A man said:
I can't live
and he lived long and meticulously

then he stood still and said:
but I can't love
and he loved women and peace
and unspoken shyness

and an angel fought with him—
I can't fight, said the man
and he fought like a tiger, like a hare,
and like a bag of bones

the sun went down
and still they fought on,
the man and the angel,
and the man said,
with a melancholy note in his voice:
now I know,
I can't lose.

Believe me, said an angel, I will save you.
No, said a man, I don't believe you.
You have to believe me, said the angel

and he drove away the ambition of the man
and his painful omniscience,
gave him peace
and large quantities of a rare,
resilient happiness, such as had never been described.

Do you believe me now, the angel asked
and he looked at the man with unparalleled love
and tenderness
and the man whispered: I don't believe you.

A man searched for his conscience
and an angel saw him and asked:
might this be it?
showed him a large and orthodox conscience

that is yours, said the man,
but the angel shook his head:
we don't have a conscience,
we are too light,
we would fall,
we would lose from everyone,

and with a nonchalant gesture
he struck the man down and dragged him away

and the man felt ashamed.

In the end,
if we just wait long enough,
if we have seen beauty change shape
and justice bend over backwards,
if we have cherished hope,
if we believe we have believed in something true
and feel we have loved until we withered
and could not go on,
so help us our self-knowledge—
in the end,
out of everything that was
and could have been and should have been
in heaven as on earth
there only remains
a man fighting with an angel
night falls
and the angel strikes him down.