It was drizzling as we walked up the hillside to the poet’s grave, American students with no appreciation of Austria’s greatest poet, not entirely clear about why we were climbing the sodden hill. We slogged toward the dark trees cresting the dreary summit, grass silvered with the fallen rain, drenching our shoes. It turned out it wasn’t even the great man, buried there on the steep hillside, but his parents.
The poet’s actual grave was too far for a day trip, this romantic solitude not for Austria’s most celebrated poet, but for American students, ignorant about who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things. Only mouths are we.
We gazed for a time at the wet-slicked gravestones, then turned, slipsliding back down, and remembered it better than we would have the spot where the great man actually lay.