from Verse in Prosa

Translated from German by Jameson Fitzpatrick

That must be a greatness: the force of deepest solitude. To walk up there close to the stars, so high that all earthly sounds become like a song of the waves bringing an endless, wordless sough against the beach.

That must be a greatness: to feel the cool breath of the snow-covered hills and know: the ardors that glow down there in the valley, they never find their way to me in my solitude. Where is the force that will pull me up to the heights where only my longing reaches? The hands that hold me are called Love, Goodness.

That must be a hard greatness: the force to break free from good and loving hands and be received into proud solitude.



I think you almost don’t know how lonely you are at bottom. You press your heart into hands that lovingly encircle it, and from it pluck the thoughts that blossom as in full sun. And with a smile you see how your wishes, your worries—painless now—wind themselves into a laurel, content to nestle in curls until they wilt upon a pale, beloved brow. And all the passing hours are full of sound, and have eyes—bright, beaming eyes, which shine without glare.

Until an hour comes that closes your mouth. When you see you are alone, all alone. For buried deep within you is an ultimate silence—perhaps you can’t even name it: your holy of holies. Perhaps what lives in you is neither beautiful nor good. And yet it is completely in you, a part of you. Of you.

But you lower your gaze before those who think they can read your heart and see: every look like clear morning light. And then everything around you feels strange: every sound, strange; every friend, strange. And strange are all possible worlds.

Now, with hesitation, you tear the flowers of your being from their stems and press them into hands that are dear to you—while their roots rest hidden deep within, in a soil tended by no human gardener.



The sun sinks. And with motherly hands scatters her golden roses over the sea—which breathes, still and dreamlike. The waves lapping languidly at the shore are bright like green glass, shimmering in her light.

A white sail floats in safe, glides homeward. Oh that I knew a harbor for my weary soul, somewhere to sail for—an evening lovely, dark and deep…