Words do not Express Herman Hesse
The Birds reported from the South --
A News express to Me --
A spicy Charge, My little Posts --
But I am deaf -- Today --
The Flowers -- appealed -- a timid Throng --
I reinforced the Door --
Go blossom for the Bees -- I said --
And trouble Me -- no More --
The Summer Grace, for Notice strove --
Remote -- Her best Array --
The Heart -- to stimulate the Eye
Refused too utterly --
At length, a Mourner, like Myself,
She drew away austere --
Her frosts to ponder -- then it was
I recollected Her --
She suffered Me, for I had mourned --
I offered Her no word --
My Witness -- was the Crape I bore --
Her -- Witness -- was Her Dead --
Thenceforward -- We -- together dwelt --
I never questioned Her --
A Wiser Sympathy
[Published in the Gottingen Musen Almanach,
having been written "to express his feelings and caprices" after
his separation from Frederica.]
YOUNG woman, may God bless thee,
Thee, and the sucking infant
Upon thy breast!
Let me, 'gainst this rocky wall,
Neath the elm-tree's shadow,
Lay aside my burden,
Near thee take my rest.
What vocation leads thee,
While the day is burning,
Up this dusty path?
Bring'st thou goods from out the town
Round the country?
Smil'st thou, stranger,
At my question?
From the town no goods I bring.
Cool is now the evening;
Show to me the fountain
'Whence thou drinkest,
Woman young and kind!
Up the rocky pathway mount;
Go thou first! Across the thicket
Leads the pathway tow'rd the cottage
That I live in,
To the fountain
Whence I drink.
Signs of man's arranging hand
See I 'mid the trees!
Not by thee these stones were join'd,
Nature, who so freely scatterest!
Up, still up!
Lo, a mossy architrave is here!
I discern thee, fashioning spirit!
On the stone thou hast impress'd thy seal.
Over an inscription am I treading!
Ye are seen no longer,
Words so deeply graven,
Who your master's true devotion
Should have shown to thousand grandsons!
At these stones, why
Start'st thou, stranger?
Many stones are lying yonder
Round my cottage.
Through the thicket,
Turning to the left,
Ye Muses and ye Graces!
This, then, is my cottage.
'Tis a ruin'd temple! *
Just below it, see,
Springs the fountain
Whence I drink.
Thou dost hover
O'er thy grave, all glowing,
Genius! while upon thee
Hath thy master-piece
Thou Immortal One!
Stay, a cup I'll fetch thee
Whence to drink.
Ivy circles thy slender
Form so graceful and godlike.
How ye rise on high
From the ruins,
And thou, their lonely sister yonder,--
Dusky moss upon thy sacred head,--
Lookest down in mournful majesty
On thy brethren's figures
At thy feet!
In the shadow of the bramble
Earth and rubbish veil them,
Lofty grass is waving o'er them
Is it thus thou, Nature, prizest
Thy great masterpiece's masterpiece?
Carelessly destroyest thou
Thine own sanctuary,
Sowing thistles there?
How the infant sleeps!
Wilt thou rest thee in the cottage,
Stranger? Wouldst thou rather
In the open air still linger?
Now 'tis cool! take thou the child
While I go and draw some water.
Sleep on, darling! sleep!
Sweet is thy repose!
How, with heaven-born health imbued,
Peacefully he slumbers!
Oh thou, born among the ruins
Spread by great antiquity,
On thee rest her spirit!
He whom it encircles
Will, in godlike consciousness,
Ev'ry day enjoy.
Full, of germ, unfold,
As the smiling springtime's
Outshining all thy fellows!
And when the blossom's husk is faded,
May the full fruit shoot forth
From out thy breast,
And ripen in the sunshine!
God bless him!--Is he sleeping still?
To the fresh draught I nought can add,
Saving a crust of bread for thee to eat.
I thank thee well.
How fair the verdure all around!
My husband soon
Will home return
From labour. Tarry, tarry, man,
And with us eat our evening meal.
Is't here ye dwell?
Yonder, within those walls we live.
My father 'twas who built the cottage
Of tiles and stones from out the ruins.
'Tis here we dwell.
He gave me to a husbandman,
And in our arms expired.--
Hast thou been sleeping, dearest heart
How lively, and how full of play!
Nature, thou ever budding one,
Thou formest each for life's enjoyments,
And, like a mother, all thy children dear,
Blessest with that sweet heritage,--a home
The swallow builds the cornice round,
Unconscious of the beauties
She plasters up.
The caterpillar spins around the bough,
To make her brood a winter house;
And thou dost patch, between antiquity's
Most glorious relics,
For thy mean use,
Oh man, a humble cot,--
Enjoyest e'en mid tombs!--
Farewell, thou happy woman!
Thou wilt not stay, then?
May God preserve thee,
And bless thy boy!
A happy journey!
Whither conducts the path
Across yon hill?
How far from hence?
'Tis full three miles.
Oh Nature, guide me on my way!
The wandering stranger guide,
Who o'er the tombs
Of holy bygone times
To a kind sheltering place,
From North winds safe,
And where a poplar grove
Shuts out the noontide ray!
And when I come
Home to my cot
Illumined by the setting sun,
Let me embrace a wife like this,
Her infant in her arms!
* Compare with the beautiful description contained
in the subsequent lines, an account of a ruined temple of Ceres,
given by Chamberlayne in his Pharonnida (published in 1659)
".... With mournful majesiy
A heap of solitary ruins lie,
Half sepulchred in dust, the bankrupt heir
To prodigal antiquity...."
In these numbers be express'd
Meaning deep, 'neath merry jest.
A FELLOW says: "I own no school or college;
No master lives whom I acknowledge;
And pray don't entertain the thought
That from the dead I e'er learnt aught."
This, if I rightly understand,
Means: "I'm a blockhead at first hand."
The Orient Express
One looks from the train
Almost as one looked as a child. In the sunlight
What I see still seems to me plain,
I am safe; but at evening
As the lands darken, a questioning
Precariousness comes over everything.
Once after a day of rain
I lay longing to be cold; after a while
I was cold again, and hunched shivering
Under the quilt's many colors, gray
With the dull ending of the winter day,
Outside me there were a few shapes
Of chairs and tables, things from a primer;
Outside the window
There were the chairs and tables of the world ...
I saw that the world
That had seemed to me the plain
Gray mask of all that was strange
Behind it -- of all that was -- was all.
But it is beyond belief.
One thinks, "Behind everything
An unforced joy, an unwilling
Sadness (a willing sadness, a forced joy)
Moves changelessly"; one looks from the train
And there is something, the same thing
Behind everything: all these little villages,
A passing woman, a field of grain,
The man who says good-bye to his wife --
A path through a wood all full of lives, and the train
Passing, after all unchangeable
And not now ever to stop, like a heart --
It is like any other work of art,
It is and never can be changed.
Behind everything there is always
The unknown unwanted life.
I have no brief for gambling, nay
The notion I express
That money earned 's the only way
To pay for happiness.
With cards and dice I do not hold;
By betting I've been bit:
Conclusion: to get honest gold
You've got to sweat for it.
Though there be evil in strong drink
It's brought me heaps of fun;
And now, with some reserve, I think
My toping days are done.
Though at teetotal cranks I laugh,
Yet being sound and hale,
I find the best of drinks to quaff
Is good old Adam's ale.
I do not like your moralist,
Who with a righteous grin
Informs you o'er a pounding fist:
"Unchastity is sin."
I don't believe it, but I grant,
By every human test,
From parson, pimp and maiden aunt,
Morality is best.
Yet what a bore our lives would be
If we lived as we should;
It's such a blessing to be free,
And not be over-good.
I value virtues great and small,
As I in life advance:
But O the greatest sin of all
A Prison gets to be a friend --
Between its Ponderous face
And Ours -- a Kinsmanship express --
And in its narrow Eyes --
We come to look with gratitude
For the appointed Beam
It deal us -- stated as our food --
And hungered for -- the same --
We learn to know the Planks --
That answer to Our feet --
So miserable a sound -- at first --
Nor ever now -- so sweet --
As plashing in the Pools --
When Memory was a Boy --
But a Demurer Circuit --
A Geometric Joy --
The Posture of the Key
That interrupt the Day
To Our Endeavor -- Not so real
The Check of Liberty --
As this Phantasm Steel --
Whose features -- Day and Night --
Are present to us -- as Our Own --
And as escapeless -- quite --
The narrow Round -- the Stint --
The slow exchange of Hope --
For something passiver -- Content
Too steep for lookinp up --
The Liberty we knew
Avoided -- like a Dream --
Too wide for any Night but Heaven --
If That -- indeed -- redeem --
Along the wind-swept platform, pinched and white,
The travellers stand in pools of wintry light,
Offering themselves to morn’s long, slanting arrows.
The train’s due; porters trundle laden barrows.
The train steams in, volleying resplendent clouds
Of sun-blown vapour. Hither and about,
Scared people hurry, storming the doors in crowds.
The officials seem to waken with a shout,
Resolved to hoist and plunder; some to the vans
Leap; others rumble the milk in gleaming cans.
Boys, indolent-eyed, from baskets leaning back,
Question each face; a man with a hammer steals
Stooping from coach to coach; with clang and clack
Touches and tests, and listens to the wheels.
Guard sounds a warning whistle, points to the clock
With brandished flag, and on his folded flock
Claps the last door: the monster grunts: ‘Enough!’
Tightening his load of links with pant and puff.
Under the arch, then forth into blue day,
Glide the processional windows on their way,
And glimpse the stately folk who sit at ease
To view the world like kings taking the seas
in prosperous weather: drifting banners tell
Their progress to the counties; with them goes
The clamour of their journeying; while those
Who sped them stand to wave a last farewell.
Come, my songs, let us express our baser passions.
Let us express our envy for the man with a steady job and no worry about the future.
You are very idle, my songs,
I fear you will come to a bad end.
You stand about the streets, You loiter at the corners and bus-stops,
You do next to nothing at all.
You do not even express our inner nobilitys,
You will come to a very bad end.
And I? I have gone half-cracked.
I have talked to you so much that I almost see you about me,
Insolent little beasts! Shameless! Devoid of clothing!
But you, newest song of the lot,
You are not old enough to have done much mischief.
I will get you a green coat out of China
With dragons worked upon it.
I will get you the scarlet silk trousers
From the statue of the infant Christ at Santa Maria Novella;
Lest they say we are lacking in taste,
Or that there is no caste in this family.
The Sun and Moon must make their haste --
The Stars express around
For in the Zones of Paradise
The Lord alone is burned --
His Eye, it is the East and West --
The North and South when He
Do concentrate His Countenance
Like Glow Worms, flee away --
Oh Poor and Far --
Oh Hindred Eye
That hunted for the Day --
The Lord a Candle entertains
Entirely for Thee --