Edith Södergran: The September Lyre

- - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - -

- - - - the germs of life thrive on your slimy skin.

Skywards striving city, you haven’t broken my heart:

all your people come from the plain.

even the greyest, most silent and sad plain

lies open to the wind.

City, you suffering, you are saintly gentle,

city, you nauseating, hurtful city, you have abysses

where we deepsea fish can breathe.

Petersburgh, Petersburgh,

from your pinnacles wave the enchanting banner of my childhood.


It was the time before the deep wounds, before the giant scare,

before the renewal’s bath of oblivion.

Petersburgh, Petersburgh,

on your pinnacles lies the glow of my youth

like a fine drapery, like a light ouverture,

like a flourishing dream over the titans’ sleep.

Petersburgh, Petersburgh,

arise from the golden visions!

What I love I’ll sum up in loose words out of context.

The violets of memory I sprinkle on the golden pavement of dreams.

- - - - - - - -

What happens to me while I speak?

Do I sense endless tragedies?

Do my fairytale viaducts never rise above your roofs,

do the trains with amazed streamers not rush past

on their way to Berlin – Paris – and London?

Will all I see turn to an endless pile of ashes?

Or is it only the clouds of fatigue which sail past?

Does out wonderful citadel not rise out of the ocean in Helsinki?

Are there not guards standing with blue and red flags the world has never seen?

Do they not stand leaning on the spear, gazing over the sea

with the granite of fate in fossilized features?


Or is it all just a reflection in sleepwalker’s eyes,

do I live in dreams on another planet?

- - - - - - - -


Heaven itself will move down to Earth.

Love nothing but infinity! is the first commandment.

Dream of no less than kissing God’s pinky!

- - - - - - - -

Children down there who load dung on plebeian carts,

on your knees! Repent! Do not approach the holy thresholds –


Zarathustra waits in there for selected guests.


Friends, we are pathetic like the worm in the dust.

Not a line of us shall survive the gaze of the future.

With all that’s past we will fall into Lethe.

Rich is the future, what do we have to give of our beggar’s stuff?

Victorious the future treads us under its feet.

We have not even deserved the crosses on our graves.

- - - - - - - -

Friends, I prophesized a party in the sign of beauty…

Where, if not in Engadin?


The old farms stand watching:

“Where do we get this beauty?

Wherefrom a foreign, great, down-breaking spirit with endless wings,

which bring sorrow and melancholy, departure and death,

the restless, greedy, demanding spirit of beauty…

It tears to pieces our multi-coloured flowers. It crushes the glass sheet where the geraniums stand.


No idyllic paths lead anymore to century-old homes,

the way of the demons is another, the walk of the demons

is the heartless flight of the sun through space.

The eternal Föhn leaves no stones on our roofs,

the storm never stops on the Earth…

Children’s beds and graves, shooting stars and lightning,

days of creation.

Has this beauty not been dead among us for a thousand years?

Sleeping like Snow-white in her coffin of glass.

We have wandered over her nose, we have trampled on her eyelids…

Now the mountains have arisen, now they begin to wander

with the shocking ball of the sun as a torch in their hands.

Our old eyes see no more.

We couldn’t growl. Praised be the hand

which hangs the wreath of stars on our old mountains.

Defeated we bless you, unfathomable starry night.

Once a cleaner wind will come over the Earth.

Then humans will rise from the mountains, like mountains themselves,

with the eternal glow of greatness on their brows.

Then Cosmos opens. Riddles will fall chiming

into Minerva’s vast sacrificial bowl.”

- - - - - - - -

Humans, we must forget ourselves

and be re-united with Cosmos again.

We must hear the creator’s voice

sound metallic from the breast of the things.

Nothing is enough for the longing which kneels

to willingly draw a world to its chest.

Stream through us: eternal winds,

the honey of heaven, the blessing of the All!

- - - - - - - -

The one who’s heard it and the one who’s seen it

goes to sacrifice on the holy mountains.