‘Herbsttag’ by Rainer Maria Rilke (1902) is one of Germany’s (and my…) favourite poems – particularly so after this year’s spectacular summer in the UK. And here’s my favourite reading – by the unsurpassed Otto Sander:
LORD: it is time. The summer was so grand.
Upon sundials now Thy shadow lay,
Set free Thy winds and send them o’er the land.
Command to ripen those last fruits of Thine;
And give them two more southern days of grace
To reach their perfect fullness, and then chase
The final sweetness into heavy wine.
Who now is homeless, ne’er will build a home.
Who now is lonely, long alone will stay,
Will watch and read and write long letters gray,
And in the long lanes to and fro will roam
All restless, as the drifting fall-leaves stray.
There are as many interpretations as there are translations and you are most welcome to add your own. I must admit to feeling rather melancholic whenever autumn arrives. But I do look forward to walks in the woods and longer evenings spent at home.
On my walks I do like coming across mushrooms, although I don’t pick any, not just because I don’t know which ones are edible and which one’s aren’t but because I like to just look at them and leave them in their natural habitat. That is, if I actually see any!
The two images below are from ‘Der Geheimisvolle Wald’ (The Mysterious Forest), a book full of pages (317!) with images of plants and wildlife of ‘the woods’. It belonged to my grandfather who would only allow me to look at it if I had been ‘good’, so it was a special treat and ensured that it remained ‘mysterious’.
The author, V.J. Staněk, was a mycologist, amongst many other things (a scientist; botanist, director of the Prague zoo, photographer and filmmaker). He was obviously interested in a species called ‘Earth Star” (a magical name, I always thought), as within the book there’s a note asking readers to send him any samples of this mushroom for his next scientific publication. He seems to have managed to publish it, as he is still being quoted in most references to this peculiar and rather rare mushrooom.