“…to have a soul for stones, metals, water and plants” (Passage from Büchner’s Lenz)

The following morning he came down, he very calmly told Oberlin how his mother had appeared to him in the night; she had emerged from the dark churchyard wall in a white dress and had a white and a red rose pinned to her chest; she had then sunk into a corner and the roses had slowly grown over her, she had no doubt died; he had felt quite calm about this. Oberlin then remarked that when his father died he was alone in the fields and then heard a voice so that he knew his father was dead when he came back home this was indeed so. This led them further, Oberlin spoke of the mountain people, of girls who could detect water and metal under the ground, of men who had been possessed on certain peaks and wrestled with spirits; he also told of how he had once been transported into a state of somnambulism upon looking into the empty depths of a mountain pool. Lenz told him that the spirit of water had come over him, that he had then experienced something of its special essence. He continued on: the simplest, purest creatures were closest to elemental nature, the more refined a man’s mental life and feelings, the more blunted this elemental sense became; he did not consider it to be a higher plane, it lacked the requisite self-sufficiency, but he believed it must be an endless delight to feel moved by the unique life of each and every form; to have a soul for stones, metals, water and plants; to take in every being in nature into oneself as in a dream, as flowers do with air at every waxing of the moon.

From Georg Büchner’s Lenz, in translation by Richard Sieburth. Lenz (1836) is a novella or story or fragment based on the diary of J.F. Oberlin, who briefly took care of Jakob Lenz, a playwright suffering  from schizophrenia.

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