Farewell – eichendorff (interpretation)

The mountains of Geiranger

Poem: Farewell (1810)

AuthorJoseph von Eichendorff
Stanzas: 4, Verses: 32
Verses per stanza: 1-8, 2-8, 3-8, 4-8

O valleys wide, o heights,
O beautiful, green forest,
Thou of my lust and travail
Nightly sojourn!
Out there, always deceived,
The busy world soughs,
Strike the bows once more
Around me, you green tent!
When it begins to day,
The earth steams and flashes,
The birds strike merrily,
That your heart is ringing:
There may vergehn, blow away
The dull earth sorrow,
There you shall rise
In young glory!
There is written in the forest
A quiet, serious word
Of right doing and loving,
And what man’s hoard.
I have read faithfully
The words, plain and true,
And through my whole being
Wards unspeakably clear.
Soon I will leave you,
Fremd in der Fremde gehn,
On colorful alleys
To see the spectacle of life;
And in the middle of life
Will thy earnest violence
To raise me lonely,
So my heart will not grow old.


Positive terms

Negative terms

travail, silent earnest word, dreary earth sorrow, forsaken, stranger abroad, deceived, life’s spectacle, me lonely one

green Anaphora Enjambement Personification Onomatopoeia / Onomatopoeia Synesthesia Oxymoron Personification Metaphor Present tense Future tense Perfect First person narrator Cross rhyme iamb
Colors Description Left
woods/green tent
Stylistic devices
Stylistic device Line(s) Description Left
1-2 Accumulation of the exclamation "O.
2 The forest will be filled with the apostrophe "O beautiful, green forest" addressed.
6 Onomatopoeic verb "to whiz.
12 heart sounds
18 "silent word" contradicts itself.
25 The forest is addressed
32 The heart as a pictorial representation of the soul.
Tenses/Time forms
Tense Description Left
The present tense is used for "lived Description of nature used. The descriptions thus appear more immediate to the reader.
In the last stanza the mood of the lyrical ego changes. Wistfully it is described that the I will soon be among people again.
stanza 3
Narrative type Description Links
Rhyme schemes
Rhyme scheme Description Left
Metre Description Links

Epoch: Romanticism

Epoch beginning 1795
End of the epoch 1848

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer over the Sea of Fog (1818)

Romanticism is the continuation of classicism and was opposed to the rational philosophy of the Enlightenment.
Romanticism has often used the past in the form of an idealized Middle Ages. The motif of wanderlust and travel to exotic countries was also used. The romantics place their works in the context of irrational feelings, longing, healing of the world and mysticism.

The Romantics themselves saw themselves in a historical rupture. The Enlightenment threatened – according to the Romanticists – to alienate man from himself, to make him lonely and helpless in the face of this development. The society was divided according to her feeling into a world of numbers and figures (Novalis) and into the world of the feelings and the miraculous. The Romantics had a longing to heal the world of this dichotomy, they tried to eliminate this division, to unite the world and bring the opposites together.
This longing became clear in the works that used the sceneries of misty valleys, medieval ruins, nature, fairy tales, myths and such mysteries.

The romantic movement found special expression for unity, healing and yearning in the blue flower. Today it is considered a central motif of the Romantic era.

End of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations Prussian reforms Patriotic War Wars of Liberation Battle of Waterloo Congress of Vienna Restoration (Silesian) Weavers’ Revolt March Revolution The steam locomotive First public railroad The photograph
Historical background
Politics and business Year Links
Inventions and discoveries Year Left

Author: Joseph von Eichendorff

Civil name: Joseph Karl Benedikt Freiherr von Eichendorff
* 1788 † 1857 (69 years)

Joseph von Eichendorff

Baron Joseph von Eichendorff was the child of a small Catholic noble family in the Upper Silesian border region. Joseph von Eichendorff was born as the second child, he had an older brother and a sister who was sixteen years younger than him.
The quite respectable Silesian estate, which was in the possession of the family, had to be sold because of economic misfortunes of the father. From 1801 onwards, the estate became more and more economically unstable and, with the death of the father in 1818 or. the death of his mother in 1822 completely abandoned.

Eichendorff attended a Catholic grammar school with his brother in 1801, after which they were guest students at the University of Breslau for a time. In 1805, both began studying law in Halle, which they continued in Heidelberg in 1807.
In Heidelberg at the Joseph-Gorres College, Eichendorff met Clemens Brentano, Heinrich von Kleist and Achim von Arnim, important representatives of Heidelberg Romanticism.

This year had a decisive influence on Eichendorff; he immersed himself in the writings of Gorres, Novalis and Gothe. Eichendorff realized that the revelation of things and nature must be brought to life by the poet himself, which is expressed in his poem Wunschelrute (Divining Rod). In addition, many typical elements of Romanticism can be discovered in Eichendorff’s works, e.g. B. In the poem Mondnacht (Moon Night), main Romantic motifs such as the mystical, the night and the moon are taken up, or in Das zrochene Ringlein (The Broken Ringlet), the theme of love is mixed with medieval associations.T. medieval associations.

Eichendorff was one of the most important German lyric poets and prose writers. He died in 1857 in Neisse (Silesia).

Summary, analysis and interpretation


A green roof

The poem "Abschied" (Farewell) by Joseph von Eichendorff was written in 1810 and belongs to the Romantic epoch. It is about a stay in the forest and a subsequent farewell.

The lyrical I is in the forest, which he at first addresses solemnly and demarcates from the "geschaft(i)ge(n) world". Thereupon it reads words of right action and love, through which something becomes "unspeakably clear" to him. The lyrical I now says goodbye to the forest in order to watch the "spectacle of life", but he is aware that he must die, since the violence of the forest will raise him up. The mood of the poem thus changes during the third stanza.

The poem consists of four stanzas of eight verses each. It is eight cross-rhymes (two per stanza), with the even verses being six-syllables and the odd verses being seven-syllables. The poem is written throughout in a 3-litre iambic form. The six-syllable verses indicate masculine cadences, the seven-syllable verses indicate feminine cadences 1. These clear structures give the poem a strong uniformity.

The lyrical I often changes the way in which it tells the story. In stanza I it addresses the forest directly and asks it to "once again beat the bows around it". The rest of the stanzas are written in the indicative or partly in the imperative, but there are tense changes from the present to the perfect and in IV still to the future tense.

Strophe I consists of three exclamatory sentences that extend beyond the lines of verse (enjambments 2 ). The forest is directly addressed here in the form of an apostrophe 3 and thus personified. Verse 1 and 3 contain an impure end rhyme (Hohen-Wehen). It is an anaphora in the first two verses, since the individual parts of the sentence all begin with "o" (o). These four verses thus seem very solemn, like the address at a festival. The lyrical I virtually praises the stay in the forest (V. 4) and contrasts the "busy world" with it (I, V. 5-6). This demarcation is made clear by words like "outside" and "tent" (I, V). The fact that this world lies outside the forest shows that it is something different, foreign.

The "green tent" that stands for the forest (I, V. 8), is a delimited space that does not include the "business world". The lyrical I almost asks for this distance (I, V. 7/8) and describes the world as "deceived". The green tent is a religious element, because in Christianity it stands for the congregation or for the church. The tent is seen there as a symbol of the wanderings of the people of God. Among the Germanic tribes, the forest was even considered a temple of nature, d. h. Eichendorff combines Germanic-pagan elements with a Christian worldview. In Eichendorff’s poem, the forest is thus the natural shelter of the god-fearing man.

In verse 6, it speaks of the world – which probably represents a (large) city – "whizzing". Through the connection of "sausen" and "geschaft(i)g" the reader gets a negative impression of this world outside the forest, as it seems very hectic, dishonest ("betrayed"), and impersonal through being busy. In terms of contemporary history, this interpretive approach would fit with the advancing industrialization, where people were seen only as useful tools and no longer as individuals. Likewise, this interpretation would coincide with the romantic ideas.

The verb "sausen" creates onomatopoeia, which makes this impression seem more vivid. The lyrical I seems to be longing for nature (forest), which stands for tranquility and honesty (originality), in contrast to the "outer world".

Romantic motifs are that of longing and nature. The senses are also addressed in stanza I: By the already mentioned onomatopoeia the auditory sense, but also the sensitive one in verse 3 ("Lust und Wehen").

Verse II begins in the present tense with a conditional clause. The lyrical I describes what happens in the forest in the morning. It characterizes the morning as peaceful with birdsong and a steaming earth (II, V1-3), through which one becomes cheerful and forgets one’s sorrow (II, V. 4-6). In this stanza, however, the lyrical I seems to be addressing not only the forest, but also the people who are to "rise" in young glory.

The complete second stanza is an inversed sentence divided by the colon in verse 4. The stanza contains three different anaphors 4 (Die; Das(s); Da), which demarcate the middle verses from the two outer ones. The first verse contains a condition and the last ones the consequence. Verses 2-6 merely describe and deepen the situation named in verse 1.

In verse 3 and 4 (II), auditory perception is again addressed, creating synesthesia 5, as the statement "heart resounds" appears auditory through the verb "resound," but actually involves sensitive perception, as the lyrical I wants to express joy. The singing of the birds is again a typical romantic motif (II, V. 2-4).

In verse 5 one finds an alliteration 6 , which at the same time represents an internal rhyme. The choice of words suggests longing, since "passing" and "passing away" represent something finite that moves on and eventually finds its death. In this case, the end of earthly suffering is meant (II; V. 6), which refers back to the world described in stanza I. Here, too, a formal structure is shaped by the content, for stanza I also speaks of the earth/world in verses 5/6, followed by a request in verses 7 and 8 that something positive be accomplished.

Strophe II is about rising in glory, which can be interpreted as a departure to something new. This religious component is again a typical romantic motif, as one abandons rational thought and worships a supernatural power.

Strophe III contains a change of mood, because suddenly there is no longer talk of glory (II), but of silence and seriousness (III, V. 2).
The first four verses are written in the present tense and deal with the discovery of a writing.

In verse 2, one finds an oxymoron 7 , since the words "still" and "word" do not clearly go together, since a word cannot be still – on the other hand, one can read it still or only think of it. By this description "word" is personified, because seriousness is a human quality. At the same time, "word" stands for several words, as can be seen from the following verses, and is therefore a synecdoche 8 . There is also a synesthesia, because the auditory sense is mixed with the visual sense (III, V). 1/2), which is taken up by reading.

The second half of the third stanza is written in the perfect tense and deals with the situation after reading the writing. Through what has just been read, the lyrical I apparently receives an epiphany. Words such as "plain," "true," and "clear" are used, reinforcing the impression of new knowledge.

Verse IV seems to be a sequel to verse III, because now the lyrical I speaks of leaving the forest, in contrast to verse I. It again addresses the forest directly, to alert it to the imminent departure. The stanza is written in the future tense and deals with the new plans, but also with the lyrical I’s fear of the future.

In verse 2, a pleonasm 9 is applied, because it is already obvious that someone is a stranger in a foreign land. The statement of the word "stranger" is thus reinforced by emphasis. This clearly shows the lyrical I’s fear of this change coming to him in the form of a journey to the world outside the forest.

It seems at first to want to return from loneliness to the people, since it now speaks of "life" and "colorfully moving alleys", which form an alliteration, and of the "spectacle of life". These terms actually have a positive connotation, but one does not really believe this cheerfulness of the lyrical I, since in the same sentence he strongly relativizes this joy by mentioning again The death of the heart is finally mentioned, whereby "heart" probably stands as a metaphor 10 for "soul" (IV, V. 4-8). Verse 8 is a periphrase 11 , for it refers to early death. Again, romantic motifs such as wanderlust and "heartbreak" can be found here.

Overall, the poem can possibly be interpreted in such a way that the lyrical I first seeks solitude and finds it in the forest. In stanza III, however, there is a change of mood that causes the lyrical I to say goodbye to the forest (solitude) in order to get to know "real life". Since Romanticism is a kind of counter-movement to the Enlightenment, it can be assumed that the lyrical I would prefer to stay alone in the forest (escape from reality into nature as a Romantic motif), but considers it a necessary evil to move to the city after all, even though he knows that he will not be happy in this hectic place and will thus possibly die (soul) death.

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