“A third-class funeral was held
in the Cathedral of St. Stephen. The body
was buried in a common grave.
An autopsy was not performed. The body
was thus lost forever.”
Three weeks ago I came home
late. And I was told that somebody
stopped by to see me. Why, don’t know,
I thought all night: who that might be? What did he want from me?
Tomorrow the same man came. I wasn’t there again.
On a third day I was playing with my little boy
on the floor. I was called—and came out.
A man, all dressed in black
courtly bowed then ordered Requiem
and disappeared. At once I sat
and started writing—since then my man in black
has never been back for me.
And I am glad: I would feel sorry
to leave my work, albeit my Requiem
is now quite ready. And still I . . .”
“‘He died displaying the usual symptoms
of rheumatic fever and a brain deposit.’
This is what doctor said in order
to contradict the infamous calumny,
excellent and exquisite Maestro.”
“You will fall asleep for a long time, Mozart.
But what if he is right, I am not a genius?
The genius and villainy are two things incompatible.
Not true: Buonarotti! Or was it just a tale
of the multitude so dull and meaningless
and the creator of the Vatican
was not a murderer?”
“And we should trust Constance
who told some forty years later
that her husband had died
of a sudden fever and barely
ten hours before his death
was performing the Requiem
with a group of friends,
but could not drink his wine.”
“The first step is hard and
the first route is dull.
I overcame my earlier misfortunes.
My craft I set as a pedestal for the art;
I have become a craftsman: my fingers
have acquired an obedient, dry fluency
and a fidelity to the ear. After I killed the sound
I dissected a music as if it were a cadaver . . .”
“Thus, the infection, common then in Vienna
aggravated the Schonlein-Henoch syndrome and led
to the uremia with purpura and fever.”
“My man in black would not
let me rest day and night.
He chased me like a shadow
everywhere. Even now
I feel he is with us, the third one
sitting at the table.”
“His eyes were widely open,
he asked about the slow death
of ‘aqua tofana,’ then fell
face down and turned towards the wall.
His thin, debilitated body was carried
by anonymous hands
to an anonymous burial.
He sunk into the earth
“Great Bomarche used to tell me:
Listen, my friend Salieri,
when the dark thoughts come to your mind
open a bottle of Champagne
or else reread The Marriage of Figaro!”
* NOTE: Parts from Mozart and Salieri by Alexander Pushkin (translated by myself, A.G.) as well as some materials on the death of Mozart published in a medical journal are used in this poem in adapted form.