Dead Weary (Ballade der Großen Müdigkeit)


Dedicated enviously to the two fox terriers Tommy and Molly, who are five months old,  and whose owner is not that much older, in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, on a warm September day in 1938.

I am dead weary
And everything I know is a weight on my shoulders.
The troubles of mankind get hold of me,
more and more often

Please don’t make me do anything else.
Let me sleep, it is late.
And if it must keep going on out there,
hang damp cloths in front of my windows.

I am too old, and I’m getting older.
I run a bit ahead of myself every day,
and the bouquet of impressions I pick
wilts in the vase of my memories.

I’ve had enough. I can’t cope with anything new.
I don’t blossom any more, I fade.
Which way is it to the cradle? Which to the grave?
I want to dive backwards in time.

I want to be younger, and respond to everyone who criticises,
“That’s easy for you to say. You’re still young!”
I want to take a run up and inhale deeply,
I want to want to be older again.

I want to plan and experience so much,
I want to be complicated and difficult,
and curious about every novelty.
Novarum rerum cupidus, as they say.

I want to laugh or cry again
(it doesn’t make much difference which)
and think about how people see me.
I want to be something, and seem to be something.

I want to aspire to a great ambition,
like no one else before me.
I want to feel the beating of the wings of my desire,
sleeplessly in the night.

I want to despair of life and the world
because a girl doesn’t understand me.
I’d even much rather die
because she wouldn’t allow me even one little kiss.

I want to wait in a remote twilit garden,
in a warm and motionless July,
for the girl who now calls me by my name,
with sheet music under my arm.

I want to look down on anyone
who has anything to do with girls,
and have a friend who teaches me
how to treat them with contempt.

I want to ignore all rules
and someday escape from parental control,
but still complain about
their arbitrary power.

I want to play football for hours and crawl home with grazed knees.
I want to be the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and a bullfighter,
and have my next-door-neighbour’s building blocks.

I want to start the day with my eyes wide open
not knowing where I am,
and find out where I live, and who I am.
I want to pray before going to bed.

I want to stammer my first words,
and slumber without awareness or aim.
Oh, all that I know is too much for me
I am dead weary .

I want to sink into  my pillow,
I don’t want to go where I’m going,
I don’t want to see what I can see,
I don’t want to know what I know,

I don’t want to feel what I feel,
I want to be on my own. No, not completely,
I want to be two little puppies,
and play with each other.

Published in: TorbergNonSmokers Torberg Non-Smokers

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