Georg Trakl’s apprenticeship

Linzer Gasse is a narrow street in Salzburg on the right bank of the Salzach River. The pharmacy at Linzer Gasse 5 is the Engel-Apotheke (Angel Pharmacy), which was founded in 1805. It is best known for the fact that the poet Georg Trakl (1887-1914) did a three-year apprenticeship here (actually the pharmacy was next door at the time) starting in 1905.

Georg Trakl as an adolescent

This pharmacy has been owned and run by the same family for several generations. In the 1970s the oldest living member of the family claimed to remember that Trakl, who had just dropped out of school when he started his apprenticeship, was a shy young man who disliked waiting on customers and tried to remain in the back room of the pharmacy whenever he could.

Trakl’s father, who owned a successful hardware store in the center of Salzburg, was opposed to this apprenticeship because he feared his son wanted mainly to have access to narcotic drugs, but eventually he gave in because there seemed to be no other realistic option.

Trakl’s mother, like many other respectable bourgeois ladies of that period, was a discreet but persistent user of cocaine.

After his apprenticeship, Trakl went on to earn a university degree in pharmacology. At the time, pharmacology was the only course of studies at Austrian universities that was open to students without a secondary school diploma.

Poem by Georg Trakl

This evocative but enigmatic poem by Georg Trakl is mounted on the wall next to the pharmacy.

It is called Im Dunkel (In the dark) and has to do with silence, loneliness, dripping branches, dark conversation, a man and a woman, a crumbling cliff …

(Click here for an English translation by Eric Plattner.)


Im Dunkel

Es schweigt die Seele den blauen Frühling.
Unter feuchtem Abendgezweig
Sank in Schauern die Stirne den Liebenden.

O das grünende Kreuz. In dunklem Gespräch
Erkannten sich Mann und Weib.
An kahler Mauer
Wandelt mit seinen Gestirnen der Einsame.

Über die mondbeglänzten Wege des Walds
Sank die Wildnis
Vergessener Jagden; Blick der Bläue
Aus verfallenen Felsen bricht.

My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Salzburg, Austria.

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