The Alexander von Humboldt

Graphic of the Alexander von Humboldt in orange

And here is the text to read along:

Let your eyes wander over the green hull, climb aloft the yellow masts, more than 30 metres high , in search of the familiar green sails, majestically billowing, square sails, foresails, staysails and mizzens. But no. Hopeless, the latter endeavour. The sails are reefed or even taken down for the winter and our eyes are surely only a limited channel with which to approach this old lady.

Dare to walk through the metal gate, across the jetty.
Set foot on the groaning barque.
Delapidated? Anything but.
Rather, gracefully agéd.
Returned back home.
Over a hundred years.
Steeped in the great wide world.
At rest.
Grant her this well-deserved retirement.

Side view of the tall ship "Alexander von Humboldt" on the Weser. The St. Martini Church can be seen in the background.
WFB/Ingrid Krause, Schlachte – The Alexander von Humboldt

… in search
of the familiar
green sails …

Approach the metal hull intimately but with respect.
Tonnes of stowed up memory.
Close your eyes.
Run your hands over the countless layers of paint.
Can you feel the breath of the world? The rise and fall of a million seas?
Greet the old lady.
Lay your ear against the cool metal.
Listen with eyes closed.
Listen to the reverberations of the tides,
High tide, low tide.
Good times
And bad times

View of the upper deck of the "Alexander von Humboldt". The boat lettering shines in the sun.
Staatsarchiv Bremen, The Alexander von Humboldt, 1990

Can you feel the breath of the world?

Listen to the flapping of wings
the howling
the creaking
the foaming
the guttural songs
horn blasts
whistles trilling
all the necessary orders
and confessions freely exchanged
the screeching
the clattering of potsThe squeals of the dolphins
the blowing of whales
the kee-reeking of the terns.
Pay heed to the overwhelming breakers 
and peaceful sloshing
the splashing
the murmuring
the seething
the sighing
the whimpering
the roaring
the hissing
the gurgling
the dull rumblings.
Pay heed to the sound of the deep
and the vast expanse

Listen to the sea.
Birthplace of all living things.

full of yearning.

Learn from this old lady.

Anke Bär
Translation: Roy Kift