It has become autumn in my country. At about three o’clock in the morning a cold rain sets in, which does not stop until five o’clock in the afternoon. At mealtime the sun comes out suddenly and without a fight; a light blue weaves all at once in the autumnal trees, whose leafy leaves are illuminated by the sun. In the late evening, fog drifts across the damp earth, which at night surround the fading, softly rustling woods. Lunar and starry light sometimes rests on these mists; golden and silver clouds flow incessantly through the darkness until it meets for a wet and creeping morning.
It is strange to say: I prefer the rain to my graceful autumn evenings. Throughout the day, my windows remain firmly closed, and I find it amusing to walk up and down the room for hours, play with the paper scissors, read my and my father’s diaries, and repeat hundreds of breaks Rain, the cruel, the totally hopeless to watch. No voice speaks to me out of the pouring water, as sometimes happens to the poets, and amuses me through their stories, – perhaps through touching little fairy tales that could fill my breast with sweet hopes and then end quite bleakly … oh no What draws me irresistibly to the merciless friend of these days is nothing but the naked grief uncovered by every art and its melancholy entourage.
There are days when the rain does not stop even before the snack hour, but rushes into the dark night and may never rest. Then comes the time of my deepest fears, and I am gripped by feelings that I long forgot: my perfect solitude, never disturbed by any favor of fate, my wicked arbitrariness, never consecrated by any brilliant thought, and my deadly, deadly yearning.
It is true, I am boundlessly lonely. The fact that I feel this only now gives me some satisfaction, especially when I think that there are people who suffer every day from their loneliness.
But now, here in my country estate, it has happened that I look into the rain, for quite a while, calm, with a slight sadness in my heart, and then suddenly the thought smashes me to the ground that there is not one in the world Soul that I would ever be familiar with during the day or in the dark night.
Oh, I know that many people speak as I do, but they also remember that from childhood on they have an old, frail housekeeper, who, with a touching zeal, uses them with a sullen tenderness, or one Dog, a sick one perhaps, who looks up to them with good, clouded eyes? But I, I can not even call such creatures, the creatures of the lower existence, my own. My housekeeper does her duty with indifferent care, and the dogs of the estate love my inspector, not me.
Of course, I exchanged handshakes and friendly looks with many men, I exchanged hugs and kisses with some women, and I have served many gentlemen, – what was left of all this? The mercenary’s heart, his nefarious loneliness and his indistinct memory. For all my mind has been destroyed, as the rain melts on the slate roofs of my barns.
I stand a little bit apart from the meaning and structure of nature, that was granted, I also show a mocking carefreeness about their course. I am outside the circles, drawn by nature around the things of this world, around humans, animals, flowers, yes, around the stony wasteland of the rock and – I just want to say it – I am not all too well there. I feel excluded from the maternal kindness of nature, which awakens my deepest yearning even when it seems cruel and meaningless to others. I prefer it as her lowest servant in To languish chains, than, alas – to be as free as I am …
I go to my library and take out the Roman Elegies. In the copper engraving on the first page I find the words: “How we were so happy once.”
I read it and have tears in my eyes.
“How we were so happy once,
Must learn it through you. ”
It was on a German manor in the summer, in a summer of blessed days; the corn stood high, excellent hay lay in the meadows; the sky was blue in the morning, with a glassy crescent moon over the barns, and at night many stars shone like dark, rich and precious cloth. I loved all the people there and I worshiped a certain lady with a young-glowing passion, – maybe it was a good-for-nothing from a lady. Oh, I never forgot all this, I remember very well. I want to write down this story and then read it to a girl who living somewhere in the world, a slim girl about blond hair and white, mild hands, and this thought has something infinitely reassuring for me. I remember doing certain evening walks over the rolling fields of a German manor, to certain tender and kind nights, and to the confused sounds of a carter reaching the yard in the dark, leading his horses out of the drawbar by the light of the lantern.