Wednesday 20 June 2012

Last parts of 'Susette' by the Flemish writer Erik Spinoy

FRANKFURT/HOMBURG (September 1798 - June 1800)

1  Tears
2  Evening song
3  Dream of death
Small tragedy
5  Jester, queen
6  Lethe

BORDEAUX (December 1801 - June 1802)

Remembrance of Menon

FRANKFURT (June 1802)

Red lungs
2  Susette’s sick-bed
3  Susette’s grave

(September 1798 - June 1800)

1        Tears

I have to write, elder, my breast
bursts from the silence here. Homburg
is beautiful and close, but trading
brooks no poetic climate. A door
shuts off my balcony room, at the window
I look in your direction. And Hegel
says he had foreseen it all. Three hours till
Homburg, dearest. See how the Feldberg towers.

What’s left of you? Distress, Hyperion, wan
ashen anemia. The summer shuts itself like
a cyclops case. I cannot find you, even
small longings cannot be fulfilled: the garden
bringing some distraction, an honest ewe,
a cow with calf, or one that suckles. The
saddest of winters now begins. The spider weaves
a threadbare fabric. It seems dishevelled. Tear-stained.

2        Evening song

Colour flows away, in search of the dark
source and on the weathercock lay a dead sun.
Long was the day. Round nine o’clock the sheet
warmed me once more. No quiet dream spins
comfort. We live thus on most separated
highlands. Although I would, I never can, with
these my written words, make a sign here for
you. Nothing rids us of eternity,
no light exists that does not, immensely,

shine on the lungs of time. Although the
memory paints poppy-red every shady spot,
the mind remains disturbed. The silk has been
torn to shreds like sail. No matter how
Cobus has changed: he comes and brings me everyday
a gift, and the coach shows us a hart
in flight. But all his sugar’s poison to me now.
My heart in shreds. Where my imagination?

3        Dream of death goes though for the throat? The path
conceals a snare, a pit of snakes? It’s cold,
so cold. Powerless, I glide upon the ice
of terror. The door is on lock and chain.
Does it roam, like once the myth, draped in a
ghostly-white? Wander submerged, disguised
as a dark secret? And ever paler, as if
you thought it up. And nothing, no approach. Just nought.

Oh mirror, reflect me back, give me the shades
and features of a fresco. Covered with
fabric are gold and coffin. Deep under sand
a wooden frame of fingered glass the voice -
‘How I hold dear!’ - smothered. And Jacob G.
pulls at his favoris, laughs biedermeierlich.
Much sauce clucks in his throat and vocal chords.
And lying down. The feeling of cold cellar-floor.

4        Small tragedy

If I’ve your hand, a rib, the weeping
letter image. If sadness glues shards, piece
by piece. Still I don’t have you, you still
are absent. Often I hide high in your room
and dream. Your table is for ever locked.
Hides sealing-wax, a white button, a verse
strewn out in snippets. Later though my
landscape appeared, from hours with engravings.

The favourite dress, purple and white. Teaching
baby knitting. More palely reading, with straying
eyes. Is Tasso standing there, wearing your
features? The door firm-bolted and my throat
tight-laced. And suffering distracts me, a bee
paralyses my right hand. I thought fate
will build our house still, in deep-sea blue valleys.
If death fells hope, in lactic disbelief.

5        Jester, queen

Melts the night away to fluid purple
vinyl. The moon in the window, and I
shivered distrusted. You slipped through the avenue?
Were you the shadow that tried to embrace me
but left, before I could give myself? No look
ever helps in this theatre hall.
I want to feel you, Fritz. Come secretly,
avoid the back door, mount the stairs four up.

My mouth, full of hard fear, awaits you
in the attic. I fear exchanging letters
by the gate. I wave my pennant, white.
You raise your stick, and hide within
the bower. My heart is in my mouth I
bolt the letter’s snatched away. Writing,
though, heightens absence. With flashing teeth I have to
laugh. The white is tangible, suddenly.

6        Lethe

Cold white meanders through my travelogue.
Kassel’s a hollow echo without you.
Paper’s no life, it creaks, turns yellow. Sadly I
read your poems out, like matins, while in bed.
In pallid mist rose melancholia. Once more
the sun, stone-red, was held on bordeaux walls.
The street was wet, the gallery smooth as
mirrors. Stood pensive by the Marmorbad.

I wear your image. Would you disappear?
This is the very end. The may and apple
blossom now are past, and I live outdoors now.
Promise me that you’ll leave, untie your fear
that I’ll plant trees once more, that I’ll till
twenty acres, wear sowing garb, scatter ---
myself - (erased by white and folding, the
pencil seems more like a patch of cloud) - Farewell!

(Her letter, does it ever end?
Who knows. In doubt meaning

(December 1801 - June 1802)

1        Remembrance of Menon

For snow and tulip fused arrival
With return. Then the sun and May
Shone hard. White was the winter and the northern wall of
The Auvergne razor-sharp as Friedrich’s cold
Wilderness. I lived almost too splendidly, the coach
Taking me along the Gulf, to see Médoc.
Hardened, I tried to sleep, and saw the
Shepherds, marble debris and men and women
Fed by hunger. Art grew tall and spirit
Became oak and stone - the sign was
Silent. Apollo struck me then with lightning flash.
I carried pistols, in the lumpy bed.

Green gardens formed garlands round my Bordeaux,
The winding path connected the
Rock with blue, the heavenly
Garonne. And seawards ever blew
My dearest breeze. Nothing surpassed friends than being
Without a soul, the wine of Blanquefort
Travelling to the Indus and returning
Like rubies. Come wine-god, in the ivy,
Reach me the fragrant goblet full
Of deeply-glowing light. Stir shadow through the sun,
Plant in the yard a fig-tree in full
Bloom. And give me tears then, I a lonesome Achilles.

Just as a wounded hart flees to the woods,
The greenest bed restores my heart
No more. The thorn sticks burning
In my side. Just as the eagle falls, deep and
With bloody feathers, I have inquired of
Every path. The avenue to you is closed,
The house is empty, senseless to me now all
The rest. No archipelago knows merely heroes
Or dew and roses, thaw and bloom. No place
In which our soul regains her year, and flies.
So, heroine, you’re e’er in my mind’s eye. Your image
Proves you inaccessible.

(June 1802)

1        Red lungs

I wear no jewels. Yet alabaster is
my skin, stone catches winter light.
Brown cotton or white atlas silk become
me now. Consumptive flush is rouge-like.

The canopy exists? Madder-dye shrinks
the heart, the endless coughing tires the lungs.
The voice is drowning. The rose of the
cabinet closing for good, wilting round

my decay. It runs in foliage, iron on
the sole. No one sees how the source lures
and time heals. The god’s too strong for any
power. His sphere spins ever inwards.

2        Susette’s sick-bed

What burns my lip with bitter taste?
And whose kiss kindled my disease?
Fine bed (satin, cotton, white lace)
so dank. The lance-tip’s lodged deep in

my side. No hand sweeps dreams away
from sleep. Will my breath sing once more?
No bird calls. The pears sleepy and the
tree raven. A foreign will disturbs

the curtain. His hand lies coolly
on me? Is it the fever, an
        open window?
                Is it

3        Susette’s grave

A thaw warms frosted ground. No willow
still mourns her. High in a tower
lives the ink, in which the temple ruin
sinks. Each lime-tree, now past flowering,

scatters pale flakes. In stone gravel gazes
at him - a frieze, triumphal arch built in
decay, three pillars, pollarded, with fragments
spread across a floor, until them too

the white whirlpool engulfs. A snow-field concludes
each story. The sun rises, descends.
The circle turns, obeying its own law.
(Thus I wrote. More presently.)

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