Ballad Of Depicting The Light

Put some things in the light and watch
what the light will do to such things.
If you think you’ll be busy all morning and noon,
just see what the evening brings.

If to watch the light shifting will not suffice
but you want to catch it as well,
you’ll be joining the torchlight procession of those
who know light is heaven and hell.

The torch has passed through many a hand,
from van Eyck to de Hooch and Vermeer.
It shed light on Kersting and Eckersberg
and also forced Hopper’s sad tear.

The torch bearer’s moments are precious but brief,
as his own life will soon flicker low.
But even when darkness descends upon him
the torch will continue to glow.

It will glow for as long as someone will take things
and watch as they go dark and bright.
It will glow for as long as someone will catch
what happens to things in the light.

Ballade von der Lichtmalerei: Gesammelte Gedichte 1954–2006,      S. 512

 

Interpretation of an Allegorical Painting

Five men I see –
they mean a lot.
Who might they be?
Who stands for what?

The first whose coat
shines ruby-red
stands for the dead
stands for the dead.

The second’s scourge
bites like a snake.
He is the plague,
he is the plague.

The third one,
grey from head to toe,
he speaks of woe,
he speaks of woe.

The fourth one’s blood-stained
shield does state
that he is hate,
that he is hate.

The fifth one silently
brings wine.
He’s in the
wine-supplying line.

Deutung eines allegorischen Gemäldes: Gesammelte Gedichte 1954–2006, S. 111