Labour of Love

”To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Gone – done – yet never forgotten. / I set out. / Things which last are never loud.

Sartre‘s words are so true – particularly in this case, at least for me. I trawled through my archive and came upon this snippet of a longer poem by the early 20th century poet Joachim Ringelnatz known for his often absurd, often extremely funny but also satirical poems. I found this one on a gravestone, not on a real one, however, but part of an exhibition of modern cemetery arrangements featuring entries from all over Germany as part of the Bundesgartenschau (national horticulture show) in Brandenburg a few years back. I looked up the whole poem and it rushed me with a lot of memories as it used to be of my favourites (appropriately gone, done, yet never completely forgotten).

I found a few adaptations and a few literal translations, none of which I was really happy with. Here is my own attempt at rendering the poem in English:

I love you so!

I would give you
a tile from my stove without hesitation.
I did not hurt you.
Now I feel sad.
The railroad track elevation
Is ablaze with furze.
Gone - done - 
Yet never forgotten.
I set out.
Things which last
Are never loud.
Time defaces the living breed.
A dog barks.
He cannot read.
He cannot write.
We cannot stay tight.
I am laughing.
The holes are the most important 
parts of a sieve.
Ik hebb di leev.

Linked to Travel with Intent. For more posts inspired by the Sartre quote, click here.

5 thoughts on “Labour of Love

  1. Oh, a “degenerate artist” according to Nazi government – I like him already. A fascinating post all round, Elke. I didn’t know this poet at all, but your selection and a quick google means I need to read more. And as for a display of cemetery arrangements, I have never come across one of those. Glad you did, though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never saw anything like these “exhibition gravesides” either – the most fascinating thing was seeing some gardeners arrive from Freiburg (that’s about a 10 hours drive, depending on traffic) and tending to their little plot. They were literally using nail clippers to tend to the flowers and plants!


      1. Where I lived in Sydney was near a cemetery and there were monumental masons yards in the streets nearby. They had examples of their work on display – headstones in miniature, stone flower pots and other funereal stonework.

        Liked by 1 person

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