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Part V is one of the most beautiful works of literary art I have ever read. 3.5I might reread it soon. Thrilling imagery from a 27 year old mystic Novalis spanned the continental divide between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and was a poetic voice of German Transcendentalism, a watershed of the philosophy of writers like Emerson, whose ideas about the Over Soul and the Eye of Nature would have been familiar to this young poet who died of tuberculosis in 1801 The pen name Novalis meant a new ploughed field, and the poet s life was cut short early in the season Hymns to the Night is a strange, captivating poem, part elegy for a dead teenage lover, part folktale, part murky mystical paean to invisible forces that take on worldly forms The Night, Novalis says, is not just darkness and moonshine Only fools misrecognize you, he writes, not seeing the night in the wine made of grapes, in the almond trees wonder oil, the poppy juice that sends dreams, in the girl s breasts and in her womb turned into heaven Night seeps out of old stories, handing a key to the other, deeper side of things It transforms and transfigures the visible world, the physical things that are really only a pathway to the spiritual Night opens endless eyes in us,numberless than the stars, and if we listen with these eyes, we hear echoes of the transcendent reality that takes shape behind the fragile curtain of things.The book is a beautiful expression of Transcendental philosophy and the poet s grief and longing for his beloved Sophie von K hn , at rest in a mysterious mound that draws him near It s also a mystical Christian poem, where current philosophical ideas about Transcendence and the Absolute were expressed just as well in the Christian idea of Incarnation At a time when Blake s dark satanic mills were sprouting up in the aftermath of the so called Enlightenment the Romantics would say that it was a mass blinding, an extinguishing of the contemplative eye , Novalis, raised as a Moravian in a labyrinthine mansion overlooking the Harz River, espoused a Romantic Christianity influenced by Transcendental thought.As Arthur Versluis wrote in another book, one of the intriguing things about Novalis thought is how much it resembles Mahayana Buddhism and the Sufism of some medieval Islamic poets What may be the most interesting thing about it is that while Novalis probably never read Buddhist or Sufi texts, his unique Christian mystical encounter with Transcendentalism let him tap into similar concepts independently surely a fascinating defense of Transcendental concepts about the One Truth splintered into thousands of millions of shapes and fragments, of paradise scattered in pieces around the world Every beloved object is the center of a paradise, Novalis wrote.As a Christian mystic, too, there is an echo of the Spanish saint and seeker John of the Cross, the Lover eagerly tracking the shapes of the Beloved El Amado, Die Beliebte , evoking the erotic overtones of union with the divine that shows up in the best mystic poetry of several religious traditions Novalis moonlight is John s semi erotic Beloved God , moonlight that consumes us to prolong the wedding night forever Like Emerson s writing, Novalis concepts and language can definitely be difficult for modern readers to crack into Higgins translation is pretty literal, but a little too colloquial in places More of a study text than a fluent translation, but good for what it s worth Novalis German is worth tackling, partly because some metaphysical ideas just sound best in German. Aside I turn to the holy, unspeakable, mysterious Night Afar lies the world, sunk in a deep grave waste and lonely is its place In the chords of the bosom blows a deep sadness I am ready to sink away in drops of dew, and mingle with the ashes III 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 V Nature stood alone and lifeless Dry Number and rigid Measure bound her with iron chains As into dust and air the priceless blossoms of life fell away in words obscure Gone was wonder working Faith, and its all transforming, all uniting angel comrade, the Imagination A cold north wind blew unkindly over the torpid plain, and the wonderland first froze, then evaporated into ther The far depths of heaven filled with flashing worlds Into the deeper sanctuary, into theexalted region of the mind, the soul of the world retired with all her powers, there to rule until the dawn should break of the glory universal No longer was the Light the abode of the gods, and the heavenly token of their presence they cast over them the veil of the Night The Night became the mighty womb of revelations This Bilingual, Revised, Third Edition Of Dick Higgins Popular Translation Presents The Complete Athenaum Version Of Frederich Von Hardenburgh S Classic Romantic Long Poem, And The Substantially Different Manuscript Version Of The First Section The German Text Is En Face The Six Hymns Comprise A Deeply Affecting Poem That Speaks Across The Centuries With Unquestioned Radiance Usually, poetry isn t really my thing Or maybe it iscorrect to say that I just haven t found the right poet yet I chose to read this myself, for a college course And I found myself reading it not once or twice, but three times And I really like the poems in this short collection Maybe there s still hope for me and poetry These poems were both sad and beautiful and just good I don t know This is a very unique and beautifully written view of death Every line is packed with intrigue and provocation I wish I had learned about this writer sooner The atmosphere isn t as dark and as tragic as late romanticism but it s still very enjoyable. I found a newer translation of this, by the very compelling George MacDonald, which may not be the book listed above That said, the translation was fantastic the verses themselves, i.e the original, not so much Primarily the hymns were autobiographical, describing Novalis despair after his 15 year old fiance died, and how he would visit her grave at twilight, and imagine it transformed as night approached Overall the work is floridly Romantic, though Mr MacDonald manages to reduce the overstatement of this in his translation, and, especially in the later section, draws heavily on Platonic philosophy So if the work of Lord Byron and William Wordsworth is what you re looking for, or a shorter,melodramatic contemporary of Goethe, then go for it otherwise, seek something eithermodern orclassical. An odd collection of poetry, which sees Night as a an embodiment of Death, but Death as the ascension of the enlightened soul to immortality Therefore, light and day and all of their distractions are less impressive, to the author, than night I don t think I ve ever read ainteresting description of an author craving death, and I ve read my share of emo poetry Highly recommended for those who like poetry, but to be taken a piece at a time, rather than the entire collection at once, as the motifs become repetitive.I listened to the Librivox edition, which is based on a free e book from Internet Archive.Review originally posted on book coasters