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The Ferry of Lead by Yvan Goll

September 06, 1998

In our time men die before they are dead

Sitting on their suitcase filled with empty boxes

They watch the dance of the eternal wave

As they wait for the ferry

The past withers from their memory

The song starves on their lips

The song of the ancient goatherd

Loved by the young honeysuckle

The goat with Juno's eyes will go on haunting the hill

And the black wine in the suburbs of Corinth

Will fire the poet's loves again

When all of us are dead on the ferry of lead

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY GALWAY KINNELL

From "World Poetry," edited by Katharine Washburn, John S. Major and Clifton Fadiman (W.W. Norton: 1,338 pp., $45)

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