A dog shrieks in misery from a bridge
To heaven... which stands like old gray stone
Upon far-off houses. And, like a rope
Made of tar, a dead river lies on the snow.
Three trees, black frozen flames, make threats
At the end of the earth. They pierce
With sharp knives the rough air,
In which a scrap of bird hangs all alone.
A few street lights wade towards the city,
Extinguished candles for a corpse. And a smear
Of people shrinks together and is soon
Drowned in the wretched white swamp.
In the sunlight doctors tear a woman apart.
Here the open red body gapes. And heavy blood
Flows, dark wine, into a white bowl. One sees
Very clearly the rose-red cyst. Lead gray,
The limp head hangs down. The hollow mouth
Rattles. The sharp yellow chin points upward.
The room shines, cool and friendly. A nurse
Savors quite a bit of sausage in the background.
The sky is swollen with tears and melancholy.
Only far off, where its foul vapors burst,
Green glow pours down. The houses,
Gray grimaces, are fiendishly bloated with mist.
Yellowish lights are beginning to gleam.
A stout father with wife and children dozes.
Painted women are practicing their dances.
Grotesque mimes strut towards the theater.
Jokers shriek, foul connoisseurs of men:
The day is dead... and a name remains!
Powerful men gleam in girls’ eyes.
A woman yearns for her beloved woman.
Packs of houses squat along rotten streets,
Around whose hump a gray sun shines.
A perfumed, half crazy little poodle
Casts exhausted eyes at the big world.
In a window a boy catches flies.
A badly soiled baby gets angry.
On the horizon a train moves through windy meadows:
Slowly paints a long thick stroke.
Like typewriters hackney hooves clatter.
A dust-covered, noisy athletic club comes along.
Brutal shouts stream from bars for coachmen.
Yet fine bells mix with them.
On the fairgrounds where athletes wrestle,
Everything is dark and indistinct.
A barrel organ howls and scullery maids sing.
A man is smashing a rotting woman.
(Dedicated to Kurt Lubasch, July 15, 1912)
You, I can endure these stolid
Rooms and barren streets
And the red sun on the houses,
And the books read
A million times ago.
Come, we must go far
Away from the city.
Let us lie down
In this gentle meadow.
Let us raise, threatening yet helpless
Against the mindless, large,
Deadly blue, shiny skies,
The fleshless, dull eyes,
The cursed hands,
Swollen from crying.