Bibliographie 1. Jahrhundert, mit unterschiedlichen Bedeutungen auf. Als Literaturepoche kristallisiert sich Romantik kurz vom Anfang der Jahrhundert und endet nach
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He was musing on his destiny; how he was so young, and had forsaken his father and mother, and accustomed home, and all his comrades in his native village, to seek out new acquaintances, to escape from the circle of returning habitude; and he looked up with a sort of surprise that he was here, that he found himself in this valley, in this employment.
Great clouds were passing over him, and sinking behind the mountains; birds were singing from the bushes, and an echo was replying to them. He slowly descended the hill; and seated himself on the margin of a brook, that was gushing down among the rocks with foamy murmur. He listened to the fitful melody of the water; and it seemed to him as if the waves were saying to him, in unintelligible words, a thousand things that concerned him nearly; and he felt an inward trouble that he could not understand their speeches.
Leave the husbandman his sowing, Let the shipman sail the sea; None, when bright the morn is glowing, Sees its red so fair as he, Wood and wold and game that prizes, While Diana loves his art; And, at last, some bright face rises: Happy huntsman that thou art!
Whilst he sung, the sun had sunk deeper, and broad shadows fell across the narrow glen. A cooling twilight glided over the ground; and now only the tops of the trees, and the round summits of the mountains, were gilded by the glow of evening.
He now remembered with regret those old books, which he used to see at home, and would never read, often as his father had advised him to it: the habitation of his childhood came before him, his sports with the youth of the village, his acquaintances among the children, the school that had afflicted him so much; and he wished he were again amid these scenes, which he had wilfully forsaken, to seek his fortune in unknown regions, in the mountains, among strange people, in a new employment.
Meanwhile it grew darker; and the brook rushed louder; and the birds of night began to shoot, with fitful wing, along their mazy courses. Christian still sat disconsolate, and immersed in sad reflection; he was like to weep, and altogether undecided what to do or purpose. Unthinkingly, he pulled a straggling root from the earth; and on the instant, heard, with affright, a stifled moan underground, which winded downwards in doleful tones, and died plaintively away in the deep distance.
The sound went through his inmost heart; it seized him as if he had unwittingly touched the wound, of which the dying frame of Nature was expiring in its agony. He started up to fly; for he had already heard of the mysterious mandrake-root, which, when torn, yields such heartrending moans, that the person who has hurt it runs distracted by its wailing. As he turned to go, a stranger man was standing at his back, who looked at him with a friendly countenance, and asked him whither he was going.
Christian had been longing for society, and yet he started in alarm at this friendly presence. The young hunter made an effort to collect himself, and told how all at once the solitude had seemed so frightful to him, he had meant to get away; the evening was so dark, the green shades of the wood so dreary, the brook seemed uttering lamentations, and his longing drew him over to the other side of the hills. They went along, and the stranger soon appeared to Christian as if he had been an old acquaintance.
There was something dragged me, with a foreign force, from the circle of my parents and relations; my spirit was not master of itself: like a bird which is taken in a net, and struggles to no purpose, so my soul was meshed in strange imaginations and desires. We dwelt far hence, in a plain, where all round you could see no hill, scarce even a height: few trees adorned the green level; but meadows, fertile corn-fields, gardens stretched away as far as the eye could reach; and a broad river glittered like a potent spirit through the midst of them.
My father was gardener to a nobleman, and meant to breed me to the same employment. He delighted in plants and flowers beyond aught else, and could unweariedly pass day by day in watching them and tending them. Nay he went so far as to maintain, that he could almost speak with them; that he got knowledge from their growth and spreading, as well as from the varied form and colour of their leaves.
To me, however, gardening was a tiresome occupation; and the more so as my father kept persuading me to take it up, or even attempted to compel me to it with threats. I wished to be a fisherman, and tried that business for a time; but a life on the waters would not suit me: I was then apprenticed to a tradesman in the town; but soon came home from this employment also.
My father happened to be talking of the Mountains, which he had travelled over in his youth; of the subterranean mines and their workmen; of hunters and their occupation; and that instant there arose in me the most decided wish, the feeling that at last I had found out the way of life which would entirely fit me.
Day and night I meditated on the matter; representing to myself high mountains, chasms and pine-forests; my imagination shaped wild rocks; I heard the tumult of the chase, the horns, the cry of the hounds and the game; all my dreams were filled with these things, and they left me neither peace nor rest any more. It seemed as if the people about me were living in most lamentable ignorance; that every one of them would think and long as I did, should the feeling of their wretchedness but once arise within their souls.
In a book I had found some notice of the nearest mountains, some charts of the neighbouring districts, and by them I shaped my course. It was early in spring, and I felt myself cheerful, and altogether light of heart. I hastened on, to get away the faster from the level country; and one evening, in the distance, I descried the dim outline of the Mountains, lying on the sky before me. I could scarcely sleep in my inn, so impatient did I feel to have my foot upon the region which I regarded as my home: with the earliest dawn I was awake, and again in motion.
By the afternoon, I had got among my beloved hills; and here, as if intoxicated, I went on, then stopped a while, looked back; and drank, as in inspiring draughts, the aspect of these foreign yet well-known objects. Ere long, the plain was out of sight; the forest-streams were rushing down to meet me; the oaks and beeches sounded to me from their steep precipices with wavering boughs; my path led me by the edge of dizzy abysses; blue hills were standing vast and solemn in the distance.
A new world was opened to me; I was never weary. Thus, after some days, having roamed over great part of the Mountains, I reached the dwelling of an old forester, who consented, at my urgent request, to take me in, and instruct me in the business of the chase. It is now three months since I entered his service. I took possession of the district where I was to live, as of my kingdom. I got acquainted with every cliff and dell among the mountains; in my occupation, when at dawn of day we moved to the forest, when felling trees in the wood, when practising my fowling-piece, or training my trusty attendants, our dogs, to do their feats, I felt completely happy.
But for the last eight days I have stayed up here at the fowling-floor, in the loneliest quarter of the hills; and tonight I grew so sad as I never was in my life before; I seemed so lost, so utterly unhappy; and even yet I cannot shake aside that melancholy humour. The stranger had listened with attention, while they both wandered on through a dark alley of the wood. They now came out into the open country, and the light of the moon, which was standing with its horns over the summit of the hill, saluted them like a friend.
In undistinguishable forms, and many separated masses, which the pale gleam again perplexingly combined, lay the cleft mountain-range before them; in the background a steep hill, on the top of which an antique weathered ruin rose ghastly in the white light. But look, there stands the Runenberg, with its wild ragged walls; how beautiful and alluring the grim old rock looks down on us!
Wert thou never there? Once I heard my old forester relating strange stories of that hill, which I, like a fool, have forgotten; only I remember that my mind that night was full of dread and unearthly notions.
I could like to mount the hill some time; for the colours there are of the fairest, the grass must be very green, the world around one very strange; who knows, too, but one might chance to find some curious relic of the ancient time up there? With these words the stranger rapidly descended to a side, without bidding his companion farewell; he soon vanished in the tangles of the thicket, and after some few instants, the sound of his footsteps also died away.
The young hunter did not feel surprised, he but went on with quicker speed towards the Runenberg: thither all things seemed to beckon him; the stars were shining towards it; the moon pointed out as it were a bright road to the ruins; light clouds rose up to them; and from the depths, the waters and sounding woods spoke new courage into him.
His steps were as if winged; his heart throbbed; he felt so great a joy within him, that it rose to pain. He came into places he had never seen before; the rocks grew steeper; the green disappeared; the bald cliffs called to him, as with angry voices, and a low moaning wind drove him on before it.
Thus he hurried forward without pause; and late after midnight he came upon a narrow footpath, which ran along by the brink of an abyss. He heeded not the depth which yawned beneath, and threatened to swallow him forever; so keenly was he driven along by wild imaginations and vague wishes.
At last his perilous track led him close by a high wall, which seemed to lose itself in the clouds; the path grew narrower every step; and Christian had to cling by projecting stones to keep himself from rushing down into the gulf. Ere long, he could get no farther; his path ended underneath a window: he was obliged to pause, and knew not whether he should turn or stay.
Suddenly he saw a light, which seemed to move within the ruined edifice. He looked towards the gleam; and found that he could see into an ancient spacious hall, strangely decorated, and glittering in manifold splendour, with multitudes of precious stones and crystals, the hues of which played through each other in mysterious changes, as the light moved to and fro; and this was in the hand of a stately female, who kept walking with a thoughtful aspect up and down the apartment.
She seemed of a different race from mortals; so large, so strong was her form, so earnest her look; yet the enraptured huntsman thought he had never seen or fancied such surpassing beauty.
He trembled, yet secretly wished she might come near the window and observe him. At last she stopped, set down the light on a crystal table, looked aloft, and sang with a piercing voice: What can the Ancient keep That they come not at my call? Let your power be master Of the longing hearts and souls, Where the flood of passion rolls, Let your power be master!
On finishing the song, she began undressing; laying her apparel in a costly press. First, she took a golden veil from her head; and her long black hair streamed down in curling fulness over her loins: then she loosed her bosom-dress; and the youth forgot himself and all the world in gazing at that more than earthly beauty.
He scarcely dared to breathe, as by degrees she laid aside her other garments: at last she walked about the chamber naked; and her heavy waving locks formed round her, as it were, a dark billowy sea, out of which, like marble, the glancing limbs of her form beamed forth, in alternating splendour.
After a while, she went forward to another golden press; and took from it a tablet, glittering with many inlaid stones, rubies, diamonds and all kinds of jewels; and viewed it long with an investigating look. The tablet seemed to form a strange inexplicable figure, from its individual lines and colours; sometimes, when the glance of it came towards the hunter, he was painfully dazzled by it; then, again, soft green and blue playing over it, refreshed his eye: he stood, however, devouring the objects with his looks, and at the same time sunk in deep thought.
Within his soul, an abyss of forms and harmony, of longing and voluptuousness, was opened: hosts of winged tones, and sad and joyful melodies flew through his spirit, which was moved to its foundations: he saw a world of Pain and Hope arise within him; strong towering crags of Trust and defiant Confidence, and deep rivers of Sadness flowing by.
He no longer knew himself: and he started as the fair woman opened the window; handed him the magic tablet of stones, and spoke these words: — Take this in memory of me! He caught the tablet; and felt the figure, which, unseen, at once went through his inmost heart; and the light, and the fair woman, and the wondrous hall, had disappeared. As it were, a dark night, with curtains of cloud, fell down over his soul: he searched for his former feelings, for that inspiration and unutterable love; he looked at the precious tablet, and the sinking moon was imaged in it faint and bluish.
He had still the tablet firmly grasped in his hands when the morning dawned; and he, exhausted, giddy and half-asleep, fell headlong down the precipice. The sun shone bright on the face of the stupefied sleeper; and, awakening, he found himself upon a pleasant hill. He looked round, and saw far behind him, and scarce discernible at the extreme horizon, the ruins of the Runenberg; he searched for his tablet, and could find it nowhere.
Astonished and perplexed, he tried to gather his thoughts, and connect together his remembrances; but his memory was as if filled with a waste haze, in which vague irrecognisable shapes were wildly jostling to and fro.
His whole previous life lay behind him, as in a far distance; the strangest and the commonest were so mingled, that all his efforts could not separate them. After long struggling with himself, he at last concluded that a dream, or sudden madness, had come over him that night; only he could never understand how he had strayed so far into a strange and remote quarter.
Still scarcely waking, he went down the hill; and came upon a beaten way, which led him out from the mountains into the plain country. All was strange to him: he at first thought that he would find his old home; but the country which he saw was quite unknown to him; and at length he concluded that he must be upon the south side of the Mountains, which, in spring, he had entered from the north.
Towards noon, he perceived a little town below him: from its cottages a peaceful smoke was mounting up; children, dressed as for a holiday, were sporting on the green; and from a small church came the sound of the organ, and the singing of the congregation.
All this laid hold of him with a sweet, inexpressible sadness; it so moved him, that he was forced to weep. The desires and emotions of the bygone night seemed reckless and wicked; he wished once more, in childlike meekness, helplessly and humbly to unite himself to men as to his brethren, and fly from his ungodly purposes and feelings.
The plain, with its little river, which, in manifold windings, clasped itself about the gardens and meadows, seemed to him inviting and delightful: he thought with fear of his abode among the lonely mountains, amid waste rocks; he wished that he could be allowed to live in this peaceful village; and so feeling, he went into its crowded church.
The psalm was just over, and the preacher had begun his sermon. It was on the kindness of God in regard to Harvest; how His goodness feeds and satisfies all things that live; how marvellously He has, in the fruits of the Earth, provided support for men; how the love of God incessantly displays itself in the bread He sends us; and how the humble Christian may therefore, with a thankful spirit, perpetually celebrate a Holy Supper.
The congregation were affected; the eyes of the hunter rested on the pious priest, and observed, close by the pulpit, a young maiden, who appeared beyond all others reverent and attentive. She was slim and fair; her blue eye gleamed with the most piercing softness; her face was as if transparent, and blooming in the tenderest colours. The stranger youth had never been as he now was; so full of charity, so calm, so abandoned to the stillest, most refreshing feelings.
He bowed himself in tears, when the clergyman pronounced his blessing; he felt these holy words thrill through him like an unseen power; and the vision of the night drew back before them to the deepest distance, as a spectre at the dawn. He issued from the church; stopped beneath a large lime-tree; and thanked God, in a heartfelt prayer, that He had saved him, sinful and undeserving, from the nets of the Wicked Spirit. The people were engaged in holding harvest-home that day, and every one was in a cheerful mood; the children, with their gay dresses, were rejoicing in the prospect of the sweetmeats and the dance; in the village square, a space encircled with young trees, the youths were arranging the preparations for their harvest sport; the players were seated, and essaying their instruments.
Christian went into the fields again, to collect his thoughts and pursue his meditations; and on his returning to the village, all had joined in mirth, and actual celebration of their festival.
The fair-haired Elizabeth was there, too, with her parents; and the stranger mingled in the jocund throng. Elizabeth was dancing; and Christian, in the mean time, had entered into conversation with her father, a farmer, and one of the richest people in the village.
The man seemed pleased with his youth and way of speech; so, in a short time, both of them agreed that Christian should remain with him as gardener. This office Christian could engage with; for he hoped that now the knowledge and employments, which he had so much despised at home, would stand him in good stead. From this period a new life began for him. He went to live with the farmer, and was numbered among his family.
With his trade, he likewise changed his garb. He was so good, so helpful and kindly; he stood to his task so honestly, that ere long every member of the house, especially the daughter, had a friendly feeling to him. Every Sunday, when he saw her going to church, he was standing with a fair nosegay ready for Elizabeth; and then she used to thank him with blushing kindliness: he felt her absence, on days when he did not chance to see her; and at night, she would tell him tales and pleasant histories.
Meets der Fremde who tells Christian of treasure to be found in the mountains in a kind of mine. Much talk of Bergwerke — technical things, unnatural space, magical potential, downward motion. He awakes as if from a dream, outside the mine, remembers the Tafel he left behind and begins to wander. Comes to the Dorf where Elisabeth lives, goes into church holy space, opposite to mine, heavenward motion. He has a spiritual awakening and eventually settles in the village, working as a gardener taming, organizing nature , marries Elisabeth and establishes a successful life. At some point, he goes on a journey in search of his father, who he meets not far into the forest.