the god of the surface
The Drowned Man
by Bolesław Leśmian
in translation from Paul Coates
Among the billowing fescue, amidst a forest glade,
Where a meadow’s likeness rises unexpected from the wood,
Lie the remains of a traveler, a corpse that nobody needs.
He wandered the entire world, both head and foot in clouds,
Until impatient melancholy urged him suddenly
To stride in spirit through the Green of Greens.
The demon of Green, meanwhile, with the forests for his breath,
Enwrapped him when he halted by a tree along his path,
And lured him with a haste of ceaseless bloomings
And charmed with panting lips’ secret unsmiling.
And tantalized him with the fragrant wrecks of the unbeen
To draw him deeper and deeper – into the Green!
And so he ran across the shores of worlds that ever differed,
Unmanning soul and breath amidst the flowers,
Until he stumbled on such berries in unsounding jugs,
On such a fern-dark, such a moundy hush,
On such a vegetable unworld, such an undawn’s deafness,
On such a congregation of the last blizzards’ whispers,
That he plunged down dead through abysses of hundreds of springs:
Shadowy, like woods in woods – a drowned greeny thing.