Twilight (I tusmørket) by Dagny Juel Przybyszewska

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This flower, this cryptic flower… She sat down beside it so that its long and tender stalk could caress her knee.

Its scent filled her with a secret joy. She read her own yearning into the flower's soft, big eyes. She had refound something in it, something she had lost, a timbre, a tone in her soul. It sang a hymn she had forgotten. Oh, it hurt like a transgression whenever one of the big, white eyes wilted and fell!

And she thought of all the speckled, scented flowers of her life. She felt them flutter about her like thousand-winged, thousand-colored birds. Every melody had they sung, every color had they spun over her nights and days.

But this one, the one and only flower she had never seen before, like a morning it was standing in her living room, remote and thoughtful, a circlet of shining stars around its head, singing her soul's color and yearning. And when a wave of its breath hit her, she felt herself shivering and growing warm of happiness.

Many a star had danced about in her life, glittering as hoarfrost in a spruce forest, dancing like the stars at the bottom of a lake. But this one, this lonely star was the only holy star in her life, the star over her Bethlehem…

How young she was then and how distant from life! So distant that even her yearning hardly reached it. She saw herself, lap full of flowers, cornflowers, blue as her own mind, blue as her mindless spring soul. And she threw and strew the flowers around her, strew and saved… Hair yellow, arms red, blue and white… Tulips, violas, lilacs… And the scent filled her mind, but the soul slept.

Then came the days of roses. Just roses, full, heavy, flaming roses… Life was a rose hedge, and she drank in the scent with every pore.

But when the roses wilted, she rejoiced. She delighted in seeing the leaves turn yellow from the edge in. She filled her hands and let them fall, one by one. She shook the hedge so that a rain of dull, pale leaves murmured over her head. And she saw that the roses were black, their leaves charred.

Then she slowly wandered along brooks and bogs, and she gathered the bog's pale parnassuses, she gathered the brook's white callases with their golden mouths, she gathered the sea's dull-shining stars and roses with cold, wet arms, and sneakily they grew into her heart and stuck themselves there.

But she was cold, and one morning her heart felt like a white and cold crystal. Its shine cut her eyes, and she yearned for secret flowers that no sunlight had ever reached, dangerous flowers carrying poison in their veins, numbing and cryptic.

And one night, deep in the forest, in the shade where no sunbeam could reach, she found a dark and fateful plant with hairy leaves and brooding bells, hued from above and below. She read greedily in its veiled eyes, she clasped it to her bosom, and loved its toxic breath.

Quietly she brought it home, triumphantly she placed it in her high altar and offered unto it. And a shuddering joy filled her upon seeing the poison drip down, drop by drop, dripping over the most holy of holy…

But her proud poison plant wilted too, and when it wearily folded in its leaves she furiously tore it down from its shrine and thew it into the street.

She would have no more flowers now… But they came, they grew up everywhere, they thronged about her, fluttered about her living room like thousand-winged, thousand-colored birds. Shining lilies licked at her with glowing human tongues, orchids, chrysanthemums, cactuses, oleanders… brown, yellow, eerie red, blue like a bright fairytale grotto.

The scent dazed her… She heard their whispers… Now she saw the host of flowers approaching her… Pushing her, shoving her, breathing their terrible breath into her face… She was choking… She was choking… Oh!

She was alone after all, and a single flower, her soul's flower was standing next to her. It caressed her with its long, tender stalk and gazed at her with its big, white, starry eyes.

She felt her heart beating with a newfound joy, she felt its strings ringing under the flower's gaze: My star, the star above my soul!

And the song rose and filled the room, and she knew that her joy lived in it: My star, the star above my soul…

May 2024. Contact info: