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MARI└ MANENT (1898-1988)

 

 
 
THE SITE OF RILKE'S TOMB
(Rarogne, Valais) (Translation by Sam Abrams)

You lie in the ultimate
resting place, aloft the dark rocks,
with the hilltop ivy that doesn't fear
February frost. Your cross is rather coarse,
the burial vault of shepherds and peasants,
and you are walled in by porous stone
like a worm-eaten bride's chest. Snowflakes and sun-beat
have turned the cross grey, the shade of mist.
Yet at your grave site there is a touch of pride:
a chiselled coat of arms, something come from a fable
of the Austrian past, crowning the fortified village,
solitary and final, where your word now dwells.

Here lies the brow that often bowed
to silence and darkness;
and when the wind from the Alps sweeps the snow
across the withered blades of grass, the peasants, arriving
from vineyards where they tend grape stocks shaped like lyres,
are unaware that hidden beneath the cross is the bluish tint,
the fear in your artless eyes and the ivy sighs
above the heart that never met with peace.
 
 
TO MY DAUGHTER MARIA WHEN SHE WAS ONE, DURING THE WAR (Translation by Sam Abrams)

The branches of the fir draw near the eaves
and, far off, what deep-toned sound makes the window shiver?
The mountains are sad at the heart of cold,
and sad is the smell of meager stew.

Like the root, like the fruit in the mist of the orchard,
upon the unblemished breast you nurse, asleep,
and this lukewarm silence of life
resembles the silence of the grave.