Ginkgos, Goethe and Dendrophilia

I discovered in the course of a lengthy and discursive Sunday breakfast that Goethe had a thing about ginkgos. Apparently, there’s a poem about the ways that the leaves are two-in-one which frequently appears at German weddings (German Guests, any comment here?). It prompted me to go out and check on the ginkgo which my Americo-Norwegian friend bought for me at a flower shop in Stavanger, and which I smuggled back to Scotland in my luggage three or four years ago. It inadvertently got left out over this deathly winter, but, although there isn’t so much as a token of leaf, the twigs are bright-brown and pliable, the buds firm. I have hopes of it. The Anthroposophist Ambassador spent the day being nice to trees: we have a plantation of broad-leaved woodland on the far side of the burn which we have paid little or no attention to. I walk around there in the dead of winter, because it’s actually quite hard to negotiate once the grass and weeds have started to grow, rather hoping that the trees’ canopies will meet and it will become easier. Anyway, the Ambassador spent the day taking off tree-guards which the trees have grown out of, aided up to a point by the Professor, who woke up in the wee small hours as stiff as a board and realising that he’d overdone it. I am sure the trees will rise up and be grateful. There has been productive dialogue on the Ambassador’s proposed ecological beehives. I jibbed, politely but firmly, at having them in the long border. They will go under the copper beech, and thus we will all be happy. Meanwhile, at the more outrageous and un-eco end of gardening, I accidentally discovered in the course of the day that someone’s been breeding eight/nine foot lilies. Huzzah, I sa, and so I bought some. I’ll try and remember to report, when/if they become a towering presence by the back wall. I hope the bees like them.

4 Responses to “Ginkgos, Goethe and Dendrophilia”

  1. Christiane Says:

    Yes, he wrote it in the fall of 1815 in Heidelberg. Here it is:

    Ginkgo biloba

    Dieses Baums Blatt, der von Osten
    Meinem Garten anvertraut,
    Giebt geheimen Sinn zu kosten,
    Wie’s den Wissenden erbaut.

    Ist es ein lebendig Wesen,
    Das sich in sich selbst getrennt ?
    Sind es zwey, die sich erlesen,
    Daß man sie als eines kennt ?

    Solche Frage zu erwidern,
    Fand ich wohl den rechten Sinn;
    Fühlst du nicht an meinen Liedern,
    Daß ich eins und doppelt bin ?

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    AD 1815 - gewidmet
    Marianne von Willemer

  2. Jane Says:

    But do people still recite it at weddings or is that a fashion whose time has gone?

  3. The German Guest Says:

    Well, let’s just say I’ve never been to a wedding where it was recited.

  4. Jane Says:

    Ah. Our informant is OUR age.

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