Ode To A Nightingale / Tender Is The Night

Already with thee! tender is the night…
…But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

John Keats, „Ode To A Nightingale“

Dieses Zitat stellte F. Scott Fitzgerald seinem Roman Tender Is The Night voran. Im Folgenden rezitiert er selbst Keats’ “Ode” an die Sterblichkeit und das Vergehen der Schönheit:


Fitzgerald kommt einige Male vom Text ab, bevor er vollständig den Faden verliert und sein Vortrag kurz vor dem Ende abrupt abbricht. Eine traurige Metapher auch für sein Leben, das im Alter von nur 44 Jahren bereits ausgehaucht war.

Die Frankfurter Rundschau schrieb: „Engel sind die eleganteren Menschen. Aber wer hoch steigt, wird tief fallen. Niemand zeigte beides so schön wie F. Scott Fitzgerald.“ Und Heinrich Detering in seinem Nachwort zu Zärtlich ist die Nacht: „Jedes Detail hat einen doppelten Boden.“

Wieviel unheilvolle Vorahnung allein in dieser Beschreibung liegt:

A mile from the sea, where pines give way to dusty poplars, is an isolated railroad stop, whence one June morning in 1925 a victoria brought a woman and her daughter down Gausse’s Hotel. The mother’s face was of a fading prettiness that would soon be patted with broken veins; her expression was both tranquil and aware in a pleasant way. However, one’s eye moved on quickly to her daughter, who had magic in her pink palms and her cheeks lit to a lovely flame, like the thrilling flush of children after their cold bath in the evening. Her fine forehead sloped gently up to where her hair, bordering it like an armorial shield, burst into lovelocks and waves and curlicues of ash blonde and gold. Her eyes were bright, big, clear, wet, and shining, the color of her cheeks was real, breaking close to the surface from the strong young pump of her heart. Her body hovered delicately on the last edge of childhood – she was almost eighteen, nearly complete, but the dew was still on her.

As sea and sky appeared below them in a thin, hot line the mother said:

„Something tells me we’re not going to like this place.“

F. Scott Fitzgerald, „Tender Is The Night“