Four Last Songs 

The sound was like picking sad battles,
The red that white imagines yellow is.

It was the sound of forgetting what
To do with the senses, being equally

Surprised by a voice subsiding, come
Slowly back, or edging toward actual close.

I’d forgotten to pay attention for years
To a song I heard for the first time

At the end of a recent memorial,
An actual song by Strauss about going

To sleep, predicting one’s own death, etc.
Let me say this: I was surprised it kept

Going then surprised that it ended.
This was always true but could be more so

Much like those years of not knowing
The song felt brought back now

As inattention to its presence then.
And there are many versions

Of Four Last Songs and of this one,
As many as there are people

Who’ve made and played them.
Each one stands as someone’s else,

The color of fading color, lastness
Pluralized because going to sleep

Keeps redoing the translation
Without fully having done. But this

Only applies to Beim Schlafengehen
From the Four Last Songs of Strauss.


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