L I t T e R

Back to Leafe home

Back to Litter home

Johannes Bobrowski



Fishing port

Itís in the evenings
before the boats drift
off, circling each other,
that I love you.

I love you through till morning
with the straw in the loft,
with a seaward wind above the roof,
with the hedge in front of your house,
with the dogís barking
before it turns light.

My face full of the aroma of fish, Iíll
arrive in the dew: one
who wastes his handsí warmth
on nightís silvery form. He arrives
salty-mouthed. Now
he leaps into the last boat.





Lithuanian songs

At night, animal-eyed,
Iím a bush, by day a tree,
water in the midday shade,
under the sun Ė grass.

Or as evening approaches
a church on the hill, where my lover
leaves and enters, a priest in white,
singing hymns.

The whole world through
I love him, I
must be the moonlight at his door,
around the house in the dark of the spruces.

Late in the year,
one day, Iíll fly up with the chatter
of the treetop birds, when their hearts,
hailstones, are white.





Plain

A lake.
This lake.
The sunken
banks. Beneath the clouds
the crane. White, in its flash
the herdsmensí millennia. Together with the wind

I climbed this hill.
I will live here. A hunter
before, but the grass
caught me.

Instruct me in speech, grass,
instruct me in death and in a hearing
that lasts, in speech, stone,
and you, water, teach me how to stay,
and wind, donít ask where Iíve gone.





Died language

Beating his wings
outside, grazing the door,
your brother is here, you can hear him.
Laurio he says, water,
an arch, colourless, deep.

He was washed downstream,
drifting around mussel
and snail, fan-leaved,
in the sand, and was green.

Warne he says and wittan,
the crow has no tree,
I have power to kiss you with,
your ear is my home.

If you tell him you donít
want to hear him,
he arrives as an otter, he arrives
like a swarm of hornets, screaming
like a cricket, growing with the marsh
beneath your house, he whispers
in the springs, you catch the word smordis,
your rotten tree will wither,
tomorrow heíll die at the wire.





Language

The tree
greater than the night
with the breath of the valley lakes
with the whispers
above the silence

The stones
underfoot
the glittering veins
long in the dust
for all time

Hustled off
by a tired mouth
language
on the endless path
to the neighboursí.










Translation copyright © Alistair Noon, 2007