Friday, April 25, 2008

a contract with time

Heinrich Heine to Rahel Varnhagen Von Ense.

Berlin, April 12, 1823.

I am going away soon and I beg you not altogether to throw away my image into the lumber room of oblivion. I could make no reprisals, and though I were to say to myself a hundred times a day, "You will forget Frau von Varnhagen!" it could not be. Forget me not! You cannot excuse yourself on the score of bad memory, your spirit has made a contract with time, and if after some hundreds of years I have the pleasure of seeing you as the fairest and most beautiful of all the flowers in the fairest and most beautiful of all the valleys of heaven, then you will have the kindness to greet me as a holly tree (or shall I be something worse?), as an old acquaintance with your friendly glance and your soft breathing sweetness. It is sure that you will do so. You have done so in the years 1822 and 1823 when you treated me, a sick, bitter, morose, poetic, and insufferable human being, with a kindliness and goodness which I have certainly not deserved in this life, and must owe alone to tender recollections of an earlier acquaintance . . .
H. H.

-from Heinrich Heine's Memoirs from his Works, Letters, and Conversations edited by Gustav Karpeles translated by Gilbert Cannan (London: William Heinemann, 1910) vol. 1.

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