picasso making a snowman well understood that the immortality of art is in time, sin, exile, which the sun must redeem in tears, springs, river, sea, and nothingness.

October
The crystal air excludes any kind olikeness. Even our doubles refuse to give their ghostly evidence that we are alive. Invisibility grows so frantic that we simply close our eyes. Good wine needs no bush. Art neither.

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41.

Presentiment
One December night you filled your glass with wine and went to the next room for a book. When you returned the glass was half-full. You were afraid and asked in a cracked, mad voice who could have drunk it since you live alone shut in by stone walls and wild thorn and amidst such inhumanity that long ago you drove away statue and chimera and ghost.

Mother
Have you ever watched your old mother making up the bed for you, how,he pulls, straightens, tucks in and smoothes the sheet so you won't feel a single wrinkle? Her breathing, the motion of her hands and palms are so loving that in the past they are still putting out the fire in Persepolis and at this moment calming some future storm off the China coast or in unknown seas.

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43

Sti 11 Life by a Lake


Yes, everything is here. Everything perfect and in place, quiet, luminous, there is wisdom dusted offby man, bread and books, no, not even a hair to blur your pen and you won't have to wipe it on your sleeve, you know well the wine-cellar stores only wine, the elements are here, wind, stars, storm and yet you are thinking up the names of sailing ships, eager for flight. Before you dream them, maybe sooner, you will really run away, like that monk who left Olympus because he didn't find a goddess there.

Night After Night


Only a virgin can enter by a closed door her own bedroom in which everything that is called assurance has long smelt of masturbation's sheets, of violence, of spittle in a well or wreath of resin flung voluntarily on the tower of man. If he is a poet, all will be ruined, if a murderer, then nakedness will reign here and there will be an applauder, an applauder hired from the marble quarries of Aeschylus.

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45

Rope ...
Romeo's rope ladder! How lightly it sways in the evening wind, subtly hiding its hemp soul. Who went down it understands man's greatness, which unless dishonoured here wouldn't be complete. And whoever climbs it lives a passion pure-blooded and young enough to expect an echo, but too divine not to perish in its own fire.

Yes or No?
Vie always look for the mean. But, as a point, it is blind. Seeking our heart we seek blindness .... And blind for a long time we become only touch. Touch which apologetically affirms there will always be rich and poor, 'not because the body is satisfied or hungry but because every human soul is different ... Meanwhile it is mere touch that unerringly gropes through the diverging alleys of the slave-market.

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Stay
Stay with me, don't leave me, my life is so empty that only you can stop me, proudly humble, from asking further questions. Stay with me, don't leave me, have pity on my impatience which, scrawled in a prison.,..ship's log, will outlast eternity. Stay with me, don't leave me, you don't know anger nor will your anger lastand where would you go, how would you feel when you are over it ? Wait a little, wait, wait at least until the postman comes with letters only for you!

Listening to a Record
. Only today somewhere or other they are plucking the pheasant meant for King Sargon's'table. Only today the double quarter-tone oflong extinct birds lives in the music of barbaric dances. Only today the common quinsy of rock drawings finds animal glory in the throat of opera. Only today tantalum or bezoar show up in the underbelly of an ancient statue. Nothing returns from the other world. Everything is here. But even the spirit within us must always be entering.

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from Trialogue*

* Published

1964: poems froin 1949-55.

The Wall
Why is your flight so weighed with cares, why does the journey pall?
I have been speaking fifteen years .to a wall and Ihave dragged the wall here out of my own hell so that it can now tell you all .

ZlJune 1963

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To the Enemy
I have had enough of your baseness and if! haven't killed myself it is only that my life is not my own and I still love someone because I love myself You may laugh, but only the eagle attacks an eagle and Achilles alone can pity the wounded Hector. To be is not easy .... To be a poet and a man means to be a wood without the trees and to see.... The scientist observes. Science can only rummage after the truth: by inches, not wings! And what for? Simple enough, and I've said it before: science is in the probable, poetry in parable, the big cerebral hemisphere rejects a great poem by asking for sugar ... The cock shrinks from rain but that's another story, it's evening, you would say: sexually ripe, and the lady has such firm breasts you could easily break a pair of brandy glasses on them, but that's another story. And imagine a lighthouse on a ship, a floating lighthouse: but that's quite a different story. And your whole development from stem of man to lichen spawn: but that's quite a different story. That cloud's going to vomit but you can't even belch, you are not able to be, not even the snake's scales can choke you, <_ what God conceived, He wants to be full of feeling, children and drunkards know it, but they aren't rude enough to question 54

why a mirror mists over when looked into by a woman in menses, and from love oflife poets don't ask why wine moves in the casks when she passes by ... And I have had enough of your impudence which thrusts into everything it wants to possess, and yet does not know how to embrace. But disaster is on the way something you never could have dreamt of because you do not dream, what God conceived, He wants to be full of feeling, disaster is on the way, children and drunkards know it, only from love could joy come, from love that was not passion only from love could happiness come, from happiness that was not passion, children and drunkards know it ... To be, you would have to live, but you will not be because you aren't alive, and you aren't alive because you do not love, because you do not love even yourselves, let alone your neighbour. And I have had enough of your coarseness, and if! haven't killed myself it is only that my life is not my own and I still love someone because I love myself ... You may laugh, but only the she-eagle attacks an eagle and only Brises' daughter the wounded Achilles. To be is not easy .... Shitting is easy ... 28 September 1949*
*28 September is the name-day of St Wenceslas, patron saint of Bohemia and traditional symbol of Czech national feeling.

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Today Is Not the Time


Today is not the time for songs of the triple rose. You pledge your girl undying love and soon after say you're sorry that the wedding-dress hasn't come, and instead of the ring you hand her poisoned gloves.

The Last
The last leaf trembles on the plane-tree for it knows well that without shaking there is no firmness. I tremble, God, because I feel I shall soon die and should be firm. From every tree falls the last leaf for it is not without faith in the earth. From every man falls the last pretence for the mortuary slab is utterly simple. The leafhas no need to ask you, God, for anything You made it grow and it has not spoilt Your hand. But I ...

We visit neither hospital nor funeral.

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Always
Not that I wouldn't like to live, but life is such a liar that even ifI were right I would have to look for truth in death ... And that's what I'm doing.

Mi LascioI learnt tonight from a book on astronomy that certain stars are the oldest and near to extinction .... Grateful for the news I opened the window and looked for the youngest star .... But I could see only clouds when someone's mean laugh (like the wind howling in a crematorium chimney) drove me to find a star in interstellar space as dawn was breaking ...

o my love, now shall we love and not despair, how be desperate and wise at the same time?

59

from A Night with Hamlet*

*Published 1964: written 1949-56 and 1962. Dedicated to VladimirJustL

Menippus I can see only bones and bare skulls; most of them look exactly alike. Hermes That's what the poets have admired, the bones. And only you don't seem to think much of them. Menippus Well, then show me Helen; I'll never be able to make her out myself Hermes This skull is Helen. Lucian On the way from nature to being walls are not really kind, walls soaked with the urine of talents, walls running with the spittle of eunuchs in revolt against the spirit, walls no smaller for not yet bein g born, walls that enclose the ripened fruit .. The supple ripeness of Shakespeare invites licence. Its meaning, which like amazement should be festive, with the decline of the times, (in face of the possible signs of his absence) becomes a supercharge levied on every apartment 63

into which a director has rudely shoved his way. Fraud alone is certainty here. And the spectator, crawling out before his time like St George's dragon, basks in the bile of the critics ... And those who dare to map desire are at their ease, though their bad temper shows that the brute is always with us .. Nature is a sign which, if not mute, denies itself. And the male of the species, that opener, feels dumb simply because the spirit always moves forward while everything closes behind it .. And he was like that ... Hamlet! He had an arm missing and evening rolled through the empty sleeve of his coat. as through a blind man's sex nipped by mUSIC. Nature merged our contempt for the town with the rock urine of mosses uprooted ' at the golden summit of power . .' and waited for the caterpillar of thevme to change roto a butterfly, but waited in vain, for he despised wine from the day he was driven by thirst to open a horse's artery and drink the blood ... So he made up his mind to admit the jinn and exclude the apparently unrevealed mysteries, and caught between himself and himself , to plead for the abyss. Afterwards he spoke only from its depths even when talking of a certain saint who no long~r had anything except the pain of remembering an ancient love,

a pain little enough to be easily hidden in a hollow tooth .

It doesn't matter
whether what we heard was the sucked saliva running from sleeping crickets' mouths, builders of Inidnight bridges, creators who made themselves double tombs, or phantoms whose wages is prophecy. Only art made no excuses And' also life insisted, , insisted dangerously that we would survive, though we might really wish to die ... There was no refuge .... Nowhere, not even in the unconscious .... But he was there, Hamlet, who like a Mozart-tippler 6verturned the Alps in order to stand a bottle shakily on the creaking stairs of the fear of death, so locked in himself that all immortality could fit inside him ... And it is true that in his presence the knife raised above a sheep would not cut and the melted pewter of old baptismal fonts returned to its primal form. Anxiety endures. He got in the way of eternity and had to heal the wound. He was in the grave of the father and had to be the child of the sons .... He was face to face with the holy spirit of music . and had to live for the takings of a whore or the price of a dog. Oh, not that he knew everything, for he well understood that when egoism overeats it doesn't throw up but digests and starts again not that he was wise, like a single wooden pillar

among columns of stone not that he trembled like an aspen facing that ancient floor painted with menstrual blood not that he was a miser, thinking of final things and living in King Atreus' tomb where the treasury led straight to the charnel-house not that it mattered to him whether Alexander the Great's crooked neck had straightened out anything in history no, no, but I always see his grimace at those for whom any mystery is a void into which they hurl all the fury of the castrated ... He who gives is still a miser ... But we who do not believe are always expecting something, and maybe people always expect something because they have no faith .... They are enlightened but don't give light .... They are thin-blooded yet for them nothing exists unless blood is shed, they are damned though not yet excommunicated, they are curious but haven't found the mirror in which Helen-Helen looked at herself from below-from below, and they are so deaf they would like to hear Chrises voice on a disc. Meanwhile everything, everything here is a miracle only once: only once Abel's blood which was to destroy all wars, only once the irrecoverable, the unconscious of chi~dhood, only once youth and only once song, only once love, in the same breath lost, only for once everything against heredity and custom,

once only the loosing of contracted ties and liberation and so only once the essence of art, only for once everything against the prison, unless God Himself should wish to build a house on this earth ... A green hawthorn leaned over the wall scattering on the road the buds of its curiosity. The window opened the wind, bringing a draught: Your deeds are many and yet none, but to do and to be is the envy of everyone! Night smoked history, ate the fried wings cut from Mercury's ankles, and drank it down with the sweat ofSt Tragedy's organist .... Only when you make your peace with death,' said Hamlet, will you understand that everything under the sun is really new .... Our body is not a canvas hangar for cutting into strips ... But our subconscious plays tricks .... Even if we give alms, it is we who profit! So it is when we make love in error .... Yet no! The groping sex of human beings means only to have the relation without the man .... And yet love's liver is found in sin. The tensing of the body reminds you of the profaning and chastisement of the spirit .. Even in the presence of the sleeping we are not at ease for we do not know where they will halt, while we are stuck in our tracks ... Consider how heavy a cat suddenly becomes when dead, while some man will spend the whole day shooting sparrows! Yes, there is the shame of a man and the shame of a woman.

66

A man cannot bear to look at cotton-wool. And woman? No sooner born in the dry season, she is already flattering the rains .. .' In a moment Hamlet added: 'Children are never satisfied with an answer .... They will play with a cupboard full of secrets and finally carry off the key within themselves. Or they are ill and secretly open the letters of an imprisoned poet who used to pay for his own little room simply because the letter was opened by them. . . . Or when ill they see in their dreams a pIllar of fire and cry: It's a bough, a vein of God! Or in illness cannot free their minds of the unending handwork of women which aims only at keeping them warm . and would weave a man into its pattern or else seIze up . Or they are well! Every moment hands reach for the slices of bread ... And when they run out of the barn they may trample on the last grain oflast year's harvest so that soon they will be more temptc;d . to crown the skull of fire with a sheaf s golden Wig. They are as full oflife as a horse that doesn't feel its rider a stranger but its own thought .... Rejoicing, shouting, they have been a year together wi~hout rc;grets, . they have a sure remedy for anything that s not a nuracle all stains are only mud-stains on a new dress and can soon be washed off ... Children! They have found the true names, we have only to pronounce them!' ,I interrupted and told him he looked like a mill-stone quarry. 68

Have a drink, Hamlet! I said. Doyou want it along with the oven, soul of the farm, or with the passion of the blood's cardinal points? But he didn't take it badly and said: 'Po-pa!' What's that? I asked and he replied: 'They talk that way in Tibet!' and went on: 'Virgins, ah yes, they know when a tree is unwell! ... But Ihave known convicts. For some of them it's enough to imagine huge backsides, huge only because the leaden memory of the same crime forces them to squat without legs, unless they are swollen from all the beatings, since they smell of tar .... "There was no tram!" said the woman. And the man replied: "It's worse when a ship is late, you, I mean, who like a ship leave in you under you a continuous line .. ." Yes .... Whereas virgins, yes, they know when a tree is unwell .... And the cloth of their 'innocence always covers the niale graftings, even if their stockings are made from the hair of whores ... Freedom, you know, is always kin to voluntary poverty .. .' Night overlapped night .... It bowed to the earth or became a tomb for everything the living and the dead were doing ... Maybe the living felt shy and were insolent .. And the dead, envious, not deliberately but from heredity or ~engefulness. I understood when Hamlet said, not knowing my thoughts: 'What only surrounds us now

. one day will bury us ...

Once I was present .at a fire .. One of countless flames was enough for me to notice that the whole hand of a fish-pond keeper who was there had only a single joint and to make me think of the bony sculpture of nothing upon nothing ... The hair of a hanged man is more sensitive when silky on the spine and comes no closer to being than to the hairs of knowledge. But still more spacious for the shivering quinine of Elsinore was the sound of Ophelia cutting her toe-nails You know .. .' No, I don't know, I said .... But right now I'm expecting guests, I added, annoyed that h.e plainly liked his own misfortune .. Again he was not offended and went on: 'Querer la propria desdicha .... But what moves a mother would shatter argosies on the open sea ... Besides .... If there is no God, no angels and nothing after death, why don't the worshippers of nothingness bow down just to them, the non-existent? I had this feeling once while hunting white falcon .... It also rises from Chinese tombs .... And the tables of Moses say the same .... But from an inverted humility or pride that is not yet clear for the bellows are only now being stitched up we would rather kiss a greyhound between the eyes and a horse on the hoof,

and are not afraid to enter a library ... While hunting white falcon I have felt rhythm, before the tables of Moses, movement, by the Chinese tombs, the symphony of rhythm, and, among the Ainus, gods, near, far, light and heavy .. Besides, at the moment you are expecting guests and they are already here since they've come before their time ... Yes, to see each other and talk together and feel a warm trust and heartbeat true as Rembrandt's needles, though each of us is different from the other (for that is what the soul does), and yet not to catch the serpent by another's hand. A jet engine is not for the poet ... And as a tree remains a tree while it bears some fruit that ripens too soon and some at the right time and some still later no, one cannot hurry with words for we do not nor have we come from the pitiable right of mankind to be human for man's sake! Effective love, you know? .. The everyday is the miraculous ... The greater the poem, the greater the poet,

'and not the contrary!' he added,


, And you are already a great poet if you ask yourself with whom you are to be lost ... Yes, art as something that stops a swollen head ... I tell you, art is a lament, something for somebody, nothing for everyone, for simply by hoping you are already in the future ... There is always something that outstrips us, for even love 71

is only part of our certitude ... Atonal harmony . And pain as punishment for being a fugitive ... Or is it that human aid, which might have helped, calls upon the aid of God? I don't know, but from the form of some people I have recognized the true proportions of an octopus . .' The wind wrangled in the chimney .... And in some grove ruffled the hair on a fallow-deer's penis .. And somewhere in history it chased Raleigh's drunken galleons only to rip them apart, as your mother once impatiently tore her sleeves listening to Wagner .. But you can't drive out the soul by drinking, like a gopher from its hole, for even if you think of it as so full-bosomed that you say: what reserves! - you are still a being, ftxed in transitory form by the winged hate of man and woman. 'Salamander in the ftre !' Hamlet broke in. And then frying the seed of the Word on the melted bacon of his tongue, hissed: 'What a poet writes, an angel or demon does ... Thus dreams revenge themselves on uninterrupted consciousness! I am always looking for a free canteen where the little window would not be that of a prison cell through which the prisoner is watched, the peephole called the judas .. "He that will not work shall not eat/" True,

but what is work? To befaithful to one's lot, unselfishly, or to sell indulgences or become a zealous stoker in a crematorium, stick a thermometer in the rectum of war or have to sing at the vintage to prove you don't eat grapes, examine a horse's teeth or like an executioner rip out the nostrils of the condemned, be corroded by vinegar and bile and take revenge on others or burn off a woman's right breast to make her an archer, to be the seed of fate in history's womb or the feeling that is condemned to forced labour under the grey Siberia of old heads or on penalty of death to ftle off your fetters and rather force your eyes out than look at the horrors of today, and yet still hear the singers dead long ago, but free? ... Composition's net at best gathers in the ornamental I'm not indifferent to one little step or fall of a child in the nettles .... Ifhis mother tells him: Go and get some rum for the tea, offhe goes, repeating: rum for the tea, rum for the tea, and ends up whispering: heaven for me* ... No, no, I'm not indifferent to the single fall of a child .... Yet evil always rises up humanity's spine, spattered with blood like a dentist's staircase .... Ancient and weary, at each step it recoils in disgust, yet rises again and again to the brain of pride, for after so many attempts *In the Czech there is a jingle: 'rum do caje, Cum do clje'. 73

72

by saints and poets, after so many attempts by saints and poets to switch off the current it believes only in the moment of harmony when there is a short circuit between heaven and hell. But of course .... We can also wait until something bursts and love falls on us. Maybe our hope is in patience and waiting. Imagine life's terminus ... An old man stands there, cowering like words in the rain. "I'm 'ere," he says, "waitin' for a gent '0 promised me a room, said it'd be unfurnished wouldn't worry me a bit -" It was raining. And the old man's trust was so blind or so openhanded that it saw a snug future for him and only the passers-by understood that someone had taken him for a ride under the mezzo rilievo of the moon .... But you know how it is: suddenly nothing, absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing facing us like the moment when it seems the future is behind us. Lovers should be gay! The universe, though as they say finite, is also unlimited .... A man is suddenly sick at heart, a woman cold, instead of killing each other they come together, grateful once again to see something of their fate, though it leads with shameless precision to the poorhouse.'
74

from_Pain*

*Published 1965: pOems from 1949-55.

Daybreak
It is the hour when the priest goes to mass , up the devil's back. It is the hour when the heavy bag of dawn is zipped up the human spine. It is the hour of frost and no sun yet the stone is warm because it moves. It is the hour when the lake freezes round its shores and man in his heart. It is the hour when dreams are nothing more than fleas nipping the skin of Marsyas. It is the hour when trees ripped by the deer bind their wounds with resin. It is the hour when elves pick up the splintered words of time. It is the hour when merely for love one dares descend the stalagmite cave of tears which held back in secret worked their hidden will. It is the hour when you have to write a poem and say it differently, quite differently.

77

Meeting in a Lift
We stepped into the lift. The two of us, alone. We looked at each other and that was all. Two lives, a moment, fullness, bliss. At the fifth floor she got out and I went on up knowing I would never see her again, that it was a meeting once and for all, that if! followed her I would be like a dead man in her tracks and that if she came back to me it would only be from the other world.

Deep in thf!Night
'How not to be!' you ask yourself and in the end say it aloud ... But tree and stone are silent though each is born of the word and therefore dumb since the word is afraid of what it has become. But names they still have. Names: pine, maple, aspen .... And names: feldspar, basalt, phonolite, love. Beautiful names, afraid only of what they have become.

79

Reminiscence I
The sun set on the dung-heap like an office lamp ~at before it goes out lights up a wizened acacia in the street below. A girl stood by the fountain in the square. Beautiful. I talked to her. She seemed almost grateful, every word of mine invited her not to be only of this world, she knew nothing, not even that nakednesS can be so clad that only a dress uncovers it, she laughed, played with her ring, coughed a little. Her ordinariness was so mysterious that it disappeared and she had to be kissed to become more mysterious. But when I asked her later the way to the nearest village she pointed in the wrong direction. Presence isn't only present tense!

Early Spring
Light comes from a low bank of cloud. The snow is moving out. Air sleeks itself in the willows. Earth remembers. Springs are aware. From love oflife the crow flies without a sound and the seed is wordless ... But not everything silent is dumb. That cave on the left of the landscape is very quiet. And if it quickly fills with soldiers Some big mouth has been at work. Homer before the belly of the Trojan horse

81

80

Snow
It began to snow at midnight. And certainly the kitchen is the best place to sit, even the kitchen of the sleepless. It's warm there, you cook yourself something, drink wine and look out of the window at your friend eternity. Why care whether birth and death are merely points when life is not a straight line. Why torment yourself eyeing the calendar and wondering what is at stake. Why confess you don't have the money to buy Saskia shoes? And why brag that you suffer more than others. If there were no silence here the snow would have dreamed it up. You are alone. Spare the gestures. Nothing for show.

How?
How to live? How be simple and literal? I was always looking for a word that had been spoken only once, or a word that had not been spoken at all. I should have looked for ordinary words. Nothing can be added even to unconsecrated wine.

82

Once More
Even though a friend often failed to understand my verses (there are beings who cannot kill for all their wanting) though in despair and desolate (some statues were so appalled by the sins of men that they turned to wood) though suicide alone looked my way, Ialways had the same feeling: to become nothing, and yet to destroy that nothingness! Once more Iwas in love ..

When It Rains on Sunday


When it rains on Sunday and you are alone, open to the world but no thief comes and neither drunkard nor enemy knocks at the door, when it rains on Sunday and you're deserted and can't imagine living without the body or not living since you have it, when it rains on Sunday and you're on your own, don't think of chatting with yourself. Then it's an angel who knows, and only what's above, then it's a devil who knows, and only what's below. A book is in the holding, a poem in release.

8S

After St Martin's Day I


The first snow fell at dawn. Young and coy, merely a promise and token, a phantom to prove how beauty passes. And before mortals aware of its presence confessed, if only with half-open eyes, the fever of their desire the thirsty earth grew impatient and the thaw began. But by then you knew from several footprints that some walk, others mark time.

Verses
It is the time when the cabbage is served with wrath and the calf with hate, it is the time when death draws wine from nightshade, it is the time when the blinder you are the more you stare, it is the time when field boundaries are ploughed up, it is the time when the hot tear knows that it cries alone, it is the time when the wolf grabs letter and book, it is the time when the searchlight is on the spirit, it is the time when you cannot love your own unhappiness because it is everyone's.

86

Non cum Platone


Her beauty destroys my love, for in destroying illusion she destroys reality. His love destroys my beauty, for since Iwas given a mask I want a curtain too. Heavy dawn .... Village where they have eaten all the cocks.

Reminiscence II
To Franti!ek Tichy
After hours of searching everywhere in vain for pimpernel, we came out of the wood and halted at high noon in the heather. The air was baked like a sheet of tin. We looked at the slope on the other side, thickly grown with bushes and trees. They were rigid, like us. Iwas about to ask something when in the unmoving mass of frozen enchantment a single tree in a single spot suddenly began to tremble like a quarter-tone, yet soundless. You would have said it was from careless joy, the spirit of adventure. But the tree began to rustle like the rustle of silver turning black. Then it began to quiver like the skirt of a woman who touches a man's clothes while reading a book in an asylum. And then the tree began to shake and sway as if shaken and swayed by someone staring into the dark-eyed depths oflove and Ifelt I was meant to die that moment ..

'non 'b fi"d ,' my f:at her sal"d'" It ,s an aspen. , tea ral , But I still remember how he paled when we came there later on and saw beneath the tree an.empty chair.
88

Autumn II
Autumn twilight in the country, twilight that makes friends. But over the fields a couple came into view who kept asking the way since a farmer had shown them his whip. - 'I love you because -' the man was telling the woman the old old story. 'r remember,' the woman said, 'how they used to say whoever slept under a yew would die .. , Why don't we go on a bit further?' The wild geese are on the wing. The cold is cleansing the river. The nixie's gone to warm up in the orchard shed.

After St Martin's Day II


It was some time after Martinmas. I was walking across the Gahatagat plateau. I was in the sort of mood when I didn't know which day it was. But the snow had been falling and falling. It covered everything. And at one moment the wind blew so sharply I lowered my head and suddenly saw with shrinking heart always a step ahead of me a fresh footprint. There wasn't a living soul around. Who was it there in front of me? It was

r walking

in front of mysel

90

9I

Ubi nullus ordo, sed perpetuus horror


To live is terrible since you have to stay with the appalling reality of these years. Only the suicide thinks he can leave by the door that is merely painted on the wall. There is not the slightest sign that the Comforter will come. In me the heart of poetry bleeds.

Night Watchman's Song


Burns was right .... But I am convinced that we Catlnot imagine any woman from reading a book, still less from reality. She is. And thanks only to her men are too, very often as murderers who sometimes share royally the diamond crown of her mystery.

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Without Title II
They say the Druid stones can be moved. But the beauty of women, their very motion, is much more cruel. Broken-spirited the poet writes it down in this world, in this world which turns a sullen ear to distance and adventure and eynic-eyed sells its wonder cheap .. The proud spirit cannot be tragic.

Fourth Month
April mist. One ray of sun pale as a blind man's stick inches its way, though more certain than a week ago. Cold hands, warm heart. You too have more than a feeling .... But that is all. If danger threatens, you have no defence. Ifhappiness, you are powerless.

94

95

The Pine
How beautiful that old white pine on the hill of your childhood which you revisited today. Beneath it$ murmur you remember your,dead and wonder when your turn will come. Beneath its murmur you feel as if you had written your last book and now had only to be silent and weep for the words to grow. What life have you had? You left the known unknown. And-your fate? It smiled on you only once and you were not there ... for the

The, Chicken
The doors open by themselves before an angel. At other times a chicken comes from the courtyard into the kitchen and looks round at the company with so critical an eye that they do not wait to see how it will end but quickly cross themselves in self-defence.

97

Death
Once again he is going round like the sodden air on an incendiarist's skin or the whiff of a nearby brewery. I see him clearly through the line cut by Adam's black diamond in the glass of virginity.

In Nothingness
In nothingness larded like a fat book
about a lost lyric; by an unknown poet, we, who sweat instead of weeping, we, who say a stone s-weats when it weeps, thought today of one who was drowned while learning to swim so as not to drown .. Meanwhile the park beyond the window, at other times so prim, rubbed its green nose on the sleeve of the wind and then looked at it through the eyes of the mistletoe.

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On a Freezing Night
One night I heard a walnut-tree crack with the frost. It went offlike the shrapnel at the storming of Babylon, shrapnel which is exploding only now. The farmer ran out of his house, a horse from the stable, and I found myself opening the white book of summonses to conscience ... We don't have a single clue and then we are dumbfounded.

.Glimpsed
Glimpsed from the train, which takes shadow for truth. But she was truly beautiful and bareheaded, bareheaded as if an angel had left his head there and gone off with the hat.

100

101

Between
Between the idea and the word there is more than we can understand. There are ideas for which no words can be found. The thought lost in the eyes ofa unicorn appears again in a dog's laugh.

Lovers
Time Time Time deaf, in the mountains: jealousy, fruit of unbelie at the spring: infidelity, fruit of jealousy. by the river: jealousy without love, but gorged with sex ...

102

103

Dream
The dry depths at the borders of memory fray out into hairs that reach to hell. Continence is shamelessly insistent. Laughter. I have never taken men seriously, says Lady Macbeth and she inspects her hand bloody from the murder of drunken mosquitoes.

During an Illness
A melting icicle, a leakingtap, counting drops of medicine. Tibet sees by water. We by tears.

104

lOS

Epoch
By the images of things we are still in time. But today, before the sower has taken a step, the reaper is already there.

The Virgin
The party is over at which there were so many lights the dark was perfect. And he was there. She didn't mind ifhis feelings were wine and his thoughts grapes. Towards morning he left her. She sat gazing through the small hole in her dress at Monday's naked nail.

It seems
there will be neither dead nor living ..

106

107

Twelfth Night
T4e day of candles which lick the carp bones of Christmas Eve. But the wooden mortar for grinding poppy-seed is very beautiful in the deep foreground of the straw wall, and beautiful this antique stillness, and a week gone hasn't deceived time's seeming. It's freezing and yet the tombstone is warm. Because it moves.

The Sparrow
Flying from a snowy branch a sparrow rocked it slightly and so nodded refusal of blind feeling. A little snow fell off the bough. Before long there will be an avalanche.

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109

Goodbye
Once more the storm is rising from fate's black quarter. The mind feels faint, bemused like a body turned inside out. Who is that dancing in the bats'-wing cloak? Who was struck dumb by the rattle of what he saw? The water in the well lures youth, a man seeks the spring. All that is over. There are words one must not speak o You will never keep the promise you made. The skull has dreamed your eyes.

But
The god of song and laughter long ago shut the doors of eternity behind him. Since then only sometimes a dying memory echoes in us. And since then only the pain is neverlife size, it is always larger than man and yet must lodge in his heart.

IIO

III

from At the Last Breath*

*Published 1967: poems from 1961-5.

You Can
There's room in me and more for your grief and your blaspheming and for your joy. No, nothing hinders your coming in on sunny days, not only when the storm is howling. Here you can cry and curse and, close to the mystery, laugh, even laugh and nothing will stop your leaving. I am here, you only come and go.

IIS

Changes'
This is our hope: that we have passed the limits of the last reality. But while consciousness disappears it is the very consciousness whose constant changes remain ...

Why Today?
You know very well that pain is ~ot made less by comparing it with greater pain, but how is it your hands are bloody? You haven't killed anyone, you've never done that, you never would, it's only that you're going to, but why has it been today?

u6

II7

Don't Cry!
It's getting dark, stop reading! Sun's coming out, don't cry ! Maybe today or yesterday or after a while your fate and your will are going to be in harmony with life, even if minds are different. Of course if you step beyond words you'll fall into the abyss. Blood enough for you, little to the murderers ..

Whq Knows?
So you put down your cut braids and plucked eyebrows on my book just because on your wedding-day you will wear one dress at the registry and another at the church, though since the linen's short you'll have to do the washing every week, while even now the bridegroom's selling the bedroom suite? Potentiana, who knows whether tears reveal themselves only when nobody wants anything from them.

lIS

II9

Additional Poems*

*The first two published in a periodical, 1967; the others written

1969.

Against
I would gladly tell you but I must not. Time dances badly in tragedy's worn-out shoes and testifies against love. Though the trees blossomed there was no fruit. Living in life and existing in nothingness whatever happens, nothing happens . And whar augury? Call a third time?

123

We Too
Spring before its time. So uncertain a spring that the first shoots are its own doubts. If we are afraid the sneezing in the morgue means snow and more frosts on the way, how are we to appease the riled and stingy sun? Heaviness of heart without freedom is only at its beginning. Something is missing in the earth's loins and navel. We too lack much when we love: such as love or self-forge~ting.

_You're Thinking of Children


You're thinking of children, of their here and now, everything now, without a thought of when or where .... What's the good oflooking yourself in a mirror, . they ask, simply because they haven't yet been in love .... Yes, only children don't need a double.

at

I2S

Joy
What you said and then Jived was for the dead .... But really only joy exists in time, because it alone is instant. The most present. The most mortal.

For Himself
So many apples and no apple-tree! But now there are no more apples here. So much passion and no love! But now there are no unchristened here. Every man for himself and we have time only for moments. It won't last.

126 127