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The preface to ‘Émaux et camées’.


Translated by Harry Guest.

________________________GOETHE IGNORED THE brutal times
________________________when empires made the cannons roar.
________________________His East-West Divan (book of rhymes)
________________________gave breathing-space for art to soar.
________________________Shakespeare he spurned for Persian song,
________________________perfumed himself with sandalwood
________________________and borrowed metres which belong
________________________to Middle-Eastern brotherhood.
________________________Calm on his divan hour by hour,
________________________aware those battles raged in vain,
________________________he plucked a petal from each flower.
________________________I wrote, although the hurricane
________________________lashed windows which I always close,
________________________Enamels first, then Cameos.

Pendant les guerres de l’Empire,
Gœthe, au bruit du canon brutal,
Fit Le Divan occidental,
Fraîche oasis où l’art respire.

Pour Nisami quittant Shakspeare,
Il se parfuma de santal,
Et sur un mètre oriental
Nota le chant qu’Hudhud soupire.

Comme Gœthe sur son divan
À Weimar s’isolait des choses
Et d’Hafiz effeuillait les roses,

Sans prendre garde à l’ouragan
Qui fouettait mes vitres fermées,
Moi, j’ai fait Émaux et Camées.



gautiercuThéophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic.

Harry Guest’s latest publication (from Impress) is A Square in East Berlin, a translation of Torsten Schulz’s acclaimed novel Boxhagener Platz (which has been successfully filmed). He reviewed ‘Anthony Rudolf’s literary Wunderkammer’, silent conversations, for the Fortnightly here; his recent translations of Anne Mounic’s poetry for the Fortnightly are here.


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