His long prostration has accustomed him
To reckoning on death. He'd be afraid
To go down to the strident day outside
And be among men. Stricken in life and limb,
Heinrich Heine fixes his thought anew
On time's river that floats him slowly away
From the half-darkness and harsh destiny
Of being 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.
Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
Arkansas Press, ©
2000. Reprinted by permission
of the author.