Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yvan Goll's last poem

Yvan Goll was born 1891 in the Vosges, a department in northeast France, close to the border with Germany. Being bilingual in French and German, he wrote poems in both languages throughout the first half of the last century. He is generally classified as a surrealist or expressionist, due to his association with the Zurich dadaists and with Andre Breton, but in my view it would be more accurate to see him as a successor to the symbolist poets.

Goll was deeply in love with his wife Claire, whom he met in 1917 and to whom he remained loyal his entire  life. That life ended in 1950, and Goll wrote the following poem to her on his deathbed.


           Written in hospice,
            December 1949 to January 1950

Did I pick you in the Gardens of Ephesus,

The curls of your hair like carnations
In the evening-bouquet of my hands

Did I go fishing for you in the lakes of dreams

I threw you my heart as bait
An angler on your willow banks 

Did I find you in the wastes of the desert

You were my last tree
You were my soul's last fruit

Now I'm embraced by your sleep

Embedded deep into your quietness
As an almond  kernel into its night-brown shell



         Geschrieben im Spital des Todes
         Dezember 1949 bis Januar 1950

Hab ich dich gepflückt in den Gärten von Ephesus
Das krause Haar deiner Nelken
Den Abendstrauß der Hände

Habe ich dich gefischt in den Seen des Traums
Ich warf dir mein Herz zur Speisung
Ein Angler an deinen Weidenufern

Hab ich dich gefunden in der Dürre der Wüste
Du warst mein letzter Baum
Du warst die letzte Frucht meiner Seele

Von deinem Schlaf nun umfangen bin ich
In deine Ruhe tief gebettet
Wie der Mandelkern in nachtbraune Schale 


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