I am reading this Penguin parallel text book to try and improve my German and I came across this phrase

Das hatte sie sofort in eine kalte, hysterische Raserei getrieben, in ein verzweifeltes Klammern und Bäumen.

and I'm really not sure what this Klammern und Bäumen is all about...!

It is given that this means "a clinging, convulsive state", but translations seem to suggest it means "cling and trees" or "brackets and trees"? Is this a saying? I haven't been able to find it anywhere online.

  • 3
    Pretty expressive German. Torsten's answer is correct, as is Guntram's comment: The liberties the author took with the language makes the sentence demanding for the non-native reader. Jun 28, 2020 at 23:43
  • 1
    You may note that the two words are quite the opposite in meaning: One clings to a person and the other tries to break away. 'Aufbäumen' is used for horses that get up on their hind legs, either trying to get rid of the rider or to trample something. - Also: Klammern is quite normal but 'Bäumen' is an artistic liberty. Great text!
    – TaW
    Jun 29, 2020 at 7:06
  • I'd need more context for that sentence to make sense. Because those words don't go very well together in describing one person, like TaW indicated.
    – Arsenal
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:17
  • 1
    Well, the persone was in a hysterical rage, so imo they go together quite well, here.
    – TaW
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:21
  • It would be helpful to know who the author is.
    – fdb
    Jun 30, 2020 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


You translatet „klammern“ correctly with cling.

But with „Bäumen“ you got the wrong meaning of that word.

You translated it as comming from the plural of „Baum“: die „Bäume“, and in dative „den Bäumen“.

But it is the nominalization of the verb (auf)bäumen meaning „rearing up“.

So she is rearing up and clinging...

  • 18
    Please not that "Klammern und Bäumen" is not what a German would generally use, "Festklammern und Aufbäumen" is what should have been used. I assume the author took some artistic liberties, by shortening words to convey the emotion of despair. The publisher should at least have given an explanation, because that's not what you'd expect a learner to be able to realize. Jun 28, 2020 at 20:43
  • 6
    @GuntramBlohmsupportsMonica, my gut feeling is much more comfortable with klammern instead of festklammern than with bäumen instead of aufbäumen.
    – o.m.
    Jun 29, 2020 at 5:46
  • 3
    I personally agree that "Klammern und Bäumen" is not "everyday use". But for me this shortening conveys the desparate feelings much better than the longer forms "Festklammern und Aufbäumen"...
    – Tode
    Jun 29, 2020 at 6:19
  • I would even doubt the choice of word here. "aufbäumen" is always rearing up against something. So clinging would weaken that word here and the sentence makes less sense.
    – Pascal
    Jun 29, 2020 at 9:16

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