Passion Flowers

Passion Flowers


They stand on the table,

Creeping around from out of a green vase,

Twisting, rambling, over here, over there,

Pale and wan, like consumptive lips.

Passion flowers!

Like a dying, torturous last gasp,

Like the scream of a drowning boy,

Passion flowers!

And they tremble and perfume, painfully and abusively,

Weak and diseased, pathetically coughing,

They tremble and look at me in hesitation,

Half complaining in pain and half vengefully,

Like the sundering eyes of the gallows birds!

—Oh, I know you, pretend flower,

Know you and your entire proud relatives,

I know Genoveva, and poor Heinrich,

Know the suffering fool on the cross

And all the chosen knights

With pale cheeks and gaping maws!

Know all of you! And hate all of you!

—hello, pale flower, voluptuously soft,

Just waft your Nazarene poison here:

I am immune and I grab you

And crinkle and tear tendrils and blossoms,

And with a healthy curse

Throw everything

Out through the window,

Into the dirty, stinking street!

—Passion flowers!




“Kathlin Mac Murdoch!

That is my name!”

—and when you hear her say her name,

You feel:


I bid you,

Look again,

How she spreads her long fingers—

Look again,

How her magnolia lips

Stand open,

While, the moist breath of Satan,

Crawls through her clenched teeth,

Her breath.

And now,

Just watch,

How her slender nostrils

Swell as they suck in—

The power: the witch

Lustfully and greedily drinks in

The phallus scent

Of the chestnut blossoms.


—Yes, I tell you, friend:

Kathlin Mac Murdoch,

Who rushes through a love hungry world,

Serves Aphrodite and kisses Sappho,

Who makes love through sodomy—

Kathlin Mac Murdoch,

Who at Satan’s mass

Was the priestess—



Sucks the scent—

Out of flowers—!


Unmoving she sits at the window,

And unmoving

Outside stands the giant,

The chestnut tree—

Wide, proud, unmoving

He stretches his strong limbs out,

Each of which

Bears blooming sacrificial candles.


Outrageously then you hear:

That woman there,

Kathlin Mac Murdoch,

Make love to these flowers!


Suck the scent in—yourself!

What do you smell?

—do you sense it now?

It is the eternally victorious scent,

The wild scent,

The one, world building scent

From the original source of the phallus!

There she sits

Kathlin Mac Murdoch,

Surrounded by the rain,

That is life to her—


There she sits and sucks in

With all her pores

This delightful breath of a man,

She, a female, a female,

All sex

From her head to her feet!

Bend down, if you are an artist!

Here you can sense

The strange breath of this terrible flame,

That singed Salome and burned Salammbȏ:


White Dog Roses

White Dog Roses

Behind the monastery lies a garden,

That belongs to the old, noble family

Of Capri,  to Nikola Vuoto.


And you must go through his garden,

If you want to get to the Saracen tower,

The Marelatto, that clings to the side of a cliff.


But if you are careful, stranger, you can climb up

On a steep goat path that leads down to the sea:

And throw heavy stones at Vuoto.


Be careful as well in the rock tower,

If you step on the wrong flagstone,

You will plummet down into the blue waves.


—Until you are there take off your shoes, stranger,

Lay your stockings aside and take your knife,

Scratch your soles and heals,


So that the blood lightly oozes:

The blood will cling to your feet

And to the smooth stones of the Castiglione.


You only need to climb a little higher

And you will see growing on the steep cliff walls

A bush of white dog roses.


Stick to it, stranger, look only at the roses,

Don’t cast one look down below,

Where the blue sea temptingly cavorts,


Where many blonde German youth have already

Dashed out their brains on the salty rocks,

Mixing red blood with deep blue.


—Oh, I lift my clear headed gaze,

To greet the sun in the sea, rejoicing,

Rejoicing, as I pluck my white roses!



If you climb up a few steps from the piazza,

You can see Santa Teresa,

The palace of Bourbon times.


Just ask there for the Signore,

And they will lead you into a cool hall,

Everyone knows the invalid Herrn of the Villa.


In earlier days he rode on fast horses,

A leader of one of the lusty dragoons

That rushed charging through the fields of France.


In earlier times he fought well with a sharp saber,

Which he waved in front of his squadron

Of Italians, giving the order to attack—


But today he goes on his way sedately,

In the most beautiful place on this beautiful earth,

Living for his art and for his dreams.


Stranger, if you see his pale cheeks,

Greet him from a German poet,

Whom he once led through his hall,


Who loved the fine features of his head,

His long narrow hands,

And the deep silence of his villa.


Slowly I went back to Santa Teresa,

I carried my white dog roses

Into the coolest of its cool halls.


I carried water in a polished lava vase,

In the deep silence of this villa

And sat alone with my white roses.


Strange!—my dog roses laughed,

In the wondrous deep silence

They chuckled in exalted innocence!


But this laugher sounded like crying,

—crying without tears, foolish crying,

Like the sounds of silly children’s songs,


Silly songs, like the “Five Barrisons”

Had once sung, at the winter garden

In Berlin in front of witty Berliners.


The same way Salome danced in the Pomare:

—for the head of John the Baptist!—

This exalted innocence was cruel!


She was cruel, as if even her nerves

Felt the sweet tickle of desire,

Of wanton thirst, this woman of antiquity,


Even though no surge of blood

Raced through her thin arms

And no light flickered in her eyes.


Her cruelty was white as marble,

White, like her silky baby soft clothing,

White, like my dog roses are!


And she shook her alluring little head,

Clasped her hands together, leaped, curtsied,

And her narrow, pale lips smiled:


“Daddy wouldn’t buy me a Bow, Wow, Wow,

Daddy wouldn’t buy me a Bow, Wow, Wow.

So I’ve got a little cat

And I’m very fond of that,

But I’d rather have a Bow, Wow, Wow!”


—Yes, she sang and her lips smiled,

But her laughter sounded like crying,

Like the crying of my dog roses.


Ask, why are you crying?—then the roses laugh.

Through the wondrous deep silence

They chuckle in exalted innocence.


Laughter without desire and crying without

Tears.—their song echoes strangely,

Their silly foolish children’s song,


Through the cool halls, these thin,

Pale dog roses strangely sway,

In white exalted innocence.


—tell me, why are they laughing?




The two of us walked across a meadow,

Annie Ventnor and I,

As we were climbing from

Mitromania up to Arco,

She had to rest there,

This slender English beauty,

She was thirty-four, hysterical

And badly, badly asthmatic.

Then we went up further

To Monte Tiberio

And then the two of us walked

Across a meadow of asphodels,

Lady Ventnor and I.


We walked over the meadow,

Walked toward the sea,

That surged deep below us,

Walked toward the sun,

The evening sun,

That was sinking there

Far behind Mallorca.

And we walked toward death,

Who had planted every where

His sacred perennial plants,

Asphodel plants,

—walked without speaking, silently toward death,

Annie Ventnor and I.


The outgoing evening sun

Sank into my eyes,

Sank into Annie Ventnor’s brown eyes,

Those tired, sick, pleading eyes.

And we felt:

—That now it might very well be!

Then I lifted her up in my arms

And jumped lightly

Down there,

Into the sea, into the sun,

Into the happiness they held!

A leap, a scream:

—Annie Ventnor and I!


And yet I knew:

That this evening

I would be down below sitting with the officers,

Would be playing Fly and Poker

And would be drinking absinthe,

Singing to the mandolin.

And would be laughing and dancing the tarantella

With the prostitutes—


And I also knew:

—This same Lady Annie Ventnor

Would be leaving for Naples in the morning

To her lover.

He was a commissionaire at the great

Clearing house of Mele,

And was an ugly Moor,

A dirty, stupid, ugly Moor,

That laughed over his hysterical

Countess . . .

And for new embraces

Always give her more

New, beautiful money.


I knew all that.

—And still the two of us walked,

Annie Ventnor and I,

In wonderful, Corinthian silence

Over asphodel meadows . . .



Katie, who reads my songs,

Wants me to write about chrysanthemums.


The flowers that Katie loves.

So now she stands before me at the writing desk,

And I put my head in my hands and search, search

For the soul of this flower—

And I think:

Yes—two images come to me,

That can put me on the track—

One: the delicate, sensitive Frenchman,

Pierre Loti visualized it and painted it

In the foggy tones of “The Boys of Glasgow”,

And hidden in a painting by Whistler,

He called his vision—“Madame Chrysanthemum”.

Yet these flowers speak differently to me,

Still, I can’t find their soft tones

And their voices—

Let me search further—

And the other image?

In my mother’s house, on one floor

In a brilliant white area is a

Black framed sketch of the Madonna,

The one sitting—and on both sides,

Are two small end tables,

Which hold large, gray vases.

But mother always puts chrysanthemums

In the vases,

Chrysanthemums, and only chrysanthemums.

Why only chrysanthemums?

No, red Mallows should be there,

Red, white and violet mallows!

And I search for the soul of this flower,

And can’t find a trace of it anywhere.

I have to ask Katie!

“Katie! Katie!”

Katie comes and rocks in the chair!

“Oh, you big fool!—you muse, muse,

Meditate and think—and my lovely flower

Says nothing to you?”

Then listen: “The coquette shepherd girls

From Trianon, at the festival

Carried colored chrysanthemums on their staffs—

And at the ball Katie laughs and dances,

And on her white shoulders laughs

Colored chrysanthemums.

Fluttering soft petals, like those of the

Colorful shepherd girls, that play in the wind,

That forget all troubles and sorrows.

And the short hours of sweet embrace,

That delight the poor senses!

You see—that—is everything!”

And I kneel:

“Katie, let me kiss your shoulders,

On your shoulders I kiss your flowers,

Soft chrysanthemums:—Katharina!”



I break apart many hundred hyacinths.

Lay my colorful hyacinths

On a white silk cloth—

There are large red hyacinths,

Large violet hyacinths,

Yellow, white and blue hyacinths.


And I bow my head down low,

Bury my forehead and my temples,

Immerse them in the colored hyacinths.


And I kiss my colorful bunches,

All the white, red and yellow bunches,

Bathing in the perfume of the hyacinths.


Miraculously gentle women’s hands

Covering me—

And my head lies on miraculously soft

Women’s breasts—

Women’s kisses close my eyes,

Encircling my neck, miraculously sweet,

Soft women’s arms.


Oh, I feel these light kisses,

Pressing through my skin with a soft trembling,

Slowly releasing my great pain.


Oh, I feel these fine hands,

Coaxingly caressing my moist curls,

Slowly closing my deep wound.


And from women’s hands and women’s kisses,

Exudes the perfume of tender women’s bodies,

The miraculous perfume of women’s bodies.


Sweet perfume, like summer breezes that

Flutter around me on white wings,

Soft enticing waves of chords

That flood through every fiber of my body.


Sweet perfume! On cool women’s breasts

Slide my hot glowing cheeks,

And in the twilight my senses reel

In the sweet perfume of women’s breasts.


—I break apart hyacinths, hyacinths,

Many hundred colorful hyacinths,

Hide my head in colorful hyacinths.

And I bathe in women’s kisses,

In the perfume of sweet women’s breasts,

In the sweet perfume of hyacinths.




My ancestors have

Never spared their blows,

Hard headed Titans,

It is the right way!


We have seen Mount Pelion

On top of Mount Ossa,

Yet have never seen the walls

Of Canossa standing before us.


Even though Olympic gods

Threatened us with flames,

It is we mockers that are immortal,

And the gods are long dead!

At the San Juan Cemetery in Puerto Rico


Red roses climb up from the graves on the quiet hillside,

To gently caress marble benches.

From out of the laurel

Sounds the sweet and enticing songs of the birds

A stone angel listens.

A thick carpet of ivy covers a winding path,

Crawling everywhere—

Until at last even the path is lost.

A mountain of bleached bones grows high.

No money, no grave!

Here lie the exiled, no cross for them and no bragging memorials.

Gypsies, beggars, fidgety musicians.

Oh how the sun shines on their skulls!

I take off my hat and greet these relatives,

Those that didn’t pay their last rent.




Mother, dear mother, dream of happiness!

—Look! I kneel before you in the evening hours,

Kiss the deep wounds of your heart.

Dream of happiness mother, dream of happiness!

Your ruler has always measured me in moderation,

Your ears have always listened to my words.

When I was wild—you have excused me,

When I was bad—you have forgotten it.

Mother, dear mother, dream of happiness!

—lay your head in my strong arms,

Let my songs be a colored bridge leading you

Far away from all sorrows and harm!

Light hearted pennants decorate my boat,—

As it travels back to Avalon, the land of the fairies!

Mother, do you see me standing there as the pilot?

Will you come with? —and —will you laugh,

Dear mother?

Water lilies!—see how I pluck them!

The waves splash!—the wind is in the sail!

White birds of summer soar in the distance!

—Ah, you can dream there mother,

Dream of happiness!


Kätie read my songs
And wants me to write
About chrysanthemums,
Chrysanthemums —

The flowers that Kätie loves.

So I sit down at my desk,
I put my head in my hands
And I search, search
For the soul of this flower—

And I think:

Yes, — — I know of two images
That can assist me on the trail —

The first: The fine touch of the Frenchman,
Pierre Loti. He sensed it and described it
In “Madame Chrysthanthème”
In the foggy tones of “The Boys of Glasgow”,
He borrowed the image from Whister,
Taking it as his own vision. —

Yet this flower speaks differently to me,
No, I can not find its faint sound
Or its essence —

Let me search further —

And the other image?

In the house of my mother
Hangs in the hall
An engraved face
Of the Madonna
Engraved out of
Splendid white crystal
And framed with ebony.

The Sixtina — and on both sides
Are found two little shelves
That hold large gray vases.
In the vases mother
Always placed chrysanthemums,
Always chrysanthemums.
Why only chrysanthemums?

Yes, mallow should have been placed there
Red, white and violet mallow!
I search for the soul of this flower
Why can’t I find a trace anywhere?

I must ask Kätie!

“Kätie! Kätie!”

Kätie comes and rocks in the chair!

“Oh you big fool! — you brood, brood,
Meditate, think — and have nothing
To say about my favorite flower?

Then listen:

The coquette shepherd girl
Of Trianon at a feast
Wove colored chrysanthemums
On her shepherd’s staff —

At the ball Kätie laughed and danced
And on her white shoulders laughed
Colored chrysanthemums
Fluttering like leaves, like the colored
Shepherd’s garland playing in the wind.

Forgetting all her troubles and worries
And for a few short hours
Giving herself up to love’s sweet caresses,
Filling her poor senses!

You see — that — is all it is!”

And I knelt,

“Kätie, let me kiss you shoulders,
Kiss the flowers on your shoulders,
Your bright chrysanthemums — Katharina!”