-“September,” from Four Last Songs, Richard Strauss (lyrics by Hermann Hesse), performed by Renee Fleming
“Among [Strauss’s] last compositions are the settings for three poems by Hesse (in Four Last Songs).” –Hermann Hesse: A Biography, Volker Michels
For a collection of recordings of “Frühling” (Spring), “September,” and “Beim Schlafengehen” (along with the fourth, “Im Abendrot,” by Joseph von Eichendorff), visit www.vierletztelieder.com.
This journey through the realms of life
Was not meant to end in one home only.
World spirit does not want to tie us down,
Wants us to soar into the open.
When we stay too long in one place,
Get stuck in norm and habit, we wear out.
–The Seasons of the Soul, Hermann Hesse (trans. Ludwig Max Fischer)
Visit www.hermannhesseseasonsofthesoul.com for readings of the poems and discussions between Fischer and Andrew Harvey, who wrote the foreword.
What do I care about bearing fruit, about achieving goals?
I blossomed and flowers were my purpose.
Now I am wilting and nothing but wilting is my aim.
Hearts don’t beat for distant goals.
-“Autumn Takes Hold of My Life,” The Seasons of the Soul, Hermann Hesse (trans. Ludwig Max Fischer)
My pillow gazes upon me at night
Empty as a gravestone;
I never thought it would be so bitter
To be alone,
Not to lie down asleep in your hair.
–“Without You,” Poems, Hermann Hesse (trans. James Wright)
Seeing me so very ill,
Hard-faced nurses will advise
Resignation to God’s will,
And their pious, bony fingers
With unloving care
Will arrange my lifeless hands
In an attitude of prayer.
God of everlasting mercy,
Save me from their clutches. I
Don’t want pious scarecrows near me
When it’s time for me to die.
-“Still Sick,” from Crisis: Pages from a Diary, Hermann Hesse (trans. R. Manheim)