D. (dalaruan) wrote,

unheard of contradictions

For me, one of the most disturbing poems of Christian Morgenstern's Gallows Songs is The Wallpaper Flower:

Tapetenblume bin ich fein,
kehr wieder ohne Ende,
doch, statt im Mai'n und Mondenschein,
auf jeder der vier Wände.

Du siehst mich nimmerdar genung,
so weit Du blickst im Stübchen,
Und folgst Du mir im Rösselsprung -
wirst du verrückt mein Liebchen.
Christian Morgenstern

The Wallpaper Flower
Wallpaper Flower, that is I,
in May I do not bloom;
but endlessly I multiply
throughout the four walled room.

Your eyes that search unceasingly
look for the end in vain;
and if they hopscotch after me,
my love, you go insane.
Translation by Max E. Knight

Dorothea Tanning - Les Jeux d'enfants, 1942

Thirteen years before Morgenstern's poem Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her famous short story about a woman going mad while staring at The Yellow Wallpaper:

[...] It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

[...] Es ist so wirr, daß einem die Augen flimmern, wenn man dem Muster nachspürt, so ausgeprägt, daß es ständig irritiert und näheres Hinsehen verlangt; und folgt man den schwachen, unsicheren Kurven eine kurze Strecke, dann begehen sie plötzlich Selbstmord - tauchen in haarsträubenden Winkeln ab, zerstören sich in unerhörten Widersprüchen.

Tags: literature, me, solitude

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