Roses and mimosa
by Marc Chagall
Erect no gravestone. Just let the rose
bloom every year for him.
For this is Orpheus: metamorphosis
into one thing, then another.
We need not search for other names.
It is Orpheus in the singing, once and for all time.
He comes and goes. Is it not enough
that sometimes he outlasts a bowl of roses?
Oh, if you could understand—he has no choice but to disappear,
even should he long to stay. As his song
exceeds the present moment,
so is he already gone where we cannot follow.
The lyre's strings do not hold back his hands.
It is in moving farther on that he obeys.
Sonnets to Orpheus I, V