On the Sublime / Ãœber Das Erhabene


Translated from German by Iain Galbraith

hailstones as big as avocados under the kinkinas
and aviavy · the fruit of the northeast trades in the sacred
corner of the house · the door opens here on the last
rooms of the sun and the escape route en face
gives onto the roof · but the king spent the grand
and boring ceremonial days in his high bed
sleeping in the scarlet of his nuptial chamber
dreaming under his blue-flowered wall-paper
of the queen in england · his hand
wound up the victrola again and again but never let
the trumpets play the anthem quite to the end
to stop her face growing older still · the majesty
of indifference in whalebone stays
cul-de-paris and crinoline underskirts · the king
of madagascar considered it the first and foremost
duty of his office to learn to hold her gaze
sailors hauled him up a piano from the coast
the governor had given him a top hat his tutor
came twice a day to teach him how to read and write
and craftsmen built him a porter’s lodge based
on the model of a dorset country house · all praised
jesus christ and his realm of the spirit · but he thought
of the letter to queen victoria he had been
drafting for years · as for the rest he saw no way
to avert it · poison would enter his house with the porcelain
plates and it would be one of the servants who brought
it on a tray · they had told him often enough but he as king
knew she wasn’t dead nor could ever die · each day
was as dull as the last · the breeze rang the blue bells
of the jacaranda · the clouds too partook in the revels

ambohimanga, 3. 12. 96

~ Raoul Schrott