The long prostration has accustomed him
To presages of death. He'd be afraid
To go down to the strident day outside
And shuffle among men. Quite overcome,
Heinrich Heine meditates anew
On time's river that floats him slowly away
From that long shadow and harsh destiny
That made him a human being and a Jew.
He muses on the delicate melodies
Whose instrument he was, but well he knows
His music comes not out of birds or boughs
But out of time and its phantasmal days.
They will not save you, no, neither your flowers
Nor nightingales nor golden midnight hours.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 4, on page 36
Copyright © 2018 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com