Ein Baum spricht: Hermann Hesse

“[W]enn wir gelernt haben, die Bäume anzuhören, dann gewinnt gerade die Kürze und Schnelligkeit und Kinderhast unserer Gedanken eine Freudigkeit ohnegleichen.” Hermann Hesse

“[W]hen we have learned to listen to trees, the brevity, rapidity, and childishness of our thoughts gain unrivaled joy.”

Such a lovely thought by Hermann Hesse, I think, that a tree speaks, but of what?

beech-forest

A tree, as Hermann Hesse says, knows nothing of its ancestors and nothing of its progeny. It stands alone, a giant like Beethoven and Nietzsche, towering over the earth, its branches rustling in the wind, and its roots, intertwined, rooted in infinity.

There is a recent theory that that trees mysteriously communicate with each other, and, if that is right, then Hesse is wrong in thinking trees are solitary creatures whose selfish existence is solely lived for themselves. The theory goes that trees in the forest share with each other carbon and other elements. Diversity is therefore important for it allows one species to give to another species when it is in need. The forest is its brother’s keeper. The tree dependent on the health of the forest for its survival.

That too is a lovely thought.

Ein Baum spricht, a tree speaks, Hesse says.

There is an ancient Elm tree that stands alone in the city where I live. It is a remnant of the many grand trees that once lined the block. Its thick branches droop. When a great wind storm comes, old branches break off and fall to the ground. Each spring thousands of tiny flowers appear, then seeds which cover the sidewalks and street, and having nowhere to take root, are washed away.

Is it sad to be the last tree?

There is an oak tree in my back yard that is at least 100 years old. It is home to a family of squirrels that feed from the seed and peanuts I provide. The squirrels run and play on its grey bark. From time to time they just cling to the bark watching me watch them. The oak tree was here before my house was built. It has seen three families come. It will be here when I am gone.

Who has not gone into the woods to find an ancient tree whose bark is gnarled and face like, whose branches reach out to the sky in supplication to God above. A tree that has stood the test of time, the bitter cold and heat, the drought and rain, and through it all has not complained.

Was sagen die Bäume? 

This begs the question, of what does a tree think?

It stands and watches, much like God, of the comings and goings of life. It is home to the birds and squirrels that nest in its branches. It gives food to the deer that feed below. Its broken branches provide firewood for the traveler who wanders by and needs warmth. It is a repository of time.

Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Persevere, for who knows what tomorrow brings?

“[Und] wenn wir gelernt haben, die Bäume anzuhören, dann gewinnt gerade die Kürze und Schnelligkeit und Kinderhast unserer Gedanken eine Freudigkeit ohnegleichen.”

BÄUME von Hermann Hesse

About Trees, Hermann Hesse

cherry blossoms haikus

1-cherry-blossom-oil
cherry blossoms

Here I am cold
Beneath cherry blossoms
Falling like snow

Shaded by cherry blossoms
One is still warmed
By beauty

A thousand petals, each a paler shade of pink
A thousand blossoms, and none alike
What then is beauty?

Try and emulate Kobayashi Issa –
Birds, insects, humans, alike
All share God’s gift, the cherry tree

 

1-cherry-blossom-branch
cherry blossoms in spring

How does the green grass know to grow?

 

blade-grass-24

 

A blade of grass in spring
Waves merrily in the breeze
As if to say, eat me

A bright blade of green grass
eagerly grow
Until it is mowed

dirt-road-poster

I see the green grass in spring
I hear the songbird sing
But best is the warmth of the sun after a long winter

The south wind blows
The green grass grows
The good earth knows it’s spring

 

Something pure and fresh

flower-blue
Enzian, Gentian flower

As the wanderer descends from the mountains and brings not a handful of earth, and nothing is spoken, but a new word, pure like the yellow and blue trumpet-shaped Alpen flower.

Are we, perhaps here only to say: house, bridge, spring, gate, jug, fruit tree, window, – at most: column, tower…. But to say, to understand, oh to say so, as things themselves never meant to be said. Is this secretive list not our concealed earth, when lovers are forced, that thus in the word’s expression, each and every one is thrilled?

 

Translation, as my teacher says, is the conversion of the image to the word three times. First, from the writer’s imagination to the written word, second into a new language, and third, by the reader who sounds the words anew.

It is not an easy task. It is fraught with false steps.

Is our protagonist a traveler or wanderer? Do we know the Enzian as the bright blue flower? Does the place, Hange des Bergrands matter? Are the words pressed upon the lovers or do the lovers in their passion press for understanding? Nouns, verbs, and adjectives all take on a meaning that is not always entirely clear.

Still we must try, and, I suppose as Rainer Maria Rilke does here in his
The Ninth Elegy come up with something pure and fresh as a mountain flower.

 

Bringt doch der Wanderer auch vom Hange des Bergrands nicht eine Hand voll Erde ins Tal, die Allen unsägliche, sondern ein erworbenes Wort, reines, den gelben und blaun Enzian. Sind wir vielleicht hier, um zu sagen: Haus, Brücke, Brunnen, Tor, Krug, Obstbaum, Fenster, – höchstens: Säule, Turm…. aber zu sagen, verstehs, oh zu sagen so, wie selber die Dinge niemals innig meinten zu sein. Ist nicht die heimliche List dieser verschwiegenen Erde, wenn sie die Liebenden drängt, daß sich in ihrem Gefühl jedes und jedes entzückt?

Happy Valentines

roses-roses-roses_red-white-pink

“Comment se fit-il que leurs lèvres se rencontrèrent? Comment se fait-il que l’oiseau chante, que la neige fonde, que la rose s’ouvre, que mai s’épanouisse, que l’aube blanchisse derrière les arbres noirs au sommet frissonnant des collines?
Un baiser, et ce fut tout. .”

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

 

 

How was it their lips met? How is it the the bird sings, the snow falls, that the rose opens, that May blooms, that the dawn whitens behind the dark trees shivering on the summit.

When they finished, when they had said everything, she laid her head on his shoulder and asked:

What is your name?

My name is Marius, he said. And you?

My name is Cosette.

Thoughts on a Thistle

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swallowtail_24

What images and thoughts come to mind when seeing a butterfly alight on a prickly thistle?

Prickly is the purple thistle
To birds and beasts and man
But not the butterfly

Or,

Oh Mary in her purple gown
Has a visitor today,
A thistle blooms in May

Or,

Each flower blooms and waits
For a butterfly – to come, to sit, and sip,
Then to fly away

Or, finally

The gentle summer wind blows
Not half as sweet as the nectar of a flower
To a butterfly

Encore,

Purple thistle, gently kissed
By a Swallowtail butterfly
Summer’s pleasant, winter’s not

swallowtail_nose_bright

Pardon my presumption

space
Messier 104, NASA

 

Pardon my presumption,
Why
In your eyes I see
My own
Staring back at me
And wonder
How singular
It must be
To share a soul
Rather than
Our Being
A Mystery…

From one soul
To another
Across the universe
My God
Mind your manners,
It matters
As every child knows
There is nothing more to say than,
Howdy!
And, it is impolite
To stare.

 

A poem is an incomplete image of a thing.

The Messier 104 galaxy is nicknamed the Sombrero galaxy. This NASA photo combines the infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope with a a visible light image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

The point being, I guess, that things aren’t always what they seem. Or, that it takes two eyes, to get a complete image. Or, – you fill in the blank.

My sparse poem is a revision of Morgan Bradham, Soul Stare.

Pardon me, Morgan, for my presumption in having your permission to mess with your beautifully written poem, but the fascination lies in the unique expression of images with words.

Blue, my world is blue

You are here, in the middle of the universe on a blue dot.

 

boat-3.jpg

 

The author and astronomer, Carl Sagan said this of the scientists who study this planet:

“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red?

It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.”

The excerpt from Carl Sagan’s speech which follows was inspired by an image taken, at Carl Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990 as the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home  about 6.4 billion miles away.