Thursday, October 9, 2014

Juxtapositions: Season of mists

Edward Steichen. "Experiment in Three-Color Photography."
Camera Work 15 (1906).
Im Herbst
Klaus Groth; my translation (German here)
set for choir by Johannes Brahms, op. 104, no. 5, 1888—listen here

Grave is the fall,
and when the leaves are falling,
down sinks the heart to cloudy misery.
Still lies the hall,
and to the south embark
the singers—mute, as to their graves.

Pale is the day,
and sickly clouds are veiling
the sun, just as they veil hearts.
Soon comes the night;
then all the powers revel,
and deep-forgotten Being rests.

Soft turns the man.
He sees the sun descending,
suspects the end of life, like end of year.
Wet grows the eye;
still, in the teardrops’ glistening,
out spills the heart’s happiest outflow.


The Auroras of Autumn, canto 7 (1948)
Wallace Stevens 

Is there an imagination that sits enthroned 
As grim as it is benevolent, the just 
And the unjust, which in the midst of summer stops 

To imagine winter? When the leaves are dead, 
Does it take its place in the north and enfold itself, 
Goat-leaper, crystalled and luminous, sitting 

In highest night? And do these heavens adorn 
And proclaim it, the white creator of black, jetted 
By extinguishings, even of planets as may be, 

Even of earth, even of sight, in snow, 
Except as needed by way of majesty, 
In the sky, as crown and diamond cabala? 

It leaps through us, through all our heavens leaps, 
Extinguishing our planets, one by one, 
Leaving, of where we were and looked, of where 

We knew each other and of each other thought, 
A shivering residue, chilled and foregone, 
Except for that crown and mystical cabala, 

But it dare not leap by chance in its own dark. 
It must change from destiny to slight caprice. 
And thus its jetted tragedy, its stele 

And shape and mournful making move to find 
What must unmake it and, at last, what can, 
Say, a flippant communication under the moon. 

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