Fourth Elegy

So there it is—that autumn landscape,
the one I was afraid of all my life:
The sky is like a fiery abyss,
the city’s sounds eternally estranged,
as if heard already from the other world.
As if everything I struggled with inside
for all my life was given life
apart from me, incarnated in these
unseeing walls, in this black garden…
But even then, behind my back,
my former home was still observing me
with squinting, ill-intentioned orb,
that window, memorable to me forever…
It was as if these fifteen years had been
pretending to be fifteen granite centuries,
But I myself had been like granite, too:
So plead, be tormented, or call me empress
of the sea. No matter. There’s no need…
For me the need was to persuade myself
that this had happened many, many times,
and not with me alone—with others, too,
and even worse with them—no, even better.
And my own voice—and this was probably
most frightening of all—came from the darkness:
«What songs you met this day with fifteen years ago,
you begged the heavens, and the starry choirs
and dancing waters to greet your solemn union
with the man you left today…
So here’s your silver anniversary:
dress up, invite your guests, and celebrate!»


Translation © Margo Shohl Rosen