13 Poems
by Georg Trakl, translated from the German by Parker Smathers

Printer-friendly version





Sommer


In the evening the cuckoo’s song grows
silent in the woods.
The grain bows deeply to
The red moon.


Vorhölle


By autumn walls, the rings of
gold look for shadows
on the hill.
Pasture of evening clouds
in the calm of withered plane trees.
Dark tears breathed by Time,
Damned, where heart’s dream
soars from purple evening reds,
dejection of the smoking city;
Golden coolness breezes past
pedestrians,
The stranger, at the cemetery,
Following in the shadows a
frail corpse …


Landschaft


September evening; the dark,
sad calls of the shepherds
echoing through the village
at dusk; spray of fire
in the blacksmith’s shop.
A strong black horse rears up;
the hyacinth locks of the maid
catch the ardor of his violet
nostrils.
The cry of a red deer lightly
calcifies at the edge of the woods.
And the yellow flowers of fall
Lean speechless over the blue
countenance of the pond.
A tree burns in leaping flames; the
bats fly off with dark faces. Am Moor

Wanderer in the black wind; lightly
whispers the barren canal
In the stillness of the moor. In the
gray sky
A flock of wild birds follow;
Crossways over the shadowy waters.

Turmoil. In decayed huts
Foulness flutters its black
wings;
Crippled birches sigh in the wind.

Evening at the empty ale house.
The road home surrounded
By the easeful melancholy of grazing herds;
Night appears: Toads come to
the surface of the silver waters.


Ruh and Schweige


Shepherds buried the sun
in the barren woods.
A fisherman pulled
The moon from a freezing pond
with a net made of hair.

The pale man lives
In blue crystal, resting
his cheek on the stars;

Or he bows his head
into purple sleep.
Yet the dark bird migration
stirs the bird watchers forever;
the Saint of the Blue Flowers
Believes in the intimate stillness of
Forgetfulness, his dying angel.

Again he beds his brow against
the moonlit stones;
Sister seems
A radiant youth amid autumn’s
black decay.


Im Frühling


The snow lightly ebbed from
dark footsteps,
In the shadows of the tree
lovers lift their rosy eyelids.

Star and night
Forever following the dark
cries of the barge;

And the rudder keeps gently
the time.

Soon the violets
Bloom on the collapsed wall,
The temple of loneliness turns
green so quietly.


Abend in Lans


Our travels through the fading summer
Toward bundles of ripened grain are over.
Under white-washed arches
Where the swallows flew in and out,
we drink fiery wine.

Beautiful: o melancholy and purple
laughter.
Evening and the dark perfume
of green
Cools with showers our burning foreheads.

Silver water runs down
stairs in the forest,
The night and the wordless,
forgotten life.
Friend: the leaf-covered path
from the village.


Am Mönchsberg


Where the worn path leads down
into the shadows of the
autumn elms,
Far from the leaf huts and
sleeping shepherds,
The dark cold figure
always follows
the wanderer.

Over knuckled steps, the
hyacinth voices of children
Quietly telling the forgotten legend
of the woods.
Only the brothers’ wild song
is peaceful to the sick.

Then the kneeling of the stranger
and the petrified head
disturb a sparse green;
The song of the women draws
closer to the azure stream.


Hohenberg


There is no one in the house.
Fall in the rooms;
Moonlight sonata
And the awakening at the edge
of the woods at dawn.

You always think that the
white countenances of people
Are far removed from the turmoil
of Time;
good green branches lean over
a dreamer.

Cross and evening;
His star surrounds the colors
with its violet arms,
Climbing to the crest of
the uninhabited window.

Thus the stranger trembles
in the dark,
Where he gently opens his eyes
upon a distant
human form; the
silver voice of the wind
in the hallway.


Kaspar Hauser Lied


He really loved the sun,
the way it purpled the hills
when it went down,
The path through the woods,
the blackbirds’ choir
And the joy of green.

His life in the shadows of trees
was serious
And his countenance pure.
God spoke a soft flame to his
heart:
O Man!

His footsteps quietly found the
city in the dark;
The dark sounds his mouth made:
I will become a horseman.

While wild and beast followed him,
Houses and morning gardens of
white people
And his murderer searched for him.

Spring and summer and beautiful
the fall
Of the righteous, his light footstep
went through
The dark rooms of dreamers.
Nights he stayed alone with his star;

saw that the snow fell on cold
branches
And saw the shadow of the
murderer in the dim passageway.

The silver, unborn head went
down.


Die Verfluchten


1.

It is twilight. The old women
walk to the well.
A redness smiles in the darkness
of the chestnut trees.
Out of a bakery wafts the
smell of bread
And sunflowers duck their heads
over the fence.

The ale house by the river
sounds so relaxed and mellow.
Guitar ripples; a jingle-jangle of
gold.
A holy light illuminates every child,
who waits by the glass door
soft and white.

O! blue dazzle, woken up
by the moon,
Surrounded by thorns, black
and frozen stiff.
A twisted writer smiles as if
gone nuts
In the water, startled by
a wild uproar.

2.

In the evening the plague hems
its blue garment
And a shadowy guest carefully closes
the door.
Black burden of the maple
leans against the window;
A child lays his forehead in
your hand.

Your eyelids often feel heavy
and vile.
Hands of the child run through
your hair
And his tears fall hot and clear
Into your eye sockets’ dark pools.

A nest of scarlet-colored snakes
writhe
Languidly in your barren womb.
Your arms let go of a dead body
To embrace the sadness of the floor.

3.

A bell tolls in the small brown garden.
Blue hovers in the darkness
of the castanets,
The sweet coat of a strange woman.
Mignonette perfume; and burning feeling

Of sin. The damp forehead bows
cold and pale
Over the trash, where the rats dwell,
Bathed by the scarlet light of
tepid stars;
Soft and heavy, the apple falls
in the garden.

The night is dark. Ghostly,
the dry wind from the mountain
Rustles the wandering children’s
white nightgowns
And the night delicately holds
the hand of the dead
In its mouth. Sonja smiles soft
and beautiful.


Sonja


Turns to evening in the old garden;
Sonja’s life, blue and tranquil.
Wild birds migrate;
Bare trees in autumn’s quiet.

Sunflowers gently bowing
Over the pure life of Sonja.
Wounded, red, remote,
Left to live in a dark room

Where the blue church bells can be heard;
Sonja’s footsteps soft and alert.
Dying beasts meet in the dying,
Bare trees in autumn’s quiet.

Sun shines on the old day
Over Sonja’s white eyebrows,
Snow that wets her cheeks
And the winter wild of her eyebrows.


Entlang


Corn and grapes have been harvested,
The hamlet in fall is peaceful.
Hammer and anvil were constantly ringing,
Laughter in the grape leaves.

Asters lure the white child
Away from the dark fence.
Speak as if we’ve been long dead,
Sun will shine black.

Red fishing line in the pond;
Secretly listening, perched
forward fearfully;
Evening wind gently rattles the window,
Blue drone of the organ’s hymn.

Let’s look up once again
To the stars and heavenly bodies.
Sudden appearance of the mother
in pain and dread;
Black mignonettes in the dark.


Der Herbst Des Einsamen


Fruit and plenty ripen
in the dark autumn.
Lacquered shine of beautiful
summer days.
A transparent blue
steps out of its
frame;
The bird migration intones
the old sayings.
The wine is pressed, the
stillness
fills with soft-spoken answers
and dim questions.