Demian. Hermann Hesse.

This afternoon, I tore through my bookshelves searching for a paperback copy of Hermann Hesse’s Demian, a book I first read in high school. The book above — brand-new, Harley Rustad’s Lost in the Valley of Death — reminds me of Demian. Like so many other people, in some ways reading Hesse as a young woman shaped my life, every one of my years off the well-trod path. Demian has reappeared at certain keys points in my life, always rising with a strangely mysterious power. At the end of a very long winter, that book returns to me like a breath of spring air.

Fittingly, perhaps, I’m unable to find my copy. Maybe that hardly matters. For the first time in months, I take a long hatless walk, listening to the singing birds, remembering the unstoppable power of spring, and that the world wraps around us in ways we understand, and in ways we’ll never comprehend.

On this sunny Sunday in Vermont, here’s a few lines from the incomparable W. H. Auden on the nature of war. For more about this poem, the New York Times has an essay today.

About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position; how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just

walking dully along…