Song of Sweepings & A Hundred Times Nothing

After having read Jaroslav Seifert’s Song of the Sweepings several times in the last three days (over half of these aloud), I still can’t help being deeply affected. It is the most powerful End of Innocence piece I have ever read. It hits the reader with a brutal verbal body blow halfway through the poem, then finishes the reader off with a clean uppercut that is arguably more horrifying than Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness.

I was planning on copying it in here, but it is too long for a blog entry. I plan on reading it at Alchemy some day. Here is Seifert’s A Hundred Times Nothing instead:

Maybe once more I will be driven mad
by your smile
            and on my pillow gently as a feather
will settle girlfriend love and mother grief,
always the two together.

Maybe once more I will be driven mad
by the bugle’s tune
and my hair will smell of gunpowder
as I walk like one who’s dropped from the moon.

Maybe once more I will be driven mad
by a kiss:
           like a flame in a reluctant lantern I’ll begin
to tremble
as it touches my skin.

But that will only be the wind on my lips
and in vain will I try
to catch its incorporeal dress
as it flits by.

translated by Ewald Osers, taken from The Poetry of Jaroslav Seifert, edited by George Gibian, Catbird Press, 1998

Jan 12, 09:20 (Filed under: Culture, People )

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