Home is not here or there, but inside yourself or nowhere

In 2017 I travelled and travelled. I soaked up culture and history. I met and found friends. I gathered souvenirs, my eyes wide open.

One souvenir is this lake called “Zypressenteich” near Nuremberg (Nürnberg) in Germany: An inviting yellow bench to sit on and just dream and reflect under trees covered with yellow leaves surrounding the mysterious lake hiding its ground.

It could have been here that Hermann Hesse thought about home (or in German: Heimat).

“Heimat ist nicht da oder dort, Heimat ist in Dir drinnen oder nirgends” which can be translated to “Home is not here or there, home is inside yourself or nowhere.” This struck me.

I must admit that, when travelling in 2017, I found my second home in Brandenburg, because everyone around me spoke like my mum. I have never experienced that before. I had found my second home in Brandenburg, while  my first roots are in Basel, the town of my dad, where I live.

Yes, I feel home in Basel and in Brandenburg… here and there… which gives me roots. But nevertheless I sense like Hermann Hesse that my real roots are not here and there, but home is inside myself. He may have used his words to warn from growing nationalism and growing rejection of everything outside.

While travelling, I sensed some signs of growing nationalism which I fear… Hermann Hesse came in right for me and motivated me to work on his thoughts my way, in German first, then trying to translate that.


Heimat ist in Dir drinnen oder nirgends

Warum Heimat da oder dort suchen?

Warum nach Heimat in der Geschichte forschen?

Warum für Heimat verbissen kämpfen?

Warum Fremde aus der Heimat sperren?


Ist denn Heimat nicht in Dir drinnen – oder nirgendwo?


Home is inside yourself or nowhere

Why look for home here and there?

Why search for home in history?

Why fight for home like do-or-die?

Why lock out others from home?


Is home not inside yourself – or nowhere?


Родина внутри тебя или нигде
Почему ищут Родину тут или там?

Почему истоки Родины ищут в истории?

Почему сражаються ожесточённо за Родину?

Почему закрывать Родину чужим?


Разве Родина не внутри тебя – или нигде.


Las raíces están en tí mismo o por ninguna parte

Porqué buscar las raíces por ahí o por allá ?

Porqué investigar las raíces en la historía ?

Porqué batirse por las raíces tan reñidamente ?

Porqué bloquear el ingreso de los extranjeros en nuestras raíces ?

Porqué ?

No es que nuestras raíces están en tí mismo o por ninguna parte ?


Well, for 2018 I do hope that we look for home inside ourselves and nowhere else!


Source: “Demian” (1919), requoted in the anthology about trees “Hermann Hesses Betrachtungen und Gedichte über Bäume” edited by the Insel Verlag.