It’s stock-still in the house. Dawn’s drawing near.
The clock-tick and gas hissing’s all I hear.
The pendulum seems madly on the go,
it flares up, gleams more dully, to and fro.
In this small, stupid thing I seem to see
wise time nod earnestly its No at me.
The table’s full of opened books I’ve pondered:
through seeking wisdom all my life I’ve squandered.
The arching pages look like snowy peaks,
the chilly heights of knowledge that man seeks.
In lowlands I’d envisaged a wide view:
infinity stretched further, grew and grew.
Around the lamp cigar-smoke’s bluish trail
coils like vague reveries to no avail;
from smoke-wreathed lampshade the dull light falls chill
on snowy peaks of science stiff and still.
I sat thus every evening, year by year,
in knowledge rich, a beggar though, I fear.
It was as is so often seen in dreams:
you must find something, but you can’t, it seems.
Out on the balcony, where’er I turn,
here, there and yonder, fireflies’ scared lights burn.
Glowworm Gladness dares rise into the air,
thrashes till dead in life’s pain-web up there.
Orion shines in its vast majesty.
I hate, hate its soulless eternity.
The worlds’ vast glory brings me no relief.
The one who most loved me I caused great grief.
And happiness in life I never earned:
the one I loved most I most cruelly hurt.
I had one solace once: that love of mine
keeps the fond memory as a sacred shrine.
Deep-boring seconds gnawed through, did destroy
what both remembered, and my greatest joy.
Pain’s slid to resignation within me.
Like the dead past, far off, I hear the sea.
I sit down once again; the gas-hiss swells.
Oddly, it’s as if I were someone else.
Things seem unreal around me. Just the glow
of gaslight. The pendulum nodding No.