On the road with Goethe and his Erlking

.

there’s neither horse nor child,
just a stage set for the fear,
lightning rods– bare steel channels
flashs– the day’s imploding, it is

early morning on the highway,
pain seeps pale & perforates
the lines i walk, decoding– soon

about to crack and burst in
dizzy detonations, hardly visible
for those– around and

like a lion i protect the small &
quivering in my lap, shadows
mock, wrapping metaphors
around my chest, tight bandages

to camouflage the cold like Goethe
when he wrote the Erlking

it is dark and i’m about
to lose my path– they’re whispering
from gnarly twigs, pressing close
against me as in nights when skin
drips amber-ish & damp with want,

“there always is
some kind of death involved” you say—
even in arriving

.
the ever marvelous Gay Cannon has a wonderful FormForAll input over at the dVerse pub for us today… we’re thinking allegorically and metaphorically…have a look at 3pm EST.. 

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46 responses to “On the road with Goethe and his Erlking

  1. Wow, I love this. You have a way of weaving words that create little posted notes in my brain, creating images and feelings which may at first seem fleeting, yet which are ultimately memorable.
    Did I lose myself there? You bet! See what you did? 🙂
    Wonderful, and thank you for sharing it.

  2. You know I’m going to have to feature Goethe at some point on Pretzels and Bullfights, right? Which reminds me, actually: any other German poets you would recommend for such good times?

    Another lovely piece my friend, cheers…

  3. Just a great tone and originality to all your work, as everything says. I especially like:

    it is dark and i’m about
    to lose my path– they’re whispering
    from gnarly twigs, pressing close
    against me as in nights when skin
    drips amber-ish & damp with want,

    K.

  4. Your allegory creates an atmosphere of fear, dread and chill for me. “Shadows mock, wrapping metaphors around my chest…” Makes me want to take deep breaths.

  5. Thinking allegorically and metaphorically hurts my head, what about rhymeopocally?..haha

    Never knew of either one of them before, you certainly gave them quite the encore. One of these times you should do that math guy too, then the Drazin’s could turn blue.

  6. oh there is always a little death in those nights when the amber drips….smiles…i like how you use language in this and the nod to goethe as well…a very allegorical poem…travel safe out there…smiles.

  7. Wow. Traffic jams – always some kind of death involved.

    You sure know how to exemplify whatever is being taught at dverse poets. How do you do it?

  8. I hadn’t read the poem in years; so I needed to refresh my mind and have it in my thoughts as I read your poem.

    Neither child nor horse – you stay both true to the tale and immediately modernize it – turning the inherent metaphor of promise and loss to your own voice, to your own experience. This always personalizes your work. And it is done from the outset. Having said that, because of your use of such images, the reader is able to personalize them as well. The images are all so accessible. The poem rises because personal symbols are read, processed and become universal symbols with that reading.

    We don’t quite know what is quivering in your lap – the mother lion protecting the pride, the cub- but the other images edify us – take us through the inner struggle of courage (the lion) and fear “tight bandages to camouflage the cold like Goethe”.

    I repeat again here for others who read this, what I’ve said to you many times before. I am in awe, not only of your poetic prowess, but also that you write these poems in English which is not your first language. We who speak “only” English, don’t seem to have the facility you have; yet even as you do it, it never sounds awkward or translated, it sounds fluid and natural. Your ability and your poems continue to astound me. They serve as an excellent example to anyone who wishes to learn how these figures elevate language to poetry.

  9. I remember that poem of Goethe’s. I especially like

    …shadows
    mock, wrapping metaphors
    around my chest, tight bandages

    to camouflage the cold

    and the final stanza, of course – I like to think the inverse is also true

  10. Claudia- I really enjoyed this, especially:

    like a lion i protect the small &
    quivering in my lap, shadows
    mock, wrapping metaphors
    around my chest, tight bandages

  11. i just read a DarkAngel’s Lioness poem, and I put up a lion poem, I know I didn’t plan it. OK, you’re is not about lions, but it mentions lions…weird!!

  12. I read “just a stage set for the fear” and instantly the tiny hairs on my arms stood. Not just fear but “the fear.” Effective and encompassing from the beginning, pulling me in with the grip of the unknown beast. Fabulous, Claudia.

  13. Thanks Claudia.. I think blog. Essex up with your comments and they got posted twice…. Nice poem… I liked lines..metaphors wrapped in chest…but frankly haven’t understood much.. Will read again…

  14. First I read your poem, then I read Goethe’s “Erlking’, and then I reread your poem…it shed a whole new light to your words for me 🙂 You never cease to amaze me with your abilities

  15. I remember you pulling this Goethe poem up earlier this fall–you do it full justice, in a very post-post-modern style that flattens yet also makes the child’s two dimensional terrors more stark translated to adult life. That last line is an echo of the truth no one wants to hear yet still we have to tell. Fine writing Claudia. Your work is another life-preserver for me in that cold ocean of nothing where our culture is going down like the Titanic.

  16. This is such a beautiful poem. When you read it, the rhythm of it makes you breathe the feeling of fear, of death. This is a little masterpiece, Claudia. 🙂

  17. This is my first visit, Claudia, and I’m awe struck. This poem contains such foreboding, the fear, pain, dark, about to lose my path and the final truth of there’s always a death involved. But it’s so compelling at the same time. Gorgeous writing. I’ll come back.

  18. What an excellent write. Claudia I love this piece. I love allegories and obviously from my work I think I couldn’t do without metaphors-:) Really enjoyed the write, thanks, perhaps I’ll find some time from this interfering flu-to write an allegory myself. Again, great job, thanks

  19. “shadows
    mock, wrapping metaphors
    around my chest, tight bandages

    to camouflage the cold like Goethe
    when he wrote the Erlking”

    Wow! A metaphor to the second power! Never considered that. Bravo!

    I love Erlkönig — my introduction was via Schubert — and today I think I still consider that one of the most moving songs ever written.

    Love how you deconstruct and explore this — and (as mentioned at the start of this comment) make a metaphor out of the metaphor — through a type of inversion.

    Amazing!

  20. “there always is
    some kind of death involved” you say—
    even in arriving”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Thanks, for sharing your beautiful, poetic words [and your image too!] again… …”to camouflage the cold like Goethe when he wrote the Erlking…” Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with Goethe’s work yet, but I plan to go and explore.
    deedee 🙂

  21. Goethe.. ah yes… heavy influence in R Steiner who my family are into.. I went to Waldorfe Schule right through. Quite mystical/esoteric in his work.. perfect for the prompt

  22. I like the ending verses best:

    they’re whispering
    from gnarly twigs, pressing close
    against me as in nights when skin
    drips amber-ish & damp with want,

    “there always is
    some kind of death involved” you say—
    even in arriving

  23. Wonderful exposition of your imagination and vision, Claudia. I like especially:

    “there always is
    some kind of death involved” you say—
    even in arriving

    The other comments cover the waterfront on this, so I won’t bring coals to Newcastle. I’ll just say this was a very dramatic and resonating piece in its entirety. The poetic moment extended throughout and without interruption. I like this very much.

  24. You have created an eery, surreal picture where the presence of some form of violation threatens. Is this a dream? What pulls it together for me is the ending, where the atmosphere gains focus. Interesting that the suspense finds its resolution in that point, though the facelessness of the threat is still undefined. A disembodied voice elucidates or adds more mystery? Hard to decide the answer to that question.

  25. A brilliant poem! Dark, romantic images very like Goethe in his early work. Language so condensed it is fiery in its impact on the reader. Is your work always this good?