This one is long and I am less sure of it, because the original is quite tough-going with my mediocre German. The original is rhapsodic, which means it’s harder to get the tone right. But I think this works – behind an lj-cut for length though.
The moon is full and in its light
the sea’s a fire of molten gold
It shines like day, like sorcery
bright far as eye can see
and in the pale blue starless sky
the high white clouds are ranked
in rows, as if the gods were carved
in shining marble there.
No, those aren’t clouds at all
They’re the dead gods of Greece
whose glee once ruled the world.
who powerless and frail
now drift like famished ghosts
among the winds of night.
Staring eyelessly they move
in their vast slow pavane
solemn and stern and serious
colossal in the sky.
There is Kronos, Heaven’s King
the one with snow-white hair
whose shaking made Olympus quake
he holds the thunder in his hand
his face terror and doom
and angry ancient pride.
And you knew better days, Zeus,
when you were God above
got boys and girls and roasted meats
but nothing lasts for gods.
The young unseat the old
as you did to your Dad
Your Titan uncles too
Juno, I know you too in all your pride.
Another has your sceptre now
as Heaven’s Queen. Glare all you want,
your curses fail, your arm is weak
to work some dark revenge
on virgins pregnant with new gods
or on their wonder-working sons.
Athena, could you not foresee
reflected in your gorgon shield
the coming doom of all your folk.
Didn’t your wisdom help?
And Aphrodite, you’re there too.
faded to silver, once the golden one.
Your body still awakens my desire
taut in its girdle. But the heroes who
once courted you are dead. I would be too
I fear you corpse-queen, love that turns to death.
Terrible Ares, though she loved you once
those days are over. Silent is your lyre
Apollo and that sun, your smile, is dark.
And you no longer stumble round the feast
serving the drinks Hephaesthos. Once they laughed
as you played Hebe. But those halls are dark
The gods find nothing funny any more.
I never loved you. Gods. I never cared for Greece
and hate Rome even more. But seeing you like this
makes pity, sympathy,
and kindness fill my heart. You float in grief
the gods we laid aside, dead shadows of the night
mists that the wind breaks up.
The gods we took instead, new harsher sadder gods
whose spite speaks oh so soft
creeps by so humble, – I can’t stand
gods in sheep’s clothing so I guess
I’ll take your side and pull their churches down
and build you altars, and chant hymns to you
burn bloody sacrifice to smoke for you
hold up my arms in solemn prayer to you.
Back in the day, old gods, you fought
in the long wars of men and always took
the winning side. And I’m better than you
and in the war of gods, I choose the ones
And as I spoke, a sudden shame
reddened the clouds, who looked at me like men
like equals. Darker angry clouds
covered the moon, and when the light returned
shining upon the sea, the gods were gone
and in the sky ruled cold eternal stars