I say, teach me who you are, Azrael

I say, teach me who you are, Azrael,
And the dark angel rose in the sky,
Stretching his wide wings over me.

The earth shuddered beneath an unknown breath,
The chalices of trembling flowers closed,
And the world was suddenly blotted from my sight.

Yet there were still things,
As I heard the weightless crowd
Of dark hours passing by.
And, as if inside me, roses were growing.
In the distance, sphere sang,
Stars were living.

When there was something like a dawn,
And I saw once again Azrael's great wings,
Which closed and descended from the sky
With all the immense night in them,

He smiled as his fleeting shadow,
Like a bird, pursued its customary song,
Or an enchanted wave, immobile on the shore,
Suddenly beat like a wild swan.
And I saw a sunbeam, arrested on my hand,
Tremble, and gently resume its course.


Charles van Lerberghe (1861-1907)




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