“St. Peter’s Cemetery” by Georg Trakl

Georg Trakl


Ringed all around is stony silence.
The pallid flowers of death shiver
On the graves, which grieve in the dark—
Although their grief contains no grief.
The heavens smile quietly down
Upon this dream-enclosed garden
Which silent pilgrims tend.
A cross guards every grave.
The church rises like a prayer
Before a sign of grace eternal.
Some light shines under the arches
Which silently prays for sorry souls—
While trees blossom in the night
That death might hide his face
In the full shimmer of the beautiful,
To make the dead dream deeper still. 
Translated from the German by William Virgil Davis

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022
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Georg Trakl (1887–1914) was an Austrian poet and the brother of the pianist Grete Trakl. He is considered one of the most important Austrian Expressionists. He is perhaps best known for his poem ‘Grodek,’ which he wrote shortly before he died. | William Virgil Davis: “I was drawn to Trakl very early on, in my teens, and have been translating him in my own slow way ever since. Years ago, quite by accident, I stumbled on his birthplace in Salzburg, not far from the cemetery which is the setting of this poem—a magical place, as are so many of his poems.”

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