My friend, I am indeed distressed to see
Thy spirit and thy soul in sadness droop,
And powerless to help the bond that binds
And that has bound us both for ten blest years.
E'en this same hour, filled with a portent deep
In which we both have heard and learned so much
That lightens all the darkest depths of soul,
Brought naught but shade and shadow unto thee.
Aye, after many of the speakers' words,
My listening heart could feel the very dart
That deeply wounded thine. Once did I gaze
Into thine eyes and saw but happiness
And joy in all the essence of the world.
In pictures beauty-steeped thy soul held fast
Each fleeting moment, bathed by sunshine's glow —
Flooding with air and light the forms of men
Unsealing all the depths and doubts of Life.
Unskilled as yet thine hand to body forth
In concrete colour-schemes, those living forms
That hovered in thy soul; but in the hearts
Of both of us there throbbed the joyous faith
And certain hope that future days would teach
Thine hand this art — to pour forth happiness
Into the very fundaments of Being;
That all the wonders of thy spirit's search
Unfolding visibly Creation's powers
Through every creature of thine art would pour
Soul rapture deep into the hearts of men.
Such were our dreams through all those days of yore
That to thy skill, mirrored in beauty's guise,
The weal of future men would trace its source.
So dreamed mine own soul of the goal of thine.
Yet now the vital spark of fashioning fire
That burned within thee seems extinct and dead.
Dead thy creative joy: and well-nigh maimed
The hand, which once with fresh and youthful strength
Guided thy steadfast brush from year to year.
Alas, 'tis true; I feel as if the fires
That erstwhile quickened in my soul are quenched.
Mine eye, grown dull, doth no more catch the gleam
Shed by the flickering sunlight o'er the earth.
No feeling stirs my heart, when changing moods
Of light and shade flow o'er the scenes around;
Still lies my hand, seeking no more to chain
Into a lasting present fleeting charms,
Shown forth by magic elemental powers
From utmost depths of Life before mine eyes.
No new creative fire thrills me with joy.
For me dull monotone obscures all life.
My heart is deeply grieved to hear that thou
Dost find such emptiness in everything
Which thrives as highest good and very source
Of sacred life itself within my heart.
All, friend, behind the changing scenes of life
That men call ‘Being,’ true life lies concealed
Spiritual, everlasting, infinite;
And in that life each soul doth weave its thread.
I feel afloat in spirit potencies,
That work, as in an ocean's unseen depths,
And see revealed all the life of men,
As wavelets on the ocean's upturned face.
I am at one with all the sense of Life
For which men restless strive, and which to me
Is but the inner self that stands revealed.
I see, how oftentimes it binds itself
Unto the very kernel of man's soul,
And lifts him to the highest that his heart
Can ever crave. Yet as it lives in me
It turns to bitter fruitage, when mine own
Touches another's being. Even so
Hath this, my destiny, worked out in all
I willed to give thee, when thou cam'st in love.
Thy wish it was to travel at my side
Unhesitating all the way, that soon
Should lead thee to a full and perfect art.
Yet what hath happened? All, that in mine eyes
Stood forth revealed in its own naked Truth
As purest life, brought death, my friend, to thee
And slew thy spirit.
Aye. 'Tis so indeed.
What lifts thy soul to Heaven's sun-kissed heights
When through thy life it comes into mine own
Thrusts my soul down, to death's abysmal gloom.
When in our friendship's rosy-fingered dawn
To this revealment thou didst lead me on,
Which sheds its light into the darkened realms,
Where human souls do enter every night,
Bereft of conscious life, and where full oft
Man's being wanders erring: whilst the night
Of Death makes mock at Life's reality.
And when thou didst reveal to me the truth
Of life's return, then did I know full well
That I should grow to perfect spirit-man.
Surely, it seemed, the artist's clear keen eye,
And certain touch of a creator's hand,
Would blossom for me through thy spirit's fire
And noble might. Full deep I breathed this fire
Into my being; when — behold — it robbed
The ebb and flow of all my spirit's power.
Remorselessly it drove out from my heart
All faith in this our world. And now I reach
A point where I no longer clearly see,
Whether to doubt or whether to believe
The revelation of the spirit-worlds.
Nay more, I even lack the power to love
That which in thee the spirit's beauty shows.
Alas! The years that pass have taught me this
That mine own way to live the spirit-life
Doth change into its opposite, whene'er
It penetrates another's character.
And I must also see how spirit-power
Grows rich in blessing when, by other paths,
It pours itself into the souls of men.
(Enter Philia, Astrid, and Luna.)
It floweth forth in speech, and in these words
Lies power to raise to realms celestial
Man's common mode of thinking; and create
A world of joy, where erstwhile brooded gloom.
Aye, it can change the spirit's shallowness
To depths of earnest feeling; and can cast
Man's character in sure and noble mould.
And I — yes, I am altogether filled
By just this spirit-power, and must behold
The pain and desolation that it brings
To other hearts, when from mine own it pours.
It seemed as though the voices of some choir
(Enter Prof. Capesius and Dr. Strader.)
Mingled together, uttering manifold
Conceptions and opinions, each his own,
Of these who formed our recent gathering.
Full many harmonies there were indeed,
But also many a harsh-toned dissonance.
Ah, when the words and speech of many men
Present themselves in such wise to the soul,
It seems as though man's very prototype
Stood centred there in secret mystery:
Became through many souls articulate,
As in the rainbow's arch pure Light itself
Grows visible in many-coloured rays.
Through changing scenes of many centuries
We wandered year on year in earnest search;
Striving to fathom deep the living force
That dwelt within the souls of those who sought
To probe and scan the fundaments of being,
And set before man's soul the goals of life.
We thought that in the depths of our own souls
We lived the higher powers of thought itself;
And thus could solve the riddles set by fate.
We felt we had, or seemed at least to feel,
Sure basis in the logic of our mind
When new experiences crossed our path
Questioning there the judgment of our soul.
Yet now such basis wavers, when amazed
I hear to-day, as I have heard before,
The mode of thought taught by these people here.
And more and more uncertain do I grow,
When I perceive, how powerfully in life
This mode of thought doth work. Full many a day
Have I spent thus, thinking how I might shape
Time's riddles as they solved themselves to me
In words, that hearts might grasp and trembling feel.
Happy indeed was I, if I could fill
Only the smallest corner of some soul
Amongst my audience with the warmth of life.
And oftentimes it seemed success was mine,
Nor would I make complaint of fruitless days.
Yet all results of teaching thus could lead
Only to recognition of this truth
So loved and emphasized by men of deeds,
That in the clash of life's realities,
Thoughts are dim shadows, nothing more nor less:
They may indeed wing life's creative powers
To due fruition, but they cannot shape
And mould our life themselves. So have I judged
And with this modest comment was content:
Where pale thoughts only work, all life is lamed
And likewise all that joins itself to life.
More potent than the ripest form of words,
However art might weave therein her spell,
Seemed nature's gift, man's talents — and more strong
The hand of destiny to mould his life.
Tradition's mountainweight, and prejudice
With dull oppressive hand will always quench
The strength of e'en the very best of words.
But that which here reveals itself in speech
Gives men, who think as I do, food for thought.
Clearly we saw the kind of consequence
That comes when sects, in superheated speech,
Blind souls of men with dogma's seething stream.
But nought here of such spirit do we find;
Here only reason greets the soul, and yet
These words create the actual powers of life,
Speaking unto the spirit's inmost depths.
Nay even to the kingdom of the Will
This strange and mystic Something penetrates;
This Something, which to such as I, who still
Wander in ancient ways, seems but pale thought.
Impossible, it seems, to disavow
Its consequences; none the less, myself
I cannot quite surrender to it yet.
But it all speaks with such peculiar charm
And not as though it really meant for me
The contradiction of experience.
It almost seems as if this Something found
The kind of man I am, insufferable.
I would associate myself in fullest sense
With every one of thy last spoken words:
And still more sharply would I emphasize
That all results in our soul-life, which seem
To spring forth from the influence of ideas,
Cannot in any wise decide for us
What actual worth of knowledge they conceal.
Whether there lives within our mode of thought,
Error or truth — 'tis certain this alone
The verdict of true science can decide.
And no one would with honesty deny
That words, which are, in seeming only, clear,
Yet claim to solve life's deepest mysteries,
Are quite unfit for such a scrutiny.
They fascinate the spirit of mankind,
And only tempt the heart's credulity;
Seeming to open door into that realm
Before which, humble and perplexed, now stands
The strict and cautious search of modern minds.
And he who truly follows such research
Is bound in honour to confess that none
Can know whence streams the wellspring of his thought,
Nor fathom where the depths of Being lie.
And though confession such as this is hard
For souls who all too willingly would gauge
What lies beyond the ken of mortal mind,
Yet every glance of every thinker's soul
Whether directed to the outer side,
Or turned towards the inner depths of life,
Scans but that boundary and naught beside.
If we deny our rational intellect
Or set aside experience, we sink
In depths unfathomable, bottomless.
And who can fail to see how utterly
What passeth here for revelation new,
Fails to fit in with modern modes of thought.
Indeed it needs but little thought to see,
How totally devoid this method is
Of that, which gives all thought its sure support
And guarantees a sense of certainty.
Such revelations may warm listening hearts,
But thinkers see in them mere mystic dreams.
Aye, thus would always speak the science, won
By stern sobriety and intellect.
But that suffices not unto the soul,
That needs a steadfast faith in its own self.
She ever will give heed to words that speak
To her of spirit. All she dimly sensed
In former days, she striveth now to grasp.
To speak of the Unknown may well entice
The thinker, but no more the hearts of men.
I too can realize how much there lies
In that objection; how it seems to strike
The idle dreamer, who would only spin
The threads of thought, and seek the consequence
Of this or that premise, which he himself
Hath formed beforehand. Me — it touches not —
No outer motive guided me to thought.
In childhood I grew up 'mid pious folk
And, following their custom, steeped my soul
In sense-intoxicating images
Of future sojourn in celestial realms,
Wherewith they seek to comfort and beguile
Man's ignorance and man's simplicity.
Within my boyish soul I sensed the throb
Of utmost ecstasy, when reverently
I raised my thoughts to highest spirit-worlds;
And prayer was then my heart's necessity.
Thereafter in a cloister was I trained;
Monks were my teachers, and in mine own heart
The deepest longing was to be a monk, —
An echo of my parent's ardent wish.
For consecration did I stand prepared
When chance did drive me from the cloistered cell;
And to this chance I owe deep gratitude.
For, many days before chance saved my soul
It had been robbed of inward peace and quiet;
For I had read and learned of many things,
That have no place within the cloister-gate.
Knowledge of nature's working came to me
From books that were forbidden to mine eyes;
And thus I learned new scientific thought.
Hard was the struggle as I sought the path
Wandering through many a way to find mine own;
Nor did I ever gain by cunning thought
Whate'er of truth revealed itself to me.
In fierce-fought battles have I torn the roots
From out my spirit's soil of all that brought
Peace and contentment to me when a child.
I understand indeed the heart that fain
Would soar up to the heights — but for myself,
When once I recognized that all I learned
From spirit-teaching was an empty dream,
I was compelled to find the surer soil
That science and discovery create.
We may surmise, each after his own kind,
Where sense and goal of life doth lie for each.
I altogether lack the power to prove
According to the science of to-day,
What spirit-teaching I have here received:
But clear within my heart I feel and know
My soul would die without this spirit-lore,
As would my body, if deprived of blood.
And thou, dear doctor, 'gainst our cause dost fight
With many words, and what thou now hast told
Of thy life's conflict lends them weight indeed
Even with those who do not understand
Thy learned argument. Yet would I ask
Exactly why it is that hearts of men
Receive the word of Spirit readily,
As though self-understood: yet when man seeks
Food for his spirit in such learned words
As thou didst use his heart grows chill and cold.
Although I am at home 'mid just such men
As circle round me here, yet strangely sounds
This speech I have just heard.
What strangeness there?
I may not say. Do thou, Maria, tell.
Our friend has oftentimes explained to us
What strange experiences come to her.
One day she felt herself completely changed,
And none could understand her altered state.
Estrangement met her wheresoe'er she turned
Until she came into our circle here.
Not that we fully understand ourselves
What she possesses and what no one shares.
Yet we are trained by this our mode of thought
The unaccustomed to appreciate,
And feel with every mood of humankind.
One moment in her life, our friend perceived,
All that seemed hers aforetime, disappear;
The past was all extinguished in her soul.
And since these wondrous changes came to her,
This mood of soul hath oft renewed itself;
It doth not long endure; and other times
She lives her life as ordinary folk.
Yet whensoe'er she falls into this state,
The gift of memory doth fade away.
She loseth from her eyes the power to see
And senseth her surroundings, seeing not.
With a peculiar light her eyes then glow,
And pictured forms appear to her. At first
They seemed like dreams; anon they grew so clear,
That we could recognize without a doubt
Some prophecy of distant future days.
Full many a time have we seen this occur.
It is just this that little pleaseth me
Amongst these men; who mingle with good sense
And logic, superstition's fallacies.
'Twas ever thus where men have walked this path.
If thou canst still speak so, thou dost not yet
Perceive our attitude towards these things.
Well, as for me, I freely must confess,
That I would sooner revelations hear
Than speak of questionable spirit-themes.
For even if I fail to read aright
The riddle of such dreams, yet those at least
I count as facts; and would 'twere possible
To see one instance of the mystery
Of this strange spirit-mood before mine eyes.
Perchance it is for look, she comes again.
And it doth seem to me as though e'en now
This mystic spirit-mood would show itself.
I am compelled to speak. Before my soul
A pictured form stands wrapped in robes of light;
From which strange words are sounding in mine ears.
I feel myself in future centuries,
And men do I behold as yet unborn: —
They also see the pictured form; they too
Can hear the words it speaks, which thus resound —
'O ye, who lived in faith's security,
Take comfort now in sight, and look on Me.
Receive new life through Me. For I am He
Who lived within the souls of those who sought
To find Me in themselves, by following
The gospel-words My messengers did bring
And by their own devotion's inward power.
The light of sense ye saw — believe ye now
In the creative spirit-world beyond.
For now indeed ye have yourselves achieved
One atom of divine prophetic sight.
Oh, breathe it deep, and feel it in your souls.'
A human form steps from that sphere of light.
And speaks to me: ‘Thou shalt make known to all
Who will give ear to thee, that thou hast seen
What all mankind shall soon experience:
Once, long ago, Christ lived upon the earth,
And from this life ensued the consequence
That in soul-substance clad He hovers o'er
The evolution of humanity,
In union with the earth's own spirit-sphere;
And though as yet invisible to men,
When in such form He manifests Himself,
Since now their being lacks that spirit sight,
Which first will show itself in future times;
Yet even now this future draweth nigh
When that new sight shall come to men on earth.
What once the senses saw, when Christ did live
Upon the earth; this shall be seen by souls
When soon the time shall reach its fullness due.’
This is the first time we have heard her speak