Late Autumn in Venice
By now the town no longer drifts like bait
That catches every rising day.
The palaces of glass ring in more brittle tones
Against your looks. And from its gardens
Summer is hanging, a heap of marionettes,
Head over heels, worn out and done to death.
But from the ground, out of old forest skeletons
A will is mounting up, as if just over night
The general of the seas had doubled
The galleys in his awakened Arsenal
To tar next morning’s air
With an armada that is jostling,
and suddenly, dawning with all its flags,
Gathered a great wind, fatal and glorious.
San Marco, Venice
In this interior, as if it’s hollowed out,
Curving nd turning in its golden enamel work,
With bevelled edge and smooth, exquisitely
Anointed, the darkness of this state is kept
And secretly piled up, a counterweight
To light, which does in all its things
Proliferate so much, they almost pass away –
And suddenly you doubt: do they not pass?
Push back against the solid gallery
That closely hangs, an adit in a mine,
Under the shining vault, and take in the unbroken
Brightness of the view: but somehow sad,
Compare the measure of its tired years
To the nearby quadriga’s lasting.
Translated from the German by Wilf Deckner.