The Leaf of Eastern Tree

Delving into the history of German literature, this documentary deals with German prominent writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, focusing on the influence Persian poet Hafez had on his works.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [German] Little German Girl: “Goethe was 65 years old when he first came to know Hafiz.

Maybe he wished to travel to Shiraz and pay a visit to Hafiz’ tomb. But back then it wasn’t so easy.

Today and on behalf of Goethe I am going to Shiraz.

The Leaf of the Eastern Tree”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Dr. Mahmoud Falaki, lecturer at Hamburg University Author of “Goethe and Hafiz”: “In 1814, Goethe receives a complete translation of Hafiz for the first time by Cotta, his publisher. It was translated by an Austrian orientalist called Joseph von Hammer Purgstall. By this work, he is overwhelmed by Hafiz.

Considering the circumstances of that time when the Napoleonic wars were defeated

Europe was faced with a major socio-political crisis and the whole Europe is dominated by a sense of depression and despair.

People long for something new. A new idea that could save Europe from despair. On the other hand, it is the Enlightenment era. The Enlightenment era has provided an open space. It has created the need for knowledge of other cultures.

For the first time, the oriental cultures draw their attention and they want to know them.

Many scholars, poets and philosophers such as Schlegel believe that and it is as a result of the Romantic era and Romantic poetry.

They believe that Romanticism should be discovered in the East. That the roots are lying there. They believe because Christianity emerged from the East then they have roots in the East. This urged them to know their roots. Goethe also was a part of this whole new atmosphere. It was a characteristic of Goethe to welcome new things.

He believed, in order to create one needs to know a new culture. Meanwhile, Goethe had his own personal crisis. Unexpectedly, the public had lost interest in his recent publications.

He cannot find acceptance among the younger generation. He even has been harshly criticized. From this point, he was somehow isolated, somehow desperate and devastated. He felt like a stranger in his own homeland. That is why he concludes that he should travel. He flees from Weimar. It is when he becomes acquainted with Hafiz and his book. It seems like the new world he was searching for, he finds it all in Hafiz.

Something else is going on with Goethe which is very dramatic. That is falling in love. He meets a lady named Mariana von Willemer. A triangle is shaped, with Goethe on the peak and Hafiz and Mariana on the sides. Goethe couldn’t write for long.

But due to knowing Hafiz and this new love, and in this new air, he flourishes. He writes 50 pieces of poetry during that short time. He desires to publish a Divan like Hafiz’. I started my education in architecture. Simultaneously, I studied sculpture. Also, as a singer I experienced music.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [German] Fabian Rabsch, Designer of Goethe and Hafiz Monument: “Right now, I am a sculptor and house designer. Goethe and Hafiz Monument I expected friendship from my friend. How mistaken was my notion of these trends. When will the tree of friendship bear fruit? I have planted seeds of many strains and blends. Dervishes keep away from discourses and discussions. Else my arguments, my talk, only offends. Else I detected aggression in your piercing eyes. Forgive me and let me make peaceful amends. Many wrongs were done, yet no-one complained.

My silence, deference, respect extends. In 1999, while I was only a student Professor Ernst Tivis came along. He was invited to participate in the Goethe and Hafiz Monument Designing Contest. He asked me if I wanted to join in the contest. I joined him and we had two months to prepare. We put two major works in the agenda. First, we needed to approach Goethe through his West-Eastern Divan. We had studied it as our school assignments.

Second, we needed to know Hafiz. The theme of the work needed to include Goethe and Hafiz together. And the context was Goethe’s society and it was named after it. The monument was supposed to be designed for Weimar, not for Shiraz. It belonged to German culture, European culture. We could not take only Hafiz as the model for the task. We considered them both. Now, the question was how to make it concrete. We strived to show these two figures are unanimous. Then it was, how to put this concept into forms and shapes. Finally, we decided to pick a piece of rock then slice it in half in the way that the two parts would take the shape of the two chairs. And when they stick back together, it is a rock again.

It wasn’t intended to use granite as the material. We first took a stone with a smooth surface. Meanwhile, as we progressed and won the contest, as a part of it, I insisted on my idea. And we concluded that we should use granite. Granite is a typical Iranian material.

And it would be pleasant if we perform this concept in a way that it could relate to Iran’s geology. We spent so much time on designing the ornaments.

We studied many of them. They are vastly applied in mosques’ decorations. We determined the basic pattern and in typical European style, we reduced in to more basic shapes. So, we achieved a typology for the stone carpet.

As a result, we have two stone thrones across from one another installed on a stone carpet with designed ornaments.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [German] Girl, Tourist: “If the Holy Ghost once more should lend his aid to us we’d see Others perform what Jesus did. I asked him next, and beauties’ curls what is their meaning, whence do they come.Hafiz! The sage replied, "It's your love lorn heart that asks these questions constantly. The monument of Goethe and Hafiz is here in Weimar. I imagine hearing them talking about poetry.”

SOUNDBITE [German] Fabian Rabsch, Designer of Goethe and Hafiz Monument: “This monument is about a dialogue, a chat going on between two literary figures. They are two cultural positions for the dialogue. They are the positions through which this can happen. They have the characteristics needed for this to happen.

As for me, these two figures are two major symbols of how close two cultures could relate to each other and how rich would be the achievements of it.

The whole Romantic era is inconceivable without Hafiz, even if many could not see it that way.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Dr. Mahmoud Falaki, lecturer at Hamburg University Author of “Goethe and Hafiz”: “Regardless of the literal, lingual or pictorial impact of Hafiz on Goethe it is the personality of Hafiz that he finds interesting.

Hafiz is a free-minded man; he’s not strict or prejudiced. It is important to Goethe for he lives during the Enlightenment era which is moving towards liberation.

He finds such a character in Hafiz and this intensifies his interest even more.”

SOUNDBITE [German] Fabian Rabsch, Designer of Goethe and Hafiz Monument:

“Right after the monument was inaugurated in 2000, we came up with the idea of a similar monument for Shiraz.

But after facing some political issues, the whole idea was shut down.

Last year, in 2016, I was selected as a German delegation member to be sent to Iran.

We visited many cities including Hamedan and Shiraz. We consulted with the mayor about the project. We hope as the tendency and the positive approaches grows in Iran, we could resume the project.”

SOUNDBITE [German] Local Resident: “This monument is inspired by Goethe saying that the West and the East are related and close. I think that nowadays we have quite received this message. The world in which now we live and reside is no more detached. In this world people belong to each other. We learnt it from old days.”

SOUNDBITE [German] Local Resident: “We traveled to Weimar to visit it and take picture with it. We will take our pictures with us to Iran.

Then we could show Iranians what we have built

in our homeland and maybe we’d be offered a cup of tea.

I read Goethe's Gingko Biloba as an adult. Thispoem is about coming to know Hafiz. We know these names. We know these names.

We hadn’t visited here but we intend to travel thousands of kilometers to Iran.It is not right to remain ignorant of what is just around the corner.

- Do you plan to go to Shiraz?

- Yes.

- You will have your birthday there. When is it?

- May, 18th.

- Then you’d be in Shiraz.

- Yes.

- Do you know Goethe?

- Yes, not personally.

- Have you read Goethe?

- No.

- Would you join this family trip?

- Do you like to go?

- Yes. It is my birthday as we go there.

- You’d get a book of poems by Hafiz as a present.

- Do you want a book of poems as a present?

- So you have to learn it.

-Learn Farsi.

- I am learning the alphabets.

- She is learning the alphabets.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Dr. Mahmoud Falaki, lecturer at Hamburg University Author of “Goethe and Hafiz”: “This appeal to the East and the communication with the

East is imaginary since Goethe was never in the East.

But unlike nowadays with all these East-West confrontations, both violent and diplomatic, back then there was nothing. West never assumed the East as a threat and that made the East and everything to it somehow fascinating to them and that made the East and everything to it somehow fascinating to them.

You can find in the travelogues. In the travelogues dating back to the Middle Ages one can find insignificant observations and adventures.

The culture, rituals and relations in the East remain insignificant.

It is in the 16th and 17th centuries with the beginning of the Enlightenment era that the curiosity about other nations and cultures heightens.

The travelogues are now different. They write about rituals, cultures, relations, languages and histories.”

SOUNDBITE [French] Tourist in Iran: “In the hope of reunion, my very life I give up.

As a paradise bird, this worldly trap I would hop.

I swear to you, being your worthy servant.

Mastery of both worlds I would drop.

May the cloud of guidance unload its rain.

Before I am back to the dust, into the air I shall rise.

Besides my tomb bring minstrels and wine.

And I shall rise dancing to the scent of the cup.

Rise and manifest yourself my beloved.

To my life and universe, with ovation I put a stop.

On my deathbed give me a glimpse of your face

So like Hafiz, I too will reach the top.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:18

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Woman: “Respecting Goethe and you as our dear guest, I would like to give you a book of poems by Hafiz translated into 4 languages. One chapter is in German. In the introduction, I have praised Goethe.I am presenting it to you on your birthday.”

SOUNDBITE [German] Tourists to Iran: “I like it and I would like to thank you for the book.I want to read a poem by Goethe to you.

Gingko biloba

The Gingko, that Eastern tree

In my garden plot now grows.

In its leaf there seems to be

The secret that the wise man knows.

In that leaf one and lonely

In itself in two divided

It is two that is seen as one only?

To such questions I reply.

Do not my love poem say to you

I am one yet two?

The Gingko leaves are a beautiful metaphor.

They symbolize the East and the West.

That they are not separate

but united.

In my opinion, it is the most beautiful metaphor

considering the fact that this poem is in West-Eastern Divan.

Are they one or two?

Maybe they are united in general.

The languages have same roots.

Both Farsi and German are Indo-European languages.

Maybe they share one spirit.

One breaking into two.

I think so.

Goethe says the East and the West are the same.

That we are all brothers and sister,

friends and relatives.

The Leaf of the Eastern Tree.”

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