Loser's Guide Loser's Guide

 Loser's Guide to Life

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Herr: Es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.
Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.


(Lord: it is time. The summer was very great. Lay your shadow on the sundial, the winds over the threshing floors. Call the last fruits to ripen; With a few more southern days, Have them be done and force the last sweetness into the heavy wine. Who has no house now will never build one. Whoever is alone will long stay alone, awake, reading, writing long letters, restlessly wandering streets when the leaves blow. )

One thing I like about this poem is the passage of time it describes. Everything in it is seen as part of an unhesitating process — the creeping shadow on the sundial, winds, the ripening of fruit (or the spoiling of it) — yet here and there a few things fall off and get left behind. Too late to do anything now! I think the long letters are also letters that never get finished, because the intended recipient is either dead or uninterested. The letters are long because the sender can't bring himself to the finish them, or keeps thinking of a further useless paragraph to add to the others, equally useless since there was no pressing information to convey in the first place. His activity, which includes waking and wandering, is aimless, and only takes place because something else is causing it. It might be a kind of inertia.

There. Now I am cheerful.


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