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A PARABLE (Prequel)

“I PICKED a rustic nosegay lately,
And bore it homewards, musing greatly;
When, heated by my hand, I found
The heads all drooping tow’rd the ground.

I plac’d them in a well-cool’d glass,
And what a wonder came to pass;
The heads soon raised themselves once more,
The stalks were blooming as before.

And all were in as good a case
As when they left their native place;
So felt I, when I wond’ring heard,
My song to foreign tongues transferr’d.”

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: 1749-1832)


That rustic nosegay yet has life,
Despite encounters with much strife;
Our efforts must be: “Keep at bay,
Those hazards that may come our way.”

As children of our Mother Earth,
One’s death can lead to new rebirth;
All bloom with tender loving care,
Despite the pains from wear and tear.

From sufferings we learn to rise.
Agreed, it takes one constant tries;
With aid from sundry foreign places,
We rise again to find new spaces.

That is the course life offers us.
To not to worry, not to fuss;
But like a nosegay sprouting bright,
To lift ourselves to lofty height.

About this poem

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), a German writer, politician, and polymath; a novelist, scientist, and statesman, was also a composer of plays and poetry, his works having an enduring and widespread influence on Western literary, political, and philosophical thought that extends into the present twenty first century. As Goethe, in an expression of the universal metaphysical power of poetry, once declared ostentatiously: “True poetry announces itself thus, that, as a worldly gospel, it can by informal cheerfulness and eternal comfort free us from the earthly burdens which press upon us. ” The alchemical and metaphysical agent for human transformation and a trigger for human individuation, poetry as an art form, serves as a healing balm for the soul, and a source of comfort to the sick and dying. This four-stanza rhymed quatrain poem, “The Rebirth of Goethe’s Nosegay,” is written as a complement to Goethe’s 1749 metaphysical poem, entitled “A Parable.” The opening line of Goethe’s poem reads in English as follows: “I PICKED a rustic nosegay lately…” When expressed in German (Goethe’s native language), the same opening line of the poem, would read as follows: “Ich habe kurzlich einen rustikalen Blumenstrauss gepflückt…“ In English, the word “PICKED” (“gepflückt) is all-capitalized, suggesting that that word was likely emphasized by Goethe in the original German manuscript as well. That itself, is an interesting and valuable piece of information. It supports the view of the author’s deliberate construction of an intended ambiguous nature of the poem. In German, the infinitive verb, “gepflügen,” can, semantically, suggest “to cultivate” (“plant,” “grow”) or, alternatively, “to plough” ( to “uproot,” “remove” for harvesting; “to pluck”); both senses of the word, conveying metaphorically contrastive meanings that suggest either “to bring to, as a cause to sustain life; or to reap; or to dispose of by consuming.” Thus, at its outset, Goethe’s poem gives the perceptive reader “heads up” about the mysterious, intertwining, and complex nature of life and death, of death and rebirth; all of which provides a vivid image of the parable of life itself. For current readers, Goethe’s poem, concerning the metaphysics of life and death, is introduced here as a prequel, followed by this new poem, composed as a responsive twenty first century sequel to Goethe’s thoughtful eighteenth century poem. 

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Written on November 18, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on November 18, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes on June 18, 2024

1:09 min read

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1991 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s ‘Liebe Mili’ (translated into English as “Dear Mili”), Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes of Analytical Psychology. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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Discuss the poem The Rebirth of Goethe’s Nosegay with the community...

  • karlcfolkes
    Thank you kindly Ben. We can learn greatly from those who have come before us and serve as our teachers.
    LikeReply 13 days ago
  • BenRidley
    One of many deeply learned and considered poems I’ve been reading of yours, Karl. The subject and your response in metre particularly interesting to read.
    LikeReply4 days ago
  • teril
    A well-done sequel to Goethe's prequel. The rhymes and the rhythm successfully continue the pattern and I enjoy the way that you embellish the theme. Not an easy task.
    LikeReply1 year ago


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