The birds of prey flocked on the carcass.
A miserable morning had already arisen.
The blood said, I am running, rushing, yes,
Devils were scissoring the air, thin
sailing through the cosmos.
O dear blood, if I can’t keep you in,
does that make me villainous?
How ecstatically would I put
my hand into flame for your sake.
but now when the fires are almost out,
when only ashes are left to rake,
when crows flock together and flying
buzzards wanting meat send out the alert,
when there’s nothing that’s not vilifying,
when shameless death picks up its skirt,
only death, betrayal, treason there,
what more can I do but declare:
open your laps, rivers and glades,
it wants to flow home; in the lair
of this body it’s impossible to live,
offer up the ground, so it can hide there
its proud color, so let it quickly give
itself up, rush down the road of the soul
into our veins, let it search for the ways
into our skin like a dagger! Who says he’s a wreck,
too weak to do it nowadays,
doesn’t speak Czech.
4 August 1941
Translated by Lyn Coffin and Leda Pugh