I lift the black lid of the harpsichord
And break the strings—until there are two.
With them I play my last song—
One plays YES! While the other NO!
YES—I sing in awe to the Unchanging She
While for you I have—Nein, Altesse.
A serpent watches me from a grove.
What am I? Scardanelli, avec humilité.
The model for me was Empedocles
Though not his royal wisdom or seer’s vanity—
Like he into Mount Etna, into insanity
I jump to affirm my singularity.
Into the wildest mountains and ravines
And to the farthest crossings of entangled roads!
How to escape the Hunter, how to join the Hunt.
Where to be the ruler or the last of the ruled?
—Poetry tends to the land, therefore we too
Shall humbly tend without delusions.
Down is the Neckar, take walks in the summer,
In the winter listen to the songs of Lotta Zimmer.
He must be insane who all his thoughts and heart
Puts into chasing Chimeric meanings and shapes.
Empty are the cities on the Euphrates, the road from the Alps,
And no heavenly dwellers In the carpenter’s house.
“I have enjoyed this agreeable world,
The youthful hours, how long! how long! are gone,
Distant are the Aprils, Mays and Junes,
I am nothing now, I wish I lived no more!”
Birds depart in weary keys
When the bell of gold announces their time.
Everywhere I see ominous signs,
All the roads are wrong, the night comes down to a rhyme.
The garlands of owls garnish the pines and the wind
Wrinkles your face in the water mirror, Diotima,
Mountain campfire smoke enwraps me.
Fifers call me for a long night’s march.
A poem by Aleksander Wat (1900-1967) translated from the Polish by Frank L. Vigoda, and set to music by Ann Frenkel.
An accordion book with music score and the text in Polish and English.
40 numbered copies, signed by translator/printer.