Strniša Gregor:
The Inferno

Part II. The Mountain


Its two peaks are never obscured by mists.

The highest crags are clearly visible.

No one can say why, but still it seems

that mists perpetually enfold the mountain.


The sky is blue, without the slightest cloud.

The sand is yellow. It glows dully in the sun.

the desert all around is flat to the horizons.

The mountain, like the smell of dirt, is black.


It just up from the plain like the fist of a giant

that lies mostly buried deep in sand,

at dusk it’s like the head of a bull’s carcass,

its forehead broad and flat, with hollow eyes.



The wind is chained to the mountain like a wolf,

while silence wails in its depths.

Whoever enters it goes groping blindly

through the long, low trenches of the labyrinth.


Many wander into dead-end passageways.

Trapped in the narrows, they die of thirst and hunger.

Each of them starts raving in his death throes,

imagining he’s living as he did before:


inviting friends to banquets, or picking

cool spheres of fruit from dewy trees.

The last echo of his own delirious laughter

falls like a white mask onto his lifeless face.



In the mountain’s depths, in its far-off heart,

in the final, narrowest chamber of the labyrinth,

the Minotaur stands waiting in the lofty dark.

Delirium’s creature: human, with a bull’s dark head.


Whatever happens here takes place in silence -

an encounter in a land of endless night,

a sudden recollection of a distant morning, snowy white,

an eye that glimpses you, but which you don’t notice.


Only very few attain these regions.

And none of them has come back from the mountain.

Some perish in the maze from thirst and hunger,

the Minotaur impales the others on its horns.

Translated by Michael Biggins