Spring

Exactly one year after the terrible earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, today my thoughts are with friends in and around Tokyo…

I found this extract on spring by Hermann Hesse in German the other day (in this wonderful German book “Frühling”). Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a translation, and have therefore attempted it myself.

Daß der Dichter so seine Wörtchen klaubt und setzt und auswählt, mitten in einer Welt, die morgen vielleicht zerstört sein wird, das ist genau das gleiche, was die Anemonen und Primeln und andern Blümchen tun, die jetzt auf allen Wiesen wachsen. Mitten in einer Welt, die vielleicht morgen mit Giftgas überzogen ist, bilden sie sorgfältig ihre Blättchen und Kelche, mit fünf oder vier odersieben Blumenblättchen, glatt oder gezackt, alles genau und möglichst hübsch.

Just as the poet picks and chooses and sets down his words, in the middle of a world which may be destroyed tomorrow, this is exactly the same as what the anemones and primulas and other flowers do, which are now flowering in all the meadows. In the middle of a world which may be smothered by poison gas tomorrow, they carefully form their little leaves and flowers, with five, four or seven petals, flat or serrated, all exact and as pretty as possible.

(From a letter to his son Martin, April 1940)

Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet (1877 – 1962) who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. His later works more often than not had nature as a theme. He also wrote short stories and novels, including “The Glass Bead Game”. (Another book on my reading list this year!)