God help us, the smoke!

— Smoke, God, I can live with! But not — damp!

Moving in with the same complaints that

Made others move out of this apartment:


With the same-old lamp, —

Lamp of a beggar, of a student, of a long commute.

If only there were a small tree

For the children! — And what kind of landlord will we have?


Perhaps one who’s not too demanding, one

Who takes payment in necklaces, in coins, in dribbles,

Unavoidable as fate

Before turned-out pockets.


And what kind of neighbor will we have?

A bachelor might be nice, well, if he’s quiet!

But there’s nothing nice

About this, old — warmed by our breath


House, saturated throughout!

With our mustiness! Like cotton

In my ear — intoning, you will get used to this!

Worn down not by others: but by your own thumb!


If it’s old, it’s old, if rundown, rundown,

And all of it expensive . . . So consider these: just rooms!

How we come to be born into this world

I’ll never know: but this is how we die.


30 September 1922



—translated by Mary Jane White