from the vision which had brought his previous incarnation before
This unfamiliar landscape, and this seat,
A cottage and a wood in front of me!
Are they familiar? Urgently they claim
Familiarity; yet they do lie
Upon my nature, like some heavy. weight.
They seem like real things. But no; all this
Is but a picture of soul substance spun.
I know how pictures such as these are made
Out of the thirst and longing of the soul.
As if awaking from my craving's dream
From out the spirit-ocean I have come
And memory; dread and shuddering shape, appears
To bring to mind these longings of my soul.
How burnt my thirst to know the world's design!
This longing vain, of self-denial born,
Consumed my nature to its very roots.
Sought I existence with impetuous will,
Then all the world's design did flee from me.
A moment, of eternity methinks,
Poured out such storms of suffering on my soul
As only can be felt in life's full course.
Between me and this craving fear there stood
That which had brought this fear to life in me.
I felt myself embrace the universe,
And all my personality was lost —
But no, it was not I who felt like this,
It was another being sprung from me.
I saw mankind and all its works evolve
From cosmic thoughts which rushing fast through Space,
Pressed on in eagerness to be revealed.
They drew the picture of a living world
In all its detail spread before my gaze.
From my soul-substance did they draw the power
With which to fashion Being out of Thought.
And as this world condensed before mine eyes,
My personal sense of feeling passed from me,
And words resounded from this picture-world,
Thinking themselves; and thrust themselves on me.
From out life's needs they brought to being things,
And gifted them with power from deeds of good.
Thus they resounded through the breadth of Space:
‘O man know thou thyself within thy world.’
Then saw I one who stood in front of me
And, showing me his soul, displayed mine own.
‘And then the cosmic words went on to say:
So long as in the circle of thy life
Thou canst not feel this being close entwined,
Thou art a dream, and dost but dream thy life.’
I could not think in figures clear and plain;
I did but see bewildering forces press
From nothingness to life, and back to nothingness —
But if my spirit seeks yet further back
And recollects what I beheld before,
A living picture stands before my soul,
Which is not blurred, as was all else that I
In later moments could experience,
But which more plainly sets before my soul
Men's lives and actions with each detail clear.
I gaze upon this picture, and can tell
What men these are, and what it is they do;
I recognize each soul I look upon,
Although their bodies' shapes are not the same.
I look upon all this as though myself
Were then a person living in this world;
But none the less with cold unfeeling eye
I scan a picture that seems life itself.
It seems as if its working on my soul
Withheld itself until that later time
Which to my spirit earlier was displayed.
Within a spirit-brotherhood I could
Myself and others clearly recognize;
And just as man doth often feel a scene
Of bygone days arise from memory's fount,
Thomas I see, a miner and my son,
And forthwith I must call to mind that soul,
Who, as Thomasius, is known to me.
The lady whom I know as seeress now
Stands there before mine eyes as mine own child.
Maria, who befriends Thomasius,
Reveals herself to me in monkish garb,
And doth condemn the spirit-brotherhood.
And Strader wears the visage of the Jew.
In Joseph Keane and in his wife I see
The souls of Felix and Felicia.
The others' lives lie open to my view
Without concealment; so too, doth mine own.
But while I am engrossed in reading it,
The picture fades and disappears from view.
And I can feel that those soul-elements
Of which that living picture was composed
Themselves are pouring into mine own soul.
I feel myself endowed with strength of soul
In my whole being, and I seem set free
From all the fetters of the world of sense:
My being doth embrace the universe.
Thus do I feel that instant so prolonged
Which I was able to live through, before
That living picture rose before mine eyes.
And now still further backward can I look.
Itself condensing out of cosmic thought
This forest doth appear before my gaze,
This house where Felix and Felicia
So often brought me comfort in distress.
Now — in the world I find myself once more
From which a moment since I felt myself
Removed by vast expanse of time and space.
And that which latterly I still could see:
The picture which disclosed to me myself
Is wafted like some misty fantasy
O'er all that now I feel by means of sense.
It is a nightmare, that oppresseth me;
It gropes in deep recesses of my soul;
It opens cosmic doors to breadths of Space. —
What storm is this that shakes my being's depths?
What enters forcibly from cosmic space?
A Voice (representing
Feel now what thou hast seen,
Live o'er what thou hast done
Refreshed from Being's source;
Thine own life hast thou dreamed.
Work out this deed in thee
With noble spirit-light
Regard thy daily task
With force of spirit-sight.
If this thou canst not do,
To empty Nothingness
Thou art for ever doomed.