La musique est une chose étrange!
L`arte? ... c`est l`art - et puis,Voilà tout.
In those near-final days I visited you -
Filled with elusive theme -
Complete as Myth,
Pale as the mist...
When dissipation whispers to the issue of life`s stream:
"I shall not tangle you - I shall but sublimate you..."
I visited you in those near-final days
When you were growing - from beat to beat -
More like Orpheus` forsaken lyre,
In which still-striking force and song compete
And four still twanging strings inquire,
And faintly chime,
Two a time - two a time
Whisper telling -
"Did he begin
To strike the string...
Or can his Genius play - whilst repelling?"
In those days I visited you, Frederic,
Whose hand - for all its mastery
And alabaster pallour - unique
Hand stroking softly, quivering, ostrich-plumed -
To be - I all too hastily assumed
The keyboard ivory...
Like yon noble statue - you -
Whom - before Pygmalion hewed
Out of its marble womb -
The stamp of Genius stained!
And then, when you played - what? said the tones -
what? will they say,
Though stand the echoes might in different array
Than when your own hand`s benediction made
Quiver each chord your fingers played -
And when you played, there was such simplicity -
Periclean - perfection - sublime
As if some Virtue from Antiquity
Stepped into a country cottage`s confine
And on the simple threshold swore:
"This day in Heaven I was reborn:
The cottage door - a harp to me;
My ribbons - the winding lane;
The Holy Host - in the corn I venerate
And Emmanuel will reign
On Tabor incarnate!"
And therein was Poland - to the crown
Of Omniperfection`s reign restored.
Dazzled - in delights that drown
Despair - Poland - the Wheelwright`s House transformed!
The same dear Poland
(I could ne`er mistake her - though at life`s brow...)
And now - your hymn complete - your music mute -
No more I`ll see you - but what? is that there
I hear ... as if a child`s dispute - -
No more, but just the keys still chatter,
About the uncompleted rhyme
Shuffling final echoes spell
- Five a time - eight a time -
Rustling, "Did he begin? To play or to repel?"
O You! In whom Love`s Profile chooses to abide
And Art`s Perfection is your name -
You! who assemble in the ranks of Style
And fashion stone, penetrate the song`s refrain...
O You! in History`s course confirmed as Age;
Though Spirit and Letter surpass History`s crest,
Yet wedded inscribe into her page
Your nomen: Consummatum est...
O You! - Perfection - attained -
Whatever - wherever - your mark may be
In Phidias? In David? In Chopin`s hand recumbent?
Or in Aeschylos` amphitheatre abundant?
Avenged - always - by the spite of INSUFFICIENCY!
The wretched birthmark of this world is Lack
Him? ... Perfection irks -
Prefers - to undo Perfection`s works -
Arrests the germination of Art`s Act...
- One? ... who ripened like a golden comet-sheaf,
Let once the astral-wind contact his train,
Soon stream away his tears of grain:
Perfection makes his glory brief.
For look - look now, Frederic... This is Warsaw
Under a star ablaze -
Strange gaudy eyesore
Look, the Parish organs! Look! Where you were raised!
There - the patricians` houses - old
As the Publica Res;
Pavements of the squares grey and cold,
Annd Zygmunt`s sword in its cloudy crest.
Look! From street to street
Charge Caucasian steeds
Like a storm-spurned starling fleet
Charging the horses speed -
A hundred a time - a hundred a time,
Flames swelling the building, - then dying down
Blazing again - and then - look now!
I see rifle butts pointing at the brow
Of bereaved widows -
And then I see, though through a wall of
Blinding smoke, at the porch, colonnade
A tumbril-like object swayed
To and fro... to and fro... - fallen! Your piano has fallen!
He!... who proclaimed Poland from the height
Of Omniperfection`s eternal form
And wrought with a hymn of delight -
A Poland of the Wheelwright`s House transformed -
He - has fallen - into the mud-bespattered night!
And now, like the wise saying of the Sage,
He lies trampled by the people`s wrath,
Or like all that which - from age
To age - shall summon forth!
And now, like Orpheus` body,
A thousand Passions dismember his corpse
Each one groaning, "Not me!
Not me!" through grinding jaws.
But you? - But I? Let us sound judgement tones,
Call forth: "Rejoice, late-coming posterity!
The vulgar street - screech muted stones -
The Ideal - has inherited."