Tuesday 12 June 2012

Poet no. 228 - the Norwegian writer Vilhelm Krag (1871–1933)


                  Not Janissary music!
                  Quiet, you march-laden rhythms!
                  Quiet, dammit, musicians!

The female Circassians, female Circassians
                  just let them come in!
In they shall dance on dainty small feet
                  to muted music
                  from distant guitars.
Strumming, humming, caressing sounds,
smiling, reclining, beguiling sounds,
                  sensually sweet:

Sombre-red tinge to the vibrant-light dance,
shimmering long veil that silver clouds stroke,
soft-waving arms that so softly entwine
                  in the dance!
A small red ear, a small white finger
and feet quick as lightning and soundless
                  in sable-fur cover’s black silky hair. –
And tinkling jingling of jewels and stones.
                  And cheeks. And eyes.

Zerlina, my maiden, your throat is so red,
                  your eye so black,
but moist is your eye, Zerlina.

Zerlina, my maiden, your lips are red,
                  your cheek so round,
but pale is your cheek, Zerlina!

Zerlina, my maiden, your skin is so soft,
                  your mouth is so fresh.
But – why does it quiver, Zerlina?

‘Ah, master, autumn will soon be upon us
                  and Persia’s rose-petals will soon fall.
And the dew weep on the carnation’s mouth,
                  and the leaves wither, oh master.’

Zerlina, my maiden, my thanks for this dance
                  and your word. – Now leave me awhile.

All withers. It withers,
                  it withers, it withers,
the world, it withers, and roses and women,
my body and all of its trembling nerves

And time, it steals so slowly past me,
and the hours pass by to dig me a grave.
I dare not think – I dare not live.
                  Dare not die!

And in this stillness, so night-deep and deathly,
                  like the plover’s call comes the endless murmur:
It withers, it withers,
                  it with...
Music, music, Janissary music,
                  the great Chinese drum!

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