Night Song


Franz Marc. ‘Deer in the Woods II’, 1912. Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich.

Here is another poem by Georg Trakl. It appears in the collection ‘Gedichte’ (‘Poems’), published in 1913 by Karl Wolff Verlag in Leipzig. Franz Marc, whose painting appears above, was one of the important figures in the German Expressionist movement. He was one of the founders of the artistic journal ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ (‘The Blue Rider’), which became also the name of the artistic movement and circle of artists associated with it. His father was a professional landscape painter. Franz Marc was mobilized into the German army at the start of World War I. Though the government put together a list of artists and others of especial value to the nation so that they could be protected, orders to withdraw Franz Marc from the front failed to reach him in time, and he was killed instantly by a shell splinter which struck him in the head during the Battle of Verdun. 


Night Song

Breath of the unmoved. An animal face
Stiffens with the blue of its holiness.
Immense is the silence in the stone;

Mask of a nightbird. Gentle triad
Fades into one. Elai! your face
Inclines speechless over bluish waters.

O you silent mirrors of truth!
Upon the ivory temples of the lonely
The fallen angels reflect.



Des Unbewegten Odem. Ein Tiergesicht
Erstarrt vor Bläue, ihrer Heiligkeit.
Gewaltig is das Schweigen im Stein;

Die Maske eines nächtlichen Vogels. Sanfter Dreiklang
Verklingt in einem. Elai! dein Antlitz
Beugt sich sprachlos über bläuliche Wasser.

O! ihr stillen Spiegel der Wahrheit.
An des Einsamen elfenbeinerner Schläfe
Erscheint der Abglanz gefallener Engel.





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