From A Golden Chalice
Outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem. It is evening.
AGATHON. It’s time to go back inside the city. The sun is setting and it’s already getting dark across the city. It’s becoming very still. — But why won’t you answer me, Marcellus? Why are you staring away into the distance like that?
MARCELLUS. I’ve been thinking that the distance the sea laps at the shores of this country. I’ve been thinking that beyond the sea that eternal, divine Rome rises to the stars, where no day passes without a celebration. And I’m here on foreign soil. I’ve been thinking about it all. But I forgot. It’s probably time for you to return to the city. It’s getting dark. And when it’s twilight, a girl waits outside the city gates for Agathon. Don’t let her wait, Agathon, don’t let her wait, your lady friend. I tell you the women of this country are very strange. I know. They are full of mystery. Don’t let her wait, your lady, for you never know what can happen. Terrible things can happen in a minute. You should never lose a minute.
AGATHON. Why are you talking to me like this?
MARCELLUS. I think since she is pretty, your lady, that you shouldn’t make her wait. I tell you, a beautiful woman is something forever inexplicable. The beauty of woman is a mystery. Don’t try to understand it. You never know what a beautiful woman can be, what she is forced to do. That’s it, Agathon! Oh my—did I know one. Did I know one. I saw things happen which I will never fathom. No man would ever fathom them. We never get to the bottom of what happens.
AGATHON. What did you see happen? I beg you, tell me more!
MARCELLUS. Let’s go. Perhaps the hour’s come when I can tell you without having to shudder at my own words and thoughts.They walk slowly, going back on the road to Jerusalem. Stillness surrounds them.
They walk slowly, going back on the road to Jerusalem. Stillness surrounds them.
Georg Trakl, 1939
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