The Bull

August burned bright in the yellow of the sand
while the music gathered the hearts of all eyes.
Trumpeters, trumpeters, the arena entreats you for quiet and for peace;
The bull makes ready to dash out to his death
and kiss the toreador who looks towards you,
now before the fight begins, before the blade of silver flashes,
look at the dusty whirlwinds that blaze in the eyes of the bull,
How utterly beautiful he is, how black and how strong.
His might moves in clouds of black shadows
and ripples over the arena like a serpent’s tail.
Here, left of the gateway,
His hooves dig golden holes in the sand,
His heart shatters into shards of ice
at the sound of the trumpets, token of death.
Should he weep or meet death proudly.
In his soul knows he is closed in and alone,
only the dust beneath his feet moves as it chooses.
A powerful light flashes for an instant in his sad eyes,
he forgets the flaming red and his own blood,
feels blinded and drunk on his childhood,
remembers his mother.
Oh fields, oh fields, how green you were, how fair:
butterflies everywhere, mounds of soft earth all round.
Oh fields of warmth and tenderness that charmed me!
He recalls how he ran for the very first time,
and everyone saw how light and fleet he flew.
His mother wept with joy at her son -
how fiery and fine he was.
Ah, grass and butterflies, mounds of soft earth, bubbles of spring!
This ominous music drives death to run at me.
Look how the toreador lures me with his hidden sword,
look at the shadows of death that gaze into your eyes,
music, you’ve wailed long enough in my soul,
you were born to life as I was.
If only I could have said farewell to my mother,
have taken leave of her yesterday.
I know the fields would have wept at our meeting.
It’s the grape-harvest now and the wine’s being pressed.
Music, do you have a mother, or is death your dam?
If that’s the way it is I too will kiss her.
But wait – something grips at my heart,
My mother has something to tell me before she dies,
She dies tomorrow, I today – without her secret.