Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 25 October 2014

'Herbstbild/ Picture of Autumn' by Friedrich Hebbel

Brigitta Huegel



Dies ist ein Herbsttag, wie ich keinen sah!          This is an autumn day as I have never seen before!
 Die Luft ist still, als atmete man kaum,                 The air is still, as if one almost doesn't breathe,
Und dennoch fallen raschelnd, fern und nah,        And yet fall rustling, far and near,
 Die schönsten Früchte ab, von jedem Baum.        The loveliest fruits from every tree.

O stört sie nicht, die Feier der Natur!                   O don't disturb it, nature's feast,
 Dies ist die Lese, die sie selber hält,                       This is the picking that she does herself.
Denn heute löst sich von den Zweigen nur,              For today from the branches only drops  
 Was vor dem milden Strahl der Sonne fällt.         what falls by the mild rays of the sun.

Friedrich Hebbel (1813 - 1863)                               (rough translation by me)



Britta says: You might wonder whether you stranded on my blog "Happiness of the Day" http://www.burstingwithhappiness.blogspot.de/ , my playground for poetry.
No - I just love that poem of Friedrich Hebbel very much - even though I just read an elaboringborate interpretation of these eight lines - on 12 (!) pages, very learned, and very critical, (didn't find a name, only the link http://mpg-trier.de/d7/read/hebbel_herbstbild.pdf)
"The title 'Autumn Painting' might lead you astray - the poet isn't painting" the little crocodile critic says (sorry to fall into Fielding's titulations). Well - as a translator one stands (?) always on wobbly ground - but I would dare to maintain that 'picture' might be used in more than one way.
But I do not want to bore you - this I leave to another person, who rigidly comes to the conclusion (on page 12!) that poor Hebbel, being a dramatist, "forms the whole too much by coming from thoughts", "explains the depiction with too much logic", "doesn't espress himself spontaneously enough, speaks in a too reflective way".
Well, well, well, -- be that as it may --- I pick up an apple and dream myself into this beautiful picture poem. In Germany we say you "put a maggot into something", when you want to run something down.
I find this apple poem perfect.

(Though my translation is not - please feel free (as ever) to correct me!)



14 comments:

  1. There is no such thing as objectivity, and I'd say that critic amply demonstrates the fact.

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    1. Dear Joan, I agree - and I wouldn't have been that resentful (I mean: one gets paid by pages :-) if I hadn't scribbled that poem admiringly into my diary when I was ten).

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  2. I think your translation is lovely and paints a pretty picture. Some people see only negative and wish to share the empty feelings. Others see beauty and hopefully share the love.

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    1. Dear Emma,
      thank you! Yes, some people are quite strenuous. Though of course a critic has to find a fly in the ointment, it's his job - but in private life I try to keep away from drama queens and killjoys.

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    2. My sister calls them emotional vampires. I too try to surround myself with positive people. Children are the best choice. They usually see good.

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    3. Your sister's expression hits the nail on the head. And the merriment of children is wonderful.

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  3. The tone of the poem depends quite strictly upon its closing lines:"Denn heute löst sich von den Zweigen nur, Was vor dem milden Strahl der Sonne fällt." Your translation carries its tranquility and suggestion that a seasonal change --made from tremendous operations in the solar system-- can be very gentle. Beautiful.

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    1. Dear Geo.,
      thank you! You made me think again why I loved this poem so early - and it is the tranquility you speak of. Mankind here is in the picture, but only as an onlooker, not as greedy harvesters. Mankind being humble in its relation to nature, keeping its breath in awe - we mightn't be very much missed in a world without people (though of course I would utterly regret it - and the loss of self - the highest aim in Zen - is not on my agenda - here my sweet little Ego "doth protest too much").

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  4. All I can say is I wish I had the ability in languages that you have. The translation is lovely--and so is the accompanying photograph.

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    1. Dear Sue,
      thank you! It is not coquetry when I say I am always very unsure each time I dare to take a step into your language (the other way round is easier). I am afraid of deep blunders... but then I think: I am old enough to live with them - and I trust that someone will notify me.

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  5. Thank you. I found that same 12 page analysis. My German and energy level are not up to plowing through it, but I wondered what one might take 12 pages to say about these 8 lines. Thank you for letting me know that my energy might be better spent elsewhere. I bet that analysis was an assignment for school.

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    1. Dear Jeanne,
      one can write a book on it :-) - but as you say: it was a (not very inspired, that was the annoying thing about it) academic exercise.If I learn something new, I am willing to plod through it - but here...well...

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  6. Brigitta, I'm delighted to get your comments on my blog. I've been studying German for 2 years now (I had studied German in high school but I finished high school in 1962). I would love to have an email correspondence with you in German, as I really need to practice expressing myself. Would you be willing to do that? If so, let me know at mjtrubek@gmail.com

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    1. I'm honoured and will write to that email adress - but at the moment I am very deep in work (even on a Facebook diet to find more time).

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