WESTERN LARCHES, falling needles (Larix occidentalis) [ click photo for next . . . ]
One of the greatest of fall poems in any language
I know, AUTUMN DAY is also the one poem you might expect
most Germans to know by heart. I once heard on German TV
a quite good rendition by former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder.
And yes, he DID do it by heart, something quite rare
nowadays, one might add, in an era dominated by politician
banker/lawyers, and especially what I call "The Literal Man."
This is the man or woman—gender evidently plays unfortunately
no role any more—who has had the natural childlike sense of
metaphor 'knocked out of them,' either by repression, by
schooling, or by cultural design. I always say, speaking
with the world cultural treasure and freedom fighter par
excellence, Stéphane Hessel, author of Time for Outrage /
Empör Euch / Indignez-vous! and by his own account knower
of more than 100 verses, that's there can be no better
healing mantra than to learn a great poem by heart. It
changes one deeply, and becomes a friend who returns, at
certain times of year perhaps, year after year. Say BOO,
and shake a broom at the Bansker Literal Man demons out
there who want nothing more than to colonize and destroy
your soul. Put a poem in your backpack, and walk with it,
"as the leaves begin to blow."
—On the road in the American Northwest.
AUTUMN DAY—a poem from
the German, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let thine shadows upon the sundials fall,
and unleash the winds upon the open fields.
Command the last fruits into fullness;
give them just two more ripe, southern days,
urge them into completion and press
the last bit of sweetness into the heavy wine.
He who has no house now, will no longer build.
He who is alone now, will remain alone,
will awake in the night, read, write long letters,
and will wander restlessly along the avenues,
back and forth, as the leaves begin to blow.
Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Cliff Crego)
Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war seht groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.
Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.
Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben..
| download mp3 AUTUMN DAY / HERBSTTAG [4.5 Mb] |
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I might just mention here, following the ethical principle,
First, do no harm, I never use cars or snowmachines. I
do everything on foot, bike or ski. I think this in a
deep and direct way affects my work, and how I see
the world. So all the photos above were approached
on foot, including all the in between spaces, sometimes
involving journeys of weeks or months.
I would not want to work any other way.
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New English translations
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