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Paris, 1856


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.


                                                   after Borges


Robert Mezey



From Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
Arkansas Press, 2000.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

by Grapholina

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