Rosa Luxemburg
Letters to Sophie Liebknecht

Wronke, June 1, 1917

... I know the different kinds of orchids well. I studied them once for several days in the wonderful hothouses at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where a whole section is filled with them. It was after the trial in which I was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.

Their slender grace and their fantastic, almost unnatural forms make them seem to me over-refined and decadent. They produce on me the impression of a dainty marquise of the powder-and-patch period.

The admiration I feel for them has to encounter an internal resistance, and is attended with a certain uneasiness, for by disposition I am antagonistic to everything decadent and perverse. A common dandelion gives me far more pleasure. It has so much sunshine in its colour; like me, it expands gratefully in the sun, and furls its petals shyly at the least shade.

What lovely evenings and what glorious nights we are having now! Yesterday everything seemed under the influence of an indescribable charm. Long after the sun had set, huge rays of a vague but brilliant tint – a sort of opal – were still spreading across the sky; it looked like a huge palette upon which a painter had squeezed the colour out of his brushes after a long day’s work. The atmosphere was sultry; there was a slight feeling of tension, producing a sense of oppression; the shrubs were motionless, the nightingale was silent, but the indefatigable black-cap was still hopping from twig to twig uttering its clear call. There was a general feeling of expectation. I stood at the window and waited too, though I haven't the slightest idea what I was waiting for. After “closing time” at six I have nothing more to expect betwixt heaven and earth.

Last updated on: 16.12.2008