|From the book The Beginning of a Book|
|Portrait of the Artist in a Middle-Age|
Who, when, why
with a soft painterʼs brush
figured these lines
most as meaningless as sky,
no purpose, end, or name –
whirlwinds of dithering, an air-swimmerʼs flotilla, a childʼs jackstraws –
the sky upsetting the trees
windlessly and stronger than the wind
so that they rise and go
away from their roots
and their native land
and from their stock and family
off where we have no idea at all who we are!
into the meaningless, unflickering sky.
What kind of paster, what kind of clay,
what strong point, fear and success
were used to make them tight and fast –
the eye slits,
the dormer windows,
the embrasures in unwhitewashed stone,
through which, I remember, one never tires of looking?
Ah, my darling Augustin,
itʼs all gone, dear Augustin,
all gone, all finished.
Finished as usual.
Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Man
When, why, who
with what house-painter’s brush
covered these features over,
which were once meaningless as the sky,
without purpose, end, or name –
pounding storms, squadrons of aircraft, a child’s jackstraws –
the sky stirring the trees
without wind, yet stronger than wind:
so that they get up and walk
away from their roots,
away from their earth,
away from their kith and kin:
o, there, where we do not know ourselves at all!
into the meaningless never-darkening sky.
With what lime-plaster, what clay
profit, fear and success
have they been sealed tight, dead –
slots, oriel windows.
loopholes in never-whitewashed stone,
through which, remember, you looked and could never get your fill?
Ach, du liebe Augustin,
dear Augustine, it’s all over,
All over, all ended.
Ended in the usual way.
Larissa Volokhonsky and Emily Grosholz
| ||Portrait of the Artist in a Middle-Age|