Friday, November 06, 2009

In the Fog

Im Nebel

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Einsam ist jeder Busch und Stein,
Kein Baum sieht den andern,
Jeder ist allein.

Voll von Freunden war mir die Welt,
Als noch mein Leben licht war;
Nun, da der Nebel fällt,
Ist keiner mehr sichtbar.

Wahrlich, keiner ist weise,
Der nicht das Dunkel kennt,
Das unentrinnbar und leise
Von allen ihn trennt.

Seltsam, Im Nebel zu wandern!
Leben ist Einsamsein.
Kein Mensch kennt den andern,
Jeder ist allein.

Hermann Hesse, November 1905

And here - fully aware that here and there it will sound strange - perhaps even foggy :) - to some native speakers - a humble attempt to translate as literally as possible.
Suggestions for improvement are, nevertheless, welcome.

In the Fog

Strange, to wander in the fog!
Alone each bush and stone,
No tree does see the other,
Each is alone.

Full of friends was my world
When still my life was light;
Now the fog descends
None is to be seen.

Verily, no one is wise
Who does not know the dark
Which inescapably and quietly
From everyone him separates.

Strange, to wander in the fog!
Life is loneliness.
No man knows the other,
Each is alone.


  1. I was able to comfortably read and understand 70% of the poem written in German.... I am proud of myself for not completely forgetting the language.... :)

    A beautiful poem.

  2. Nevin,
    now this sounds like a good reason to start another blog (in German), in order to bring back the missing 30% percent. :)

    Yes, it's a beautiful poem. Beautiful, sad and - to a certain amount - true.

  3. So strange...I read this beautiful poem, "Dans la Solitude" when I was reading Hermann Hesse in French, in my late twenties. I was surrounded by friends. Yet, I felt I was walking in la brume.

    There are moments when the fog lifts up...Maybe not for long...BUT there are moments when the fog lifts up...A few times, I wanted to write and tell Hesse, "Une minute d'éclaircie aujourd'hui, Monsieur Hesse! Be patient. Keep waiting for that one moment. It's worth it..."

  4. I like your translation, Sean. Of course, I don't understand German. This is the first time I read the poem in English. You render very well what I have read in French a long time ago. It has musical rhythm. And you kept the poetical form. It's usually quite hard to do. Chapeau, Monsieur Jeating!

  5. Claudia,
    thank you. Glad you like it.
    As for the translation. I did deliberately stick as close to the German syntax, knowing that some (?) people will find this strange.

    As long as there are no mistakes, I do not care.
    However, if there's something plainly wrong, I'd be thankful for the advice, and happily correct the mistake(s).