Oh oak tree, how they have pruned you.
Now you stand odd and strangely shaped!
You were hacked a hundred times
until you had nothing left but spite and will!
I am like you, so many insults and humiliations
could not shatter my link with life.
And every day I raise my head
beyond countless insults toward new light.
What in me was once gentle, sweet, and tender
this world has ridiculed to death.
But my true self cannot be murdered.
I am at peace and reconciled.
I grow new leaves with patience
from branches hacked a hundred times.
In spite of all the pain and sorrow
I’m still in love with this mad, mad world.
— Hermann Hesse
From The Seasons of the Soul: The Poetic Guidance and Spiritual Wisdom of Hermann Hesse, translated and with commentary by Ludwig Max Fischer, published by North Atlantic Books, original work in German copyright © 2011 Surhkamp Verlag Berlin. Reprinted by permission of North Atlantic Books; please do not copy without permission.