THE SOLE HEIR OF THE WHOLE WORLD

Sometimes on this site I will seem to go far afield, but generally there is a thread leading in some way back to hokku or the spirit of hokku.

Johann Peter Hebel, who wrote in Swiss-German, has a very remarkable poem:

AN HERRN PFARRER JÄCK

S’isch wor, Her Jäck, i ha kei eigene Baum,
i ha kei Huus, i ha kei Schof im Stal,
kei Pflueg im Feld, kei Immestand im Hoff,
kei Chatz, kei Hüenli, mengmol au kei Geld.
“S macht nüt.  ‘S isch doch im ganze Dorf kei Buur
so rich as ich.  Der wüsset wie me’s macht.
Me meint, me heigs.  So meini au, i heigs
im süesse Wahn, und wo ne Bäumli blüeiht,
‘s isch mi, und wo ne Feld voll Ähri schwankt,
‘s isch au mi; wo ne Säuli Eichle frisst,
es frisst sie us mim Wald.

So bin i rich. Doch richer bin i no
im Heuer, in der Erndt, im frohe Herbst.
I sag:  Jez chömmer Lüt, wer will und mag,
und heuet, schnidet, hauet Trübli ab!
I ha mi Freud an allem gha, mi Herze
an alle Düften, aller Schöni g’labt.
Was übrig isch, isch euer.  Tragets heim…

TO PASTOR JÄCK

It’s true, Mr. Jäck, I have no tree of my own,
I have no house, I have no sheep in the stall,
No plow in the field, no beehive in the yard ,
No cat, no dog, often also no money.
It doesn’t matter.  For there is in the whole village no farmer
As rich as I.   You know how it is done?
I
think I have it — I think too that I have it
In sweet foolishness, and where a tree blooms
It is mine, and where a field of grain waves
It is also mine — and where a pig eats acorns
It eats them in my woods.

So I am rich; but even richer
In Haying, in the Harvest, in happy Autumn.
I say, “Now come, people, who will and may,
And mow, and reap, and cut the grapes.
I have had my joy in all of it —
Have refreshed my heart
With all the scents and all the beauty.
What remains is yours — carry it home!

This Swiss farmer’s “sweet foolishness” is well on the way to the wisdom that results from William Blake’s counsel:

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.”

Hebel’s poem is very much in keeping with the old hokku by Kikaku:

A beggar;
He wears Heaven and Earth
For summer clothes.

Thomas Traherne, in his Centuries of Meditations, wrote:

You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars : and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.”

David


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