Eichendorff: In der Fremde

12 05 2011

"Red Sky Lightning" By Luis Argerich (CC)

In the foreign place

From the homeland behind the lightning red,
From there, the clouds come here,
But father and mother are long dead,
And no one knows me there anymore.

How soon, ah, how soon will come the quiet time
where I will rest, too, and above me
will rush the beautiful solitude of the woods,
and no one will know me here anymore.

From the title alone — In the foreign place — we immediately sense discomfort and detachment. The first lines make us aware of the turbulence associated with leaving home, with the images of lightning and clouds. The further reflection that family is gone and “no one knows me there” makes it clear that, even if the speaker were to return home, that place would be just as foreign as wherever he is now.

The speaker becomes reflective in the second stanza, and one cannot help but wonder exactly what “the quiet time” means (The German word stille could also mean “still” as in peaceful and without movement). I believe the imagery of the solitude of the woods rushing over the implies mental peace and freedom from anxiety. Ultimately, however, freedom from anxiety is only fully experienced in death, which is unfortunately why many people with mental illness commit suicide. Whether the speaker is suicidal, reflecting on death, or simply seeking freedom from his cares is left to interpretation.

Regardless of his mental state, the speaker realizes that inevitably and in fact very soon he will be completely forgotten.

In der Fremde

Aus der Heimat hinter den Blitzen rot
Da kommen die Wolken her,
Aber Vater und Mutter sind lange tot,
Es kennt mich dort keiner mehr.

Wie bald, ach wie bald kommt die stille Zeit,
Da ruhe ich auch, und über mir
Rauscht die schöne Waldeinsamkeit,
Und keiner kennt mich mehr hier.

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One response

16 05 2011
Cristina

I got the sense of a wandered starting off, but I changed my mind three times and came to the conclusion that he sounds like a soldier or a man who knows his end is coming by his own means or by another’s. Maybe I’ve been watching too many movies and reading too many books about epic, voyages… I just get the sense that he knows what is waiting for him, and he has no intention of hiding.

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