Friday 3 January 2020

Paul van Ostaijen: 'Vers'

To P.B. Baeyens

All joy’s sheer lightness: incompactible. A word’s
never as light as it should be when heard;
wings that are spread wide-open, quivering in the air,
though at no distance from the houses,
fanning open, in a broader flight,
and disappearing without trace. But joy remains
present there, although no trace is sensed.
Joy can’t be scooped up in your hand like water
that for a moment would run in that dry hand
making a wondrously quenching hollow of it
and quite as unseizable as a woman’s lips that stroke,
feathers from you-know-not-where, down on your eyelids, –
I’ve often run till out of breath, to make those feathers airborne. –
It can’t be positioned, is the nature of the things themselves.
A lark, it must be somewhere,
which it is, quite by nature: the metallic droplets
fall nowhere.
And yet it seems all’s impregnated by
this intangible coitus in the sky.

That part of the roof the sun’s lying on
rises up rebaptised and joyous into the light;
that behind which the shadow rests no less.
Nowhere compacted, not where the sun is, nor shadow either.
You cannot go home to just gather joy there,
joy you must feel as something you bathe in;
you are yourself a part of joy
and through the other parts your course runs, as they through you,
precisely so as to make this movement unseizable immeasurable:
the spark of a short-circuiting, yet surpassed.

June 1917

No comments: