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With the ghostly shapes of dead heroes
Moon, you fill
The growing silence of the forest,
With the gentle embraces
And with ghosts of famous ages
All around the crumbling rocks;
The moon shines with such blue light
Upon the city,
Where a decaying generation
Lives,cold and evil—
A dark future prepared
For the pale grandchild.
You shadows swallowed by the moon
Sighing upward in the empty goblet
Of the mountain lake.
~ Georg Trakl
The Silence of Georg Trakl
The poems of Georg Trakl have a magnificent silence in them. It is very rare that he himself
talks—for the most part he allows the images to speak for him. Most of the images, anyway, are images of
In a good poem made by Trakl images follow one another in a way that is somehow stately.
The images have a mysterious connection with each other. The rhythm is slow and heavy, like the mood of
someone in a dream. Wings of dragonflies, toads, the gravestones of cemeteries, leaves, and war helmets
give off strange colors, brilliant and sombre colors—they live in too deep a joy to be gay. At the same time
they live surrounded by a darkness without roads. Everywhere there is the suggestion of this dark silence:
The yellow flowers
Bend without words
over the blue pond
The silence is the silence of things that could speak, but choose not to. The German language has a
word for deliberately keeping silence, which English does not have. Trakl uses this word “schweigen” often.
When he says “the flowers/Bend without words over the blue pond”, we realise that the flowers have a
voice, and that Trakl hears it. They keep their silence in the poems. Since he doesn’t put false speeches into
the mouths of plants, nature has more and more confidence in him. As his poems grow, more and more
creatures live in his poems—first it was only wild ducks and rats, but then oak trees, deer, decaying wall-
paper, ponds, herds of sheep, trumpets, and finally steel helmets, armies, wounded men, battlefield nurses,
and the blood that had run from the wounds that day.
Yet a red cloud , in which a furious god,
The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently
Gathers,a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms
Before he died, he even allowed his own approaching death to appear in the poems, as in the late
Please read on about this unknown…