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Herman Hesse Learns the Language of Color
Montagnola, Switzerland, 1919
Ann Hostetler (bio)

“I have shown my appreciation to the old houses and stone roofs, the garden wall, the
chestnut trees, the near and faraway mountains, by painting, using hundreds of good
sheets of drawing paper, many tubes of water paints, and drawing pencils.”

                       Herman Hesse

Outside my window, the sun casts
a thousand shades of green upon the retina.
Beyond them—stones, hills.
Rooftops sing out burnt sienna,
orange, against a cool wash of blue.
From metal tubes I squeeze viridian,
terre verte, chromium oxide, emerald
green onto the palette. I dip the brush
in water, tease a tributary between
gleaming heaps of paint, mix in yellows, blues—
a few dozen shades suggest an infinite range.
War has stolen the language, my words
the shards of shattered bridges left behind.
For now, I will let color play.

Ann Hostetler

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