Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Trakl Blogging


At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound
Of the weapons of death, golden fields
And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun
Rolls down; night gathers on
Dying recruits, the animal cries
Of their burst mouths.
Yet a red cloud, in which a furious god,
The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently
Gathers, a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms;
All the roads spread out into the black mold.
Under the gold branches of the night and stars
The sister’s shadow falters through the diminishing
To greet the ghosts of the heroes, bleeding heads;
And from the reeds the sound of the dark flutes of
autumn rises.
O prouder grief! you bronze altars,
The hot flame of the spirit is fed today by a more
monstrous pain,
The unborn grandchildren.

Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly

Wikipedia tells us that: On the outbreak of World War I, Trakl [trained in his youth as a pharmacist] was sent as a medical official to attend to soldiers in Galicia (comprising portions of modern-day Ukraine and Poland). Trakl suffered frequent bouts of depression, exacerbated by the horror of caring for severely wounded soldiers. During one such incident in Grodek, Trakl had to steward the recovery of some ninety soldiers wounded in the fierce campaign against the Russians. He tried to shoot himself from the strain, but his comrades prevented him. Hospitalized in Krakow and placed under close observation, Trakl lapsed into deeper depression and wrote to [a friend] for advice. [The friend[ convinced him to contact Wittgenstein. Upon receiving Trakl's note, Wittgenstein went to the hospital, but found that Trakl had committed suicide from an overdose of cocaine three days before.

Photo found here.

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