Daß das Schöne und Berückende
Nur ein Hauch und Schauer sei,
Daß das Köstliche, Entzückende,
Holde ohne Dauer sei:
Wolke, Blume, Seifenblase,
Feuerwerk und Kinderlachen,
Frauenblick im Spiegelglase
Und viel andre wunderbare Sachen,
Daß sie, kaum entdeckt, vergehen,
Nur von Augenblickes Dauer,
Nur ein Duft und Windeswehen,
Ach, wir wissen es mit Trauer.
Und das Dauerhafte, Starre
Ist uns nicht so innig teuer:
Edelstein mit kühlem Feuer,
Selbst die Sterne, nicht zu zählen,
Bleiben fern und fremd, sie gleichen
Uns Vergänglichen nicht, erreichen
Nicht das Innerste der Seelen.
Nein, es scheint das innigst Schöne,
Liebenswerte dem Verderben
Zugeneigt, stets nah am Sterben,
Und das Köstlichste: die Töne
Der Musik, die im Entstehen
Schon enteilen, schon vergehen,
Sind nur Wehen, Strömen, Jagen
Und umweht von leiser Trauer,
Denn auch nicht auf Herzschlags Dauer
Lassen sie sich halten, bannen;
Ton um Ton, kaum angeschlagen,
Schwindet schon und rinnt von dannen.
So ist unser Herz dem Flüchtigen,
Ist dem Fließenden, dem Leben
Treu und brüderlich ergeben,
Nicht dem Festen, Dauertüchtigen.
Bald ermüdet uns das Bleibende,
Fels und Sternwelt und Juwelen,
Uns in ewigem Wandel treibende
Wind- und Seifenblasenseelen,
Denen Tau am Blatt der Rose,
Denen eines Vogels Werben,
Eines Wolkenspieles Sterben,
Falter, schon hinweggeflogen,
Denen eines Lachens Läuten,
Das uns im Vorübergehen
Kaum gestreift, ein Fest bedeuten
Oder wehtun kann. Wir lieben,
Was uns gleich ist, und verstehen,
Was der Wind in Sand geschrieben.
Daß das Schöne und Berückende
† 09.08.1962, Montagnola, Switzerland
Hermann Hesse was born on the 2nd of July, 1877, in the Black Forest town of Calw, Baden-Württemberg, into a pious Christian family. His father was an Estonian-born Pietist preacher, and his mother, who was born in India, worked as a missionary. Both his parents were employed in the missionary publishing house Basler Mission, that was overseen by Hesse's grandfather.
Hesse was first schooled at the Mission's boarding school in Basel, before moving back to his family in Calw, where he attended the Latin School in Göppingen.
In 1893, despite passing the first year exam at Cannstatt grammar school, Hesse left formal education, and from 1895 to 1901 was employed as an apprentice mechanic at a clock tower factory. He later worked as a bookseller in Tübingen, and his first collection of poetry, Romantische Lieder, was published in 1899.
In 1904, having already made a name for himself as a writer, Hesse married his first wife, the photographer Maria Bernoulli, with whom he went on to have three sons. He began working collaboratively with other writers to produce the left-liberal newspaper 'März', where he was editor of the literature section, and together with the painter Hans Sturzenegger, travelled for several months through Ceylon, Singapore and Sumatra. The Orient, already a destination for the missionary work of his parents and grandfather, now became a source of spiritual and religious inspiration for Hesse himself, and an influence on his literary work.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, he enlisted as a volunteer, and although unfit for combat duty, began work as a welfare officer for prisoners of war in Bern, Switzerland. A series of serious incidents affecting his family - including the death of his father in 1916, and the onset of his wife's schizophrenia - coupled with his disappointment about the lack of political engagement from artists and intellectuals during the war, plunged Hesse into a period of profound crisis. He was forced to leave military service, and underwent a course of psychoanalysis, carried out by a student of Carl Gustav Jung.
After the end of the First World War, Hesse emigrated to the town of Montagnola in Ticino, Switzerland, leaving his family behind, and over the next twenty years, published three of his best known novels: Siddharta, Steppenwolf, and Narcissus and Goldmund
After divorcing his first wife, Hesse married Ruth Wenger - the daughter of the Swiss writer Lisa Wenger and aunt to the Surrealist painter and photographer Meret Oppenheim - in 1924. However, this marriage was also to end in divorce only three years later.
In 1931, now married to his third wife, the Ukrainian-born Ninon Dolbin, Hesse moved into a house in Montagnola, today named 'Casa Hesse'.
Despite the lack of pronounced political statements in Hesse's work in the 1930s, his private correspondence and literary criticism from this time express an unambiguous rejection of the National Socialist Regime. Having obtained Swiss citizenship in 1923, Hesse now acted as the first point of call for numerous artists who left Germany and fled to Switzerland during the Third Reich.
With ever worsening health and slowly losing his eyesight, Hesse withdrew almost completely from literary life after 1945.
Hermann Hesse died in Montagnola on Lake Lugano, where he had spent the longest period of his life, on the 9th of August 1962.
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