Er Ists

Fruehling laesst sein blaues Band
Wieder flattern durch die Luefte;
Suesse, wohlbekannte Duefte
Streifen ahnungsvoll das Land.
Veilchen traeumen schon,
Wollen balde kommen.
—Horch, von fern ein leiser Harfenton!
Fruehling, ja du bists!
Dich habe ich vernommen!

Eduard Moerike  1829
The stark simplicity of this poem that unfolds so effortlessly in poetic magic has
made it a standout in Eduard Moerike's literary achievement. It has become the
favorite German spring poem.

The first impression is one of space into which the speaker is being drawn. He is
standing in a tranquil landscape, highly attentive to what is going on around him.
He then attempts to draw to himself what he sees in the distance observing minute
movement in distant space: the fluttering blueness in the air becomes a ribbon,
thus transforming the imagined into a concrete presence. The atmosphere is in
gentle movement spreading the familiar scent. The violets are coming to life, as if
they were ushering in the spring.

The poem has to do exclusively with sense experience. First with the sense of
sight, then the sense of smell, and lastly the sense of hearing which triggers a
feeling of jubilation, convincing the speaker that his expectant longing is about to
be fulfilled. Satiated with sense experience the speaker bursts forth with his first
self-conscious utterance with "Oh Spring, it is you". Each of the last two lines is
punctuated with the sign of joy, an exclamation point.

The German title [Er Ists] strikes the English-speaking reader who would translate
Er ists = He is. But "Er" refers to the masculine German word "Fruehlung" = Spring.
In the German version the poet deftly employs the masculine word spring in the
title and transforms it within the poem from a distant "he" to a close intimate "you"
relationship with spring itself.  

It is Spring

Spring lets its blue ribbon
Flutter in the breeze again;
Sweet, familiar scents
Drift with promise o'er the land.
Already violets lie dreaming,
Soon to be awakened.
—Hark, from afar the faint sound of a harp!
Spring, it is you!
I can hear you coming!

Translation: Charles L. Cingolani        Copyright © 2008

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. . . Moerike capturing the very essence of spring . . .