America The tongues of your rivers burn with thirst America The coal in your mountains goes mad with sunlight America The arms of your sequoias ask pity of the storms America America Your heart’s drum Eats its own bones The eyes of your clocks Turn counter-clockwise seeking the past And on her crumbling headland the Indian woman Turns toward you eyes weighed down with asphalt Her mercury and orange head shrinks just slightly Her small breasts bared to the gnawing white ants She paints on the sand The oracle which a night effaces A rattlesnake gripped in her teeth She exorcises the white ghost Locked in the Kiva of hate A shiver of feathers down the reed of the spine Stirs your ash body America A thorn is stuck in your twilight brow A thorn is sown in the fields of hemp A thorn is screwed into the heel of your dancers America beware of your past Of the Katchinas filled with menace For wrath ripens its fiery apple In the orchards of the Appalachians In the desert colored by witches In the rose-garden of your sick soul The holocaust waits to begin.
— Yvan Goll
(Trans. by Galway Kinnell)
Born on the border of Germany and France, poet Yvan Goll worked in both French (Surrealist) and German (Expressionist). Worried because of his Jewish background, he fled Europe for New York at the beginning of World War II. In 1945, he returned to Paris, where he died of leukemia in 1950.