There are so many places
I like to visit during Vienna's glorious autumn season,
from the various gardens
of the Upper and of the Lower Belvedere,
to the rose garden in the Volksgarten,
and the vineyards beyond, up in the hills.
I spend hours, if not days,
looking down into our apartment's "Secret Garden",
watching the leaves turn golden.
I love to walk through Schönbrunn Park,
up to the Gloriette, and from there
to the entrance gate of the Schönbrunn Zoo.
The forest in that area of the park
is left to its own rhythm,
you can hear a tree fall and the birds sing,
through a gently rolling wooded countryside.
So many beautiful places,
but for me none exerts greater allure
than the Strudlhof Steps.
When the leaves begin to fall,
the memory of autumn's past
pulls me towards that magic place.
I have to walk down those steps,
listen to the leaves' gentle rustling,
breath in the essence of life,
the last greeting from summer's gentle heat,
a promise of golden days still ahead.
So I walk along the lane
which leads to the upper landing
and as I begin my descent,
wistful step by wistful step,
I begin to feel a sense of peace and belonging.
At the lower landing of the steps,
I pause, to read this poem,
carved in stone:
On the Strudlhof Steps in Vienna
When the leaves upon the steps are lying
from the old stairs is heard an autumn sighing
of all that's gone across them in the past
A moon in which a couple, holding fast,
embraces, lightweight shoes and heavy footfall
the mossed urn in the middle, by the wall,
outlasts the year between the wars and dying.
So much is past and gone, to our dismay,
And beauty shows the frailest power to stay.
Heimito von Doderer, "The Strudlhof Steps"
tranlated by Vincent Kling.