Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hamburg 17.6.1998: Lawns with Buttercups, Turkish Vegetables

In plane en route from Hamburg to Brussells, where we change planes to Dublin. Yesterday taken up with preparations for the seminar I gave in the evening—a vexatious, even harrowing, day preceded by fitful sleep, nightmares, stomach turmoil. I am so insecure teaching, and feel so hollow these days, so disoriented, so much the half-released spectator and not the participant.

Hamburg: green everywhere. With Nienstedten’s passion for English gardens, one never forgets one’s in northern Europe: green, damp, shade, cool are all around. Lawns aren’t mown this time of year, or rarely. The one outside our apartment is dotted with buttercups, those surprising little ranunculi with their shiny porcelained petals. Other lawns have tiny white daisies.

Wolfram W. incredibly, extraordinarily nice, as ever. Took us to lunch at a Turkish restaurant yesterday (vegetables, glorious vegetables!), and let us get our email from his computer. I feel so linked to him, and afraid of and embarrassed by the depth of my feeling, lest it appear to be something other than what it is, a friendship in which feeling runs very deep on my side.

And the German soul is mystical, I see in the faces of the seminar students. But also intently practical. In Nazism, the two interacted horribly—that mystical attraction to the dark-forested myth of the Urseele of the nation, coupled with efficiency so hyperdeveloped it could create gas chambers, and use them pitilessly, rationally, meticulously, to kill people.

And who am I? Rilke talks of feeling God’s call to write, even in his childhood—to transmute pieces of ugly childhood memory and experience into this and that, the stuff of poems. And I? Will I ever feel less tired? Will I ever find a place?

Ireland: I expect restful landscape, and positively exult in the opportunity to hear my own language spoken again—though, truth to tell, after Bayern, Steve and I haven’t had to function in German very much at all. Will there be some play in Dublin we might attend?

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