THIS was indeed a spot where sickly earth
Was poorly clad;
Roads strewn with slag, and gathered stones,
And nettle-blinded puddles.
Over a rubbish heap
There was a scraggy path,
For ever sick of being perched so steep,
Without communion with the earth:
The shrubs that had been planted on it
Were dead already all along one side.
You saw, besides, a little rolling-mill,
Low and dilapidated in lucerne,
Whose chimney, with spasmodic jerks,
Spat at the sky its dry and hollow puffs.
Spite of chaotic glaciers of clouds,
Rearing around an amicable blue,
It was a wretched landscape, truly.
And yet you found there, if you looked,
A good place of green grass,
And yet of listening ears there could be heard
A noise of foliage,
And of pursuing birds ...
Yea, if one had enough of love,
The wind might be petitioned, even there,
For music and for fragrance;
And even there the forest could be found,
And sunshine playing in the verdure,
And hurtling on the stones with violence:
And, even there, a man might find quite near him
Arid and savage plains,
And fields in ecstasy.
And even thence a man might take
A recollection of the opulent earth,
A tufted memory rich as any garland,
As durable as songs of childhood are,
And penetrating as an echo is.
translated by Jethro Bithell