Sopor Aeternus: La Chambre d'Écho - Where The Dead Birds Sing (2004)

      "...As I was just about to step aside, not to stand in the way of this awe-inspiring goings-on, I did receive a heavy stroke myself, as I was forced to move like all the others into the same given direction. For some strange reason I was not in the least surprised about this sudden change of... yes... perspective, as I had almost suspected something like this to happen anyway. Therefore I cannot help but feeling a certain kind of, well, amusement... - or should I rather call it a relief...
      Even though this ritual, the character of this celebration is a most serious indeed, the over-all atmosphere is neither frightening nor is it performed with an eagerness of a particular grim. The entire festival is rather characterised, or dominated by a general "knowledge", this individual certainty of its actual necessity... - after all, this very day is only meant as a reminder - though its roughness cannot be denied - of the forthcoming and necessary purification, which has to be carried out by each of the believers themselves, individually though. The strokes between the shoulder-blades, just like the ritual expulsion through the western gates of the "ending days", are merely the very last order, or advice, to eventually become active, so that, as a next step, the grounds can be prepared for the beginning development, the evolution of the living future of the fragile latter, the final days..."
      This was Anna-Varney Cantodea, reporting live for SOPOR AETERNUS.



The Encoded Cloister

The mirror... is the theatre... where the autopsy... begins...

Please, be so kind to leave this place,
None of your kind is wanted here;
A dreadful tremor shakes these walls...
Your presence vibrates violently.

Over many years we've built the utmost fragile atmosphere,
We can't allow the uninvited visitor to interfere.
The balance here's most delicate, and our salvation, if you wish,
Yes, our existence as a whole is depending on this sacred place.

A silence, powerful and true, a minimum of what we seek,
Pervading everything and all...
It can be heard, can be perceived.
This silence, you must understand, a quiet state of rest and calm,
Is like a temple in itself, keeps the secluded souls from harm.
Its gentle light is almost dark, a peaceful semblance of the tomb,
A certain chills predominant...
As most things here have ceased to move.

Our Lord is sleeping in his chambers, the centre of our sanctuary,
He's not receiving anyone...
He has not seen a soul in years.
So long ago our Lord's retired from the affaires your worlds do show,
We've never heard your name before...
Our Lord's not well, you have to go.

Please, be so kind to leave this place,
None of your kind is wanted here;
A dreadful tremor shakes these walls...
Your presence vibrates violently.

Please... leave!


Backbone Practise
(Unpleasant reminder in a subterranean pathology department)

We're entering the operating theatre of the familiar morgue:
The student nurses are making a lot of noise,
Their voices echo from the bare tiled walls...
I improvise a fainting fit: "I cannot bare these voices anymore!"

The tiny spineless spider, who really is a dog,
Has hurt herself - or did she get hurt? - something 'bout her back...
Oh, does she need a new one?
Torsoless she only does consist of legs...
Much like a crushed little cross, a tiny crucifix.
So cautiously she's stalking now across the palm of my right hand,
Merely a thin branch in the wind,
Touching the wound... where I had cut my finger.

I hand her over to the nurses, one of them - directed by the teacher -
Carries out the operation, for which I don't have the knowledge.
One day everyone here must fulfil this very task alone,
As it's the only way to learn... and in the end become a master...
Yes, this means responsibility,
As it's connected directly to stress and fear.

The little spider has her operation on a table
That is decorated like a forest, all with thicket and fir trees...
And right beside the flashing lights and displays of the instruments.
So hear now of the very scene that happened right before this here:

An elephant stands on the plane roof of a tall cathedral... very close to the edge.
"Climb down his tail, as if it were a rope!
Have faith and confidence, believe that he will hold you!"
But the elephant is not anchored in the ground,
Yes, he might have the will to remain in position,
Perhaps doing everything within his power to hold me,
Not to slip and fall himself...
But in my opinion this is hardly enough.
Can this be a question of trust, at all?!?

Looking out of the window,
While the underground moves down into the tunnel...
A man, who has already passed the elephant-test, says:
"Fears must be conquered, boy!
Many of what comes up are merely old Fears of Death!"

"Fears must be conquered, boy!
Many of what comes up are merely old Fears of Death!"


Idleness & Consequence

The boy took a stroll along the shore of the well-constructed brook,
Carefully climbed a waterfall, built of semiprecious rock,
And gazed at the crystal that he had picked up from the ground.
Washing the boy's bare feet, the water lapped around,
Murmured silently, as it flew underneath the boy's white gown
So that he, somewhat leaking, became the semblance of a well.

As he laid the crystal down again, the pale boy realised
That his feet had meanwhile turned to marble: dark green, ochre and white...
Yes, the poor boy gradually petrified.

With a furious hiss a black cat attacked
His three-coloured, fair-haired rabbit of luck
And the startled, pale, rattled boy.

With a furious hiss a black cat attacked
His three-coloured, fair-haired rabbit of luck
And the startled, pale, rattled boy.

"Behold, my blood's like milk, or mercury", - the pale boy cried. -
"No, it's not red... more like dancing serpents,
Of which one is black, the other white.
Two separate, coiling streams that never mix, never unite,
But as one they're flowing, flowing, ever flowing side by side!"


Beyond The Wall Of Sleep

Every now and then it seems to me
That there is greatest danger lying hidden in the depths of sleep...
Saddest the wanderer who is travelling here
For far too often or just longer than his mortal mind would bare.

From the other world he can never fully return
After the passing of a certain period of time,
As the forces of the other side are with him all the while,
Are surrounding his mind, as they are with him all the while.
Obscuring his mind, his spirit, they chain him to this place, or state:
Mind and body will become lethargic, listless and inert,
And then, driven by his wounded soul,
He will be longing for nothing more except the end itself...
For darkness... and for death.

Every now and then it seems to me
That there is greatest danger lying in the depths of sleep...
Saddest the wanderer who is travelling here
For far too often or just longer than his mind would bare.


Imhotep
(Schwarzer Drache mischt einen Sturm)

...Armes, dunkles Wolkenkind,
Hast Dich erneut in Sturm gehüllt,
Im fadenschein'gen Pechgewand
Dich selbst in ew'ge Nacht verbannt.
Die undurchdringlich' zweite Haut,
Hat die Grenze zur Welt erbaut...
Als Eierschale, hart wie Stein,
Läßt sie kein Licht noch Wärme ein.

Armes, dunkles Wolkenkind,
Hast Dich erneut in Sturm gehüllt,
Im fadenschein'gen Pechgewand
Dich selbst in ew'ge Nacht verbannt.


Eiskalte Wände, falsches Haus,
Kein Leben schlüpft aus dir heraus,
Kein Ungeborenes reift heran,
Nur noch ein zorniger, alter Mann
Grämt sich im Innern ewiglich...
Selbst vor dem Tod fürchtet er sich.

Armes, dunkles Wolkenkind,
Den schlimmsten Kurs Dein Geist stets nimmt.
Dein Pfad des Grau'ns ist trügerisch,
Birgt nichts als Schmerz und Leid für Dich;
Szenarien Deine Angst ersinnt,
Die niemals wahr, noch wirklich sind.
So furchtbar tost der Sturm in Dir,
Dies böse, alte Ungetier
Lockt aus der Finsternis hervor
Den garstig zischelnd Schattenchor,
Der, wie ein kalter, kranker Hauch,
Sich faulig häuft in Deinen Bauch,
Und dann als ekler Leichenwind
Güte und Schönheit von dir nimmt...
Oh, armes, dunkles Wolkenkind...

Armes, dunkles Wolkenkind,
Den schlimmsten Kurs Dein Geist stets nimmt.
Dein Pfad des Grau'ns ist trügerisch,
Birgt nichts als Schmerz und Leid für Dich.

...Armes, dunkles Wolkenkind,
Hast Dich erneut in Sturm gehüllt,
Im fadenschein'gen Pechgewand
Dich selbst in ew'ge Nacht verbannt.



Hearse-Shaped Basins Of Darkest Matter

On the left side again
Black fish are being bred,
Cultivated in vast amount.
Harboured by enormous tubs, all of them made of glass,
They are resembling massive moving planes;
One of these even has the shape of a gigantic hearse...
Could this be some sort of restaurant perhaps?

Oh, stupid boy, won't you turn around?
Don't you hear the sound
Of the tocsin ringing in the air?!

Climbing up the slope of stairs,
Taking two steps at once...
The vats are rising as he gets higher.
Growing steadily now on both sides of the path,
Viciously filling up every space.

Only a few meters away from him...
They are joining up above his head,
Like an archway they are building a passage;
Through its transparent walls he can see the black fish moving:
Like a tunnel, all organic and dark,
A black mouth waiting, veiled in hungry architecture,
Quite perfectly disguised...
Yet, this premature entry would be entirely unauthorised.

Oh, stupid boy... turn around,
This place is most unhealthy ground!
Don't you hear the sound of the tocsin
Ringing in the air?!


Interlude - The Quiet Earth

Ach, hätt' ich heut' drei Wünsche frei,
Die Wahl fiel mir nicht schwer.
Drei Wünsche nur, das reichte aus,
Ich bräuchte gar nicht mehr.

Mein erster Wunsch, gesteh' ich gern,
Wär' nur für mich allein:
Ich würd' vernichten meinen Leib,
Um nur mehr Geist zu sein.
So reist' ich dann - gedankenschnell -
Ein einz'ges Mal noch um die Welt,
Um nachzuseh'n, ob es vielleicht doch etwas gibt,
Daß mich hier hält...

Den zweiten Wunsch, auch das ist leicht,
Send' ich dann in die Nacht:
Verseh'n mit einem Bittgesuch,
Um zu beschwör'n die Macht,
Die richtend dann ihr Urteil spricht,
So wie ich's längst gefällt,
Wischt kurzerhand die Menschheit fort,
Und erschafft die stille Welt.

Mein dritter Wunsch, wie sollt's auch sein,
Beendet letztes Leid,
Denn erst mit meiner Auslöschung
Ist die Erde befreit...

Ach, hätt' ich heut' drei Wünsche frei,
Die Wahl fiel mir nicht schwer.
Drei Wünsche nur reichten aus,
Ich bräuchte gar nicht mehr.

Ach, hätt' ich heut' drei Wünsche frei,
Die Wahl fiel mir nicht schwer.
Drei Wünsche nur, das reichte aus,
Ich bräuchte gar nicht mehr.


We Have A Dog To Exercise

When the old ghost of suicide
Creeps slowly back into your mind,
Then everything is bleak and blurred,
Down here in the short-sighted world.
Yet, this time I have to insist
On the sharpness of the things I missed...
This once so loyal friend, he's not that welcome anymore.

White, fragile porcelain boy,
Some minor things shall be left unsaid,
Yes, you share the strongest desire for beauty,
As like all of the "enchanted" you are more than blessed with it.

The body is a prison-cell
That like a child needs to be washed and fed...
These are just two of the things that I have a tendency to forget.

The heavy smell of rotting flowers is chanting through the prison doors,
We kiss the dying world goodbye... and leave it in good hands at the morgue.

Well, on the second day of excavation,
Tell me, what did you expect to find?
Be careful when you scratch the surface,
'Cause we all have a dog to exercise.

We are not lovers, we are likers...
We are merely hands and shakes;
These are just four from the list of the numberless things
Of which we're still afraid.

We are not familiar with the state of our decay,
Because this is not our line, no, it is not really our trade.
All we know is that our feet are cold
And that our sticky hands are wet...
And that we're here to bring you tidings
Straight from the Choir Of The Dead.

Look at the boy... oh, he really suffers,
He's caught in fear and its distress;
There is no point in looking at him for answers,
Because he is a stranger here himself.

The body is a prison-cell
That like a child needs to be washed and fed...
These are just two of the things that I have a tendency to forget.


The Lion's Promise

After the boy had taken a walk
With his dear deceased grandmother,
His feet were somehow led to a small, ancient church,
Giving quite an imposing grandeur.
Partially sunken in the morass of the marshland,
All foggy and chronically overcast...
The ancient house is waiting.
The haunted house lies waiting.

Clockwise the stone flight is spiralling upwards,
But soon the passage becomes too small to get on,
Even though the boy's now crawling.
Anxiously he attempts to restrain,
But his way back seems to be obstructed:
Gelatinous hearts are lined-up along the walls,
Each of them inseminated or defiled by a black tadpole.

A stone lion promises to be the boy's rescue
But only, if he stops running away from him...


Leeches & Deception

The old monk of a somewhat Thelemite, or "crow"-related order,
Dressed in a torn, old gown of jute,
He had been locked up in a tiny box inside a wall.
This cubic room was painted in darkest-red and midnight-blue.

When the door was opened again, he was screaming terribly,
As towards the end of his self-imposed isolation
He must have suffered from the most horrible visions and/or hallucinations.
Presumably, they had been caused by previous days of his ritual fasting.
The images he saw must have been atrocious indeed.
The white-haired, bearded monk was in his forties I believe...
That's 4 and 0 for the earthen sphere.

[...]

Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the gown of jute,
Because what might look like a cliché is necessity and truth!!!
Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the cowl of jute,
Because by transforming himself he might be saving me and you.
Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the gown of jute,
Because what might look like a cliché is necessity... and truth!!!

After he was released again,
A trans/bisexual vampyre-demon
Was crawling after him out of the same box.
The same box...
Though this demon-creature should have been dissolved,
Instead he had just split himself in two halves,
Dark-red, fat and swollen like a leech...
Like a leech...
It surely must have been feasting on the poor man
While they were both locked inside the wall.
It surely must have been feasting on the poor man
While they were both locked inside the wall.

On the right side of me: a magician hissingly exhales,
Directing his breath on a spongy, spherical thing;
A plexus which, as a direct reaction to it,
Is covered by thin, electric flashes, or discharges of blue light.

Unexpectedly my hands are beginning to twitch and flash as well,
And I have to realise that I am still dirty and soiled,
Possessed by certain things undissolved,
As it is they who now react to the formula of exorcism!

In awe and terror I recognize that such rituals of power, invocations of archetypes
Must only be performed by the truly initiated, experienced magicians all alone.
Not by some superficial silly loser/girl-boy, a mere artist of hottest-air...

Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the gown of jute,
Because what might look like a cliché is necessity and truth!!!
Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the cowl of jute,
Because by transforming himself he might be saving me and you.
Do not make stupid jokes about the old man in the gown of jute,
Because what might look like a cliché is necessity and... truth!!!


The Skeletal Garden

Will I become like the old man from next door?

Obsessed with the fear of losing his mind,
He soon couldn't take care of himself anymore.
He had no friends or relatives to look after him,
Only once a week some male nurse dropped in.

He was found in his bed, dehydrated...
Unconscious, as he was, they brought him to a diffrent place.

"We've never heard of him since..."

He lived alone in his house for most of his life,
And I wouldn't be suprised,
If he had died the day they put him in a room
With people he'd never seen before.

He had a wild garden behind his house, beautiful and dark.
Woodpeckers and squirrels lived there,
And hedgehogs, mice and martens.
Hazelnut-trees and wild strawberries grew,
And cherries, and apples and pears, and currants of red and black...
All hidden in this private place.

In the safety of the shadows the fragile fern slept,
Along the winding paths the wild-flowers wept,
Snowdrops nodded their little heads in spring,
Forget-me-nots, and all kinds of things,
Of which I do not know the names...
And, of course, there was ivy everywhere.

It happend the same week they took him away
Workers hacked down all of the trees in the garden,
Hired by the envious people outside who had always been terrified
By the beauty that enchanted this place,
And the darkness it was breathing.

Yet, none of them could keep the dead birds from singing...


Feed The Birds

Zähl' von 11 rückwarts bis 7,
Würd's auf Morgen gern verschieben;
Frag' mich ob sich noch was lohnt...
Trägheit als Einz'ge hier noch wohnt.


Consolatrix
Has Left The Building

Strolling all alone across the ancient cemetery,
Tell me, isn't everything here of a timeless green?!
I see several visitors are also gathered here,
Having an idle, little saunter on the old graveyard just like me.

I keep a candle burning for myself, so I won't feel all alone;
We should have done so, but we never celebrated anything here at all.

A leaden weariness creeps viscously like syrup down the hills,
Felling everybody as it crawls upon the monuments...
Only I escape its power, for the moment seem immune;
Yet, two elderly ladies, guarding the right, the future tomb
Are scolding me, so filled with anger, filled with envy and disdain:
"The dead are furious with you! As you're wasting your precious time!"

Now there are faces in the carpet, there are people living in the walls;
I hear the dead are calling: "Sadness lies in wait in the hours before dawn!"

These moments, fleeting as they are, they testify to us
They are the silent witnesses of a season about to pass;
I cannot but admit, carelessly ignoring life's finiteness,
That I am filled with fear and worry and so much shame because of this.

Well, everything I see, yes, all the images are blurred,
It's hard to guess the future in the short-sighted world.
How should this simple handicap be lightly well ignored,
Considering the dreadful blindness with which I have been born.

We should have done so, but we never celebrated anything here at all;
I hear the dead are calling: "Sadness lies in wait in the darkest hours...
...right before the dawn!"


Day Of The Dead

Unexpected - suddenly - as if from nowhere they appear,
The monks are wearing fire-coloured gowns.
Their faces, friendly but determined, hidden behind lacquered masks,
Painted black and white, they're having the shape of over-dimensional skulls.

Quickly and nimbly they are moving forward, hopping dextrously,
Throwing their legs like ageless jesters so high up into the air.
Each of them is armed with a short, an even piece of wood,
Remarkably resembling ancient worn-out washing-boards.
Polished by the years of use, they brandish them like swords or sticks,
Ready to strike ritually - this is the Day Of The remaining Dead.

On this day we celebrate the expulsion or rebuke
Of the spirits which have unintendedly been dragged along.
Some of these ghosts have been forgotten,
Some have simply been ignored,
These remnants with a growing hunger
Must be exorcised, shall be removed.

This ritual always commences without warning, suddenly,
Therefore it cannot be assigned to a certain date or time.
It rather tends to inevitably follow a chain of events,
A special spiritual feature inherent in everyone of them.

Out of the sphere of influence, of the sphere of the days to be
The monks are approaching, spinning on their own axis as they dance and sing,
And hitting every person present so hard between the shoulder-blades
As everyone here is dragging fidget, invisible "appendages".

As if by chance, not expressly invited, we've assembled here today
Vehemently we are being hit and driven through the western gates,
Out of the monastery in the direction of the setting sun.
A necessary purifying ceremony for the fragile days to come...

On this day we celebrate the expulsion or rebuke
Of the spirits which have unintendedly been dragged along.
Some of these ghosts have been forgotten,
Some have simply been ignored,
These remnants with a growing hunger
Must be exorcised, shall be removed.