Hermann Hesse: Without You
To continue with the last posting about the representation of pain, I am reminded of this poem by Hermann Hesse.
Listening to Elgar, I think of a poem by Hermann Hesse. The poem “Without You” reads like this:
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.
I lie alone in a silent house,
The hanging lamp darkened,
And gently stretch out my hands
To gather in yours,
And softly press my warm mouth
Toward you, and kiss myself, exhausted and weak-
Then suddenly I'm awake
And all around me the cold night grows still.
The star in the window shines clearly-
Where is your blond hair,
Where your sweet mouth?
Now I drink pain in every delight
And poison in every wine;
I never knew it would be so bitter
To be alone,
Alone, without you.
The crucial variation of the poem lies between “I never thought” in the first stanza and “I never knew” in the last stanza. In the beginning, the poet said that he knew of the bitterness, but he did not think of the “degree.” During the process, he learned or experienced the bitterness, and finally acknowledged the devastating degree of the bitterness; therefore, he said “I never knew.”
"Now I drink pain in every delihgt" is exactly what I was driving at when I talked about the re-investment of all the tiny moments of pleasure in the in-between years (between the experience and the representation).