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Flucht und Verwandlung /

Flight and Metamorphosis

(1959) - part 2

Lange sichelte Jakob


swung his sickle

through the many centuries

of withered


With blind eyes shining on

the future progeny of sun and moon –   

and knuckles fiercely

clenched –

his mis-directed


suddenly popped out


the Rembrandt sky.

Though Joseph


to divert

the lightning this produced

God knows

it was too late.

The flames leapt high –

the first-born

was engulfed –

Hallelujah bei der Geburt eines Felsens

  For thou shalt be in league

  with the stones of the field.



at a cliff’s creation –

Soft voice of sea

arms flowing

up and down

from grave to sky –

And then

a fanfare

in the salt’s corona

now the time is ripe

another epoch thrusts

its dripping granite horns

into the morning light –


sung in quartz and mica

winged desire locates a crevice

builds a nest for


a place of rest

on high

a sanctuary

for singed and light-bewildered


or for the shivering alchemist –

where God’s word grows as fresh and free

as rock plants in the flurry.


of the sun on stone.

An angel breaks the seal

the starry veil is lifted

heaven weeps

at what’s belatedly revealed –


in the mother-waters

as before

dim algae suck on dancing skeletons

and fish flick through the flooded bridal suite.

Nightmares suffuse

the sinister Medusa’s

breathing sapphire-blossom.

Blood-coral signposts

line the zombie roads.



at a cliff’s creation –

So let all the golden realms rejoice!

Schon reden knisternde farbige Bänder


there’s a rainbow-rustle:

unfamiliar voices


unfamiliar truth.


there’s a rolling-up of grave-clothes

on the eagle’s far horizon.

Now that death has done

its worst

the curtain falls.

Another act

will soon ensue.

Yet here

the Fates continue gambling

far into the pregnant night.

The sky’s a scene

of glittering tiaras

roulette wheels and tables piled with chips:

vast prospects casually at stake.

Raw wounds debate with salt.

The wind goes weeping home.

It slams the ballroom doors.

The fruitful



in thunderous grief.

The violated heavens

howl without respite


from underneath

the widow’s weeds

another sunflower

peeps –

Schlaf webt das Atemnetz

Sleep weaves the Holy-Spirit net

of animated words.

But no one here can read them

save the lovers.

They alone escape

the circle-dancing serfdom

of the dark

in sunlit dreams

to glimpse

the outspread promised land.

The one great gift they bring

a lifted chalice


of ever-dawning light –

Es springt dieses Jahrhundert

These times:

their funerary shell is cracked

a raw reality begins to slither out –

The tangled hair of Berenice becomes

a lightning-lash –

Old Adam’s swivel-skull unlocks

and up into the thin empyrean

there climb

the seven days of God’s creation.

Anxiety erodes the human soil

no one’s secure

the eagle bears its offspring in its beak.

One last dead-nettle kiss –

since then it’s been a whirlwind-harvest.

Stars fallen from their orbits disappear.

The void is filled with firework fantasy –

This pilgrim dreams of being still at last –

Wie viele ertrunkene Zeiten

How many ages

are there drowned within

the roaring wash of childhood sleep –

in tossed

salt air –

how much moon-play with bones   

in infant dreams –  

how blinding bright the sudden

night-flecked lemon sunrise

of the maiden’s shipwrecked grief –

No way to stop

the butterfly-wing doors

flap open.

No defence

against these murderous burning

golden lances

on the blood-stained battlefields of childhood fear.

How many detours  

on Truth’s trek

already long before the child

has yet embarked upon

the memory-boat

that sails by day –

How many dream-washed boundaries

progressively displaced

to clear a hearing-space for

music from an alien star –

How many fallen conquests

must our children make

before they feel at home

mouths full of moon-milk

brave amidst the clamour

of their brightly furnished playground –

Kommt einer von ferne

Should a stranger arrive

who speaks in

a language  

sounding a bit


a whinnying mare


a chirruping



even a grinding saw

that threatens to slice whatever comes near –

Should a stranger arrive


the dog


maybe also the rats

and it’s winter –

give him warm clothes!

It could be that his feet

are on fire underneath.

(Say he’s been riding a comet.)

Therefore don’t blame him

if then

your poor carpet complains –

A refugee carries

his home in his arms

like an orphan

for whom he perhaps needs no more

than a grave.

Weiter weiter durch das Rauchbild


and on

through icon-smoke

this burnt-out pilgrimage

towards the wild


sea –


and on

the black dream-horses

harnessed to the sun’s-head wagon

leap up over the white walls

and down through barbed-wire hours

till streaked with blood

they plunge into the prisoner’s world –

for him to ride them


and on

dream-racing still

towards release –

The dream already has him caught

within its star-closed circle

Ohne Kompass Taumelkelch im Meer

Without a compass

overflowingly adrift

this youthful


sparring partner

for the principalities and powers on high  


the headwind in his hair

and heaven’s glare

obliterating fear.

He mounts his noisy god


the clinging hands of anxious dusk

and whistles

at their beggary.


with naked starlight

on his linen bed

he spurns

the faded rival

lavender of everlasting mother-love.

Indifferent to the ever-present



he gladly clambers

for a view of heaven

high into the heavy clouds.

He kicks aside

the rocking-chair

of generations past

and with his wild


assails the night.


the actual moment comes:

way out alone upon life’s




from a dark imploded star

an inner music

somehow sounds –

and so at last he also hears

the whispered

secrets that await us all –

Weit fort von den Kirchhöfen

Not being hooked

upon the singular authority

of any shrine

I weep for you

not only where it is prescribed.

Not being hooked

by any version of events



a stone sarcophagus –

I feed my grief


into the element of yearning –

Here soul and flesh are one.

A pyramid of light.

A register of all the many realms beyond.

A regal monument to all the grief

that ever was or will be known –

These altars consecrated for

the simple sacrament

of inner

concentration –

Wo nur sollen wir hinter den Nebeln

But how in all the mist

discern the breathing

spirit which directs this ever-fluent pageant of Creation?

How summon adequate compassion for the fuzzy orphan face

that now emerges?

Your bloodshot vision is one endless battle to delineate

a proper holy restlessness.

We start with childish woe:

a spring-time scamper

with cut water-lilies

finds no adult waiting to receive the gift.

Then from that

the potter starts to mould our clay.

All that’s original belongs to God.

His first-born up above

wave down to us.

There’s Eve en-snaked.

She plays the apple game.

There’s Aaron’s golden calf.

The sacred bull

rampaging down the years –

And there’s a crazy prophet’s waggling beard.

We cannot hear his words.

And now we see a wandering at random –

now a stagger –

now a ghastly shrieking scene

of human birth –

Linie wie lebendiges Haar

Line like

living hair



from you

to me.

Reined in

by fate

I thirst

and twist

to kiss the end of separation.

From spreading

blood to black

the springboard-night


The tide goes out between us.

Gingerly I set my foot

upon the trembling rope

of my already nascent death.

I do as love decrees –

Der Schlafwandler kreisend auf seinem Stern

A planetary sleepwalker is orbiting his star.

The feathered morning

wakes him.

Why’s the feather stained with blood?

He remembers –

starts –

and drops the moon.

A snowberry-smash

on agate night:

the universe above is nightmare-stained  

all over –

Weisse Schlange Polarkreis

White snake

polar circle

wings in granite

pink grief locked in blocks of ice

these frontier zones around the mystery

these throbbing evocations of remoteness

wind-chains that flap with home-sick longing

garnets blazing with a fury –

And behold the snail:

its ticking load of heaven-time.

Welche Finsternisse hinterm Augenlid

What darknesses

behind the eyelid

streaked with light

from the exploding sunset

of our homesickness.

A hulk

upon the beach

is royally transformed

by watery dreams of shipwreck.

All that frantic

waving from the waves

so many souls

intent on catching hold of God.

There are out here

no milestones

only open sea.

Nor any other route

but that of death –

Wenn der Atem die Hütte der Nacht errichtet hat

The soul has pitched a tent

in emptiness

and wanders homesick out

upon the winds.

The body’s

quietly transfixed

in sacramental contemplation.

It’s become

a vineyard.

Each thus melts

into its mystery

and all is doubly done.


a run of dying organ notes up Jacob’s ladder

met at length

by sudden lightning-sheets

of answering glee –

Wie viele Heimatländer

When a fugitive goes through the mystery

how many homelands are there

playing cards for her on high.

How much sleeping music

in the cradle-branches

where the lonely wind

is midwife.

Earth now

opened up by lightning

eagerly awaits

fresh-sprouting implantation

by the very Word.

A vastness shudders

in this pulsing blood –

This life is endless.

Everything coheres

within a shining from afar –

Ende aber nur in einem Zimmer

An end  

but only as regards this earthly room –

and here

behind my back

I sense your presence

not your face



mercifully masked –

a summons

an encircling timelessness

made bearable

by grace alone.

A poet’s thinking is a summons

it’s a being-tied

back tight into a fine cocoon

it’s a being-sieved

a thirsty heap of sand

it’s a slow procession

up the aisle –

Tod Meergesang spülend um meinen Leib


I bathe within

the music of your waves

I thirst for

the anticipated savour of your wine –

You syncopate the rhythms of my blood.

It dances

to the budding wound

with love –

Your prospects open with a flourishing of feathers.

Savage necklaces

swing bouncing to your beat.

And so

bewitched with strangled hope

your designated victim waits.

Yet still you leave me jilted.

All my days henceforth

are but a drift of sand.

I live outcast

from either realm.

An interim

between two qualities of dark –

Schon mit der Mähne des Haares



in the swish of hair

a tingle

in the outstretched


a tip-toe


for the infinite –

This broken tug of oceanic salt

along the body’s shore

these buried memories which


hold power to heal –

The blind caresses

of the dead –

proliferating terrors –

resurrection-fire –

a soundless cry

before the saviour climbs aboard –

Inmitten der Leidensstation


proceeding to your calvary

you focus closely on a smile

and answer

the enquiring


with God-distracted words.

These glint

like dinted armour.

Love no longer wears a shroud.

The room’s entangled

with that other thread your passion spins.

Your eyes repel

what’s written in the pagan stars.

They glow

like embers from the sun.

But still you watch God’s stella maris slowly

circling through the comets’

bright red shower

of resurrection-archery –

Ach daß man so wenig begreift

O how empty gentle dusk would seem

if that were all one knew.

But when my soul launched forth

the doors flew open of their own accord.

A flaming turmoil

drew the moth

in search of home.

Until at last my heart

was hooked and ripped apart

and healed.

And now I bless the place

where once the angel angler seemed to blaze –

O soul – forgive me

my nostalgia

for sweet scenes of rest.

A short oasis halt

then I’m content –

Hinter den Lippen

Behind the lips

a monster lurks.

What can’t be said

is chewing on the very roots of speech.

The mouth’s a reliquary urn

it holds the holy-martyr

slashed and mangled syllables

of heaven’s highest truth –

Yet harken to the soul:

how it beats its fists against the wailing wall

but also

how it then

confessing all at last

subsumes itself into the vastly greater

grief of God –

Alle landmessenden Finger

To sense

beneath the lines we’ve scribbled in its dust

God’s fingers moulding the terrain.


with a cloth of cherub-sight

a thousand thousand eyes at work:

this is to see

as does the sun itself.

And there are also dreams in which all roofs and walls dissolve.

But then the angel always

says goodbye again.

God’s raft


roaring down the rapids.


we remain.

Angeängstigt mit dem Einhorn

Skewered by the unicorn

anxiety –



do you spy the dawn?

O this demented age

these thorn-sealed lips

so much that must remain unsaid.

The lightning

stabbed Lot’s wife

and froze her to the spot –



say now to your lord

our warfare is accomplished –


the cock crows:

time to light the pyre

time to sing new hymns

let blood

congealed by night

now freely start to flow –

Abgewandt warte ich auf dich

Turned aside

I wait for you

sometimes so far removed from human life

sometimes so close –

Turned aside

I wait for you.

For those who have been freed

must still beware the lassos of the past

and lure of crowns

the fancy-work of dust –

Love’s a plant that thrives in sand

it burns and burns

but still is unconsumed.

And turned aside

it waits

for you.

Eine Garbe Blitze

A sheaf of lightning-strikes:

this paper

is a field possessed

by alien powers

this script alight

with deadly revelation.

Thunder batters at

the empty morgue.

But after all has been forgiven

crooked hand

and momentary blot

at length the inner ocean  

lifts its white-crowned silence up  

to cast it at your feet –

Und immer die Wahrsager des Himmels

And the revelation-angels


holding shut the doors


scribbling esoteric

mirror-script –

And the wings

that smelt of sea-salt

laid down at the threshold

like great fishing nets

hung out to dry –

And the lightning veins of insight

that have somehow sizzled into David’s dreams –

What’s this

that like a wind is ruffling through our hair?

Is death still scraping stone

to dust?

Consider the prophetic hymn that hides

within the sea-shell’s

providential star-geometry:

isn’t this

a truly sun-filled


Are cycles of renewed transparency to God

now spinning in

behind our backs?

Are ashes good

to ease the pain of light

on earth?

Erlöste aus Schlaf


from sleep

the dim immensities

of fossil-fuel forest

will ignite.

They’ll shed

a soul-disclosing

many-light-years’ load

of foliage on fire –




Knees bent

head down

with antlers twisting

right and left:

these fertile melodies

of endlessly renewed assault

upon the everlasting cliffs –

So rann ich aus dem Wort

Thus I plunged headlong out of speech:

a piece of night

with arms outstretched

a scale with which to measure


this shard of star-time

where the dusty tracks

have petered out.

It’s late.

The very contrast now

of weight and weightlessness

is lost.

My shoulders sail away like clouds

my arms and hands

have nothing more to do.

Homesickness paints the world most sumptuously

and in this picture

I’ve no place.