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Pictured above, The Beauty of the Night, made in 1954 by Max Ernst (1891-1976); in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC

From The Hymns to the Night (1799) by Novalis (pen-name of Georg Friedrich von Hardenberg) (born 2 May, 1772; died 25 March, 1801):

'Once when I was shedding bitter tears, when, dissolved in pain, my hope was melting away, and I stood alone by the barren mound which in its narrow dark bosom hid the vanished form of my life — lonely as never yet was lonely man, driven by anxiety unspeakable — powerless, and no longer anything but a conscious misery. — As there I looked about me for help, unable to go on or to turn back, and clung to the fleeting, extinguished life with an endless longing: — then, out of the blue distances — from the hills of my ancient bliss, came a shiver of twilight — and at once snapt the bond of birth — the chains of the Light. Away fled the glory of the world, and with it my mourning — the sadness flowed together into a new, unfathomable world — Thou, Night-inspiration, heavenly Slumber, didst come upon me — the region gently upheaved itself; over it hovered my unbound, newborn spirit. The mound became a cloud of dust — and through the cloud I saw the glorified face of my beloved. In her eyes eternity reposed — I laid hold of her hands, and the tears became a sparkling bond that could not be broken. Into the distance swept by, like a tempest, thousands of years. On her neck I welcomed the new life with ecstatic tears. It was the first, the only dream — and just since then I have held fast an eternal, unchangeable faith in the heaven of the Night, and its Light, the Beloved.'

(translated from the German by George MacDonald, edited and amended by Michael Smith)

Pictured above, The Beauty of the Night, made in 1954 by Max Ernst (1891-1976); in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC

From The Hymns to the Night (1799) by Novalis (pen-name of Georg Friedrich von Hardenberg) (born 2 May, 1772; died 25 March, 1801):

'Once when I was shedding bitter tears, when, dissolved in pain, my hope was melting away, and I stood alone by the barren mound which in its narrow dark bosom hid the vanished form of my life — lonely as never yet was lonely man, driven by anxiety unspeakable — powerless, and no longer anything but a conscious misery. — As there I looked about me for help, unable to go on or to turn back, and clung to the fleeting, extinguished life with an endless longing: — then, out of the blue distances — from the hills of my ancient bliss, came a shiver of twilight — and at once snapt the bond of birth — the chains of the Light. Away fled the glory of the world, and with it my mourning — the sadness flowed together into a new, unfathomable world — Thou, Night-inspiration, heavenly Slumber, didst come upon me — the region gently upheaved itself; over it hovered my unbound, newborn spirit. The mound became a cloud of dust — and through the cloud I saw the glorified face of my beloved. In her eyes eternity reposed — I laid hold of her hands, and the tears became a sparkling bond that could not be broken. Into the distance swept by, like a tempest, thousands of years. On her neck I welcomed the new life with ecstatic tears. It was the first, the only dream — and just since then I have held fast an eternal, unchangeable faith in the heaven of the Night, and its Light, the Beloved.'


(translated from the German by George MacDonald, edited and amended by Michael Smith)