Selections from "Natur" (Aphorisms on Nature), Christian Morgenstern (trans Douglas Robertson):
The stars nothing but whole notes.
Who knows whether thoughts themselves do not produce an infinitesimally faint sound that may be detected by the most sensitive instruments and deciphered empirically (i.e., by means of comparison and experimentation).
Rhythmically animated air is in a certain sense colored air. The effect of bells.
Nature knows only transitions between colors, not colors.
Much worthier of wonder than a simple mirror is a translucent mirror—i.e., a window which looks out on a landscape and in which at the same time the objects of our room are reflected.
It is the same with landscapes as with people: one never finishes getting to know them. Under certain circumstances every person and every landscape is capable of passing by stages from the paltriest ugliness to the liveliest beauty.Nature is the great reposefulness poised against our mobility. That is why humankind will love her more and more as it becomes ever more subtle and mobile. Nature gives it the basic contours, broad perspectives, and at the same time the image of a lofty placidity in the midst of all unremitting evolution.
It is a curious feeling to think our way perpendicularly into the earth beneath our feet. One doesn’t get very far; one’s imagination literally suffocates.
No locale consists of any elements but ones with which we are already familiar. We know this, and yet we dally at surmising mysteries in a landscape as long as we are not familiar with it in precise detail.
For an entire big-city winter you have been yearning in vain for an instance of unaffected natural grace. Perhaps sitting behind you on the otherwise empty sofa there is a roughly one-year-old cat that visits you every now and then to spend a half an hour elaborately grooming itself and then another half an hour slumbering with profound contentment—and you behold what you were seeking, the aboriginal suasiveness of unconscious nature.One of the most egregiously impertinent attributes of humankind is its tendency to give an emphatically erroneous name to this or that animal, as if there had ever been a being more erroneous in its relation to other beings than a human being!
It is a remarkable feeling to realize that we are attached to this native earth of ours in a manner not much different from that of those little rubber suction cups that you stick to the wall so that you can hang watches and keys on them.A dark blue Chinese lantern, lit from within by a single candle, hung against the night sky. A vision of a phantasmal planet in the nocturnal twilight.
Anybody who had not grown up accustomed to the world would be bound to lose his mind thanks to it. The miraculousness of a single tree would suffice to annihilate him.I believe that any blind person would necessarily have a highly superior understanding of plants.What is the use of a flower to God? It allows God to be pleased. In the flower, as a flower, he dreams his happiest dream, in which nothing strives against him.I don’t recognize any “separate territories.”
Larches, birches, alders, a womanly forest!The tall firs say: we are not sorrowful and we are not mirthful; we are steadfast.Behold a tiny scrap of a spider’s web full of raindrops—who imitates this?On reflecting that the earth like the sea ebbs and flows under the influence of the moon, I ask myself why the human body’s combination of blood and brain should not have tides of its own.
The reason that nature is so profoundly comforting is that it is a world asleep, a world dreamlessly asleep. It feels neither joy nor pain, and yet both before us and for us it lives a life full of wisdom, beauty, and goodness. We, too, once slept thus, and to this state we shall someday return, but with the difference that we shall then be aware of this surplus of joy, this surplus of sorrow, and that we shall no longer have any need of dreams then either, for we shall have a direct and open view of the heavens themselves.The small in nature is usually greater than “the great.” For the small is quite often the ongoing labor of God, whereas the great is the finished work of mere gods.