Monday 7 April 2008


I arrive feeling lonely - two weeks away from the consuming routines of work having repaired my physical exhaustion, but brought me hard up against what I use those routines to hide from: how alone and unanchored I am. I hope for a relationship with Vienna, want the city to fill me up.

Your compact centre curls in calm and elegant solidity, timeless trams circling between the regular bulk of your five- and six-storey buildings. Row on row of windows, outlined here by fine Baroque carving, here by the austere, repeated patterns of the Jugendstil, the former bursting every now and then into gold-leaf, extravagant gargoyles and fountains, the latter into lovely, subtly coloured flowers and angels. Vienna, after London, what a uniform, calm and orderly city you are, full of beauties large and small.

Congenial, gemütlich, you stroke my mood and senses, soothing, anchoring my heart in time and place, yet slowly plant unease. You preserve your dark history alongside your architectural heritage. Something in the sheer size and number of your gorgeous palaces affronts. And then, the wall-plaques and small museums: here and here and here the Jewish citizens were, and are gone.

Beneath your charm and beauty, a more complex, painful, bitter-sweet allure. My Viennese friends left and lived abroad, and have all returned.


Reading the Signs said...

Reading this, I suddenly remembered a poem by Erich Fried, written after his return to Vienna, which he had left at the age of 17:

Weil ich nun in der Fremde wohn
verschwimmst du oft in mir.
Und manchmal braucht es Mühe schon
dass ich dich nicht verlier.
Du meine Freude und meine Welt,
du Angst und banger Mut! –
dass ich dich einmal wiederseh,
mein Wien, ist gut.

Dale said...

My impressions of Vienna come almost all from Schnitzler. This is a different picture.

Welcome home, Jean. Hugs --

Jean said...

The poem is lovely, thank you.

Dale, Schnitzler, hmm - well I'm sure a lot of what he wrote about still goes on!

Zhoen said...

The perfect city.

Perfection kills.

Szerelem said...

Such lovely pictures and such lovely words. I spent a week in Vienna last year and this reminded me of that.

The second picture made me smile cos I have one at the exact same place. Here.