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Jerome

by
 Each day brings its toad, each night its dragon.
Der heilige Hieronymus--his lion is at the zoo-- Listens, listens.
All the long, soft, summer day Dreams affright his couch, the deep boils like a pot.
As the sun sets, the last patient rises, Says to him, Father, trembles, turns away.
Often, to the lion, the saint said, Son.
To the man the saint says--but the man is gone.
Under a plaque of Gradiva, at gloaming.
The old man boils an egg.
When he has eaten He listens a while.
The patients have not stopped.
At midnight, he lies down where his patients lay.
All night the old man whispers to the night.
It listens evenly.
The great armored paws Of its forelegs put together in reflection.
It thinks: Where Ego was, there Id shall be.
The world wrestles with it and is changed into it And after a long time changes it.
The dragon Listens as the old man says, at dawn: I see --There is an old man, naked in a desert, by a cliff.
He has set out his books, his hat, his ink, his shears Among scorpions, toads, the wild beasts of the desert.
I lie beside him--I am a lion.
He kneels listening.
He holds in his left hand The stone with which he beats his breat, and holds In his right hand, the pen with which he puts Into his book, the words of the angel: The angel up into whose face he looks.
But the angel does not speak.
He looks into the face Of the night, and the night says--but the night is gone.
He has slept.
.
.
.
At morning, when man's flesh is young And man's soul thankful for it knows not what, The air is washed, and smells of boiling coffee, And the sun lights it.
The old man walks placidly To the grocer's; walks on, under leaves, in light, To a lynx, a leopard--he has come; The man holds out a lump of liver to the lion, And the lion licks the man's hand with his tongue.

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