Goodbye, My Precious: A Paraphrase in Simple English

A  Translation of the Xanadu poem, Goodbye, My Precious 
into an easy-to-understand prose paraphrase. 

By Simon Farrow
(Retired Academic)
May 10, 2021

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Goodbye, my precious!—How I long, lost friend,
For you to live forever and not die.
And yet your book must bear these words: The End.
Where the tree falls, it falls; there let it lie.

Goodbye, my dearest! How  I long for you to go on living forever and never dying. And yet your life must come to an end just as every book comes to an end. What happens, happens, and we have to accept it. (‘Where the tree falls, it falls; there let it lie.’)

There lie the happy prelapsarian haunts
Of Eden garden—kiss the holy ground—
There, where the paradisal sun enchants
And casts its emblematic radiance round.

There, in another world beyond death, you will experience the conditions of the Garden of Eden as it was before the Fall—kiss the holy ground!—there where the heavenly sun bewitches the eye and bathes all around it with its mystical  radiance.

Ah, precious, precious, all the days gone by,
Unnoticed while they ran by like a river,
A river full of silver fish to fry
Where you, my love, still cast your rod forever:
My precious deathflower, doomed and lost to me,
In the dark dreamlands of dead memory.

Ah, precious, precious, all the days gone by, unnoticed as they ran past like a river, a timeflow full of exciting events to keep you busy (“a river full of silver fish to fry”) where you, my love, still continue to live an active life (“still cast your rod forever”). My precious flower of death , doomed to die and lost to me . . .  in the dark dream worlds of the mind with its dying memories.

45 thoughts to “Goodbye, My Precious: A Paraphrase in Simple English”

  1. I concede, I was in error.
    The poem no doubt, is about a departed loved one.

    But, I think, there was small error in the poem.

    “There were the paradisal sun enchants”

    I believe should read;

    “There, where the paradisal sun enchants”

    That lost me. It read as if it the poet was reflecting on a past experience, while she was actually narrating what she hopes her departed in now experiencing.

    The problem with poetry is that its like oratory, or painting. Some are really good, while others just hang in there.

    You really, really have to have more than just the gift of the gab and the tricky nuances of the language. Make the slightest error, and the message is lost.

  2. Bigfoot writes:

    But, I think, there was a small error in the poem. “There were the paradisal sun enchants”. I believe [this] should read: “There, where the paradisal sun enchants”.

    You really, really have to have more than just the gift of the gab and the tricky nuances of the language. Make the slightest error, and the message is lost.

    Whew! Talk about a stickler for perfection! Bigfoot, who couldn’t even understand the original meaning of the poem and admits he was barking up the wrong tree, now tells us the whole poem is a *TOTAL FAILURE* because of a single misplaced comma!!! 🙂

    There’s absolutely NO DIFFERENCE difference between “There where the paradisal sun enchants” and “There, where the paradisal sun enchants.” Certainly no important difference! 🙂

    Xanadu just prefers minimalist punctuation. Which most poets do nowadays, doing away with unnecessary commas. I think Bigfoot is being extremely fussy and pedantic.

    1. Yes, I agree. Bigfoot doesn’t have a clue. He wants commas everywhere, scattered like confetti. One missing comma and he goes berserk! 🙂

      Tell me, Bigfoot, who was the uneducated idiot who wrote these famous lines and left out all the commas?

      “This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      Not with a bang but a whimper.”

      Gosh, this guy leaves out THREE COMMAS and he gets away with it! But LD leaves out ONE comma and receives a good thrashing.

      People like Bigfoot are known as “curmudgeons”. They are often disgruntled older men, skinflints with their compliments, and misogynists to boot. Like that old grumpy old curmudgeon Schopenhauer who never said a nice thing about a woman if he could find something catty and bitchy to say.

      Down with Schopenhauer! who would actually cross the street if he found a woman walking towards him on the same sidewalk. 🙂

      1. There was a man from Massachusetts who lived in the Revolutionary war era named “Lord Timothy Dexter”. He once wrote an entire book with no punctuation marks. None. Zero. Nada.*He was renown for his eccentricity.

        He once shipped a gazillion bed warmers to the Caribbean. When someone informed him that no one living in a tropical climate needed such a product, he relabeled them as containers for exporting fruit and made a fortune……not such a dumb guy after all, eh? 😆

        *Who knows, maybe he thought this would be a good teaching method for students to put the punctuations in the appropriate places….or maybe he was just a silly goofball who had an unusual flair fer bizness🤪

          1. As Sister Monica keeps telling us, her original copy of the Bible in Latin (known as the “Biblia Sacra Vulgata”) contains not a single punctuation mark. No commas. And not even a single full stop at the end of a sentence. That’s 1200 PAGES without punctuation.

            That’s one book Bigfoot ain’t gonna buy! 🙂

            1. I’ve seen that book in an academic library. It was bound in green leather with huge gold lettering on the spine of the book. It was published and printed in Stuttgart, Germany. I was told it cost and arm and a leg. I believe Lasha owns a copy of the book and uses it for reference. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t like too many commas, because she’s used to reading books without any commas! 🙂

      1. @ Bigfoot

        My sincere apologies to you, Brother Bigfoot. I had completely failed to notice the typo (‘WERE’ instead of ‘WHERE’). Sister Monica has now pointed this out and made the necessary change. So you ought to be satisfied now! 🙂

        Meanwhile, I would ask you in the interests of amicable relations, and out of human kindness, not to go out of your way in future to wound Lasha’s feelings with carping criticisms and needless nitpicking of her beautiful otherworldly poetry. She could, I think, do with the occasional compliment — even though, I suspect, getting a compliment out of a dour old curmudgeon like you would be like squeezing blood from a stone! 🙂

        Your suggestion that Lasha is a lousy pretentious poet, just because she makes a simple typo, borders on mental cruelty.
        The poet can do without this abusive treatment.

          1. @ Bigfoot

            No problem! Life goes on. To paraphrase a famous line in the Gospels: “He who is without bubbles among you, let him prick the first bubble.”

    1. Well said, Sarita! Beautifully put. You sound like a sad and melancholy poetess. I am also a very sad person, especially after my abduction by aliens. It’s not so much the abduction that bothers me. It’s the rage and humiliation of not being believed. It’s not much fun being a laughingstock rape victim if no one believes you. Know what I mean?

      1. Not to worry, Lorinda.
        You’ve come to the right site.
        Everyone will believe you here! 🙂

      2. The name “Lorinda” sounds like a name from the 1950s — The name “Lorinda” sounds like it could be a greaser doo wop song from the 1950s “Lorinda Lorinda”, lol…

  3. In all my “injun” poems I don’t think I used a single punctuation mark. If I did, bad on me. Not using them in poetry is instinctual to a basic understanding of poetry. They simply don’t belong. It would be like using them in music, which of course is absurd. Also, it’s insulting to the reader because the poet would be imposing themselves by identifying “breaks”, which blocks what would otherwise allow the reader to flow along with the words.

    Good poetry is improvised dancing, where the poet invites the reader to be their partner, and is the one who leads, and doesn’t step on their partner’s toes.

    1. @ Brownhawk

      What is being advocated here is minimalist punctuation, i.e., just enough punctuation to make your meaning clear. Why use two commas in a sentence when one will do? What is NOT being advocated is complete absence of punctuation. This would be ridiculously pretentious and counterproductive. I challenge you to find me a single great poet who does not use punctuation! 🙂

      Here is Shelley’s “To a Skylark”, already praised on this site as one of the most beautiful poems ever written. It is meticulously punctuated, with not a comma or full stop out of place. I challenge you to “improve” this poem by removing all the punctuation! 🙂

      https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45146/to-a-skylark

  4. punctuation is racist!

    punctuation is White Supremacism!!

    Which makes Grammar Fiend a big bad NAZI dictator!!! *grin*

  5. @ Simon Farrow

    I enjoyed your exegesis of LD’s poem, giving a blow-by-blow interpretation of every single line. But I hope you’re not going to make a habit of this! 🙂

    You know why?

    Because this implies two negative things: (1) that we are all too stupid here to figure out the meaning of this poem without your help; and (2) that the poem itself is so murky and obscure and incomprehensible and it needs to be “retranslated” for us by a retired professor of English Litertature. 🙂

  6. Saki
    OK, so maybe I was being too harsh and got carried away with my criticism. A personal bias against punctuation in poetry I suppose. But if you were to remove all of Shelley’s punctuation from “To a Skylark” would it be any less beautiful? Would it make it incidental that there were any commas, colons, semicolons, and
    apostrophes?

    Maybe Lasha would like to weigh in on this

    1. You make me despair, Brownhawk. Talking to you on a ratonal level is f***ing useless! Saki is wasting his time and won’t bother any more — mark my words!

      OF COURSE “To a Skylark” would be less beautiful if you removed all the punctuation! Otherwise WHY would Shelley have bothered to use punctuation at all? Why not save himself the trouble by leaving it unpunctuated? Ever think of that?

      Tell me, would a car be “just as beautiful” if you removed the wheels? Why bother with wheels, eh? The car wouldn’t even run without wheels!

      I suggest the next comment you write that you put your money where your mouth is and leave out all the punctuation. See how much applause you get! And the next time you drive to the supermarket, remove the wheels of your car. You’ll get there just as fast without wheels, right? 🙂

      What wheels are to cars, punctuation is to prose and poetry. It helps it to function. It helps it to work.

      Respectfully,

      Sardonicus

      1. As a matter of interest, do you smoke a lot of cannabis? I reckon quite a few people on this site are potheads. I know a guy on this site (I won’t mention his name) who is probably on crack cocaine and/or methamphetamines. Fortunately, he doesn’t post here very often nowadays. You’re not in that league, BH. Your Red Injun poems are darn good. They show genuine poetic talent. So you want to go easy on the pot.

      2. I find your analogy of wheels on a car useless. You Brits get all high and mighty when it comes to written verse I suppose. The word is ARROGANT. As for cannabis, first of all, who are you to tell me to “go easy on the pot”, as if you had a clue about my using it, or lack thereof? You remind me of a teacher I had in High School, a classic moonbat who liked to tell people how they SHOULD be, what they SHOULD be doing, etc. Thinking he knew what was best for them. Not an attractive trait, Sard.

        That aside, where’s Lasha in this discussion. She really should get involved with this particular topic in the commentariat

        1. @ Brownhawk

          My sincere apologies to you, Brother Brownhawk, for wounding your feelings. The analogy of wheels on a car, as you rightly point out, is “useless”. I admit it’s a lousy analogy, but it’s the best I could come up with in the heat of the moment.

          As for my arrogant speculations about whether you are a “pothead” or not, this is completely out of order and deeply to be regretted. I have no way of knowing anything about your private life and personal habits. That’s quite true. So profound apologies again, you Terror of the Tomahawk! 🙂

          In my own defense, I will only say this, Brother Brownhawk: I have known you long enough now to indulge in the occasional teasing banter. What’s an occasional gibe among friends? 🙂

        2. @ Brownhawk

          That aside, where’s Lasha in this discussion. She really should get involved with this particular topic in the commentariat.

          Lasha is currently very busy, too busy to take part in any discussion with us mere peasants, she’s at the Bilderberger’s International Conference on the Transgenderism Agenda for The Occident being held at Basel Switzerland. Ever since Lasha decided to take THE SHEKELS [as Xymphora would correctly phrase the situation regarding Lasha vis-a-vis THE JEWS ] the Bilderberger’s figured Lasha would be just PERFECT to push their JEW-jesuit NWO dystopian agenda. See what Lasha mockingly calls “artwork” that accompanies every Lasha “death ideation” poem for what dystopia looks like. *grin*

          1. Gilbert :

            When you composed poems did you use commas? it’s been so long I don’t remember if you used commas or not. When did your Muse die? It’s been so long since the death of your Muse I don’t remember when. You’re probably still mourning the death of your Muse. Did your Muse kill itself because it wasn’t inspiring you to compose good poems because your poems always sucked? Or, did Putin kill your Muse? A Muse who never inspired you to compose a good poem only, lol, lousy poems. Still, your Muse was the only Muse you had so you still mourn the death of your Muse even though it was an uninspiring Muse, but it was your Muse and the only one you had, you had no other, so you miss your Muse though we don’t miss your poetry, not at all, lol…..

            Come to think of it, you only had one theme and that theme was you once had a love and now your love is dead and someday you will be RE-united with your lost love after you die, in the afterlife in Heaven you will be with your long lost love again, which coincidentally is same exact theme Lasha ALWAYS uses for her poems, always the same old theme *yawn* . Even your Muse got bored with the theme and died on you, lol. Maybe Putin didn’t kill your Muse, maybe your Muse simply died from ( pause) B-O-R-E-D-O-M, LMFAO!!!!!!

            I don’t remember, it’s been so long, so did you use commas so many years ago when you were doing your darndest desperate best to be a good poet but failed tremendously and your poems always sucked ? *grin*

            1. Gilbert,

              How does it feel to be a failure at poetry? All those poems you composed a long time ago, do you feel like it was a total waste of time composing those poems like we think it was a total waste of time reading your poems? We’re thankful you’re not inflicting your poetry on us anymore, LMFAO!!!!!

              1. WHY I HATE LASHA’S DEATH POETRY

                The meaning of Lasha’s latest lousy poem is she lost her good friend, her Muse, a very long time ago. Her good friend , her Muse, died a very long time ago and she misses her good friend, her Muse, terribly – because she, lol, hasn’t composed a decent poem ever since her good friend, her Muse, died. Her good friend , her Muse, who is as dead as a doorknob is buried “in the dark dreamlands of dead memory” dead as a doorknob, lol.

                Though at least Lasha still tries to compose poetry. You have to give her credit for at least trying. Gilbert’s good friend, his Muse, died when Putin stomped on Gilbert’s Muse in Syria and Gilbert hasn’t even tried in the least to compose a poem since that tragic day of September 30, 2015.

                At least Lasha tries to compose poetry without a Muse, though with a dead Muse any attempt at composing even a half-way decent poem is unavailing, futile. But she tries and when your heart is breaking because your Muse is, lol, as dead as a doorknob — the very fact you’re desperately hoping your Muse will come back to life if you just compose yet another poem and save you from, lol, failure.

                With a dead Muse, dead as a doorknob, can Lasha ever compose a decent poem? Quoth Poe’s ghastly black Raven, harbinger of death, “Nevermore!” lol… 🙂

  7. I’m usually only an observer here, but I feel I must come to the aid of Mr. Bigfoot.
    Quote Saki: There’s absolutely NO DIFFERENCE difference between “There where the paradisal sun enchants” and “There, where the paradisal sun enchants.” Certainly no important difference! 🙂
    NOTE: If you read the poem at the top correctly, you would find it is there written “There were the paradisal sun enchants” and not as you say “There where the paradisal sun enchants.”
    There certainly is a difference in the words where and were.
    Your grievance is wholly unfounded.

    1. How ’bout this:

      There*
      Where the paradisal sun enchants

      But that’s just me 😉

      *a one-word line

      1. That’s good BH, but no longer necessary, now that the typo and punctuation have been changed:

        “There, where the paradisal sun enchants…”

        The comma after “there” does the trick by offering a pause, though your version makes the pause a bit longer and more emphatic.

    2. @ Bigfoot, Saki, Brownhawk etc

      The poet apologizes profusely for the simple typo “WERE”, in which the letter “h” was accidentally left out. It should of course have been “WHERE“, not “WERE” — “There where the paradisal sun enchants”, and NOT “There were the paradisal sun enchants.” The latter, as you know, is is not only ungrammatical but makes no sense at all. LD would never dream of intentionally writing such ungrammatical garbage! 🙂

      I am surprised that Bigfoot, who is normally very astute, should fail to see that this was a simple typo. And no more. Indeed, it’s an amazing trick on the eye to think that Saki (as well as myself and the poet) should all completely fail to notice this silly typo until now. Amazing how the eye can trick the mind.

      Anyway, not to worry. The typo has now been corrected! 🙂

      1. Sister, I know now it was a typo. But reading the Poem at first, I never sought to find typo error. And by seeking to understand the poem as it was, my mind drifted, and I interpreted it all wrong. I guess i should have been careful. But some of us, have a very short window to do this stuff. hence error on my part too.

        1. Am just explaining what happened .

          Let us go back to the line which had a typo error. But let us read it as it is.

          When the Poet says;

          “There were the paradisal sun enchants
          And casts its emblematic radiance round.”

          Well, this line (ignore the fact that its a typo error) has the ring of a flashback, which I think is very frequent in poetry, just as in plays. So, if you are in a hurry, and read that line, believing it to be true, the mind sought of picks up the flashback, and reads it into the next line, giving the flashback, a present continuous tense, thus creating vividness of the experience.

          “And casts its emblematic radiance round.”

          Hence the rest of the poem, fits back into the flashback, and the vision of the future (which was initially the intension of the Poet) is lost.

          Ah, precious, precious, all the days gone by,
          Unnoticed while they ran by like a river,
          A river full of silver fish to fry
          Where you, my love, still cast your rod forever:
          My precious deathflower, doomed and lost to me,
          In the dark dreamlands of dead memory.

          All that now, is taken by the flashback, assumed because of the typo.

          Just saying……

  8. It really is a trifling matter, this business of punctuation in poetry. Removing commas, colons, semicolons, and periods is no big deal. Instead of using them, simply end the line and go down to the next one. That way, indicating a break will take care of itself. The astute reader will take note of it.

    B’hawk like apostrophes tho. And him like exclamation marks too! (he said, starting a sentence with “And”….The punctilious Grammar Fiend must be aghast!😱)

    1. The poet writes the poem as SHE conceives it. What’s the fuss over???
      If she wants a comma, read it thusly.

        1. Dear Sister Monica,

          You’re a daughter of lilith so you would know : Are there any commas in the joo ka-BAAL-ah?

  9. Pat ,

    Thank you, Pat. The name “Lorinda” sounded vaguely familiar to me, now I know the song is “Corina Corina” not “Lorinda Lorinda”. Thank you for clearing that up for me. Just curious, how old were you when “Corina Corina” by Ray Peterson was released? Take your time answering. I know it takes you a long time to figure out your real age, lol. It’s funny how you know everything about everything — except your age, that’s one thing you don’t know, lol.

    The following song one of my favorite songs from the 50s ; The Theme : it has to do with losing your girlfriend in an* horrific car accident:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4447lT5GQOk

    *One can say “a horrific car accident” or one can say “an horrific car accident” BOTH are acceptable and both are considered proper English so those who would prefer “a” please don’t hassle me, “an” is also proper English. I think “an” sounds better to the ear than “a” in the sentence, that’s all, please don’t hassle me about it. Thank you, TROJ**

    ** NOT TRO”G” , it’s “TRO’J'”, TROJ. I live in America so the name is JOSEPH NOT “Giuseppe”. STOP calling me “Giuseppe”, “G”, “TROG”. My handle is “TROJ”, please be considerate and polite and proper and use my handle. The handle is “TROJ” NOT any other handle. I speak English so you can call me JOSEPH [ or Joe or even whiddlejoew ] and I’ll know you’re talking to me. STOP calling me “Giuseppe/TROG”. Thanks again!

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