What is autumn?
Is it the time of farewell or the time of a new beginning?
‘The leaves are falling’ Rilke writes in his poem below.
But there is a big: though.
It is like in the end of Brahms song ‘Im Herbst’. (Listen below)
It doesn’t end with the falling.
‘And yet there is Someone’ Rilke writes, ‘whose hands
infinitely gentle, are holding up all this falling’.
Brahms’ songtext is similar.
‘Autumn is serious’ it begins. Pain and sorrow over what is lost prevails, ending in the second verse with ‘deeply closed the being rests’. But: an unexpected turn happens. The tonalities in the music change in a new way. I hear in his music suddenly the unspoken question: ‘Are you really sure about all is darkness? Is it maybe true that this isn’t it?’
Brahms answers this unspoken question in the last verse with:
‘Sanft wird der Mensch’. Tender becomes man’.
This isn’t the end, my friend. Joy and love overweigh. Bliss remains.
Rilke and Brahms wonderfully come to the same conclusion: Tenderness. Gentleness.
They don’t end with loudness or power. Their autumn ends with gentleness.
Is autumn a goodbye? A preparation for the cold winter? Or could one see the ‘falling leaves’ also as a way of the tree to free itself from the ballast it couldn’t nurture anymore? To become ‘tender’ as Brahms composed? Being embraced gently as Rilke writes?
Is it maybe a purification of the being?
A form of letting go what isn’t me anymore? Is it maybe to feel that ‘yet there is Someone, whose hands infinitely gentle, are holding up all this falling’?
Maybe autumn lets us discover our own gentleness. It lets us open a new door to ourselves. Enjoy.
Brahms: Im Herbst, RIAS Kammerchor, Marcus Creed:
Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.
Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.
Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh die andre an: Es ist in allen.
Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.
Rainer Maria Rilke
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if distant gardens were withering in the skies.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely gentle, are holding up all this falling.