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THE SECOND ELEGY (2007)
II 1 Every angel is awesome. And still, alas for me,
II 2 I besing you, all but deadly birds of the soul,
II 3 knowing your nature. Where are the days of Tobias gone,
II 4 when one of these most radiant beings stood at the simple house door,
II 5 somewhat disguised for the journey and already no longer fearsome
II 6 (as a youth to the youth who curiously peered out)?
II 7 Should the archangel now, the perilous one, step from behind the stars
II 8 a single stride downward and nearer: in an exalted
II 9 beating, our own heart would beat us to death. Who are you?
II 10 Early successes, you pampered children of the creation,
II 11 mountain ranges, dawn-reddish ridges
II 12 of all things created, — pollen of blossoming godhead,
II 13 joints of light, passages, stairways, thrones,
II 14 spaces of essence, shields made of rapture, tumults
II 15 of stormily ecstatic feeling and all of a sudden, individually,
II 16 mirrors: that rechannel your emanated own beauty
II 17 back into your own visages.
II 18 For we, when we feel, dissipate: ah, we
II 19 breathe ourselves out and afar: from ember to ember
II 20 we give a weaker aroma. Then someone might say to us:
II 21 yes, you get into my blood, this room, the springtime
II 22 is filled with you ... What’s the use, he cannot retain us,
II 23 we fade within and around him. And those who are beauteous,
II 24 oh, who shall hold them back? Unceasingly, semblance arises
II 25 within their face and departs. Like dew on the grass at daybreak
II 26 that which we are drifts from us, like the heat from a
II 27 hot dish of food. Oh smile, whither? Oh uplifted gaze:
II 28 new, warm, eluding wave of the heart —;
II 29 alas for me, it is us! Does the space of the world
II 30 in which we dissolve taste like us? Do the angels intercept
II 31 really only their own which has emanated from them,
II 32 or is there sometimes, as if by an oversight,
II 33 a bit of our essence included? Are we mingled into their
II 34 traits only as much as vagueness into the faces
II 35 of pregnant women? They do not notice it amid the whirlwind
II 36 of return to themselves. (How should they notice it?)
II 37 Lovers could, if they understood, in the night air,
II 38 speak wondrously. For it seems that all things
II 39 keep us secret. Behold, the trees exist: the houses
II 40 that we inhabit still withstand. We alone
II 41 move past all things like an airy exchange.
II 42 And all things are agreed upon silence toward us, half as
II 43 disgrace perhaps and half as ineffable hope.
II 44 Lovers, you, satisfied within each other,
II 45 I ask about us. You grasp each other. Do you have proofs?
II 46 See how it happens to me that my hands
II 47 grow aware of each other or that my used-up
II 48 face conserves itself in them. That gives me a bit of
II 49 sensibility. Yet who would dare to exist just for that?
II 50 But you, who in each other’s ecstasy
II 51 increase till, overpowering each other,
II 52 you plead no more--; you who beneath your hands
II 53 become to each other more abundant than years of grapes;
II 54 you who sometimes succumb, for your partners
II 55 become overwhelming: it is you that I ask about us. I know,
II 56 you touch each other so blissfully because the caress preserves,
II 57 because the place does not fade that you tenderly
II 58 cover; because beneath it you sense pure
II 59 duration. Thus you promise yourselves eternity — almost —
II 60 from your embrace. And yet, when you’ve withstood
II 61 the awe of first gazes, the longing at the window,
II 62 and the first walk together, one time through the garden:
II 63 lovers, is it still you? When you raise each other
II 64 up to your mouths and commence —: beverage to beverage:
II 65 oh how the drinkers oddly elude their own action.
II 66 Were you not astonished (on Attic steles) at the cautiousness
II 67 of human gesture? Were not love and farewell
II 68 so lightly laid on their shoulders as if it were made of other
II 69 material than with us? Reminisce the hands,
II 70 how they repose without pressure, although the strength stands in the torsos.
II 71 They were restrained and knew thereby: it is us thus far,
II 72 this is ours, to touch each other this way; stronger
II 73 is the force the gods exert upon us. But that’s the concern of the gods.
74 If only we
also might find a pure, diffident, narrow
75 realm of the
human, our own strip of fruitful land
stream and stone. For our own heart transcends us
still, just like them.
And we can no longer gaze after it
78 into pictures
that palliate it, nor into
79 godly bodies
in which it more grandly restrains itself.
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Source Text of the Third
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