A chilly and overcast afternoon
in winter. The students
are studying. Steady boredom
of raindrops across the windowpanes.
 
It is time for class. In a poster
Cain is shown running
away, and Abel dead,
not far from a red spot.
 
The teacher, with a voice husky and hollow,
is thundering. He is an old man badly dressed,
withered and dried up,
who is holding a book in his hand.
 
And the whole children's choir
is singing its lesson:
one thousand times one hundred is one hundred thousand,
one thousand times one thousand is one million.
 
A chilly and overcast afternoon
in winter. The students
are studying. Steady boredom
of raindrops across the windowpanes.
 
 
Translated by Robert Bly

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