An Early Bernhard Poem, Englished

Building on Cold Foggy Night

One section of an online English translation of a sixteen-page poem privately published in 1962 by Thomas Bernhard (spacing in original):

In rags goes man, in stinking scraps of cloth.
The meat grinder wind says—I'm not dumb!
Siccing my trouser legs and the dog,
it comes inside my head and cuts me down.

I have this whore tap on my conscience,
this bundle biting into my hunched back.
These shoes, this frayed coat, are making me sick.
My soupspoon sticks through the pocket of my pants.

There in the courtyard, there stand the Pharisees,
Nothing but creature from the belt on down!
The club swingers, squealers, gunmen, spies
in the greasy boot-black of the prefecture.

The state's almighty, while you're bitter and weak.
Power and the uniform are one in the same.
You keep your mouth shut, your head in check,
you walk through the wood no one cuts for us.

What such a truncheon on the head ruins
I know already, it breaks my eardrums.
I'm outfitted by the most sub-moron
and driven mad with sweat, ransacked, and shorn.

These pants rub me raw and the backsides paint
The heads of misery on the thick wall.
Some get to drink and some have to pay.
And the thing that you are drips in your hand.

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