"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

25 July 2017



The first small town on the southern side of the mountains. Here the true life of wandering begins, the life I love, wandering without any special direction, taking it easy in sunlight, the life of a vagabond wholly free. I am much inclined to live from my rucksack, and let my trousers fray as they like.

While I was having a drink of wine in a garden, I suddenly remembered something Ferruccio Busoni once said to me. "You look so rustic," that dear man said to me with a touch of irony the last time we saw each other -- in Zurich, not so long ago. Andre√§ had directed a Mahler concert, we sat together in our usual restaurant, I was delighted once again at Busoni's bright pale spiritual face, at the alertness of the most glittering enemy of philistines we still have with us. --  Why does this memory come back?

I know! It's not Busoni I remember, or Zurich, or Mahler. They are just the usual tricks of memory when it comes to uncomfortable things; then harmless images thrust too easily into the front of the mind. I know now! With us in that restaurant sat a blond girl, shining, her cheeks glowing, and I never said a word to her. Angel! All I had to do was look at you, and it was suffering, it was all my delight, oh how I loved you for that whole hour! I was eighteen years old again.

Suddenly everything is clear. Beautiful, brilliantly blond, happy woman! I don't even remember your name. For a whole hour I was in love with you, and today, on the sunny street in this mountain town, I love you again for a whole hour. No matter who has ever loved you, he never loved you more than I do, no man ever granted you more power over himself, unqualified power. But I'm condemned to be untrue. I belong to those windy voices, who don't love women, who love only love.

All of us wanderers are made like this. A good part of our wandering and homelessness is love, eroticism. The romanticism of wandering, at least half of it, is nothing else but a kind of eagerness for adventure. But the other half is another eagerness -- an unconscious drive to transfigure and dissolve the erotic. We wanderers are very cunning -- we develop those feelings which are impossible to fulfill; and the love which actually should belong to a woman, we lightly scatter among small towns and mountains, lakes and valleys, children by the side of the road, beggars on the bridge, cows in the pasture, birds and butterflies. We separate love from its object, love alone is enough for us, in the same way that, in wandering, we don't look for a goal, we only look for the happiness of wandering, only the wandering.

Young woman, fresh face, I don't want to know your name. I don't want to cherish and fatten my love for you. You aren't the end of my love, but its awakening, its beginning. I give this love away, to the flowers along the path, to the glitter of sunlight in my wine glass, to the red onion of the church tower. You make it possible for me to love the world.

Ah, what silly chatter! Last night in my mountain but I dreamed about that blond girl. I was out of my mind in love with her, and would have given up all I have left of life, together with the joys of wandering, only to have her beside me. I have been thinking about her all day today. For her sake I drink my wine and eat my bread. For her sake, in my little book I make my sketches of the small town and the church tower. For her sake, I thank God -- she is alive, and I got my chance to see her. For her sake, I'm going to write a song, and then get drunk on this red wine.

And sure enough: my first peace of heart in the serene south belongs to my yearning for a luminously blond woman on the other side of the mountains. How beautiful, her fresh mouth! How beautiful, how silly, how magical -- this poor life.

Herman Hesse

Thanks, Partner.

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