Britzer Garten 2012

We visited Britzer Garten a couple of weekends ago to see the tulips, but had left it too late in the season and they were almost dead by the time we got there. Last year we were too early, so next year we’ll go in the 3rd week of April which is, I believe, peak season, and be there just in time.

I spent the whole day fiddling fussily with my camera, trying to adjust the settings to get better snaps, but missed the fact that I’d selected, by mistake (can’t see close up any more), a macro setting on the lens. Typical. A pre-senior moment, I think. So, even though nothing is right about any of these photos, I still feel moved to add them as a record of that day to help oil the rusty cogs of my desiccated memory during future browsings—my own, of course, I wouldn’t want you to put yourselves through any of this waffle a second time. It was such a lovely, if chilly, May day.

On the way to Britzer Garten, which is about 20 minutes from our house if the bus comes on time, we saw an ad painted on the wall that reminded me of Indian ads I’d seen in Varanasi. This one’s for a master painter—but I’m sure that’s not the right English translation of Malermeister. My tragedy is that I never learnt to speak German properly, and now I can no longer summon ordinary English to my quivering tongue… ach ja!

Anyway, the master painter is the first picture you’ll see. Then there are a couple of assorted ‘views’, and the last photo is of a deckchair with a verse from the collection of anonymous German Folk Songs called ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ printed on the back. All the deckchairs had some verse or other plastered on them, so each, from the point of view many who pursue contemporary art with some seriousness, is a work of art. And noone sat on them. But that may have been because it was so cold.

Throughout the day Andreas quietly sang through his now extensive repertoire of traditional Irish songs, so the most appropriate sound track to this posting would be of him doing his Irish thing. But as I don’t have a new recording of him yet and can’t access his voice right now as he’s currently snoring and farting his way through the morning after a very late night ‘session’ in Kreuzberg (36, I think, not 60), I thought I’d substitute another exquisitely great voice.

My first choice of song was to have been from Mahler’s settings of Des Knabe Wunderhorn, but the Harvest Song I photographed isn’t part of that selection. So instead I’m offering a rather crackly recording (obviously a badly made video that I found on youtube) of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a musician and singer of such magnitude I’m not even going to try to describe his greatness, who died last week at the age of 86—a lifelong 60 a day smoker, but don’t tell Andreas. We will not see his like again in our lifetimes.

Here he is singing ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’ from Mahler’s setting of five songs by Frederich Rückert. It’s worth including the translation of this poem, I think, even though the artistry of the poet doesn’t come through in English.

I am lost to the world
on which I used to waste so much time,
It has heard nothing of me for so long
that it may well think me dead.

I do not care at all
whether it thinks me dead.
Nor can I deny it:
for I have really died to the world.

I have died to the world’s tumult
and rest in a realm of quiet:
I live alone in my own heaven,
in my love, in my song.

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