No 12 - September 2000
They came, they’ve gone back. Miserable death
summoned this one, kept that one; in groups they go
away, come back. On avalanches,
on the spotless sky’s walls reverberate
my loud laughter, scaring them. I watch quietly.
Far, far below the wild spring burns.
There - water; there - the flood of floral hues, the turning of the
Here seasonal ways are useless. No mad spring. Time is without end.
Still - you people?
Only snow-storms, the crashing of avalanches, light that blinds, and
that blots out creation, night and day without youth or old age; stupefied
There’s neither gold nor coal, the possibility of an empire is zero;
still - you people?
Miserable death will summon someone, I summon none.
It’s death who will keep someone, but still I don’t keep anyone.
Then one day they will climb the last peak, plant a flag and return.
Still - me.
The flag of their victorious noises will fly, not here.
More will come at the century’s end, perhaps after man’s bloodsoaked
Markets will open in inaccessible lands, pleasure-gardens in terrifying
not here, not here.
Markets bazaars shops ports factories military parades,
flowers birds springtimes, birth death love
transformed by time’s oblique passage. Earth’s rebirth at the century’s
I watch quietly. For here there is no time.
Century after century as endless as snow-spray.
Not mine; memories, the ways of seasons, changes of motion.
Memory is time’s skeleton, and I am timeless. Let them come repeatedly
in fearless amazement, joyous triumph, the fertile overflow of brains;
still - me.
Intellect imagination amazement desire - nothing’s mine.
I’m ever-barren, ever-lonely.
They will know the end of mystery, yet mystery is endless.
In so many summers they will circumambulate me in amazement.
I have no summer, winter, spring. Timeless, without youth or old age,
there’s only me.
Here - only the blustering wind, like snow of invisible motion,
only my loud laughter echoing on crashing avalanches;
no horizon, no path - is this for ever? Is this a dream?
And you who today, standing on a mound eight and a half thousand high,
are watching me, stuck between two peaks,
looking like a white giant’s thumb (Or is it a shy new bride, her face
some of you poets, some trembling with greed, with cameras open -
it you knew, if you heard, if you understood,
you would be afraid, you would quietly hide your faces in the green plains.
Written 11 October 1938.
Note: Unsuccessful attenpts on Everest in the thirties: Ruttledge (1933, 1936), Shipton (1935), Harold William Tilman (1938).
Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson
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