The Two

Sezession, Vienna

Beautiful symbolism in this gem of a poem by Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, who wrote the poem when he was only 22 years old. The place was fin de ciecle Vienna, and the sense of awakening, departure from the old, death and transformation found it’s expression in the arts, an iconoclastic period called “Secession”.

The Two
Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Her fingers brought the wine-cup in,
Its rim as shapely as her chin,
So easy, so assured her air
That not a drop fell anywhere.

So firm, so easy was his hand:
He rode a fine and fiery horse
And with a careless gesture’s force
He brought it, trembling, to a stand.

But as he leaned with fingers fanned
To take the wine-cup from her hand
They found it there too hard to touch:
For both were quivering so much
That neither hand the other found
And dark wine spilled across the ground.

The Original:

Die Beiden

Sie trug den Becher in der Hand
Ihr Kinn und Mund glich seinem Rand –
So leicht und sicher war ihr Gang,
Kein Tropfen aus dem Becher sprang.

So leicht und fest war seine Hand;
Er ritt auf einem jungen Pferde,
Und mit nachlässiger Gebärde
Erzwang er, daß es zitternd stand.


Jedoch, wenn er aus ihrer Hand
Den leichten Becher nehmen sollte,
So war es beiden allzu schwer:
Denn beide bebten sie so sehr,
Daß keine Hand die andre fand
Und dunkler Wein am Boden rollte.


Note: Unfortunately an important piece is lost in the translation. In the first verse it really says: ” She held the cup in her hand, her chin and mouth resemble it’s rim…” That is important to get the symbolism, I believe.

About Michaela

I am a wanderer and a wonderer, like you are. I love our journey and to walk in the company of friends – to learn, experience, share, laugh, cry and above all I simply love this marvelous, magical, mysterious life. I have no plan (cannot believe I am saying this) and my only intention is to be truthful to myself and others.
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