William Carlos Williams

The Wanderings of the Tribe

Autumn surrounds the valley, iniquity
overflows, and the hill sacred to splendo
rresponds in the form of a revenge. The dust measures
and misfortune knows who gallops
where all gallop with the same fury:
constrained attendance on the broken circle
by the son who startles his father gazing
from a window buried in the sand.

Blood of man’s victim
besieges doors, cries out: "Here no one lives,"
but the mansion is inhabited by the barbarian who seeks
dignity, yoke of the fatherland
broken, abhorred by memory
,as the husband looks at his wife face to face
and close to the threshold, the intruder
hastens the trembling that precedes misfortune.

Iron and greed, a decisive leprosy
of hatreds that were fed by rapine and deceits
wets the seeds. Brother against brother
comes to the challenge without pity
brings to a pause its stigma against the kingdom of pity:
arrogance goads the leap into the void
that as the wind dies the eagles abandon
their quest like tumbled statues.

Emptied upon the mockery of the crowd
the afternoon defends itself, redoubles its hide
against stones that have lost their foundations.
Her offense is compassion when we pass
from the gilded alcove to the somber one
with the fixety of glowing coals: hardly
a moment, peaceful light as upon
a drunken soldier awaiting his degradation.

We can smile later at our childish furies
giving way to rancor and sometimes envy
before the ruffian who without a word taking leave
descends from the beast
in search of surcease. The play is his:
mask quitting the scene, catastrophe
overtaking love with its delirium and with delight
looses the last remnant of its fury.

Came doubt and the lust for wine,
bodies like daggers, that transform
youth to tyranny: pleasures
and the crew of sin.
A bursting rain of dishonor
a heavy tumult and the nearnesses
were disregarded drums and cries and sobs
to those whom no one calls by the name of "brother".

At last I thought the day calmed
its own profanities. The clouds, contempt,
the site made thunderbolts by love’s phrases,
tableware, oil, sweet odors, was all
a cunning propitiation of the enemy,
and I discovered later floating over
the drowned tribes, links of foam tumbling
blindly against the sides of a ship.

spoken = Leon Branton