A sadness beyond words Opened two huge eyes, The vase of flowers woke up And its crystal made a splash.
The whole room filled With languor – that sweet medicine! Such a small kingdom To swallow so much sleep.
A little red wine, A little sunlight in May, And white delicate fingers Break a thin sponge-cake.
Words are unnecessary, There being nothing to learn: How sad and exemplary Is an animal’s dark heart!
It has no urge to instruct And no use for words, And swims like a young dolphin Along the grey gulfs of the world.
She who has not yet been born Is both word and music And so the imperishable link Between everything living.
The sea’s chest breathes calmly, But the mad day sparkles And the foam’s pale lilac In its bowl of turbid blue.
May my lips attain The primordial muteness, Like a crystal-clear sound Immaculate since birth!
Remain foam, Aphrodite, And – word – return to music; And, fused with life’s core, Heart be ashamed of heart!
Ear-drums stretch their sensitive sail, The widening gaze empties, An unsinging choir of midnight birds Swims across the silence.
I am as poor as nature, As naked as the sky, And my freedom is spectral Like the voice of the midnight birds.
I see the unbreathing moon And a sky whiter than a sheet; Your strange and morbid world I welcome, emptiness!
Like the shadow of sudden clouds, A visitor from the sea swoops down And, nipping past, whispers Along embarrassed shores.
An enormous sail austerely soars; Dead-white, the wave shrinks back – And once more will not dare To touch the shore;
And the boat, rustling through the waves As though through leaves…
I grew, rustling like a reed, Out of a dangerous swamp, Breathing the air of a forbidden life With rapture, languor, caresses.
In my cold and marshy refuge No one notices me, And I am welcomed by the whisper Of short autumn minutes.
I enjoy this cruel injury And in a life like a dream Secretly am envious of everyone – And secretly enamoured.
Sultry dusk covers the couch, It’s stifling… Dearest of all to me, perhaps, The slender cross and secret path.
How slowly the horses move, How dark the light the lanterns throw! Where they are taking me These strangers surely know.
I am cold, I want to sleep. Confident of their concern, Suddenly towards starlight I’m thrown at the turn.
The nodding of a fevered head, The caring, icy hand of a stranger; And, not yet visible to me, Outlines of dark fir.
Light sows a meagre beam Coldly in the sodden forest. I carry slowly in my heart The grey bird, sadness.
What shall I do with the wounded bird? The firmament is silent, dead. From a belfry masked by mist Someone has stolen the bells.
And the high ground stands, Orphaned, dumb – A white and empty tower Of quietness and mist.
The morning, unfathomably tender, Half real and half reverie; Unquenched drowsiness; The misty ringing of thoughts…
It may be, night, you do not need me; Out of the world’s abyss, Like a shell without pearls, I am cast on your shores.
Indifferently, you stir the waves And immitigably sing; But you shall love and cherish This equivocal, unnecessary shell.
You shall lie down on the sand close by, Apparelled in your raiment, And bind to the shell The colossal bell of the billows.
And your whispering spray shall fill, With wind and rain and mist, The walls of the brittle shell – A heart where nobody dwells…
I hate the light Of the monotonous stars. Salutations to you, my ancient delirium – Altitude of an arrowed tower!
Be lace, stone, Become a cobweb: Lacerate the void With a fine needle.
My turn shall also come: I sense the spreading of a wing. Yes – but where will the shaft Of living thought fly?
My time and journey over, Perhaps I shall return: I couldn’t love there; Here – I’m afraid to…
In the haze your image Trembled; it troubled And eluded me: mistakenly I said, ‘Good God!’
The name of the Lord – a large bird – Flew from my breast. In front: a swirl of mist. Behind: the empty cage.
No, not the moon, but a bright clock-face Shines on me. Am I to blame If the feeble stars strike me as milky?
And I loathe Batyushkov’s conceit: When asked the time, His answer was – Eternity.