Franz Werfel

(10 September 1890 – 26 August 1945 / Prague)

The Patient


The patient looks outs into the garden burning
With Christmas* stars of vermillion fire.
They flower, he feels, nicely on that bush together,
But he is no longer akin to himself.

Timidly he plumbs his inhalations night and day,
Sinking into that inner circle of being him.
Has he ever breathed without doubt?
How strange that now he thinks each breath.

People are so dear and ill-timed.
They offer their care, which lingers.
The patient is ashamed because of that stress
Which accentuates all talk of hope.

On his blanket lies the morning paper
With a giant headline screaming.
From the corner of his eye the patient reads
What already escapes his memory.

What, bombs, hecatombs slaughtered, downfalls
Of people and cities, early and evening?
Is this the world then? —The ego is a throng
Of identity burst long ago.

The I is like one of those swarms of bees,
Pendent, ready to fly, relocate …
It is filled with only one desire: For warmth,
And unmindful as forever is.

Submitted: Friday, March 30, 2012
Edited: Saturday, March 31, 2012

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