Stanza 1: The Reader Forewarned
God grantthat the reader, emboldened and having become at present as fierce aswhat he is reading, find, without loss of bearings, his way, his wildand treacherous passage through the desolate swamps of these sombre,poison-soaked pages; for, unless he should bring to his reading arigorous logic and a sustained mental effort at least as strong as hisdistrust, the lethal fumes of this book shall dissolve his soul aswater does sugar. It is not right that everyone read the pages thatfollow: a sole few will savour this bitter fruit without danger. As aresult, wavering soul, before penetrating further into such unchartedbarrens, draw back, step no deeper. Mark my words: draw back, step nodeeper, like the eyes of a son respectfully flinching away from hismother's august contemplation, or rather, like an acute angle formationof cold-sensitive cranes stretching beyond the eye can reach, soaringthrough the winter silence in deep meditation, under tight sail towardsa focal point on the horizon, from where there suddenly rises apeculiar gust of wind, omen of a storm. The oldest crane, alone at theforefront, on seeing this, shakes his head like a rational person andconsequently his beak too, which he clicks, as he is uneasy (and sowould I be, in his shoes); whilst his old, feather-stripped neck,contemporary of three generations of cranes, sways in irritatedundulations that foreshadow the oncoming thunderstorm. After lookingwith composure several times in every direction with eyes that bespeakexperience, the first crane (for he is the privileged one to show histail feathers to the other, intellectually inferior cranes) vigilantlycries out like a melancholy sentinel driving back the common enemy, andthen carefully steers the nose of the geometric figure (it would be atriangle, but the third side, formed in space by these curious avianwayfarers, is invisible), be it to port, or to starboard, like askilful captain; and, manoeuvring with wings that seem no larger thanthose of a sparrow, he thus adopts, since he is no dumb creature, adifferent and safer philosophical course.