One of the many, many pleasant surprises in Weimar is the existence of a museum dedicated to Ginkgo Biloba. Today the plant is primarily known as a memory strengthener. Unfortunately I threw away the last bottle I bought. It had passed its expiry date. I kept forgetting to take it. Oops!

Goethe, inspired by the heart-shaped leaf, associated the plant with friendship and dedicated his poem to his friend (and lover?) Marianne von Villemer. However, it was a friendship not fated to last. They saw each other for the last time on 23.09.1815, only 8 days after he had read a draft of the poem to her.

Something tells me that Ginkgo Biloba isn’t all it’s made out to be. The poem’s lovely though.

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In my garden’s care and favour
From the East this tree’s leaf shows
Secret sense for us to savour
And uplifts the one who knows.

Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that each as one now hides?

As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my songs’ suggestion
That I’m one and also two?

Translated by John Whaley

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