Against ornate, rhetorical verse
A poetry that’s natural. There’s a torrent here:
Here too, a dry stone. Over there a golden
Bird gleaming in the green branches, like a flower
Bright as fire on a bed of emeralds.
And here’s the fetid, viscous track of a gross,
Slimy, brown-bellied worm, its eyes
Two bubbles of mud. High above the tree, in a sky
Like steel, a solitary, steadfast star,
While underfoot, all around, roars the oven
Whose heat cooks the earth. The flames won’t quit:
Flames with open pits like eyes, tongues
Like arms, vicious as a man, sharp-pointed as a sword:
The sword of life, which flashes fire
Again and again, until it takes the earth at last!
The fire climbs out of its own heart, howls, and that’s that:
A man begins in fire, and ends on the wing.
But as he makes his triumphal leap, the reprobates
Go mad!–the vile ones, the cowards, the conquered,
Like serpents, like little yapping dogs, like
Crocodiles with their double rows of teeth,
From here, from there, from the tree that protects him
And the soil that sustains him, from the stream
Where he slakes his thirst, from the very
Anvil where he forges his bread, they come
Barking and biting his feet, hurling dust and mud
In his face, hoping to blind him on his way.
But watch: with one blow of a wing he sweeps the world
And ascends through the burning atmosphere,
Dead like a man, and like the sun, serene.
If poetry wants to be noble, it has to be
Like life: the star, the yapping dog, the cave
That wears the teeth-marks of fire:
The pine, in whose redolent branches
A nest sings in the moonlight.
(translated by Tomas O’Leary)