Sunday, 20 May 2018

Part 1 of Klaus Høeck's 'Metamorphoses' (1983)


     The breath whose might I have invoked in song
     Descends on me; my spirit’s bark is driven
     Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
     Whose sails were never to the tempest given;
     The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!
     I am borne darkly, fearfully afar;
     Whilst burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
     The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.


I did not come here with the spirit’s bark
     or with a horse and cart that’s rolled along
     two thousand miles or more, but with a Con
Air Caravelle Jet. I did not get to
See either Villa Borghese or the
     Colosseum but did see the Roman
     daybreak, which corrodes the heart with boric
Acid. I saw the facades of pink and
Yellow and the women who are slowly
     being devoured from the inside.
I grasped I’d lived for almost forty years.
     The time had come for me now to depart
After just one night at hotel delle Lega
     zioni, itself on its way to nothingness.


What had you been expecting then? – I ask
     myself, as the city bus passes the
     Bar Shelley. What the hell else had you been
expecting than the espaliers of the ship
     yards strung across the sky on your way to
     Lerici, lit now as evening draw near.
     Why should this place be any more sacred
Than other places that are dissolved by
Gold and azure. Only clarity is
     left, which is too dazzling for eyes that are
Weak. Only the infinite purity of the
     sea washes day out and day in
Forgetfulness of stones and
     sand without anyone remembering it.


I am constantly being woken up
     by this death-consecrated sea that still
     laps under the walls of Casa Magnis.
But I myself have apparently not
Come here to die. I have no rendezvous
     with death here, neither out there in the blue
     triangle that has a scent of roses
And of calcium or under the shade
Of the orange tree. There is admitted
     ly a white-painted door to my room at
The boarding house, which has also been painted com
     pletely white, but it takes one to a
Servant’s private quarters and thus not to God
     or any form of eternity


Who would have thought that it could create such
     happiness to find some common
     groundsel, some bonus henricus in these
Southern climes among the rocks and olives.
Who could know that one has to get so far
     away in order to appreciate
     what one has around one every day? This
Means there is more than just one way to
Travel. And more than just one way to love.
     But the sea is calling me once again.
And I hurry down in order to
     consult the great underwater medium
That is sitting with hair of seaweed and foam
     down her back at Porto Venere.


The pine trees of high praise are really just
     as beautiful as they are described. They
     raise the sky and give shadow to the earth,
While the murky flames of the cypresses
Flicker from hell. The palms pitch and toss in
     the wind, so that beneath them one al
     most feels a spirit’s attack of the bends.
I have come to this place with my luggage:
My body, my money and my suitcase
     that is full of my clothes and shoes and books.
And out from the west a sea of clouds drifts
     in over Via Mantegazza like
A dark occident, with the promise of
     rain for the night and my allegorical dreams.


I have only been in the museum’s
     vestibule lit up by gleaming ashes.
     Strangely enough there is a picture of
Byron hanging there, whose frame has presum
Ably been corroded by salt water.
     I try in vain to decipher the sign
     with its opening hours which is partly
Written in Italian partly almost
Ruined. If ‘aperto’ means ‘open’ then
     there is apparently access to the
Place every day of the week except Wednesday
     when sorrow and pain are allowed
To have a day off for themselves in
     their own metaphysical apartments.


I took the bus today to the railway
     restaurant in La Spezia, the town
     that’s tartare-coloured with red lead and rust.
It was raining. I consumed a kind of
Soup and spaghetti with cheese. But why this
     should have any at all more to do with
     Shelley than so much else has I have no
Idea. But back to what is the main
Point. Me spaghetti with cheese and a kind
     of soup. The main point. Me a kind of soup.
The main point. I am alone in a fo
     reign town in a foreign country in a
Foreign world. I miss my beloved, I
     miss the burnt butterflies of her eyelids.


This was meant to have been a letter to
     Shelley to his so-called genius. Now
     it is almost becoming a letter
To myself to my own angel of Death.
November is over and it’s still raining.
     I’m afraid of death in the air although
     it will probably never take place as
A plane catastrophe somewhere near Rome.
Evening’s falling and the moon is coloured
     like the buoys for ships in San Terenzio
I saw pulled up onto the shore.
     A ship on the horizon that looks like
A long surgical incision. Perhaps
     Ariel on his way to his salty jewel?


This journey has its imaginary
     reasons. It has its metaphysics and
     its transcendence of plaster masks behind
Black gauze. I saw pictures and silhouette
Cuts through the windows of the museum.
     The first floor is now made use of as of
     fices of administration by the
Sindacato Immobiliare Turistico.
But from this alabaster room of sleep
     there still continues to stream a great dream
That reaches the heart of every poet.
     And in this house pain still continues to
Burn like a flame in the submerged sapphire
     outside the harbour in Livorno.


I have met the Virgin Mary, madonna
     of marble, madonna of stone in ma
     ny places without praying for something.
God’s mother in a fortress where she
Was incarcerated. I have seen her in
     a station cafeteria surrounded by
     candles. Her of candles I in a
Station cafeteria she madonna
Of plastic. But nowhere did I
     pray to her for protection of
Any kind or prayer to her for the poor.
     I do not regret this, perhaps because
Within my mind I have a constant death-wish.
     I a constant death-wish within my mind.


The sea really does have a smell of pure
     linen and thus of winding sheets. The
     sea tastes like crayfish with a cross on their
Backs. The sea is bitter with ivy berries.
The sea is salt of sodium chloride.
     The sea is like a requiem for Shelley.
     And on the outer edge of thought the ship
Of your own ideas also capsizes.
The sea raises its poisonous hemlocks
     of foam among the breakwaters.
The sea feeds on the mercury of mirrors.
     The sea invites us to incest and
Suicide. The sea is the mean propor
     tional of death and of love.


This museum and the harbour among
     the lion’s heads of the clouds have now become
     my centre. And the white chapel of my
Room. My world has now become that simple.
Simple among my is this among
     this has become this. And the sea which
     gnaws inexorably away at the
Coast and at my heart. The carnivorous
Sea of San Terenzio. In this way
     the sea takes its revenge on what
Could be called our enterprise.
     This brings about a shipwreck in us.
Erases names, wipes out dates, elimi
     nates the coastal fortresses of the spirit.


What fear unfolds its flag over
     the white map of these sea buoys.
     Is God going to send new sorrows to me,
Or is it merely the wind that is getting
Up before rain? – Listen! It is now falling
     over the boats and among the stinging
     jellyfish, blue, a painful blue. The soul
Leaves the body, roams around over the
Sea. Thus does humankind also walk
     on the waters. It on there over
It among me. Humankind in humankind.
     in me among it humankind
Thus humankind the waters and
     over it on humankind the sea.


This line almost invisible the edge
     of the wound where clotted blood is rinsed
     clean among these rounded pebbles:
Open beaches, what is almost a crushed bottle
Green foaming baskets that follow the
     rigorous laws of infinity,
     that rigorous among these also
Follow also this foaming
Like art, which separates life from
     death, art like a golden foaming
Breaking surf and beaches between
     letters of the alphabet and other
Symbols, other secret signs
     in our vocabulary, in our sea.


This is what I refer to as Shelley’s sea
     gleaming with iodide. What am I searching
     for here. Myself, or my identity,
Recollections or forgetfulness?
But inside me, in the heart’s urn I would
     find my ashes. Inside my inside me
     with my as me ashes I urn
But I. This searching and longing
     for confirmation, affirmation,
     recognition has simply become my
Weakness. Simply blue weakness my for
     blue as this with recognition.
In the harbour and this fortress’s ivory-
     coloured tower there is no deliverance.


Lerici pink over the sea. I almost
     succeeded in. Mountain. Sea. Sky.
     Rain. Almost happy. The rain. Its
Blue emblem. I. There. Gain clarity. Like.
     Like. Rising birds. Over matter.
     Mind. Heart. Thought. Also body. And.
     One. And it. And And. Two. And. Blue over
Blue. Almost infinity and
Its fire. Between. As an opener for
     the pain. Burns me. It. With sapphires.
Eagles. The torches of the rain close
     the wound with wet grass. I still. And.
But gratitude begins. Still
     And wet. That I still. Still.


Pizzeria. Cassa di Risparmio.
     Permette. Zuppa di Verdina.
     Con. Via Mazzini. E. Mantegrazza.
Tre. Chiave. Ambulanza.
Cameriere. E. Questo. Vino
     bianco. Penna e sfera. Questa.
     Con. Agenzia Viaggi. Io.
E. Con. E. Scusi. Per favore.
     Piccolo. Martedi. A che ora.
     Mangiare. Con. La Banca. Richi
Esta di Fermata. Io. Uno.
     Il Conto. Questa. Valagia.
Buona Sera. Con. Argento.
     Con. Permette. Golfo dei Poeti.


What impels me towards Italy’s coasts
     at this time of year, when the sky is dark with
     angels. Why did I leave the woman’s breasts
And my cats, who are so full of
Life in order to visit this bay of death
     over whose waters only a foreign sail glides
     out onto the white mirror of incomprehensi
Bility. What am I doing in this centre, beautiful
With its circle of holly, but painful
     beyond all understanding. What scrawny
Hand drags me onto the richly decor
     ated shore of this stage, which lies like a
Piece of lace under the new-born foam. Is
     evening taking leave of me or I of it?


Mare. Lerici at the harbour. And. I.
     The yachts. There. Lying. Rocking.
     At anchor. Jessica and El Cid. Si
E. Scire. Uno. Due. Letimar.
Palm leaves in the wind quiver
     like tail feathers do when birds are
     mating. Permette. E. Cutty Sark.
Uno. La Rotonda. E. And. The sea.
Looks like emeralds, there emusified
     light. Crown jewel almost sea. Break
Now heart. And this sky there potash-
     coloured. Villa Marigola.
Under pine trees and the statues stare
     stare stare into the blindness.


Crema. Burro. Pastina in brodo
     Non capisco. Domenica. Venerdi.
     Arranciata. Io. Per. Questa.
Notte. Questa. Elio. Il Giorno.
Io. Trovo. Francobollo. Denti
     fricia. Questa. La Nazione.
     Permette. Pantaloni. Stringe
Da scarpe. Asciugamano. E.
     Il Secolo. Permette. Giorna
     le danese. Per Fazoletto. E.
Cartolina. Que sta. Chiama.
     Ospedale. Carta igienica.
Lampadina. La verra birra.
     Ballare. In. A. Latte. Pane.


Mare. The sea. Killing sea. And.
     Café after café. There. Ristau
     rante. Leonella. Pensione. Tratto
Ria. Con. Nettuno. Uno. Café. Eure.
Ka. Fabricca Pasticciria. There. I and
     Proprieta privata. I and
     pass by bakeries pharmacies
Banks, kiosks and to the church.
Non. Uno. Due. Via del Campo.
     There. Bar Shelley. Non. The Citadel
In sun gleams green. Walk. Via Turini.
     Or Via Biaggini. I at
The sea. Beauty. Blue. The heart gets its
     mortal blow of light. Bar Segafredo.


The foam. The salt. I definitely
     remember this. Also its smell of
     iodine. San Terenzio of the sea,
This prawn-coloured town. And
Finiteness. This finiteness
     like a green bottle shard. Edges
     that cut. There there there in the heart.
What and what painful light dazzles
     your eye and your mind? – Lies
     house Casa Magni. The white muse
Um. Remains of spirit. Mausoleum
     by the sea. This cuttlefish-green
Sea. Like the shell with roe in if. Oh
     pure sea. Clear sea that gives.


I walk down to the sea, its canvas.
     Observe the lightning flashes, see the clouds
     hear the waves. It is this
Cinemascope. To this to it
to its to I. Here: the stage-sets
     of hotels, bars, restaurants.
     But would rather see the sky black with dac
Tyls. I of its. See reality:
The fortress towering up as if cut off
     as off: the head of Medusa. There
Over the horizon of immortality.
     I to me blacker praise the night.
The museum’s catafalque with these swaying
     black feathers: the dizzying palm trees.


This sea is angry with the poets.
     It snaps like a chameleon
     at me when I take a walk
Along the promenade. The sea and
The poet tolerate no equals.
     That is why they fight for the foam’s
     death masks and and and angry about the
Death masks. But me the sea will never
Possess. My meeting is now with the
     spirits of the air. And the sea I leave
To the artists who paint blue
     waves in their pictures or
To the fishes. To blue in their
     or to the fishes never angry.


This: may the purity from the sea burn
     everything out of my brain with the
     exception of Shelley’s poems. The hats
And the many images: gone
Museum and the plaquettes of white gold,
     and erase this ongoing transaction
     with his name. His and this with
Shelley name many transaction gold
In many of my of my of everything from
     this. The current value of his books also
Those with signature, this yellowed
     letters written in his hand to his wife!
Burn them. Leave the spirit in his poems.
     His in them to his from his poems.


I gnaw myself to death on these
     stones. The sky above this sea will not
     prevent me from this, on the contrary.
My anchorage is the house by the bay
As long as I am here. Gnaw myself to death
     on the spirit’s bones, white, crumbled
     like washed-up faeces. The white stones
White, crumbled like washed-up faeces.
Not the philosopher’s stone. The white crumb
     ling stone. White stones not.
Guide with me: Relicts for
     all tourists with myself as
Guide and custodian. Feel ashamed.
     Around me with all for me.


The sun is shining. I ought to take the train
     to Viareggio this afternoon.
     There where the body and soul left
Each other for good. There the coastline
Lies for certain like an orange-tree
     branch now during the winter solstice.
     But I am tired of sufferings. I will
Stay here. I will not depart from here.
Depart like an orange-tree branch from here of
     sufferings each other during the winter sol
Stice. And soon there will no no pills
     left in the bottle. The coast resembles
For certain a long half-moon of coffein,
     there where spirit and matter left each other.


I have attempted to compare real
     ity with a drawing from back then.
     It differs in a number of points.
There are more windows on the second
Storey. Reality
     reality there reality.
     And the garden wall has several
Buttresses missing out towards the sea.
There are more trees in the drawing.
     They’re missing now. Apart from that
Casa Magni still looks like a painting by
     Giorgio de Chirico. The metaphysics
Is correct. And the sky is cuttlefish
     coloured just before nightfall.


It’s raining again. It’s raining over
     Italy. I am lying like a dead man
     waiting for death, just as I have
Been waiting for it throughout my life.
The distant thunder could be an omen
     from God. I allow myself to flow back
     towards sleep’s small resolution
With the inevitable. The boats tug at
The hawsers of the dream down at the
     jetty. There are foreign birds
In the mirror but not in the room. And I
     glide like a ship out onto the sea of the
Seance towards the place where Shelley drowned.
     It’s raining as before the Flood.


I have begun to grow fond of my pri
     son. I quite like my little exile
     here, actually appreciate this
Austere room with its terrasso floor.
The landlord and I converse with smiles
     and gestures. This austere room
     with smiles and gestures my little exile.
He says: ‘Ecco!’ – and I reply: ‘Good!’
The daughter blushes. She is of the line
     of the medusas with the daybreak on
Her eyelids. It is Monday towards
     evening. There’s a change in the weather,
And I long even so to be home back
     in my own country’s dome of cold.


These sonnets have been blasted into frag
     ments by the sea, lumps of lava washed up
     onto the shore of paper from the con
Tinent of sleep. They are black with seaweed
And submarine mourning veils. The rain has
     perforated them with occult holes.
     The more solid sections are illegible
And are of granite and the secret
Passages lead out into nothing
     ness and meaninglessness.
They are pebbles washed ashore by
     the winter storm on the Ligurian coasts.
But perhaps they have their own beauty when
     the sun is refracted by their salty edges.


In my room night has placed a bust
     of darkness as well as an urn with
     Shelley’s ashes. I no longer speculate
On underlying reasons and causes:
     that have brought together salt
     and olives. I have enough to do teasing
Out the effects, which among other things
Gives rise to these sonnets full of black pine
Cones. That does not mean that I merely
     let things take their course, only that
I follow the sea’s own ground swell
     and foaming caesura. I have enough to do
In each day walking along the coast
     down to Lerici’s beautiful fortress.


One early morning I make a small
     paper boat out of an Italian
     bank note that is admittedly not
Worth all that much. I launch it in a
Puddle on the Via Biaggini so as
     to realise the myth once and for all.
     I do not dare to call it Ariel
Or Don Juan, but christen it instead
Torino, since it actually says that
     on it in green letters. It capsizes
At once in these winter storms, which would al
     so have sent far larger ships of dreams to
The bottom with the ashes of the spirit
     and sinks towards its great meaninglessness.


I have grown tired of the sea, which can be
     heard as an echo even in the wine glasses.
     For that reason I’ve gone up into the
Hills inland. The small mountain towns smell
Of vinegar. Even at this time of year
     all sorts of flowers are in bloom, the names
     of which I do not know. Scabiosa
Is an exception because it is as blue
     as Shelley’s eyes. But I am distracted
     by the hills and when I have returned
Home I immediately lie down to sleep
     and dream of a waterspout. I round off
This particular day by reading:
     Lines written in the bay of Lerici.


Do not enter the forbidden garden
     at Villa Marigola, but if you
     do so, be prepared for the transcendence.
Overturned urns lie all over the place
Among the labyrinthine hedges
     from where female busts with closed eyes
     (the materialisation from a great
Trance) stare out across the Golfo della Spe
Zia in all kinds of weather (like some Mary
     Shelley). At the very top the eighth house
Can be seen, whose ochre-coloured walls dis
     play their own particular astronomy.
And everywhere the white narcissi are
     in bloom the spirit’s flower par excellence.


Once more a great poem is about to fail
     for me, illegible behind words and images
     like the epitaphs of birds’ footprints the sea
Erases every day. On this final evening
     I walk down and place myself in Casa Mag
     ni’s shadows at the very centre of the
Floor’s ceramic pentagram. To write poems
About one’s own powerlessness, isn’t it
     to die as a human being. To call upon
     the spirits of the past in order to
Speak through their painted masks, isn’t
     it to die as a poet? – As a
Final invocation I scratch my ini
     tials: K.H. in the plaster of the wall.


I know that I will never see this place
     again except behind the gauze veil
     of my dreams or in these poems or
On a postcard that smells of chlorine.
And that was all that there was left in
     Casa Magni: postcards and plastic magno
     lias: I finally succeeded at
Getting in to the fusel oil that is
Left after the soaring of the spirit.
     I myself leave Italy as I came
To it, not with the night express of red
     coral or with an automobile, but I
Fly towards my own destiny. And what
     would a person be without a destiny?

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