Montblanc & Salzburg Festival Young Directors Project
Nicolas Charaux • YDP IV • Der Abschied
by Walter Kappacher
Work commissioned by the Salzburg Festival
In German with English surtitles
Print programme (PDF)
Nicolas Charaux, Director
Pia Greven, Sets and Costumes
At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound
Of the weapons of death, golden fields
And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun
Rolls down; night gathers in
Dying recruits, the animal cries
Of their burst mouths.
Yet a red cloud, in which a furious god,
The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently
Gathers, a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms;
All the roads spread out into the black mould.
Under the gold branches of the night and stars
The sister’s shadow falters through the diminishing grove,
To greet the ghosts of the heroes, bleeding heads;
And from the reeds the sound of the dark flutes of autumn rises.
O prouder grief! You bronze altars,
The hot flame of the spirit is fed today by a more monstrous pain,
The unborn grandchildren.
Georg Trakl (1887–1914)
Translated by Robert Bly
Grodek (Horodok) is a small town in eastern Galicia – now Ukraine – which lay on the front several times during the war. From 6th to 11th September 1914 Grodek was the scene of a battle in which the Salzburg writer and pharmacist Georg Trakl took part as a first aider or more precisely as a ‘dispensary orderly’. Trakl and his medical unit had to take care of over a hundred severely wounded men in a barn without the help of any doctors. One of these shot himself before Trakl’s eyes. Under the effects of his experiences, Trakl attempted suicide during the ensuing retreat but was prevented from doing so by his comrades, who wrested the weapon from him. Stationed in Limanova, Trakl was taken two weeks later to the ‘mad wing’ of the garrison hospital in Krakow, where he was placed under observation of his mental state. On 25th and 26th October he was visited by Ludwig von Ficker, a friend, father figure and editor of the Brenner. On 27th October Trakl sent him the manuscript of two poems he had promised, ‘Mourning’ and ‘Grodek’. On 3rd November the drug-addicted Trakl died in his cell from an overdose of cocaine. He was 27. Among his posthumous papers they found the poem:
In dark earth the holy stranger rests.
The lament of God was taken from his
As he subsided into its bloom.
A blue flower
Lets his song linger in the nightly house
The Salzburg author Walter Kappacher has written this play for the festival around these little documented final days of Georg Trakl. Walter Kappacher was born in Salzburg in 1938. He left school at 15 and worked in a series of different jobs. He is the winner of numerous awards including the Hermann Lenz Prize in 2004 and the Büchner Prize in 2009 for his book Der Fliegenpalast.
Translated by David Tushingham