in a book):
‘By inward gazing on the Beingless,
And dreaming through the shadowy picture realm
Of thought, conformably to self-made laws: —
Thus erring human nature often seeks
To find the meaning and the goal of life:
The soul from its own depths would draw replies
To questions that concern the universe.
Yet such attempts are vain, illusory
E'en at the outset, and they lead at last
To feeble visions which destroy themselves.’
(Speaking as follows.)
Thus is portrayed in words of import grave
Through Benedictus' noble spirit-sight,
The inward life of many human souls.
Each phrase goes home destructive to my heart —
Unfolding truly mine own way and life
Until this day, with cruel vividness.
And should a god this very hour appear
Descending on me in a raging storm
And clad in wrath, yet could his threatening might
Not torture me with more appalling fears
Than do the Master's words, as strong as fate.
Long hath my life been, but its web displays
Nothing but pictures shadowy and dim
Which haunt my dreaming soul and fondly strive
To mirror truths of nature and of mind.
With this dream-fabric hath my thought essayed
To solve the riddles of the universe.
Down many a path my restless soul I turned.
Yet do I clearly see that I myself,
Was not the active master of my soul
When threads of thought along illusion's path
Spun themselves out to cosmic distances.
So that which I in my content beheld
In pictures, left me empty, led to naught.
Then came across my path Thomasius,
The youthful painter. He indeed strode on,
Upheld by truest energies of soul
To that exalted spiritual way
Which transforms human life, and makes to rise
From hidden gulfs of soul the energy
Which feeds the springs of life within ourselves.
That which awoke from out his inmost soul
Abides in every man. And since from him
I gained this revelation, I do count
As chief amongst the many sins of life
To let the spirit's treasure grow corrupt.
I know henceforth that I must search and seek
And nevermore allow myself to doubt.
In days gone by my vanity of thought
Could have enticed me to the false belief
That unto knowledge man aspires in vain;
And only failure and despair belong
To those who would lay bare the springs of life,
And were all wisdom to unite in this,
And were I powerless to reject the claim
That human destiny demands of man
That he shall lose his individual self
And sink into the gulf of nothingness,
Yet would I make the venture unafraid.
Such thoughts would be a sacrilege to-day,
Since I have learned I cannot win repose
Until the spirit treasure in my soul
Hath been unveiled to the light of day.
The fruits of work of lofty spirit-beings
Have been implanted in the human soul,
And whoso leaves the spirit seed to lie
Unheeded and decay, he brings to naught
The work divine committed unto man.
Thus do I recognize life's highest task;
Yet when I try to take one single step
Across the threshold that I dare not shun,
I feel my strength desert me, which of yore
Did pride itself on elevated thought,
And sought the goals of life in time and space.
Once did I reckon it an easy thing
To set the brain in action and to grasp
The nature of reality by thought.
But now, when I would search the fount of life
And comprehend it as in truth it is,
My thought appears as some blunt instrument;
I have no power, no matter how I strive,
To form a clear thought-image from the words of
Benedictus, though his earnest speech
Should now direct me to the spirit's path.
(Resuming his reading.)
‘In silence sound the depths of thine own soul,
And ever let strong courage be thy guide.
Thy former ways of thinking cast away
What time thou dost withdraw into thyself;
For only when thine own light is put out
Will spirit-radiance show itself to thee.’
(Resuming his soliloquy.)
It seems as though I could not draw my breath
When I attempt to understand. these words.
And ere I feel the thoughts that I must think,
Fear and misgiving have beset my soul.
It is borne in on me that everything
Which hitherto was my environment
Is crumbling into ruin, and therewith
I too am crumbling into nothingness:
An hundred times at least have I perused
The words which follow, and each several time
Darkness enfolds me deeper than before.