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The sorrow gondola (no. 2).



Two old men, a father-in-law and a son-in-law--Liszt and Wagner--live near Canale Grand along with the restless woman who married King Midas the man who turns everything he touches into Wagner. The green chill of the sea rises through the palace floor. Wagner is marked, the familiar Mr. Punch profile grown weary the face a white flag. The gondola is overloaded with their lives, two round-trips and a one-way.


A palace window flies open and those inside grimace at the sudden draft.

The garbage gondola appears on the water, paddled by two one-oared bandits.

Liszt has composed a few chords so heavy they should be rushed to Pauda's mineralogical institute for analysis. Meteors!

Too heavy to rest, they sink and sink through the future all the way down to an era of Brownshirts.

The gondola overloaded with the crouching stones of the future.


Pinholes opening toward 1990.

March 25th. Anxiety over Lithuania. In the dream I visited a large hospital. No staff. Everyone a patient.

In the same dream a newborn girl spoke entire sentences.


Next to his son-in-law, who's a man of the times, Liszt is moth-eaten, a grandseigneur.

It's a disguise.

The deep, which tries on and discards its various masks, has chosen this mask for him--

the deep that wants to climb into a man without showing its face.


Abbe Liszt is used to hauling his suitcase through the snow and the sun alone and when his death arrives no one will meet him at the station.

The scent of fine cognac carries him off during the middle of a commission. He is always commissioned.

Two thousand letters a year!

The schoolboy who copies the same misspelled word a hundred times before he's sent home.

The gondola is overloaded with life, it is simple and black.


Back to 1990.

In the dream I drove over a hundred miles for nothing. Then everything grew and grew. Sparrows the size of hens sang me into deafness.

In the dream I drew piano keys on the kitchen table. I played them, without a sound. The neighbors came in to listen.


The keyboard that's remained silent through the whole of Parsifal (but has been listening) finally gets to speak. Sigh ... sospiri ...

Tonight while Liszt plays he holds the sea-pedal down and a green force rises through the floor and merges with every stone in the building.

Good night, beautiful deep! The gondola is overloaded with life, it is simple and black.


In the dream it was the first day of school and I showed up late. Everyone in the room wore a white mask. Impossible to know which was the teacher.

During late 1882 and early 1883, Liszt visited his daughter Corsica and her husband Richard Wagner. During this time, Liszt composed two piano pieces that he later published under the titles La lugubregondola I and II. Wagner died shortly after the visit.
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Author:Transtromer, Tomas
Publication:Northwest Review
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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