Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thinking of a Friend At Night - Hermann Hesse

  • In this evil year, autumn comes early...
  • I walk by night in the field, alone, the rain clatters,
  • The wind on my hat...And you? And you, my friend?
  • You are standing—maybe—and seeing the sickle moon
  • Move in a small arc over the forests
  • And bivouac fire, red in the black valley.
  • You are lying—maybe—in a straw field and sleeping
  • And dew falls cold on your forehead and battle jacket.
  • It's possible tonight you're on horseback,
  • The farthest outpost, peering along, with a gun in your fist,
  • Smiling, whispering, to your exhausted horse.
  • Maybe—I keep imagining—you are spending the night
  • As a guest in a strange castle with a park
  • And writing a letter by candlelight, and tapping
  • On the piano keys by the window,
  • Groping for a sound...
  • —And maybe
  • You are already silent, already dead, and the day
  • Will shine no longer into your beloved
  • Serious eyes, and your beloved brown hand hangs wilted,
  • And your white forehead split open—Oh, if only,
  • If only, just once, that last day, I had shown you, told you
  • Something of my love, that was too timid to speak!
  • But you know me, you know...and, smiling, you nod
  • Tonight in front of your strange castle,
  • And you nod to your horse in the drenched forest,
  • And you nod to your sleep to your harsh clutter of straw,
  • And think about me, and smile.
  • And maybe,
  • Maybe some day you will come back from the war,
  • and take a walk with me some evening,
  • And somebody will talk about Longwy, Luttich, Dammerkirch,
  • And smile gravely, and everything will be as before,
  • And no one will speak a word of his worry,
  • Of his worry and tenderness by night in the field,
  • Of his love. And with a single joke
  • You will frighten away the worry, the war, the uneasy nights,
  • The summer lightning of shy human friendship,
  • Into the cool past that will never come back. 
In a translation by James Wright.

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