I heard your voice
say goodnight to me
when you didn’t think
I could hear you
It was naked, without
reservation Then you
woke me, utterly,
so much that I
couldn’t sleep
I was elated


Every word carries
all its despair
all its joy
We carry one another


Last night I saw
the point central to
the underground man’s neurosis:
Freedom’s point Every
action, every insight, bad or good
foolish or wise
hinges on this one point
All acts of humiliation, internal or external,
and all crimes against others
are set in motion
when this point is denied or refused
The point takes flight, flees
Like a bird
It has its own will, its bird-logic
I’ve known this for a long time
Freedom also has the potential to annihilate
because it is limitless
in each person
Nor is there anything
that cannot become a prison
But a prison
can never fly like a bird

I hear the motion of breath in the beating of wings


Now the enclaves are being opened   One after another, where people
have lived shut in, under grenade fire, month
after month, for years   Half-starved, many physically
injured; some with shattered psyches   Children
perhaps forever locked into psychoses
I see their gentle smiles, their helplessness
As if they’d been whirled out into a Hades of Chance
A girl’s milk teeth shine   Her eyes be-
speak hopelessness   That which is nameless

The brain’s enormously split-up time, in continual
integration, which is itself the prerequisite,
the basis for all integration   Just so, the one is created
Just so, the unity of all life is created   We will suffer the consequences

The human vortices, in the torrent of dreams, uncontrolled
In pain, disappointment, joy   While the ground gives
way; we hang onto trees, other beings
in gliding toward the flux; its ever more powerful surge
The Brownian motion in each human brain;
we construct its order   As if awakened,
fresh, after lovemaking, you say, love To what?
To what sort of surrender   Time   Silence   Time
The embittered are watching us   As if unable
at any moment to see the lesser evil   I understand them
But I don’t want to be like them   Here now is warmth
In the cold that is freedom’s I shall love you warm
And you me   Interference   Toward destruction
                                            or consummation. . .


How am I to reach the greater integration?  It can come only
from what is free of strain; the enormous compactness, its
lightness, its weight. . .   I touch you with the gray wing
I touch your brown cheek with my wing   I saw you
walk among the flowers, among your tall tulips
The glass-clear wave of tenderness; tears that come then. . .
Immortal we are mortal; mortal we are immortal—

Forms that arise within us   The leap constantly occurs
The translations   The testing out   We risk our lives on
the durability of these forms, their ability to describe
the world   And yet not one of them holds   We see the spent forms, from outside
And yet they were life   No life forms are eternal   This is liberation

Interior theater   What is neither Germany, nor Bosnia   Nor
any other country, not even a utopia   As in a huge
absence; where all seem to sit with their faces turned away
Entre-visages, I thought once, and saw before me
faces turned toward each other, their contacts, through absence
itself, the averted state   We are there alone   With the terror
I hear the wind in the trees in the rain   The sound of all the new leaves
The sound of all the new children   While they are swept into the vortex. . .

The heart bears its simplifications   Its wings rattle
In the burning brain are convection currents of feeling
The burning heart bears its chill, its wrath
Before us new wars, new revolutions   Once
I myself was prepared; in any case emotionally   Intellectual
preparations   The movements of the real were greater by far
I am burned   Gasoline soon extinguishes the burning house


Into which conversations do I enter?  Into which psychotic necessity?
History’s movements are extremely delicate   And can be
as rapid as within a brain   Everything was transformed so quickly. . .

As if the ground were pulled out from under my existence to this point in time
The folding structures just fall   We do not feel
the land beneath us   Something else begins, over there
The empire?  Some other sort of city?  Babylon?

It exists in time’s rising function
That which has unknown numbers   As if values
were interchangeable   But they are not   The
glass-clear form rises, up from the trench of time
As if it were a continual resurrection,
but with discrete values, exact, complete

Utopias and dystopias gather   Rest like shards
around the radiant forehead   The birth of a head?
We watch this with the eyes of monsters, filled with fear
What are we afraid of?  Dying to a further extreme?
No!  But I do not want to kill   The empire of nothing
rises with identical counts of the living and the dead   Rapidly
Slowly   But the eyes of the tortured and the humiliated?
Yes   They look at us   I wait for all that builds up inside me,
also innermost in the city of crystal   Where I am not

In which city do I want to be?  I want to be in the face
between the realms   I want to touch your hot face
Passing infinitely between realms, I touch your nightgown,
the one you left on the banister while I was sleeping
We are in the house of the real   It is raised up from below


The white, scintillating light   From roofs of frost,
from naked branches, from the thin white coating
on the bark, over purplish brown birch twigs, not yet attuned
to the light of spring   It’s still November   I enter in-
to new transformations   In politics   In the economy

I shall try to enter into listening, here as well   To res-
onate while listening   Even to the point of shattering
Which can also be in delight   Even your voice is audible

What’s human cannot be preserved   Nothing of me can exist
As if all meanings existed within the huge brain, in a sea-birth
All time comes into being   What returns is never time, only its
                                                              shadows, in its blinding. . .

The night countenance sparkling with pain   Sparkling with all of its stars
As if each star were one possible fate
We exhausted the cosmic pictures long ago

We may yet have nothing but this star-birth
These lost children   This trembling love’s heart

Eyes that touch one another with their gaze   We literally
look into one another’s brains   Into
analogy, sublime, the radiant iris of truth. . .
Seeing also the gray, transparent framework, the construction
of what is, in Being   As if nothing did not exist

Or in Becoming   Then I see the forms of time, Time. . .
As if the functions of description ceaselessly changed places
around this vision, in coordinate systems perpetually interchanged,
shifting algorithms, shifting representations, unfinished,
around the invisible center   Your heat looks at me. . .

[Translated from the Swedish by Rika Lesser]


Mozart’s Third Brain is the title poem from Göran Sonnevi’s thirteenth book of poems, Mozarts Tredje Hjärna, published by Bonniers, Stockholm, in November 1996. The title poem consists of 144 sections marked by roman numerals and is dated 3 July 1992 – 12 June 1996. As published it was approximately 190 pages long. Born in Lund, Sweden on 3 October 1939, Göran Sonnevi has published fourteen individual books of poems in addition to three collections, and he has translated the poetry of Ezra Pound, Paul Celan, Osip Mandelstam and others into Swedish.

Rika Lesser is the author of three books of poetry: Etruscan Things (Braziller, 1983), All We Need of Hell (North Texas, 1995), and Growing Back (South Carolina, 1997). She has published five books of poetry in translation—by Claes Andersson, Gunnar Ekelöf, Hermann Hesse, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Göran Sonnevi—as well as translations of various works of Swedish or German fiction and nonfiction. In 1982 she received the Landon Prize for her rendition of Ekelöf’s Guide to the Underworld, a new edition of which is due from Green Integer in 2005.

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