Growing Flowers for the Benefit of All by Ji Xianlin ~ 季羡林 《在德国——自己的花是让别人看的》 with English Translations


季羡林 《在德国——自己的花是让别人看的》








Growing Flowers for the Benefit of All
Ji Xianlin

It is perhaps human nature to love things beautiful. The universe abounds in things of beauty, flowers being the most prominent among them. Many peoples, especially the Germans, love flowers.

Upwards of 40 years ago, when I was a student studying in Germany, I was often deeply impressed by the genuine love shown by Germans for flowers. All German families raised flowers. Unlike people in China who kept pot flowers indoors, Germans had their flowers planted outside their windows fronting the street. With the opening flowerers exposing their front to the street, residents could only see their back. Once I said to my landlady, “You must be growing your flowers for all to enjoy!”

Yes, exactly. Wherever I went in town, I would raise my head only to see all residents’ windows ablaze with flowers. And all windows joined together one after another to form a sea of flowers. So visitors seemed to find themselves in a land of so many lovely scenes that they were kept busy feasting their eyes all the time. As was the case with every family in the country, Germans, while at home, were happy to find their flowers pleasing the public eyes, but when they were out in the street, they enjoyed the sight of other people’s flowers. All for one and one for all. Their noble qualities, I think, provide much food for thought.

Now, I am in Germany again. The German host welcoming me at the railway station asked, “It’s a long time since you were here last. Do you see any changes?” “Yes, I do,” said I. “But beauty remains unchanged.” I explained that beauty, as I had mentioned, referred to many things, including beautiful flowers. Out on the street, I would look up and see the windows of all homes blocked up with flowers. What a scene of enchanting beauty! What an unusual nation! I seemed to have returned to the days of more than 40 years before. I had dreamed a dream of flowers, a nostalgic dream!

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