Robert Walser (translated by Tom Whalen)
There’s gentle but also unruly rain. We prefer the former but take it as it comes. To accept what comes and yet never lose one’s cheerfulness isn’t easy, but beautiful because of that. What tastes the sweetest? Natural honey? No, something else: peaceful, everyday work without calamity. Speaking of rain, you could say it makes the earth black and soddens the streets. I deeply hope more will occur to me. Dark rain clouds have something cozy, poetic about them. Is that it? Oh no, Mr. Author! I request a smidgen of patience so I may collect myself. Sentences, words don’t just fly to me, they want to be caught unawares, captured, attained, discovered, enticed. Sometimes the mind thinks more about zwieback than about language and the like. In general, we have spring rain, autumn rain, etc. Rain is wet. That has been the case and we assume will remain so. No one should ever succumb to the opinion that he is unique. We’re all like one another, at least I firmly believe this, and furthermore I believe everything has already happened and existed once before and that’s why all pride seems exceedingly superfluous and inexpedient.
But why, dear friend, don’t you stick meticulously to your drizzling theme? In fact, often it only drizzles. But more often it pours and rains in real torrents, as if it wanted to inundate every path, park, dear lovely garden, every field and the paraphernalia hanging there. To be drenched by rain now and then isn’t at all funny, rather it can be quite irksome, which without doubt everyone will have experienced in his dull or eventful life. In a proper rain everything becomes wet except water, like rivers, which can’t possibly get wet because they already are. What I am I can’t become, and what I have can’t be given to me. Rain moistens roofs, fills holes and barrels with water, swims and runs down slopes, washes useless stuff away, sees to it that everything all about glitters watery, swallows up and gulps down dust, is a sweeper and wiper who diligently wipes and valiantly sweeps up and makes those who don’t carry an umbrella scurry along. How richly thinged the world is; again and again we sincerely have to adore it. Should it also be permitted to think about excursions, entire cities, wide, verdant landscapes filled with fruitfulness, of Russian, Bavarian, Belgian, Thuringian, North American, Spanish, Tuscan regions moistened and injected with abundant wetness? Or about historical pageants, the dense crowd breaking up, seeking shelter that looks quite pleasant? Wouldn’t a dreamy poet in rainy weather like to sit at a dear old window so as to feel inordinately lonely? If I’m not mistaken, it rained endlessly, as it were, during the Battle of Dresden, and Napoleon got thoroughly soaked.
Many years ago, as it dripped and rained enchantingly, I promenaded and strolled along the local Bahnhofstrasse that had duplicated itself, its facades, trees, gentlemen and ladies, primarily these, boys and girls and kittens and I don’t know what all, magically reflected in the smooth asphalt and in the soft afternoon light in such a way that there was an upper world and a lower world and the unfathomable seemed almost more beautiful than the real. Desist, desist. Relent and break off. Consider whether this article perhaps isn’t already almost too grand and difficult.