To a Spirit

  1. Only because you died could I speak to you as to a man;
  2.    otherwise your laws would have prevented me.
  3. Nobody defends you now: the dead and established world,
  4.    whose son and master I was, leaves you alone.
  5. Dumbfounded old man’s remains, stammering phantom
  6.    lost and beginning to sink into time,
  7. you are finally my brother; love and hatred unite us;
  8.    my still-living body and your corpse
  9. are linked by a bond that makes us spirits.
  10.    Yet for a single word of condemnation uttered against you—
  11. poor sinner despoiled, degraded by death,
  12.    stripped naked and beseeching as though plucked—
  13. how many words must I still smother in my breast!
  14.    You have left an empty space behind, and in this space
  15. someone else—alive and therefore untouchable—now reigns.
  16.    But “death shall have no dominion!” Only in this absurd state
  17. where Byzantium and Trent still live on above us
  18.    does death have dominion. But I am not dead, and I will speak.
  19.                                                                                                                             1958