from Mozart’s Third Brain

By Göran Sonnevi Goran Sonnevi

Translated By Rika Lesser Read the translator's notes

Not-Orpheus is singing   He sings his nothing   He sings his night   
He sings all the names   The name of nothing   The only name    Since   
long ago   He didn’t know it   And knew it in his night   
All things sing   All names sing   Every tonal difference, every
sound   All music in its destruction   In its sublation   Toward which point?
The mountain of nothing hovers   Before it crushes us   With its night   With its
In the evening I walked through town with you, Dearest, along the river   
A clear cold spring evening, the half-moon shone   As if walking in a foreign city   
Though I recognized parts of it   You said it was almost like   
walking in Prague, where we would have been if my mother hadn’t fallen ill   
When we stood by one corner of the Hotel Svea, where I played in a dance band in
the huge flock of jackdaws, in the trees by the bastion near the castle, flew   
out over the river, in micropolyphonic conversation    As in a piece by Ligeti   
That night I dreamed I crossed a bridge spanning the river, now very broad   
The long bridge was swaying, huge ocean swells entering the river from the sea   
I walked with a girl, kissed her on the mouth, on the opposite bank   
In the morning you came into my bed, Dear, we slinked like teenagers, so my   
       mother wouldn’t hear us,
where she slept, in the room outside ours   She’s already much better   
I look at my face in the bathroom mirror   Will I manage to go out into the Brain  
Trucks pass   Traffic goes on, in the great exchange of goods   
Gulls, trees, people   The degree of virtuality in different goods, the phantasms   
also in what we eat, conceptions of origin, contents, effects
Fear    Cultivated tastes    We are in the immediacy of memory    Only in a flash of
astonishment can memory be broken   But even lightning is informed    I look at
diagrams of Giordano Bruno, read his texts   See that all this is exactly as in   
Jung, fundamental magical forms, for guiding the divine,   
the unknown within the soul   Also the similarity with tantric forms      
    Yes, that’s   
        how it is,   
I think, both Freud and Jung are magicians, the difference in rationality is   
only marginal, Jung’s a little older, Freud’s more modern, a continuation of   
Descartes, developed later in Spinoza’s pneumatic model for the passions,   
and yet both are found, subsumed in Bruno’s love-flow, the lineage backward,   
the tantric flow, also Plato’s Diotima, her flow . . .   
Hölderlin saw the stream of people in dark water, streaming over   
the ledges in the human-geological world, the levels of the abyss,   Para-   
       dise’s various degrees of stasis   
What use can I make of these magical forms? I’m no magician    And yet
I acknowledge their power, also within my self   If they prevail, sovereignty   
is crushed   Libero arbitrio   There the forms also break down   
The stream of love breaks down    Fluid lightning    The flash of vibrating being   
But also the flash of darkness   The light of Beatrice’s eyes, their lightning
    flash   How  
am I to understand this? How to understand unknowing   That I do not!

Source: Poetry (April 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2009
 Göran  Sonnevi


Göran Sonnevi was born in Lund, Sweden in 1939 and lives outside Stockholm. He has published fifteen books of poems and one of translations. For his most recent work, Oceanen (The ocean), he received the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, dubbed “the little Nobel,” in 2005 and the Literature Prize of the Nordic Council in 2006. Books available in English include A Child Is Not a Knife (Princeton University Press, 1993) and Mozart’s . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION Scandinavia

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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