“Easter Song” by Yvan Goll


In 1966, Easter was celebrated on April 10th. In Lincoln that year, the last measurable snow fell on March 27th, but there was a trace of snow during the month of April. For Lincolnites, it’s about a fifty-fifty split on whether or not they’ll see snow in April; once the calendar moves to May, the chance of snowfall decreases dramatically (since 1900, May snows have only happened three times). That spring, Prairie Schooner published the poem “Easter Song,” written by Yvan Goll and posthumously translated by John Palen. Goll was a poet who wrote in both French and German; he described his ethnicity as “by fate a Jew, by an accident born in France, on paper a German.” – Tory Clower

Yvan Goll
Easter Song

When Easter came around
the grass was new and sweet
and an old daisy sprouted
as innocent as that

and a blond lambkin came
as innocent as that
and had so great a hunger
it ate the daisy neat

and a red butcher came
who never heard of spite
and butchered up the lambkin
for it was his by right

and a black horseman came
who asked not this or that
but simply shot the butcher
and down to mutton sat

and a white winter came
and covered up the spite
the lamb the butcher the horseman
the song and who knows what

Translated by John Palen