From ‘Eternal City’

XIV

What’s happened to this old lane of the dead?
A row of lights across the land, fulgent string
A buzzing of engines between walls
Labored breath, a shying away from strangers’ limbs
A look into emptiness between day and sleep.
And nonetheless on a short outing maybe
You recognize the gate again, the staggered wall
And across the field the fleeting arcades, the aqueducts
And the smell of grain, and the swallows’ black turret-like tails
Spun out into the golden sky. And that of the bats
That rises and falls with the wind. Yes, there you confront
Your no-longer-me. The stripping away, deliverance
From that which was and will be. But all this is gone
By the time you see the old cryptic tavern sign
“Here no one ever dies. Qui non si muore mai.

– Marie Luise Kaschnitz (trans. Alexander Booth)

*

Was ist aus der alten Totenstrasse geworden?/Eine Lichterreihe landüber, glänzende Schnur/Ein Brausen von Motoren zwischen Mauern/Mühsamer Atem, Scheu vor fremden Gliedern/Blick in die Leere, zwischen Tag und Schlaf./Und doch vielleicht beim kurzen Aufenthalt/Erkennst Du wieder das Tor, die gestaffelte Mauer/Und feldüber die flüchtigen Arkaden, die Wasserträger/Und den Geruch von Korn und die schwarzen Schwalbenschwanzzinnen/In den goldenen Himmel gereckt. Und der Fledermäuse/Das sich aufhebt und sinkt mit dem Winde. Ja, dort erfährst Du/Dein Nicht mehr-ich. Die Ablösung, Erlösung/Von dem was war und wird. Den Hauch Vorbei/Beim alten rätselhaften Wirsthausschild/„hier stirbt man nie. Qui non si muore mai.“  (Marie Luise Kaschnitz. Ewige Stadt. Scherpe-Verlag, Krefeld. 1952)

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] A translation of one of Marie Luise Kaschnitz’s (1901 Karlsruhe – 1974 Rome) poems from her 1952 collection Eternal City […]

  2. […] the way. The sign reads Here No-One Ever Dies (thank you Misera e stipend città) – read a poem set on the Appian Way and refers to this very “tavern” by Marie Luise Kaschnitz, translated by Alexander Booth. I love learning thats what the sign says. […]

  3. Wonderful!!!


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