26. September 2022

“Sommer” – von Georg Trakl

©Mindaugas - stock.adobe.com
Lesedauer ca. 2 Minuten

The summer of 1914 saw the start of the First World War. Within ten days, between July 28 and August 6, the whole of Europe was caught up in that horrific war. On August 24 the poet Georg Trakl left from Innsbruck Station for Galicia. He was seen off by his friend and supporter Ficker on a ‘traumhaft stille Mondmitternacht’. In his military cap Trakl wore a ‘nodding’ carnation. He died in a hospital in Cracow on November 3, 1914. Trakl now lies in the cemetery of  Mühlau, above Innsbruck.

In the ‘Brenner’ of July 15, 1914, there appeared three of Trakl’s poems: ‘Das Gewitter’, ‘Der Abend’, and ‘Die Nacht.’ Dating from that July is also his poem ‘Sommer’….

Am Abend schweigt die Klage/ Des Kuckucks im Wald./ Tiefer neigt sich das Korn,/ Der rote Mohn./ Schwarzes Gewitter droht/ Ueber dem Hügel./ Das alte Lied der Grille/ Erstirbt im Feld./  Nimmer regt sich das Laub/ Der Kastanie./ Auf der Wendeltreppe/ Rauscht dein Kleid./ Stille leuchtet die Kerze/ Im dunklen Zimmer;/ Eine silberne Hand/ Löschte sie aus;/ Windstille, sternlose Nacht.

An extraordinary poem: the lull before the storm, subtle sound effects,  symbolic motifs of the now silent grasshopper and the candle extinguished. Perhaps prophetic of what was to come? (The red poppy came later to symbolize the loss of life in the First World War.)

The poem poses questions: who is the woman on the spiral staircase? Grete, his sister, who suffered a miscarriage in the spring of 1914…? Or…. ?

Come evening, the plaintive call/ Of the cuckoo falls silent./  Ever lower dips the corn,/ The red poppy./ Black thundercloud threatens/ Over the hill./ The age-old chant of the cricket / Dies away in the field./ The leaves of the chestnut tree/ Stir no longer./ On the winding staircase/ Your dress rustles./ Quietly the candle shines / In the dark room;/ A silvery hand/ Snuffed it out.;/ A lull in the air, starless night.

Andrew Milne-Skinner (with poetic improvements by Brigitte Scott)

PS: The ‘Trakl-Stube’ in the Gasthof Isserwirt in Lans is well worth a visit….

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Andrew and Sandra were both born in Scotland and both studied at the University of St Andrews, although they didn’t know each other then. Andrew is an English teaching professional with 40 years’ experience at school and University level. He has held seminars all over Europe and is still active in professional development for teachers and in related publishing. Andrew moved to Inzing from Innsbruck in 1998. He has worked in Austria for most of his working life. He is a great reader and has an impressive library. His other interests include classic cars and football. Sandra had a varied career as a manager in public services in the UK, finally specializing in Customer Service. She spent the last part of her working life as a freelance management consultant. She is also qualified to teach English and is a member of the Institute of Customer Service (UK). Her hobbies include gardening, hillwalking and cycling. She and Andrew married in August 2006 and Sandra moved to Inzing in 2011 when they built their house in Brechtenweg. Andrew and Sandra are members of the Inzing Freundeskreis für Integration and help to run a fortnightly Sprachcafé for newcomers. Andrew was a contributor to the Radio Enterbach project in 2009 and Andrew and Sandra now make two programmes for Freirad, Poetry Café and reading Circle (both in English). They are keen to ensure that the Dorfzeitung remains a meaningful and useful publication which offers something to everyone who lives in the village.

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