Tomorrow Triumphant

BERLIN CHILDREN
To Hans Bartsch, who has fought
so much for the right of children
to a better and more humane world.

From the room
where I am drinking
an orchestrated cognac,
I hear,
out in the streets
of East Berlin
where I live,
children
playing and rejoicing
at being children,
pure and spacious
like the perfumed
soul
of a southern
eucalyptus.
I hear
their laughs,
their songs,
soft and sweet’
like the hair
that holds back
a great number of winters
in its whitish dusk.
Their little disputes
make me
very happy.
They
always end up
in oblivion
like love.
One day,
I think
little Berliners,
you will hold
very long lists
of your new victories,
stark and beautiful
like the sunrise
in any place
on this earth.

In the meantime,
play.
Let your laugh
go to the wind.
Sail
up the streets.
Find in there,
inch by inch,
your vocation
to greatness.

But when you mature
and turn into
men,
loaded with avenues,
subways,
buildings,
books,
adventures,
don’t forget
your ancestors.
They made possible
you laughs as children
your kindness as men.
They did it with their hearts,
with their arduous everyday work,
in tough, rough
and difficult time for loving,
in harsh times for living.
In that time, there was only
a vague hope: your childhood.
And only one reassurance:
your victory,
the great victory
of each of us and of all times.

Now, laugh,
play
down there, on the streets,
Berlin children,
that my southern heart
is also out there
playing  and laughing with you
in this eastern part of Berlin
that I love so dearly.

  • trans. by Francisco X. Alarcón