Translation of The Astronomer

Don’t count on what’s out there; it’s not worthwhile.
What happens there spins only on itself,
Like you, who turn in circles here within.
The moon, for instance, shines on thinnest ice,
And still remains the moon, like one who knows
It’s not worthwhile remembering the earth.

And yet it does remember, breaks the ice
In Holland yesterday, tomorrow in Shanghai,
And rests within itself, a Buddha. That Jan Vermeer
Did not once paint it bothers it as little
As the muezzin’s call to morning prayers in Baghdad.
See for yourself: it shines from far away.

Nor does it seek escape. Yet every solitude
Observed from that lofty post declares: it must be so.
For you below are moved too easily to tears.
The time to live is brief––a blink, it’s gone.
And everyone makes such excuses for himself,
Dissembles, looking for a crutch to lean on.

No heartfelt wish without its brittle shell,
Its thinnest ice, a childhood and a town called home,
That still turns only on itself. Yet this,
This I, is never at rest, is never moon or Buddha,
But only plays at being enthroned above all else.
Don’t count on what’s inside; it’s not worthwhile.

Instead, keep going. Go to Holland. Nights
Are best for walking: everything’s asleep.
In your dreams, where outside echoes inside, shine.
See the globe of heaven, the firmament Vermeer
Flips inside-out in the twinkling of an eye.
The earth spins on for everyone, and none