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Nelly Sachs

Teile dich Nacht /

O Night, Divide

(1971) - part 3


Mailiches Buchenblatt


the fragile promise

of a beech-tree leaf in May

and geological world-history

there flares the incandescent ‘Why?’ of Job –

a questionable question

charged with every woe a soul can bear –

Schon hast du dein Fluchtgepäck

The flight is

all arranged –

the border’s open

but before you cross

all your belongings

must be tossed to kingdom come

The ticket is one-way:

to dwell in final solitude

for ever and a day –

Die wahre Musik

Half lullaby

and half apocalyptic

music of the spheres

for human heart and angel harp

the sound-track of my dreams:

evoking precipices



unfolding tendrils of inchoate inspiration –

The murderer may turn and spit

God’s mystery will yet prevail –

Wo wohnen wir

What kind of smoking world

is this?

So build with thrown stones

and pour on blood

in order that your walls may stand

Then line them with whatever images

may serve to give you heart

and plant

the alphabetic Apple-core

for come what may

the Garden knows the Gardener

Nicht mit Zahlenschwerten

Love moves mountains –


no other means

and by no means

the rival empires of the night

which seek to divvy up the earth

The deepest loyalty is owed

to those whose lives are cut in two –

who leapt into the flames –

whose eyes recall

the now receding time

when there was real hope on board the Ark

Warten auf der Straße

Each time

one wants to cross a road

some distant thought of death

implicitly obtrudes –

the necessary


to serious life

So too each tear contains

its trace of salt

the ancient mountain ranges of the earth contain

their element of angel-song

In all that grows God’s darkness swells

all bread recalls the Eucharist

as every bush conceals a blaze

Da liegst du

So there you lie

a fallen warrior for the dawn

or for the night

or for whatever took your fancy


The answer’s somewhere in the scriptures

Gaping jawbone dropped amidst the debris –

first you’ll rot

and then begin

to fossilise


A puff of smoke

Ein Faustschlag hinter der Hecke


A punch behind the hedge

There someone sprawls

The passers-by pass by

with studied nonchalance

What can one say?

The jasmine simply spreads its fragrance as before –

Alles wird schwer

Everything is hard –

and getting harder now –

yet only blink and there’s no sun

one step and all is gone

This vampire-dusk white hair

declares my nothingness

the past returns in trumpet-blasts

there’s thunder all along the crumbling coast –



blindfold-smothered eyes

but sweetly smiling –

transient hint of other-worldly wisdom –

here encased in Minster stone

an enigmatic bud of green

a spirit silenced

by the memory and present threat

of murderous mobs

yet through her very homelessness

on earth

eternally alive to God –




of hidden trauma

hairline fractures of the soul

How must it then have seemed to Isaac


The dubious glitter of the crown of grace –

his father’s love


with such cruel designs –


Black: the primary colour

of despair

Excluded from the rainbow

there beneath day’s gilded tints

an undercoat of night

Deep in your catacombs obsession


digs and digs

a scribbling lunacy

the lotus-leaf

uprooted: that black hole –

Diese felder aus schweigen

Our prayers are detours

round vast tracts

of silent emptiness

They hop and flutter through

the virgin drifting snow

all all


Though death comes pressing in

while we still breathe we love

So be it says the heartless world – Amen –

Traum der den Schlafenden überwächst

A Revelation’-dream :

truth swimming

in a sea of faces

Clouds of faces

spirals circles and ellipses

floating infant faces


with the faces of the tortured

and the dead of war and terror –

one almighty thunderous cry of love

re-echoing across the skies –

And here a dark

a shaken stumbling figure

the decipherer of dust

So many names were buried lost

forgotten at the bottom of a well

As in the Gulag now or in Tibet

So many pilgrims of eternity embarked from

murmuring death-devoted lands –

So when the icon paint has flaked away

we see the actual lived reality

of heaven and hell

our beggary in open graves

The Southern Cross is symbol for such tragedy

And there is Orpheus’s lyre

picked out in lights

Adam and Eve

are hiding

in the dark –

But oh to find

some Patmos-planet

where the staple plat du jour

is prophecy on scrolls –

Was für Umwege für die Nachdenklichen

The fingers that now guide the pen

which signs the text endorsing death

once – as the fingers of a child – were used to play with sand

That child once held a seashell to his ear

observed the pergolas turn green

and heard the solemn


of the old grandfather clock –

Oh yes they say

but it’s to make the world a safer place

The dark of night grows darker

laughing – what the hell

And so it goes:

the little sigh

the signature –

Go to Part 4