The Last Tourist In Europe

By Mogens Dam 1948


I have come to meet my Europe/ And the old world that once was mine./

I have come to see if it’s true/ That it has turned into a smoking ruin./ I was away for long – for far too long –/ Only from afar I heard the crashes and screams,/ I will not believe that everything is in ruins,/ Simply a barren arena for the coming war./ I am the last tourist in Europe,/ Weighed down by neither gold nor spleen,/ But I have to know if Europe/ Is at all able to live after the war./ Whoever before travelled from pleasure or disgust,/ Stay away now, they go elsewhere./ I am the last tourist in Europe,/ I have come to meet it again.


And I seek in the bleeding Europe/ What I dreamt about in exile:/ The eternal and colourful flowers,/ The quiet scholars’ sagasious smiles./ In a golden–domed church in Warsaw/ I will light the lamp of an icon,/ And one night I will stroll through Venice,/ to meet Tizian by the Rialto bridge./ I am the last tourist in Europe,/ Bereft of will I drift about –/ Want to go to Vienna to see Mozart,/  Want to cultivate Raphael in Rome,/ To see  London – and Stratford-on-Avon,/ And Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels,/ And as the last tourist in Europe/ To see Paris in the sunset from Tour d’Eiffel.


Once again I have seen Goethe’s house in Weimar,/ Drunk a thousand roses’ smell in Eutin,/  And in the ruins of a theatre in Berlin/ Found the half-charred volume of Buch der Lieder./ I have dreamt in the Rococo-streets of Dresden,/ And the colourful Gothic of old Lübeck,/ And somewhere near Leipzig I will hear/

Beethoven’s music from a village school./ I have business all over Europe/ Where love has run aground/ To Pére-Lachaise, where a sarcophagos hides/ The dust of Abélard and Héloise./ And among the Dorian pillars of Parthenon/ Pallas Athene, speer in hand,/ Gives me the guts to meet my destiny/ In an upright, Socratic spirit.


I will salute every cathedral in France,/ Smile sweetly to a sheperdess by Chardin,/ Meet Rembrandt by the canals of Amsterdam,/ And bury myself in the books of Louvain./ I will hear the lark sing in the North,/ The jubilant motif of all free souls,/ Just to feel that, in spite of what we lost:/ Under the ashes life will awake!/ For you are like Phoenix, Europe!/ Let them burn you and torment your soul – / New, young flowers will always shoot / Around the shattered capitals of your columns./ I was the last tourist in Europe,/ Terrified I gave way to the din of battle –/ I am the first tourist in Europe,/ When it rises from the ashes anew!