One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

But you don't even know your little story ["The Judgement"] yet. It is somewhat wild and meaningless and if it didn't express some inner truth (which can never be universally established, but has to be accepted or denied every time by each reader or listener in turn), it would be nothing. It is also hard to imagine how, being so short (17 typewritten pages), it could have so many faults; and I really don't know what right I have to dedicate to you such a very doubtful creation. But we each give what we can, I the little story with myself as an appendage, you the immense gift of your love. Oh, dearest, how happy I am through you; tears of happiness mingled with the single tear the end of your story brought to my eyes.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Seaside Walk: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013

Walking (by myself). So photos took the place of conversation.






Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka by anniehallx
Franz Kafka, a photo by anniehallx on Flickr.
Franz and Felice

Felice Bauer (1887 - 1960)

Felice Bauer (18 November 1887 – 15 October 1960) was a fiancée of Franz Kafka, whose letters to her were published as Letters to Felice.

Early Life

Felice Bauer was born in Neustadt in Upper Silesia (today Prudnik), into a Jewish family. Her father Carl Bauer (c. 1850–1914) was an insurance agent, her mother Anna, née Danziger (1849–1930) was the daughter of a local dyer. Felice had four siblings: Else (1883–1952), Ferdinand (called Ferri, 1884–1952), Erna (1885–1978) and Antonie (called Toni, 1892–1918). In 1899 the family moved to Berlin.[1]

Felice began attending a Handelsschule, a vocational school for commerce, but had to give it up in 1908 because her family could not afford it. From 1909 on, she worked as a stenographer at the Berlin record company Odeon.[1] One year later, she moved to the Carl Lindström Company, a manufacturer of gramophones and "Parlographs", then the most advanced dictation machines.[1][2] After a short while she was promoted. She worked in marketing and represented the company at trade fairs. In April 1915 she began working at the Technische Werkstätte Berlin.[1] She contributed substantially to the income of her family.[2]


Felice met Franz Kafka in Prague on 13 August 1912, when he visited his friend Max Brod and his wife.[3] Brod's sister Sophie was married to a cousin of Felice's; Felice was in Prague on a trip to Budapest to visit her sister Else.[1] A week after the meeting, on 20 August, Kafka entered in his diary:
Miss FB. When I arrived at Brod's on 13 August, she was sitting at the table. I was not at all curious about who she was, but rather took her for granted at once. Bony, empty face that wore its emptiness openly. Bare throat. A blouse thrown on. Looked very domestic in her dress although, as it turned out, she by no means was. (I alienate myself from her a little by inspecting her so closely ...) Almost broken nose. Blonde, somewhat straight, unattractive hair, strong chin. As I was taking my seat I looked at her closely for the first time, by the time I was seated I already had an unshakeable opinion.[3]
Soon after the meeting he began to send her almost daily letters, expressing disappointment if she did not respond as frequently.[4] He dedicated to her his short story "Das Urteil" ("The Judgment", literally: The verdict), which he had written the night of 22 September 1912.[3][5] They met again for Easter of 1913, and he proposed marriage in a letter at the end of July that year. The engagement took place on Pentecost Sunday 1914, in the presence of Kafka's parents and sister Ottla, but was broken a few weeks later, in August.[2][4]

After difficult communication, again mostly in letters,[4] and spending ten days together in Marienbad in July 1916, they met for a second engagement on 12 July 1917, planning to marry soon and live together in Prague.[2][3] Suffering symptoms of the tuberculosis that was to lead to his death, Kafka broke the engagement again in December that year.[2][3] She departed on 27 December.[2]

She saved Kafka's more than 500 letters to her, which were published as Letters to Felice; her letters to him did not survive.[2][3][6] Elias Canetti titled his book on the letters Kafka's Other Trial / The Letters to Felice, referring to Kafka's novel The Trial, which he describes as "a novel ... in which Kafka's engagement to Felice is re-imagined as the mysterious and menacing arrest of the hero". Michiko Kakutani notes in a review for The New York Times, "Kafka's Kafkaesque Love Letters" that Kafka's letters have:
[the] earmarks of his fiction: the same nervous attention to minute particulars; the same paranoid awareness of shifting balances of power; the same atmosphere of emotional suffocation – combined, surprisingly enough, with moments of boyish ardor and delight.[4]
[From Wikipedia:]

Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

I am sure all my letters also got lost -- the one from Kratzau, from Reichenberg, this morning's letter, the ordinary, the registered, the express letters, all of them. For instance, you say I wrote only a few lines on Sunday night, whereas I sent you at least 8 pages and an infinite sigh. Dearest, if our mail doesn't bring us together soon, we shall never get together.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

     May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night air.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

Once hard to find, Kafka's letters are now easily gotten via Kindle. His letters to Milena (I bought a used paper copy years ago) is my favorite (read it thrice since 2003). Or will his letters to Felice Bauer become my new favorite?


     Yesterday I pretended to be worried about you, and tried hard to give you advice. But instead what am I doing? Tormenting you? I don't mean intentionally, that would be inconceivable, yet even if I were it would have evaporated, faced by your last letter, like evil faced by good, but I am tormenting you by my existence, my very existence.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Millenium Bridge, London

Millenium Bridge, London by sypix
Millenium Bridge, London, a photo by sypix on Flickr.
Don't think I ever crossed it. Another "next time" thing.

Picked up another Julian Barnes book for my b-day: The Sense of an Ending. Veronica meets Tony on the "Wobbly Bridge."

R L Swihart's "Raised to Some Unknown Power" is up at "scissors and spackle"

Might have to scroll down a bit but it should be here.

It's also available in paper--along with a host of fabulous others--at Amazon.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Perhaps Why the Love/Lock Bridge Hasn't Caught On



Third Man Argument

The third man argument (commonly referred to as TMA), first offered by Plato in his dialogue Parmenides, is a philosophical criticism of Plato's own theory of Forms. This argument was furthered by Aristotle who used the example of a man (hence the name of the argument) to explain this objection to Plato's theory; he posits that if a man is a man because he partakes in the form of man, then a third form would be required to explain how man and the form of man are both man, and so on, so on, ad infinitum.

[From Wikipedia:]

Aristotle's "Metaphysics"

Seemed like a natural switch: from Physics to Metaphysics. Physics was ok but getting a bit tedious.


     Further, of the ways in which we prove that the Forms exist, none is convincing; for from some no inference necessarily follows, and from some arise Forms even of things of which we think there are no Forms. For according to the arguments from the existence of the sciences there will be Forms of all things of which there are sciences and according to the 'one over many' argument there will be Forms even of negations, and according to the argument that there is an object for thought even when the thing has perished, there will be Forms of perishable things; for we have an image of these. Further, of the more accurate arguments, some lead to Ideas of relations, of which we say there is no independent class, and others introduce the 'third man'.

Don't Know Why I Thought of . . .

Peter Weiss' The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.

Yes, I do. Just the sesquipedalian title reminded me of my life, life (viewed through the prism of self).


The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (German: Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade), usually shortened to Marat/Sade (pronounced: [ma.ʁa.sad]), is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss. The work was first published in German.

Incorporating dramatic elements characteristic of both Artaud and Brecht, it is a bloody and unrelenting depiction of class struggle and human suffering which asks whether true revolution comes from changing society or changing oneself.

[From Wikipedia:]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Alexamenos & The Donkey's Head: Interpretation


The inscription is accepted by authoritative sources, such as the Catholic Encyclopedia,[18] to be a mocking depiction of a Christian in the act of worship. The donkey's head and crucifixion would both have been considered insulting depictions by contemporary Roman society. Crucifixion continued to be used as an execution method for the worst criminals until its abolition by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century, and the impact of seeing a figure on a cross is comparable to the impact today of portraying a man with a hangman's noose around his neck or seated in an electric chair.[19]

It seems to have been commonly believed at the time that Christians practiced onolatry (donkey-worship). That was based on the misconception that Jews worshipped a god in the form of a donkey, a prejudice of unclear origin. Tertullian, writing in the late 2nd or early 3rd century, reports that Christians, along with Jews, were accused of worshipping such a deity. He also mentions an apostate Jew who carried around Carthage a caricature of a Christian with ass's ears and hooves, labeled Deus Christianorum Onocoetes ("the God of the Christians begotten of an ass").[20]

Others have suggested that the graffito depicts worship of the Egyptian gods Anubis[8] or Seth,[21] or that the young man is actually engaged in a gnostic ceremony involving a horse-headed figure and that rather than a Greek upsilon it is a tau cross at the top right of the crucified figure.[1]:393-394

It has also been suggested that both the graffito and the roughly contemporary gems with Crucifixion images are related to heretical groups outside the main church.[22]

[From Wikipedia:]

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius by Master_PoQ
Marcus Aurelius, a photo by Master_PoQ on Flickr.
Something else I'd like to see on the Palatine Hill (if I ever go back).

Alexamenos graffito

Alexamenos graffito by aka Jens Rost
Alexamenos graffito, a photo by aka Jens Rost on Flickr.
A friend pointed this interesting graffito out to me yesterday. Hadn't heard or seen of it before. I initially thought it a horse's head but apparently it's a donkey's. The Greek translates as "Alexamenos worships [his] god." It was found, and is now housed, on the Palatine in Rome.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Aristotle on "Time"

     Plainly, too, to be in time does not mean to co-exist with time, any more than to be in motion or in place means to co-exist with motion or place. For if 'to be in something' is to mean this, then all things will be in anything, and the heaven will be in a grain; for when the grain is, then also is the heaven.


Best brick chicken in town. Mac n cheese is pretty good too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

On My Way Home

About as interesting as it gets (on my way home).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Zeno's Paradoxes

Zeno's paradoxes are a set of philosophical problems generally thought to have been devised by Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (ca. 490–430 BC) to support Parmenides's doctrine that contrary to the evidence of one's senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is nothing but an illusion. It is usually assumed, based on Plato's Parmenides (128a-d), that Zeno took on the project of creating these paradoxes because other philosophers had created paradoxes against Parmenides's view. Thus Plato has Zeno say the purpose of the paradoxes "is to show that their hypothesis that existences are many, if properly followed up, leads to still more absurd results than the hypothesis that they are one." (Parmenides 128d). Plato has Socrates claim that Zeno and Parmenides were essentially arguing exactly the same point (Parmenides 128a-b).

Some of Zeno's nine surviving paradoxes (preserved in Aristotle's Physics[1] and Simplicius's commentary thereon) are essentially equivalent to one another. Aristotle offered a refutation of some of them.[1] Three of the strongest and most famous—that of Achilles and the tortoise, the Dichotomy argument, and that of an arrow in flight—are presented in detail below.

Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum also known as proof by contradiction. They are also credited as a source of the dialectic method used by Socrates.[2]

Some mathematicians and historians, such as Carl Boyer, hold that Zeno's paradoxes are simply mathematical problems, for which modern calculus provides a mathematical solution.[3] Some philosophers, however, say that Zeno's paradoxes and their variations (see Thomson's lamp) remain relevant metaphysical problems.[4][5][6]

The origins of the paradoxes are somewhat unclear. Diogenes Laertius, a fourth source for information about Zeno and his teachings, citing Favorinus, says that Zeno's teacher Parmenides was the first to introduce the Achilles and the tortoise paradox. But in a later passage, Laertius attributes the origin of the paradox to Zeno, explaining that Favorinus disagrees.[7]

[From Wikipedia:'s_paradoxes]

Zeno of Elea

Zeno of Elea (/ˈzn əv ˈɛliə/; Greek: Ζήνων ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ca. 490 BC – ca. 430 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic.[1] He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as "immeasurably subtle and profound."


Little is known for certain about Zeno's life. Although written nearly a century after Zeno's death, the primary source of biographical information about Zeno is Plato's Parmenides.[3] In the dialogue, Plato describes a visit to Athens by Zeno and Parmenides, at a time when Parmenides is "about 65," Zeno is "nearly 40" and Socrates is "a very young man".[4] Assuming an age for Socrates of around 20, and taking the date of Socrates' birth as 469 BC gives an approximate date of birth for Zeno of 490 BC. Plato says that Zeno was "tall and fair to look upon" and was "in the days of his youth … reported to have been beloved by Parmenides."[4]

Other perhaps less reliable details of Zeno's life are given by Diogenes Laërtius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers,[5] where it is reported that he was the son of Teleutagoras, but the adopted son of Parmenides, was "skilled to argue both sides of any question, the universal critic," and that he was arrested and perhaps killed at the hands of a tyrant of Elea.

According to Plutarch, Zeno attempted to kill the tyrant Demylus, and failing to do so, "with his own teeth bit off his tongue, he spit it in the tyrant’s face."[6]

[From Wikipedia:]

Aristotle on "Place"

     (5) Further, too, if it is itself and existent, where will it be? Zeno's difficulty demands an explanation: for if everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place, and so on ad infinitum.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Aristotle on "Infinity"

Belief in the existence of the infinite comes mainly from five considerations:
     (1) From the nature of time -- for it is infinite. (2) From the division of magnitudes -- for the mathematicians also use the notion of the infinite. (3) If coming to be and passing away do not give out, it is only because that from which things come to be is infinite. (4) Because the limited always finds its limit in something, so that there must be no limit, if everything is limited by something different from itself. (5) Most of all, a reason which is peculiarly appropriate and presents the difficulty that is felt by everybody -- not only number but also mathematical magnitudes and what is outside the heaven are supposed to be infinite because they never give out in our thought.
     The last fact (that what is outside is infinite) leads people to suppose that body also is infinite, and that there is an infinite number of worlds. Why should there be body in one part of the void rather than in another? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

From Musil

     This nothingness had a definite, if indefinable, content. For a long time she had been in the habit of repeating to herself, on all sorts of occasions, words of Novalis: "What then can I do for my soul, that lives within me like an unsolved riddle, even while it grants the visible man the utmost license, because there is no way it can control him?"

On Pythagoras

How much do we know about Pythagoras? What did Plato and Aristotle say about him?

Since I'm teaching Physics this year (at least for now), I started reading Aristotle's Physics. We'll see how long it will hold my attention. Anyway, I ran across this interesting paragraph in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The Pythagorean question, then, is how to get behind this false glorification of Pythagoras in order to determine what the historical Pythagoras actually thought and did. In order to obtain an accurate appreciation of Pythagoras' achievement, it is important to rely on the earliest evidence before the distortions of the later tradition arose. The popular modern image of Pythagoras is that of a master mathematician and scientist. The early evidence shows, however, that, while Pythagoras was famous in his own day and even 150 years later in the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was not mathematics or science upon which his fame rested. Pythagoras was famous (1) as an expert on the fate of the soul after death, who thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations; (2) as an expert on religious ritual; (3) as a wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time; (4) as the founder of a strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self discipline.

 [From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend"

Surprised I hadn't put this up long ago. Guess it's because there are so few translations on the Net and I didn't want to copy it out? Not sure. Anyway, I was thinking of this this morning and had to post it. It was written for Rilke's friend, the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (I have been to her grave and her husband's museum). This translation is by A.S. Kline (2001); I have a copy of Mitchell's Rilke on my shelf (perhaps more "poetic," but not always closer to "authorial intent").

        Requiem for a Friend

I have dead ones, and I have let them go,

and was astonished to see them so peaceful,

so quickly at home in being dead, so just,

so other than their reputation. Only you, you turn

back: you brush against me, and go by, you try

to knock against something, so that it resounds

and betrays you. O don’t take from me what I

am slowly learning. I’m sure you err

when you deign to be homesick at all

for any Thing. We change them round:

they are not present, we reflect them here

out of our being, as soon as we see them.

    I thought you were much further on. It disturbs me

that you especially err and return, who have

changed more than any other woman.

That we were frightened when you died, no, that

your harsh death broke in on us darkly,

tearing the until-then from the since-that:

it concerns us: that it become a unique order

is the task we must always be about.

But that even you were frightened, and now too

are in terror, where terror is no longer valid:

that you lose a little of your eternity, my friend,

and that you appear here, where nothing

yet is: that you, scattered for the first time,

scattered and split in the universe,

that you did not grasp the rise of events,

as here you grasped every Thing:

that from the cycle that has already received you

the silent gravity of some unrest

pulls you down to measured time –

this often wakes me at night like a thief breaking in.

And if only I might say that you deign to come

out of magnanimity, out of over-fullness,

because so certain, so within yourself,

that you wander about like a child, not anxious

in the face of anything one might do –

but no: you are asking. This enters so

into my bones, and cuts like a saw.

A reproach, which you might offer me, as a ghost,

impose on me, when I withdraw at night,

into my lungs, into the innards,

into the last poor chamber of my heart –

such a reproach would not be as cruel

as this asking is. What do you ask?

    Say, shall I travel? Have you left some Thing

behind somewhere, that torments itself

and yearns for you? Shall I enter a land

you never saw, though it was close to you

like the other side of your senses?

    I will travel its rivers: go ashore

and ask about its ancient customs:

speak to women in their doorways

and watch when they call their children.

I’ll note how they wrap the landscape

round them, going about their ancient work

in meadow and field: I’ll demand

to be led before their king, and I’ll

win their priests with bribes to place me

in front of their most powerful statues,

and leave, and close the temple gates.

Only then when I know enough, will I

simply look at creatures, so that something

of their manner will glide over my limbs:

and I will possess a limited being

in their eyes, which hold me and slowly

release me, calmly, without judgment.

I’ll let the gardeners recite many flowers

to me, so that I might bring back

in the fragments of their lovely names

a remnant of their hundred perfumes.

And I’ll buy fruits, fruits in which that land

exists once more, as far as the heavens.

    That is what you understood: the ripe fruits.

You placed them in bowls there in front of you

and weighed out their heaviness with pigments.

And so you saw women as fruits too,

and saw the children likewise, driven

from inside into the forms of their being.

And you saw yourself in the end as a fruit,

removed yourself from your clothes, brought

yourself in front of the mirror, allowed yourself

within, as far as your gaze that stayed huge outside

and did not say: ‘I am that’: no, rather: ‘this is.’

So your gaze was finally free of curiosity

and so un-possessive, of such real poverty,

it no longer desired self: was sacred.

    So I’ll remember you, as you placed yourself

within the mirror, deep within and far

from all. Why do you appear otherwise?

What do you countermand in yourself? Why

do you want me to believe that in the amber beads

at your throat there was still some heaviness

of that heaviness that never exists in the other-side

calm of paintings: why do you show me

an evil presentiment in your stance:

what do the contours of your body mean,

laid out like the lines on a hand,

so that I no longer see them except as fate?

    Come here, to the candlelight. I’m not afraid

to look on the dead. When they come

they too have the right to hold themselves out

to our gaze, like other Things.

    Come here: we’ll be still for a while.

See this rose, close by on my desk:

isn’t the light around it precisely as hesitant

as that over you: it too shouldn’t be here.

Outside in the garden, unmixed with me,

it should have remained or passed –

now it lives, so: what is my consciousness to it?

    Don’t be afraid if I understand now, ah,

it climbs in me: I can do no other,

I must understand, even if I die of it.

Understand, that you are here. I understand.

Just as a blind man understands a Thing,

I feel your fate and do not know its name

Let us grieve together that someone drew you

out of your mirror. Can you still weep?

You cannot. You turned the force and pressure

of your tears into your ripe gaze,

and every juice in you besides

you added into a heavy reality,

that climbed and spun in balance blindly.

Then chance tore at you, a final chance

tore you back from your furthest advance,

back into a world where juices have will.

Not tearing you wholly: tore only a piece at first,

but when around this piece, day after day

reality grew, so that it became heavy,

you needed your whole self: you went

and broke yourself, in pieces, out of its control,

painfully, out, because you needed yourself. Then

you lifted yourself out, and dug the still green seeds

out of the night-warmed earth of your heart,

from which your death would rise: yours,

your own death for your own life.

And ate them, the kernels of your death,

like all the others, ate the kernels,

and found an aftertaste of sweetness

you did not expect, found sweetness on the lips,

you: who were already sweet within your senses.

    O let us grieve. Do you know how your blood

hesitated in its unequalled gyre, and reluctantly

returned, when you called it back?

How confused it was to take up once more

the body’s narrow circulation: how full of mistrust

and amazement, entering into the placenta,

and suddenly tired by the long way back.

You drove it on: you pushed it along,

you dragged it to the fireplace, as one

drags a herd-animal to the sacrifice:

and still wished that it would be happy too.

And you finally forced it: it was happy

and ran over to you and gave itself up. You thought

because you’d grown used to other rules,

it was only for a while: but

now you were within Time, and Time is long.

And Time runs on, and Time takes away, and Time

is like a relapse in a lengthy illness.

    How short your life was, if you compare it

with those hours where you sat and bent

the varied powers of your varied future

silently into the bud of the child,

that was fate once more. O painful task.

O task beyond all strength. You did it

from day to day, you dragged yourself to it,

and drew the lovely weft through the loom,

and used up all the threads in another way.

And finally you still had courage to celebrate.

    When it was done, you wanted to be rewarded,

like a child when it has drunk the bittersweet

tea that might perhaps make it well.

So you rewarded yourself: you were still so far

from other people, even then: no one was able

to think through, what gift would please you.

You knew. You sat up in childbed,

and in front of you stood a mirror, that returned

the whole thing to you. This everything was you,

and wholly before, and within was only illusion,

the sweet illusion of every woman, who gladly

takes up her jewelry, and combs, and alters her hair.

    So you died, as women used to die, you died,

in the old-fashioned way, in the warm house,

the death of women who have given birth, who wish

to shut themselves again and no longer can,

because that darkness, that they have borne,

returns once more, and thrusts, and enters.

    Still, shouldn’t a wailing of women have been raised?

Where women would have lamented, for gold,

and one could pay for them to howl

through the night, when all becomes silent.

A custom once! We have too few customs.

They all vanish and become disowned.

So you had to come, in death, and, here with me,

retrieve the lament. Can you hear that I lament?

I wish that my voice were a cloth thrown down

over the broken fragments of your death

and pulled about until it were torn to pieces,

and all that I say would have to walk around,

ragged, in that voice, and shiver:

what remains belongs to lament. But now I lament,

not the man who pulled you back out of yourself,

(I don’t discover him: he’s like everyone)

but I lament all in him: mankind.

    When, somewhere, from deep within me, a sense

of having been a child rises, which I still don’t understand,

perhaps the pure being-a-child of my childhood:

I don’t wish to understand. I wish to form

an angel from it, without addition,

and wish to hurl him into the front rank

of the screaming angels who remind God.

    Because this suffering’s lasted far too long,

and no one can bear it: it’s too heavy for us,

this confused suffering of false love,

that builds on limitation, like a custom,

calls itself right and makes profit out of wrong.

Where is the man who has the right of possession?

Who can possess what cannot hold its own self,

what only from time to time catches itself happily,

and throws itself down again, as a child does a ball.

No more than the captain of the ship can grasp

the Nike jutting outwards from the prow

when the secret lightness of her divinity

lifts her suddenly into the bright ocean-wind:

no more can one of us call back the woman

who walks on, no longer seeing us,

along a small strip of her being

as if by a miracle, without disaster:

unless his desire and trade is in crime.

    For this is a crime, if anything’s a crime:

not to increase the freedom of a Love

with all the freedom we can summon in ourselves.

We have, indeed, when we love, only this one thing:

to loose one another: because holding on to ourselves

comes easily to us, and does not first have to be learned.


    Are you still there? Are you in some corner? –

You understood all of this so well

and used it so well, as you passed through

open to everything, like the dawn of a day.

Women do suffer: love means being alone,

and artists sometimes suspect in their work

that they must transform where they love.

You began both: both are in that

which now fame disfigures, and takes from you.

Oh you were far beyond any fame. You were

barely apparent: you’d withdrawn your beauty

as a man takes down a flag

on the grey morning of a working day,

and wished for nothing, except the long work –

which is unfinished: and yet is not finished.

    If you are still here, if in this darkness

there is still a place where your sensitive spirit

resonates on the shallow waves

of a voice, isolated in the night,

vibrating in the high room’s current:

then hear me: help me. See, we can slip back so

unknowingly, out of our forward stride,

into something we didn’t intend: find

that we’re trapped there as if in dream

and we die there, without waking.

No one is far from it. Anyone who has fired

their blood through work that endures,

may find that they can no longer sustain it

and that it falls according to its weight, worthless.

For somewhere there is an ancient enmity

between life and the great work.

Help me, so that I might see it and know it.

    Come no more. If you can bear it so, be

dead among the dead. The dead are occupied.

But help me like this, so you are not scattered,

as the furthest things sometimes help me: within.

[Translation by A.S. Kline]