to the ether
(translated from the hölderlin)
devoted, chummy, you brought me up like no other
god or man, papa ether! even before mum took me
in her arms and gave me a swollen teat to suckle
you’d taken to tenderly fondling my arse. you doused me
in heavenly jism and blew hot breath into my fledgling lungs.
beasts dont thrive on earthly slops alone
but you hook them all up to your nectar drip, dad.
and the soulful air spurts and flushes out
of your timeless fullness through all lifes tubes.
thats why they’re so in love with you, thats why they so gladly suffer
growing pains straining to reach you.
empyrean papa, dont all the plants leer at you,
dont the pathetic, bashful shrubs grope at you?
the seed breaks out of its husk to get a good look at you.
the forest slips out of its heavy mantle of snow
to bathe in your amorous gales. even the fish
bound randily up out of the tide’s shimmering surface
as though lusting after you from the cradle. the spiffy animals
of the earth would likewise rather ditch it when gripped
by a violent, secret desire for you.
the proud steed scorns the ground. the steel arch of its neck
stretches up into the air, its hooves hardly glance the dirt.
the stag’s toes merely toy with blades of grass
before it leaps over the rushing, foaming stream
and darts through the bush, barely seen.
but youre most infatuated with the birds, the lucky bastards.
they get to live and play merrily in your imperishable hall!
theres room enough for all. everything is permitted,
great and small alike writhe in the open-plan house.
they revel above my head and my terrific heart
yearns to be up there in that orgy. it beckons like an affable homeland,
the air up there. id give anything to be able to wander
the mountain tops and call to the racy eagle to tear me from this prison
and whisk me up into that airy hall, just as zeus’ claws
once seized the worlds biggest hunk for his catamite.
we lunatics rush about. like the creeper
when the stakes that hold it up to heaven are broke
were left to sprawl over the ground, searching, wandering
the regions of the earth, and in vain! for we seek
your celestial bower, papa ether, for our home. seeking relief
in more permissive lands, we hurl ourselves into the heaving sea.
we delight in the buff sea gods might as great billows toy with our keel,
but it wont do, for the oceans tumult spurs us on
to calmer waters. who could ever steer
this errant hull up to those swanky golden shores!
meanwhile i hanker after the shady distance above
where you welcome foreign shores with blue breakers,
where rustling you descend from the tops of the fruit trees,
papa ether! to quell this pounding heart yourself,
that i might live happily again among the blooms of the earth.