Tsars, Kings, Emperors,
sovereigns of all the earth,
have commanded many a parade,
but they could not command humor.
When your face came rising
above my crumpled life,
the only thing I understood at first
was how meager were all my possessions.
We had slaughtered a hundred white whales,
civilization was quite forgotten,
I fell out of love: that’s our story’s dull ending,
as flat as life is, as dull as the grave.
Excuse me-I’ll break off the string of this love song
and smash the guitar. We have nothing to save.
'You have courage, ' they tell me.
It's not true. I was never courageous.
I simply felt it unbecoming
to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.
Don't disappear.... By disappearing from me,
you will disappear from yourself,
betraying your own self forever,
and that will be the basest dishonesty.
Something dangerous is beginning:
I am coming late to my own self.
I made an appointment with my thoughts-
the thoughts were snatched from me.
The twentieth century has often fooled us.
We've been squeezed in by falsehood as by taxes.
The breath of life has denuded our ideas
as quickly as it strips a dandelion.
I envy. This secret
I have not revealed before.
I know there is somewhere a boy
whom I greatly envy.
Galileo, the clergy maintained,
was a pernicious and stubborn man.