Alto Rhapsody

by Peter Riley

Peter Riley

after Goethe

But who is this, off-course, lost among shrubs…?
The hedge closes behind him,
the grass stands up again,
the waste ground eats him up.

Who will heal his pains, since
balm became poison, peace war, since
fullness of love became hatred?
First scorned, now scorns,
feeds secretly on his
pride, his ingathering self-love
and suppresses compassion.

Is there not then one note in all your music
to turn his head for a moment
and draw his breath, one plea that
the pavements remain unblooded,
and open his revolutionary cataracts
to the thousand springs
all round him, where his heart is.

Last updated July 20, 2021