17.5.09

 

Conde Eberhard's Hawthorn
Count Eberhard's Hawthorn
Ludwig Uhland
Mostrar versus Dizer
Showing versus Saying


Texto apenas em inglês.
A tradução do poema para o português foi feita pelo Prof. Maurizio Ferrante.
***
The text in English only.
The translation of the poem into Portuguese was made by Prof. Maurizio Ferrante.

Count Eberhard's Hawthorn - Showing versus Saying

Must philosophy be put into words?


What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. (TLP 7)
What cannot be spoken about = what cannot be put into words. But not, according to Wittgenstein (at least at one time), because there are no things that cannot be put into words. That there are things that cannot be put into words "shows itself; it is the mystical" (ibid. 6.522). On the other hand, Socrates held that if a man knew anything, he could give an account of it to others (Xen. Mem. iv, 6, 1). But, on the other hand, Socrates claimed not to know anything. But on the other hand, Wittgenstein claimed to know things that "cannot be put into words".
The following poem is, I believe, an example of Wittgenstein's "showing" rather than "saying". The deeper meaning -- the "symbolism", maybe -- of this poem "shows" itself although the author does not "say" [explicitly state] what its deeper meaning is, if he intended it to have one.


Count Eberhard's Hawthorn

Count Eberhard Rustle-Beard,
From Württemberg's fair land,
On holy errand steer'd
To Palestina's strand.

The while he slowly rode
Along a woodland way;
He cut from the hawthorn bush
A little fresh green spray.

Then in his iron helm
The little sprig he plac'd;
And bore it in the wars,
And over the ocean waste.

And when he reach'd his home;
He plac'd it in the earth;
Where little leaves and buds
The gentle Spring call'd forth.

He went each year to it,
The Count so brave and true;
And overjoy'd was he
To witness how it grew.

The Count was worn with age
The sprig became a tree;
'Neath which the old man oft
Would sit in reverie.

The branching arch so high,
Whose whisper is so bland,
Reminds him of the past
And Palestina's strand.


Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862). Translation by Alexander Platt, 1848; quoted by Engelmann in his Memoir of Wittgenstein, p. 83-84.


Conde Eberhard's Hawthorn

O conde Eberhard Rustle-Beard
Da bela região de Wurttemberg
Em santas andanças se foi
A caminho da Palestina

Em seu lento cavalgar
Na travessia de profundo bosque
De uma sebe de amoras quis cortar
Um pequeno, novo e verde galho

E logo, em seu elmo de ferro
O pequeno ramo ele ajeitou
E lá o manteve nas guerras
E através do aberto e vasto oceano

Alcançado o seu castelo
No solo ele o plantou;
E lá, pequenas folhas e brotos
A gentil primavera chamou

Todos os anos ali retornava,
O conde, tão valoroso e bom
Que tão radiante estava
De observar o seu crescer

Gasto pela idade estava o Conde
Quando em árvore o raminho se tornou
E sob a qual por tantas vezes
O velho se sentava a cismar

O arco dos galhos, tão alto
De sussurrar tão manso
Recordava-lhe o passado
E o caminho da Palestina


This poem made a deep impression on Paul Engelmann when he first read it, not for the beauty or depth of its lines taken singly, because taken singly they have neither. Instead, Urland's verses were simple, "tersely informative ... so that none of them, taken by itself, would cause delight. But the poem as a whole gives in 28 lines the picture of a life." The impression this made caused Engelmann to see that there is a "higher level of poetry and language" than he had been aware of before. When Engelmann sent a copy of this poem to Wittgenstein, the latter wrote back:
And this is how it is: if only you do not try to utter what is unutterable [das Unaussprechliche] then nothing gets lost. But the unutterable will be -- unutterably -- contained in what has been uttered! (Memoir p. 82-85 [4 September 1917 (Letter No. 6)])
There are indeed things that cannot be put into words [allerdings Unaussprechliches] [tr. Ogden: "There is indeed the inexpressible"]. They make themselves manifest [tr. Ogden: "This shows itself"]. (TLP 6.522, tr. Pears & McGuinness)
In art it is hard to say anything that is as good as: saying nothing. (CV (1998 rev. ed.) [MS 156a 57r: ca. 1932-1934])

How this Poem might be Read

This poem alludes to the Crusades to capture the Holy Land -- but I am actually guessing because I don't know that. What matters here is the general remark about how to read this poem as Wittgenstein would have read it. That is, regardless of what Count Eberhard went to "Palestina's strand" for, to read this poem as Wittgenstein did, you must set aside your own views about the Crusades (or whatever other event the poem may allude to). Because all that is important here is: how Count Eberhard saw things.
And in the count's eyes the hawthorn symbolized the bright ideal of his youth that he had remained faithful to throughout his life and now into his old age. That is the picture of a life that the poem shows us. That is the symbolism of the hawthorn, its deeper meaning, I think, but Wittgenstein at the time of the Tractatus would not have said this; -- not that he would have said it had some other meaning either: "if only you do not try to say what is unsayable then nothing gets lost." And indeed in my statement of the poem's deeper meaning, it does seem that a lot gets lost, namely the picture of the count's life.
Of course, that is not the only way the poem may be read, i.e. not the only meaning that can be given to the hawthorn; other, darker, readings are also possible (Engelmann was a Zionist). By not making the poem's deeper meaning explicit, Uhland left that possibility open. But whatever is taken for its deeper meaning, the poem is for Wittgenstein an example of "showing" rather than of "trying to say what cannot be said".

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