Literal Translation by Alireza Abiz

The Name of that Sad Dove

Translated from Persian by Alireza Abiz

The Parsi lady returns from bathing her new-born in the morning sun1 and woefully passes by the ashes of Baucis and Philemon hut 2 (smoke still rising from the burnt bones of the two and their guest). With tearful eyes and a heavy heart, Mr. Faust victoriously surveys his endless territory from the top of the tower.

The ‘Ode to Joy’ resonates in the skies over Europe in the clearest words3. Gazing into the eyes of the heavenly muse of Heine,4
Goethe writes his last sentence and puts the pencil down:
‘The Eternal Womanhood leads us on high’5

There, the ‘Ode to Joy’ is fading away in the far horizon. The old lady enters the stage clad in black
and summons the ghosts of the dead on stage.
The hall darkens under the rain of grey notes.

The familiar echo of the ‘Death Fugue’ shakes the ghosts6.
The chorus sings:
Oh, Schiller! Dear Schiller!
This is the ghost of the poet whose mother’s hair never turned white7
(and she is the one who drank the black milk of morning and voyaged in the coffin of water)8.

These are the ghosts of the dead from whose hollow bones death had begun to whittle his flutes.9
The other one is a woman, a whore who bears a dead child in icy convulsions.10
These are the ‘Silesian Weavers’ who weave funeral shrouds for our civilisation11

Those others are the fools by the sea, by the dreary, night-coloured sea,12 waiting for an answer that will never come, has never come.

If its gentle hands a new-born one
Move, then straightway turn it tow’rd the sun— from Parsi Nameh by Goethe

  1. 2  Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles burns Baucis and Philemon’s hut on fire
  2. 3  Ode to Joy by Schiller
  3. 4  ‘ I only trust your eyes now, they’re my heavenly lights’ Heinrich Heine
  4. 5  Closing lines of Goethe’s Faust
  5. 6  Death Fugue by Paul Celan
  6. 7  Celan’s mother died young in Nazi camps
  7. 8  Death Fugue
  8. 9  Chorus of the Rescued by Nelly Sachs

10 To the Silenced by Georg Trakl 11 The Silesian Weavers by Schiller 12 Questions by Heinrich Heine

And these are the panthers, the captive panthers of Rilke.13
And now and then, there is a white elephant moving, turning, circling.14 And those are the young ladies watching the setting sun at the seaside15 who have forgotten how to ‘sigh’
and no one knows that
the name of that sad dove which has escaped the hearts is ‘faith’.16

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