HHP, Dec 2006

[Hermann Hesse: "Gehoeft". © Hesse Editions-Archive, Offenbach, 2006]


Hermann Hesse


When I see this blessed countryside again, at the southern foothills of the Alps, then I always feel as if I were coming home from banishment, as if I were once again on the right side of the mountains. Here the sun shines more intimately, the mountains glow with a deeper red, here chestnuts and grapes, almonds and figs are growing, the human beings are good, civilized, and friendly, even though they are poor. And everything they fashion seems so good, so precise, and so friendly, as if it were grown by nature itself. The houses, the walls, the steps up into the vineyards, the paths, the new plantings, and the terraces - everything is neither new nor old, everything appears as if it were not merely contrived, imitated from nature, but had simply risen as fields do, and trees, and moss. The walls of vineyards, the houses and the roofs of houses, they are all made of the same brown stone, and they look like one another, they are like brothers. Nothing seems alien, hostile, or violent, everything appears warm, serene, neighborly.

Sit down anywhere you like, an a wall, a stone, a tree stump, an the grass or the earth: everywhere they surround you, a painting and a poem, everywhere the world resonates beautifully and happily around you.

This is a f arm where poor farmers make their home. They have no cows, only pigs, goats, and chickens; they plant grapes, corn, fruit, and vegetables. The whole house is built of stone, even the floors and the stairs; a hewn stairway leads between two stone pillars into the courtyard. Everywhere the lake gleams blue between the growing things and the stone.

Thoughts and sorrows seem to have remained on the other side of the mountains. Between tormented men and hateful deeds, a person has to think and sorrow so much!  Back there it is so difficult and so desperately important to find a reason for staying alive. How else should a person go an living? Sheer misery makes one profound. --- But here there are no problems, mere existence needs no justification, thinking becomes a game. A person discovers: the world is beautiful, and life is brief. Some longings remain unsatisfied; I would like to have another pair of eyes, another lung. I stretch out my legs in the grass, and 1 wish they could be longer.

I wish I could be a giant, then I could lie with my head near the snows on one of the Alps, lie there among the goats, with my toes splashing below in the deep lake. So I would lie there and never get up again, between my fingers the bushes would grow, and the wild roses of the Alps in my hair, my knees would be alpine foothills, and vineyards would stand on my body, and houses, and chapels. And so for ten thousand years I lie there, and gaze into the heavens, and gaze into the lake. When I sneeze, there's a thunderstorm. When I breathe, the snow melts, and the waterfalls dance. When I die, the whole world dies. Then I journey across the world's ocean, to bring back a new sun.

Where am I going to sleep tonight? Who cares! What is the world doing? Have new gods been discovered, new laws, new freedoms? Who cares! But up here a primrose is blossoming and bearing silver fuzz on its leaves, and the light sweet wind is singing below me in the poplars, and between my eyes and heaven a dark golden bee is hovering and humming --- I care about that. lt is humming the song of happiness, humming the song of eternity. Its song is my history of the world.


Hermann Hesse, “Farm” in: Wandering, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972  (Noonday N 420), pp. 45-51.
  Translated by James Wright.  Water color: "Gehöft" by Hermann Hesse, © Hesse Editionsarchiv, Offenbach a.M., 2006.

The book is out of print!