When the Lord, raising his thin arms to heaven
Beneath the sacred trees, as poets are wont to do,
He was for a long time lost in silent agony,
Thinking ungrateful friends had betrayed him;
He looked down at the crowd waiting below -
Folks dreaming of becoming kings, sages, prophets . . .
But sluggish, lost in bestial slumber -
And began to cry: ‘No, God does not exist!’
They slept on. ‘Friends, have you heard the news?
My head has touched the eternal vault,
For days I have suffered, broken and bleeding!
Brothers, I have deceived you: Abyss! Abyss! Abyss!
There is no god at the altar where I am sacrificed . . .
God does not exist! God is no more!’
‘Everything is dead! I have traversed worlds,
I flew off course into the Milky Way,
Travelled as far as life, with its rich veins,
Scatters golden sands and silver floods:
Everywhere - a desert lapped by tides,
Chaos in a rough sea of maelstroms . . .
An indistinct breath stirs these roving spheres,
But no spirit exists in these vast expanses.
Seeking God’s eye, I found only a socket,
Immense, black and bottomless, where night dwells,
Seeping into this world and thickening apace;
A strange rainbow surrounds this sombre pit;
Threshold of ancient chaos, where the void is a shadow,
A vortex engulfing our Worlds and Days!
Immobile destiny, mute sentinel,
Cold necessity! . . . Chance which, traversing
Dead worlds beneath eternal snows,
Renders the paling universe colder by degrees -
Do you know what you are doing, primeval power,
With your extinguished suns colliding with each other . . .
Are you sure you will pass on the breath of immortality
From a world that is dying to a world that is reborn? . . .
O my father! Is it you I feel within me?
Have you the power to live and conquer death,
Or have you succumbed at the final hour
To that anathematized angel of night? . . .
For I feel so alone as I weep and suffer,
Alas! And if I die, everything will die!
No one heard the eternal victim groan,
As he poured out in vain his heart to the world;
On the verge of fainting and without strength,
He summoned the only one - awoken in Jerusalem:
‘Judas!’ he cried, ‘you know what they think of me,
Make haste and sell me, close the deal:
I am suffering, my friend, laid low on earth . . .
Come, you at least has a criminal’s strength!’
But Judas went on his way, pensive and discontent
That he’d been paid so little, full of keen remorse,
Seeing his baseness graffitied on walls . . .
In the end, it was Pilate alone, Caesar’s look-out,
Who, fearing some pity, turned round on impulse,
And said to his henchmen: ‘Go and fetch this madman!’
This was certainly him, this fool, this sublime madman,
This forgotten Icarus ascending heaven once more,
This lost Phaeton cast down by the gods’ thunderbolt,
This handsome Attis whom Cybele gave new life!
The Augur examines the victim’s flank,
Earth got drunk on his precious blood . . .
The stunned universe reeled on its axis,
Olympus lurched suddenly towards the abyss.
‘Answer,’ cried Caesar to Jupiter Ammon,
Who is this new god imposed on earth?
And if he is no god, he is at least a demon . . .’
But the oracle, invoked, was silent for evermore;
Only he could explain this mystery to the world:
He who gave souls to the children of clay.