Monday, November 12, 2007
(picture from source)
NOTE: This poem by Novalis appeared on Ivan Granger's poetry chaikhana site this morning. Ivan's notes tell us that Novalis was the son of German aristocrats. He himself was a mystic, and often wrote of nature, love, and spiritual yearnings. He fell in love, but his sweetheart died soon thereafter, and he himself died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine.
Novalis is considered an important forerunner of the entire Romanic Movement in literature and art. Today, romantics are more or less out of fashion in the higher circles of literary criticism. But the tradition remains strong among those who still seek connection with transcendence through poetry and art (think Rumi, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov, Robert Bly and many others.) Try as they will, these condescending critics are unable to stifle the human urge toward meaningful connection with the sacred and all that that implies.
Novalis' poem inspired me to write a response.
When Geometric Diagrams...
(1772 - 1801)
(English version by Robert Bly)
When geometric diagrams and digits
Are no longer the keys to living things,
When people who go about singing or kissing
Know deeper things than the great scholars,
When society is returned once more
To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
And when light and darkness mate
Once more and make something entirely transparent,
And people see in poems and fairy tales
The true history of the world,
Then our entire twisted nature will turn
And run when a single secret word is spoken.
He was a young man,
not yet thirty when he died.
What he sought
was the very thing
we still yearn for—
a world not circumscribed
by measurements and
a reality emerging
which drifts through
particulars of fixed
with who might hear.
November 12, 2007