Spring alights on my shoulder

«Yumeji's camellias» batik 2011

After a winter that was not really winter, a flurry of snow one day or two, green is timidly burgeoning, the smell of fresh grass in the air, the warble of thrush in the hedges.

Proljeće na moje rame slijeće
Đurđevak zeleni

Spring alights on my shoulder
Lily of the Valley is flowering

We had fun imagining ourselves traversing a Siberian winter, shut up in the living room in the after hours, poring over tales of provincial life in a village near Dikanka. One misty morning, we ventured out for a stroll, reaching the great clearing that gave Lichtwiese its name, Meadow of Light. From the other end of the mud path, a man with silvery hair approached on his rickety bicycle. We inquired about the way. He put one foot down, pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed his nose, then pointed us down the road he came. But before he set off, he made a sweeping motion with his hand towards the clearing, and asked us whether we knew the poem by Matthias Claudius. “It was at this very spot that he was inspired to compose it.” Before we had time to answer, he recited this poem:

Der Mond ist aufgegangen,
die goldnen Sternlein prangen
am Himmel hell und klar;
der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,
und aus den Wiesen steiget
der weiße Nebel wunderbar.

Wie ist die Welt so stille
und in der Dämmrung Hülle
so traulich und so hold!
Als eine stille Kammer,
wo ihr des Tages Jammer
verschlafen und vergessen sollt.

Seht ihr den Mond dort stehen?
Er ist nur halb zu sehen
und ist doch rund und schön!
So sind wohl manche Sachen,
die wir getrost belachen,
weil unsre Augen sie nicht sehn.

Wir stolze Menschenkinder
sind eitel arme Sünder
und wissen gar nicht viel;
wir spinnen Luftgespinste
und suchen viele Künste
und kommen weiter von dem Ziel

— Matthias Claudius,
Abendlied (1778)

The moon has slowly risen,
The golden starlets glisten
In the heavens, bright and clear;
The forest stands dark and silent
And from the meadow rises
A white mist most wonderful

How still is the world,
And in the veil of twilight
So intimate, so fair!
As if it were a quiet chamber,
Where the sorrows of the days
Shall be forgot and slept away

Do you see the moon up there?
There is only half of it to see,
And yet it is round and fair.
So it is with many things
That we laugh at with good cheer
For our eyes see them not.

We proud human beings
Are only poor sinners
And ignorant too;
We spin webs of air
Casting about for many an art
Moving further away from the mark

«Lichtwiese» March 2012

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