Vertical Poetry by Robert Juarroz (Translated by W.S. Merwin)

Willow Springs 19

Found in Willow Springs 19

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Labyrinth of the bitter and the sweet,

of the ripe seasons before the harvest,

of the mistaken expressions in the exact forges,

of the dead sweetnesses around the fruit, of the depraved acids

the blockade the tactile strategems of the afternoon,

thick walls of a climate that should have been future,

more future than the weather of any future day.


Taste drives mad

like a thread of blood that misses its veins.


Even the central trunk falls outside of the forest.



If a thing changes form

it changes taste at the same time,

not only its taste to others

but also its taste to itself,

the flavor proper to its mode,

the relish of its unpeopled gut.


And if in the procession or dissipation of forms

this thing should find its own,

should meet it again in the sealed cloud of its origin,

its taste would be the same as before,

but only outwardly, never to itself again.



Crack of imminence in the heart,

while the foot of hope

dances its blue dance,

in love with its own shadow.


There is an expectant hymn

that cannot begin

as long as the dance has not finished

its cultivation of time.


It is a hymn backward,

and inverted imminence,

the last thread to tie the fountain

before its flow carries it away.


There are songs that sing,

there are others that are silent,

the deepest of all go backward

from the first letter.



The roads leading upward

never get there.

The roads leading downward

always get there.


Then there are the roads in between.


But sooner or later every road

leads up or down.



Interior deserts,

vague litanies for someone who died

leaving all the doors open.

A gray cloak over another cloak of no color.

Excessive densities.

Even the wind casts a shadow.

Mockery of the landscape.


Nothing left to call to

but a flat dark sun

or an endless rain.

Or wipe out the landscape

with the wind and its shadow.


And there is one further resort:

drive the desert mad

until it turns into water

and drinks itself.


It is better to madden the desert

than to live there.

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