Goatfooted, Fatcheeked: Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams

On July 6, 2016 by admin



Tight little alleyway – no room

to squeeze between its walls –

a young girl blocks my way,

my rambles around Venice

knocks me off my feet,

the place, the come-on

to a stranger’s eye,

a wide canal my drifting

takes me to.  If you

had girls like your canals,

o Venice, cunts

like little alleyways, you’d be

the greatest city in the world.




what bothers me is this:

the way Bettina gets to be so skillful

every limb in her body

grows looser & looser

till she can stick her own little tongue

up her own little cunt

a charmer who tastes her own charms

will soon lose all interest in men.




Is it so big a mystery

what god and man and world are?

No! but nobody knows how to solve it

so the mystery hangs on.




Lots of things I can stomach.  Most of what irks me

I take in my stride, as a god might command me.

But four things I hate more than poisons & vipers:

tobacco smoke, garlic, bedbugs, and Christ.




Doesn’t surprise me that Christ our Lord

preferred to live with whores

& sinners, seeing

I go in for that myself.




I could have made it just as well with boys

although my thing has always been with girls.

And once I get my satisfaction with a girl

I can turn her around & have her as a boy.




Not schwanz meaning “tail”

but some fancier word

o Priapus

me being a poet

in German

that word grinds me down.

In Greek I can call you

phallos a marvelous

sound to my ears

and in Latin mentula

from mens meaning “mind”

another good word.

But  schwanz is something

that sticks out from behind

& back there isn’t where

I find the most pleasure.




Stranger-man, come, let’s drink coffee! She says, and she means

‘let me wank you.’

So much for coffee, my friends, I’ve always hated the stuff.



In my long search for a wife, I kept picking up whores; in the

end I

Caught you, my dear little whore: now I have found me a wife!




Turn your toes up to heaven, my dear, and don’t worry! We reach


Heavenwards too with our hands, but not so innocently.




Urns and sarcophagi

pagans paint into life,

dancing fauns,

dancing bands of bacchantes,

bright lines of them,

goatfooted, fatcheeked,

squeeze sounds

hot & wild

through brass horns,

percussions & cymbals

blare out,:

we see & hear

on the marble

birds beating wings,

sweet taste of the fruit

on your beaks,

no noise to frighten you.off

still less to drive Eros away

who joins the bright crowds


hoisting his torch.

So bounty overcomes death

& the ashes within

in the house made of silence

still find pleasure in life.

Some day

may the tomb of the poet

be graced

with this scroll

he has richly bejewelled

with life.




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