Don't curse with your mouth
if you suddenly come across an owl
lamenting above the overgrown yard
of Europe's nighttime rubble.
If you sometimes have to dip your bread
in tears, still stand faithful watch
through the night over this old land:
grieve over our grave, but not without hope.
Keep silent often and share your blanket
with those who can take the world's sorrow —
but don't dress yourself in scarlet clothes,
in the glaring costume of a fool.
Don't get caught up in every crowd
that scowls or looks askance at the spoils
the good earth gives. And if they hoist
stormflags above the Tiber or Seine or Thames,
tighten the black crepe to muffle your drum.
Don't march along with the swelling music.
Son, follow no other way than this:
accept being a stranger.