Murilo Mendes

Graffito for Piranesi


What verb adequate for these prisons
What adjective for these massive
Mono-mental machines
Constructed in man's enormity?

Here the leopard loses his fatherland
Vegetable and mineral shudder

Lost in these echo-vaticans
Rising and falling: terms equally
Analogous to any staircase,
Man being judged by stone.

Here one suddenly sees:
Every king was false.
Every king an ex-king.

The wayfarer without his tessera
Disoriented by superimposed blocks
Vainly beseeches keyless
Kafka, this enigma's interpreter.


Everything is secret, alludes to chaos.
Everything derives from the sign manifesting
Force (in spiral or pyramid)
Of the word pronouncing the nocturnal
Act of existence; inside-out dream
In murocracy's domain.


In any ruin
One cannot distinguish the sign
Liberating the subterranean pace of
Templo                                                                          (temple)
Tempo                                                                           (time)
Tampo                                                                           (cover, lid)
Plano.                                                                            (plan, scheme)
Man postpones himself in the thing.


Doors disclose
Doors disopen


The horoscope "no" saying
Each one bears his infraname.

Reciprocal echoes
Self-hating -waving
Dynamystify the air
Awaiting eversion
Dark disaster
Past present future
In etcetera's holds

Rome 1965


[Trans. Chris Daniles]

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