Heart of Darkness

Das Herz der Finsternis

Übersetzt von Ernst Wolfgang Freißler
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2022







The Nel­lie, a cruis­ing yawl, swung to her an­chor without a flut­ter of the sails, and was at rest.
The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and be­ing bound down the river,
the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.
The sea-reach of the Thames stretched be­fore us like the be­gin­ning of an in­ter­min­able wa­ter­way.
In the off­ing the sea and the sky were wel­ded to­geth­er without a joint,
and in the lu­min­ous space the tanned sails of the barges drift­ing up with the tide seemed to stand still
in red clusters of can­vas sharply peaked, with gleams of var­nished sprits.
A haze res­ted on the low shores that ran out to sea in van­ish­ing flat­ness.
The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed con­densed into a mourn­ful gloom, brood­ing mo­tion­less over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.
The Dir­ect­or of Com­pan­ies was our cap­tain and our host.
We four af­fec­tion­ately watched his back as he stood in the bows look­ing to sea­ward.
On the whole river there was noth­ing that looked half so naut­ic­al.
He re­sembled a pi­lot, which to a sea­man is trust­wor­thi­ness per­son­i­fied.
It was dif­fi­cult to real­ize his work was not out there in the lu­min­ous es­tu­ary, but be­hind him, with­in the brood­ing gloom.
Between us there was, as I have already said some­where, the bond of the sea.
Be­sides hold­ing our hearts to­geth­er through long peri­ods of sep­ar­a­tion,
it had the ef­fect of mak­ing us tol­er­ant of each oth­er’s yarns — and even con­vic­tions.
The Law­yer — the best of old fel­lows — had, be­cause of his many years and many vir­tues, the only cush­ion on deck, and was ly­ing on the only rug.
The Ac­count­ant had brought out already a box of dom­in­oes, and was toy­ing ar­chi­tec­tur­ally with the bones.
Mar­low sat cross-legged right aft, lean­ing against the mizzen-mast.
He had sunken cheeks, a yel­low com­plex­ion, a straight back, an as­cet­ic as­pect,
and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands out­wards, re­sembled an idol.
The Dir­ect­or, sat­is­fied the an­chor had good hold, made his way aft and sat down amongst us. We ex­changed a few words lazily.
Af­ter­wards there was si­lence on board the yacht. For some reas­on or oth­er we did not be­gin that game of dom­in­oes.
We felt med­it­at­ive, and fit for noth­ing but pla­cid star­ing. The day was end­ing in a serenity of still and ex­quis­ite bril­liance.
The wa­ter shone pa­cific­ally; the sky, without a speck, was a be­nign im­mens­ity of un­stained light;
the very mist on the Es­sex marshes was like a gauzy and ra­di­ant fab­ric, hung from the wooded rises in­land, and drap­ing the low shores in dia­phan­ous folds.
Only the gloom to the west, brood­ing over the up­per reaches, be­came more somber every minute, as if angered by the ap­proach of the sun.
And at last, in its curved and im­per­cept­ible fall, the sun sank low,
and from glow­ing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat,
as if about to go out sud­denly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brood­ing over a crowd of men.
Forth­with a change came over the wa­ters, and the serenity be­came less bril­liant but more pro­found.
The old river in its broad reach res­ted un­ruffled at the de­cline of day,
after ages of good ser­vice done to the race that peopled its banks,
spread out in the tran­quil dig­nity of a wa­ter­way lead­ing to the ut­ter­most ends of the earth.
We looked at the ven­er­able stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and de­parts for ever, but in the au­gust light of abid­ing memor­ies.
And in­deed noth­ing is easi­er for a man who has, as the phrase goes, “fol­lowed the sea” with rev­er­ence and af­fec­tion,
than to evoke the great spir­it of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames.
The tid­al cur­rent runs to and fro in its un­ceas­ing ser­vice, crowded with memor­ies of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea.
It had known and served all the men of whom the na­tion is proud, from Sir Fran­cis Drake to Sir John Frank­lin, knights all, titled and un­titled — the great knights-er­rant of the sea.
It had borne all the ships whose names are like jew­els flash­ing in the night of time,
from the Golden Hind re­turn­ing with her round flanks full of treas­ure, to be vis­ited by the Queen’s High­ness and thus pass out of the gi­gant­ic tale,
to the Ere­bus and Ter­ror, bound on oth­er con­quests — and that nev­er re­turned.
It had known the ships and the men. They had sailed from Dept­ford, from Green­wich, from Erith —
the ad­ven­tur­ers and the set­tlers; kings’ ships and the ships of men on ’Change; cap­tains, ad­mir­als,
the dark “in­ter­lopers” of the East­ern trade, and the com­mis­sioned “gen­er­als” of East In­dia fleets.
Hunters for gold or pur­suers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bear­ing the sword, and of­ten the torch,
mes­sen­gers of the might with­in the land, bear­ers of a spark from the sac­red fire.
What great­ness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mys­tery of an un­known earth!
… The dreams of men, the seed of com­mon­wealths, the germs of em­pires.

Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness / Das Herz der Finsternis
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Ernst Wolfgang Freißler

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