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The Poets of Legend: Goethe. Schiller and … Heinrich Heine.A favorite among Lieder composers, Heine’s literary works comprise twenty volumes, Die Romantische Schule two of them. Published in French and German 1833-36; this translation by Charles Godfrey Leland. Below, the great Poet’s thoughts on Novalis and Hoffmann.
But what was the Romantic School in Germany? It was nothing else but the Reawakening of the Middle Ages … its songs, images and architecture, in art and in life.
I have little to say regarding Schelling’s relationship to the Romantic School. His influence was mostly personal, but since the Philosophy of Nature through him has sprung into life and into vogue, Nature has been much more intelligently grasped by poets. Some are absorbed with all their human feelings into Nature; others have noted certain magic forms by means of which something human can be made to look forth and speak from it. The former are the true mystics, and resemble in many respects the Indian devotees who sink into Nature, and at last begin to feel in common with it. The others are more like enchanters, who, by their own power of will, evoked even fiends; they are like the Arabian sorcerers, who could animate every stone, or petrify, as they pleased, every living being.
To the first of these belong Novalis; to the second, Hoffmann.
Novalis saw everywhere the marvelous,
And, in its loveliness and beauty,
He listened to the language of the plants;
He knew the secret
Of every young rose, he identified himself with all
Nature; and when the autumn came and
the leaves fell, he died.
Hoffmann, on the contrary, saw spectres everywhere; they nodded to him from every Chinese teapot and every Berlin wig; he was a magician who changed men into brutes, and these again into Royal Prussian court counselors. He could call the dead from their graves, but he repulsed life from himself like a dismal ghost. And thus he felt he himself had become a spectre; all Nature was to him like a badly-ground mirror, in which he, distorted in a thousand ways, saw only his own death mask, and his works are only one terrible cry of agony in twenty volumes.
Hoffmann did not belong to the Romantic School. He was in no way allied to the Schlegels, and still less to their tendencies. I only mention him here in opposition to Novalis, who was really a poet of that kind. Novalis is less well known in France than Hoffmann, whom Loeve-Veimars has placed before the public in such admirable form, and thereby attained such a reputation.
By us inGermany, Hoffmann is no longer in fashion, but once it was otherwise. Once he was very much read, but only by men whose nerves were too strong or too weak to be affected by soft accords. Men of true genius and poetic natures would hear nothing of him; they, by far, preferred Novalis.
But, honestly speaking, Hoffmann was, as a poet. far superior to Novalis, for the latter always sweeps in the air with his ideal forms, while Hoffmann, with all his odd imps, sticks to earthly reality. But as the giant Antaeus remained invincibly strong while his feet touched his mother earth, and lost his strength when Hercules raised him in the air, so is the poet strong and powerful so long as he does not leave the basis of reality, but becomes weak when whirling about in the blue air.
The great resemblance in these poets lies in this: That in both their poetry is really a malady, and in this relation it has been declared that judgment as to their works was the business of a physician rather than a critic. The rosy gleam in the glow of Novalis is not the glow of health; and the purple heat in Hoffmann’s Phantasiestücken is not the flame of genius but of fever.
But have we the right to make such remarks, we who are not blessed with excess of health, above all at present; when literature resembles a vast lazar-house? Or is it perhaps poetry is a disease of mankind, just as the pearl is only the material of a disease which the poor oyster suffers?
Novalis was born May 2, 1772. His real name was Hardenberg. He loved a young lady who suffered from and died of consumption. This sad story inspired all his writings; his life was a dreamy dying in consequence, and he himself died of consumption in 1801, before he had completed his twenty-ninth year, or his novel.
This work as it exists is only the fragment of a great allegorical poem, which, like “Divine Comedy” of Dante, was to treat earnestly all things of earth and heaven. Heinrich von Ofterdingen, the famous poet, is the hero.
We see him as a youth in Eisenach, the charming town which lies at the foot of old Wartburg, where the greatest and also the stupidest things have been done; that is, where Luther translated the Bible, and certain idiotic Teutomaniacs burned the Gendarme Code of Herr Kamptz. There too in that castle was held the greatest contest of minstrels where among other poets Heinrich von Ofterdingen sang in the dangerous contest with Klingsohr of Hungary, an account of which has been preserved in the Manesse collection. He who was vanquished was to lose his head, and the Landgrave ofThuringia was to be the judge. The Wartburg rises as with mysterious signification over the cradle of the hero, and the beginning of the novel shows him in the paternal home of Eisenach.
The parents are still sleeping, the hanging clock beats monotonously, the wind blows against the rattling windows; now and then the room is lighted by the rays of the moon. The youth lays restlessly on the couch, thinking of the stranger and of his tales.
“It was not the treasure,” he said to himself, “which awoke in me such unutterable desire; all covetousness is far from me; but I long to see the Blue Flower. It haunts me all the time, and I can think and fancy of nothing else.”
Heinrich von Ofterdingen begins with such words, and the Blue Flower sheds it light and breathes its perfume through the whole romance. It is marvelous and full of meaning that the most imaginary characters of this book seem to us as real as if we had known them long ago.
Old memories awaken. The Muse of Novalis was a slender snow-white maid with serious blue eyes, golden hyacinthine locks and smiling lips … and I imagine it was the same damsel – the Muse of Novalis – who made me aware of him.
Fisherman and the Siren by Lord Frederic Leighton
The waters rush'd, the waters rose,
A fisherman sat by,
While on his line in calm repose
He cast his patient eye.
And as he sat, and hearken'd there,
The flood was cleft in twain,
And, lo! a dripping mermaid fair
Sprang from the troubled main.
She sang to him, and spake the while
"Why lurest thou my brood,
With human wit and human guile
From out their native flood?
Oh, couldst thou know how gladly dart
The fish across the sea,
Thou wouldst descend, e'en as thou art,
And truly happy be!
Do not the sun and moon with grace
Their forms in ocean lave?
Shines not with twofold charms their face,
When rising from the wave?
The deep, deep heavens, then lure thee not,--
The moist yet radiant blue,--
Not thine own form,--to tempt thy lot
'Midst this eternal dew?"
The waters rush'd, the waters rose,
Wetting his naked feet;
As if his true love's words were those,
His heart with longing beat.
She sang to him, to him spake she,
His doom was fix'd, I ween;
Half drew she him, and half sank he,
And ne'er again was seen.
.Excerpt, “Translations From The German Poets.” Edward Stanhope Pearson. 1879.
My heart, I fain would ask thee,
What call’st thou love, expound?
“Two souls with one thought between them,
Two hearts with one pulse-bound!”
And say, from whence love cometh:
“She comes, and lo, she’s there!”
And say, how doth love vanish?
“If so, love never were.”
And when is love the purest?
“When she herself excludes!”
And when is love the deepest?
“When silentest she broods!”
And when is love the richest?
“Then when with gifts she’s fraught!”
And say, what is’t love speaketh?
“She loves, but speaketh nought!”
“The Poetry of Germany, Consisting from Upwards of Seventy of the Most Celebrated Poets.” Translated into English Verse by Alfred Baskerville. 1853.
The God of Youth
Should in the twilight’s shadows,
When on a summer’s night,
Thy loving eye is watching,
For visions fair and bright,
The manes of friends flit by me,
And, like the starry skies,
The spirits of the Titans
Of ancient days arise.
Should of love’s restless longing
Within thy breast subside,
Where, wrapt in beauty’s mantle,
The godlike loves to hide,
And should the heart’s endeavour
In peace reap its award,
And should with tuneful accents,
Resound the soul’s accord;
Seek in the stillest valley
The flowers’ richest shrine,
And pour from golden goblet
The glad libation wine!
Still smiles in verdant freshness
The heart’s sweet spring in thee,
The God of Youth still ruleth
O’er thee, as over me.
And when the bard sat musing
In Tibur’s shady grot,
And, wrapt in dreams of Heaven,
The flight of time forgot;
When waving elms refreshed him,
When proudly there below,
Played round the silver blossoms
The waves of Anio;
And as in Plato’s bowers,
When through the bosquet’s green,
By nightingale’s saluted,
The star of love was seen;
When all the zephyrs slumbered
And, rippled by the swan,
Cephisus through the olives
And myrtle-bushes ran;
’Tis still on earth as lovely!
Our bosom, too, o’er flows
With blessings of kind Nature,
Her life, peace, and repose;
Still bloometh Heaven’s beauty,
Still in our bosoms ring,
Commingled and fraternal,
The peaceful tones of Spring.
Hence in the stillest valley
Seek the most perfum’d shrine,
And pour from golden goblet
The glad libation wine.
Still smiles in verdant freshness
Earth’s image upon thee,
The God of Youth still ruleth,
O’er thee, as over me.
Excerpt, “Specimens of the Choicest Lyrical Productions of the Most Celebrated German Poets, from Klopstock to the Present Time,” translated in English verse by Mary Anne Burt. London: 1855.
Joseph Christian, Baron von Zedlitz, was born the 28th of February, 1789 at the castle of Joahannisberg, near Jauernick, in the western part of Silesia. After having pursued his preliminary studies at the College of Breslaw, he entered a Hussar regiment. In 1809, he became lieutenant, and two months later he obtained the rank of first lieutenant, and as ordinance officer of Prince Hohenzollern, he took part in the battle of Ratisbone, Aspern, and Wagram, but shortly afterwards, for family reasons, he quitted the military service.
Since the year 1810 the Baron von Zedlitz has held the office of Chamberlain to H. M. the Emperor of Austria: he was, during a long time, private secretary to Prince Metternich. Since 1845, he has been Charge d’affaires to the Duke of Nassau, and, towards the end of the year 1851 he exercised, at the court of Austria, the same functions for the Duke of Brunswick.
Schiller has remarked: “Der Mensch waechst mit seiner Zwecken.” (“Man grows with his Designs.”) We may also with justice say: a man becomes great, or insignificant, according to the circle in which he lives. These words may be applied to the Poet Zedlitz. His poetry is as brilliant as that sphere in which he has moved; there is a measure, even in his sentiments, which are invariably expressed in a language, equally harmonious and pleasing…MAB, 1855.
The Midnight Review
Lo! – by solemn midnight gloom,
The Drummer, from sleep, awakes,
And, arising from the tomb,
With his drum the rounds he makes.
On the drum, with his fleshless arm,
He announces the Review,
The Drummer sounds an alarm,
Rap! Rap! – he beats the tattoo.
What reverberating tone
From the drum, around is spread!
Battalions, from church-yards lone,
Are awakened from the dead!
From the northern church-yards drear,
Where, in snow and ice, they lie,
From tombs, in the sourthern sphere,
‘Neath a warm Italian sky.
Warriors that sleep by the Nile,
And those ‘neath Arabian sand,
Arising, stand rank and file,
And they grasp their sword in hand.
Ere twelve at night is past,
From his tomb the Trumpeter glides,
How piercing and shrill the blast,
As to and fro, he rides!
See! – on chargers, proud and gay,
The cavalry-troops appear;
The squadrons, in war’s array,
Bear ensanguined sword, and spear.
The ghastly skulls, bleached snow-white,
“Neath their brilliant helmets, glare,
‘Neath the pale and hazy moonlight,
They brandish their weapons there!
Twelve striketh:prophetic sound!
The Commander quits his grave;
He slowly rides o’er the ground,
With his Staff – sons of the brave.
What a small, strange hat he weareth!
His venture bespeaks not pride;
The august Commander beareth
A two-edg’d sword, by his side!
The moon’s pale, nebulous rays
Illume the extensive plain;
The Commander-in-chief surveys
The assembled, martial train.
The regiments march, rank and file,
Present arms, stand in review,
And, by the music’s sound, awhile,
He rides ‘mid his followers true.
Marshals and generals near
Their Commander flock around;
And he whispereth in the ear
Of one, a mysterious sound.
“France!” – the soul-thrilling Password,
From cohort to cohort flies,-
“Saint Helena!” – vibrating is heard,
“St. Helena!” – Echo replies.
When the hour of midnight tolls
On the wide Elysian plain,
That Review, mighty Caesar holds
With his valiant, martial train!
Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz
Excerpt, “The Poetry of Germany, Consisting from Upwards of Seventy of the Most Celebrated Poets.” Translated into English Verse by Alfred Baskerville. 1853.
Johann Gottfried Kinkel (1815-1882) was born at Obercassel near Bonn. In 1846 he was appointed extraordinary professor of the history of art at the University of Bonn. In 1848, with his wife and Carl Schurz, he started a newspaper, the Bonner Zeitung, mostly devoted to following revolutionary activities, but also providing the traditional material like musical and theatrical reviews which people expected then from a full-service newspaper.
In 1849, Kinkel joined the armed rebellion in the Palatinate, believing himself to be acting legally in obedience to the directives of the Frankfurt rump parliament. Wounded in battle, he was arrested and later sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. Yet in 1850, Kinkel achieved a daring and remarkable escape, descending by a rope from Spandau Prison’s wall.
Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg, also known under the pen name of Anastasius Grün (1806-1876), was an Austrian poet and liberal politician. Born in the capital of the Austrian Duchy of Carniola, he received his education first at the University of Graz, then at Vienna, where he studied jurisprudence.
In 1830, Auersperg succeeded to his ancestral property, and in 1832 appeared as a member at the Estates of Carniola on the Herrenbank of the diet in Laibach. Here he distinguished himself by his outspoken criticism of the Austrian government, leading the opposition of the duchy to the exactions of the central power. In 1832 the title of imperial chamberlain was conferred upon him.
After the Revolution of 1848 in Vienna, he represented the district of Laibach in the German Frankfort Parliament, to which he tried in vain to persuade his Slovene compatriots to send representatives. In 1861 he was nominated a life member of the Austrian upper house (Herrenhaus).
Count Auersperg’s first publication, a collection of lyrics, Blätter der Liebe (1830); his second production, Der letzte Ritter (1830), brought his genius to light. It celebrates the deeds and adventures of the emperor Maximilian (1499-1519) in a cycle of poems written in the strophic rhyme of the Nibelungenlied. But Auersperg’s fame rests almost exclusively on his political poetry; two collections entitled Spaziergänge eines Wiener Poeten (1831) and Schutt (1835) created a sensation in Germany by their originality and bold Realism. These two books, which are remarkable not merely for their outspoken opinions, but also for their easy versification and powerful imagery, were the forerunners of the German political poetry of 1840-1848.
A SALON SCENE
Evening: In the festive halls the light of many candles gleams,
Shedding from the mirrors' crystal thousand-fold reflected beams.
In the sea of light are gliding, with a stately, solemn air,
Honored, venerable matrons, ladies young and very fair.
And among them wander slowly, clad in festive garments grand,
Here the valiant sons of battle, there the rulers of the land.
But on one that I see moving every eye is fixed with fear--
Few indeed among the chosen have the courage to draw near.
He it is by whose firm guidance Austrians' fortunes rise or sink,
He who in the Princes' Congress for them all must act and think.
But behold him now! How gracious, courteous, gentle he's to all,
And how modest, unassuming, and how kind to great and small!
In the light his orders sparkle with a faint and careless grace,
But a friendly, gentle smile is always playing on his face
When he plucks the ruddy rose leaves that some rounded bosom
wears, Or when, like to withered blossoms, kingdoms
he asunder tears.
Equally enchanting is it, when he praises golden curls,
Or when, from anointed heads, the royal crowns away he hurls.
Yes, methinks 'tis heavenly rapture, which delights the happy
man whom his words to Elba's fastness or to Munkacs'
Could all Europe now but see him, so engaging, so gallant,
How the ladies, young and old, his winning smiles delight,
enchant; how the church's pious clergy, and the doughty
men of war, and the state's distinguished servants by
his grace enraptured are.
Man of state and man of counsel, since you're in a mood so
kind, since you're showing to all present such a gracious
frame of mind, see, without, a needy client standing waiting
at your door whom the slightest sign of favor will make
And you do not need to fear him; he's intelligent and fair;
Hidden 'neath his homely garments, knife nor dagger does
he wear. 'Tis the Austrian people, open, honest, courteous
as can be. See, they're pleading: "May we ask you for the
freedom to be free?"
Excerpt, The Works of Heinrich Heine, Vol. 1, 41-43. Translated from the German by Charles Godfrey Leland
In the midst of this space
swept a burning ball,
where stood a man
giant in stature and grand in pride,
who played the violin.
Was this sphere of Light the sun?
I know not.
But in the features of the man I recognized Paganini,
ideally beautified, celestially refined,
atoned for divinely, and smiling.
This body was fresh and fair in vigorous manliness;
a light-blue garment
was about his now far nobler limbs,
the black hair flowed in shining locks on his shoulders,
as he stood there, firm and confidently,
like the sublime statue of a god.
He played the violin,
as if all creation obeyed his tones.
He was the man-planet round whom the universe moved,
ringing with measured joy and in a happy rhythm.
Were those great lights which swept so calmly gleaming
round him stars of heaven?
Were those sweet-sounding harmonies
the music of the spheres,
of which poets and seers have told so much?
Sometimes when with effort I looked forth
and far into the dim distance,
I seemed to see white waving garments,
in which colossal pilgrims wandered in disguise,
with staves in their hands;
The gold heads of their staves were those same great lights
which I had taken for stars.
These pilgrims went in a vast procession
around the great player;
the heads of their staves flashed reflective light
from the tones of his violin;
and the chorals which rang from their lips,
and which I had taken for the
noise of spheres, were really only the
rebounding echoes of his violin.
A nameless passion dwelt in these sounds
like mysterious whispering on water,
or the tones of hunters’ horns by moonlight.
And then burst forth unbridled rejoicing,
as though a thousand bards were sweeping the strings
and raising their voices
in a song of victory.
That was the music which no ear has heard.
Only the heart can dream it
when by Night
it rests against the heart of the beloved.
Excerpt, The Works of Heinrich Heine, Vol. 1, 157-160. Translated from the German by Charles Godfrey Leland..
What is dreaming? What is death? Is it only an interruption of life, and its full cessation? Yes, for people who only know the Past and the Future, and do not live an eternity in every moment of the Present, death must be terrible! When their two crutches, Space and Time, fall away, then they slip away into the eternal Nothing.
And dreams? Why are we not more afraid before going to sleep than to be buried? Is it not terrible that the body can be as if dead all night, while the spirit in us leads the wildest life … a life full of all those terrors of that parting which we have established between life and soul! When in the future both shall be again united in our consciousness, then there will be perhaps no more dreams, or else only invalids, those whose harmony has been disturbed, will dream. The ancients dreamed only softly and seldom; a strong and powerfully impressive dream was for them an event, and it was recorded in their histories…
And yet, what beautiful sweet dreams we have been able to dream! Our healthy descendants will hardly be able to understand them! All the splendours of the world disappeared from around us, and we found them again in our own souls; yes, there was the perfume of the trampled roses, and the sweetest songs of the frightened nightingales took refuge.
Thus I feel, and die of the unnatural anxieties and horrible dainties and sweet pains of our time. When I at night undress and lay me in bed, and stretch myself out at full length, and cover myself with the white sheets, I often shutter involuntarily, it seems so like being a corpse and burying myself. Then I close my eyes as quickly as I can to escape this fearful thought, and to save myself in the Land of Dreams.
It was a sweet, kind, sunshiny dream. The heaven was heavenly-blue and cloudless; the sea sea-green and still. A boundless horizon; and on the water sailed a gaily-pennoned skiff, and on its deck I sat caressingly at the feet of Jadviga. I read to her strange and dreamy love songs, which I had written on strips of rose-coloured paper, sighing yet joyful, and she listened with incredulous yet inclined ear and deeply loving smiles, and now and then hastily snatched the leaves from my hand and threw them in the sea. But the beautiful water-fairies, with snow-white breasts and arms, rose from the water and caught the fluttering love-lays as they fell.
As I bent overboard I could see clearly far down into the depths of the sea, and there sat, as in a social circle, the beautiful water-maids, and among them was a young sprite who, with deeply sympathetic expression, declaimed my love-songs. Wild enraptured applause rang out at every verse. The green-locked beauties applauded so passionately that necks and bosoms grew rosy red, and they praised cordially yet compassionately what they heard.
“What strange beings these mortals are! How wonderful their lives, how dire their destinies! They love, and seldom dare express their love; and when they give it utterance at last, they rarely understand one another.
And withal they do not lead eternal lives like ours; they are mortal. Only a little time is granted them to seek for happiness. They must grasp it quickly and press it hastily unto their hearts, ere it is gone. Therefore their songs of love are so deeply tender, so sweetly painful and anxious, so despairingly gay. Such strange blendings of joy and pain. The melancholy shadow of death falls on their happiest hours, and consoles them lovingly in adversity.
They can weep. What poetry there is in mortal tears…”
Josef Karl Benedikt von Eichendorff (1788-1857)
By Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), “Verschwiegene Liebe” 1886-8, Eichendorff Lieder, no. 3.Translation © Emily Ezust, Lied & Art Song Texts Page.
Over treetops and corn
And into the splendor –
Who may guess them,
Who may catch up with them?
The Night is mute;
Thoughts run free.
Only one guesses,
One who has thought of her
By the rustling of the grove,
When no one was watching any longer
Except the clouds that flew by –
My love is silent
And as fair as the Night.
Excerpt, “The Death of Wallenstein,” by Friedrich Schiller.
WALLENSTEIN IN SOLILOQUY
Is it possible?
Is't so? I can no longer what I would?
No longer draw back at my liking? I
Must do the deed, because I thought of it?
And fed this heart here with a dream?
Because I did not scowl temptation from my presence,
Dallied with thoughts of possible fulfillment,
Commenced no movement, left all time uncertain,
And only kept the road, the access open?
By the great God of Heaven! It was not
My serious meaning, it was ne'er resolved.
I but amused myself with thinking of it.
The free-will tempted me, the power to do
Or not to do.
Was it criminal
To make the fancy minister to hope,
To fill the air with pretty toys of air,
And clutch fantastic sceptres moving toward me?
Was not the will kept free? Beheld I not
The road of duty close beside me—but
One little step, and once more I was in it!
Where am I? Whither have I been transported?
No road, no track behind me, but a wall,
Rises obedient to the spells I muttered
And meant not—my own doings tower behind me.
Pauses and remains in deep thought.
A punishable man I seem, the guilt,
Try what I will, I cannot roll off from me;
The equivocal demeanor of my life
Bears witness on my prosecutor's party.
And even my purest acts from purest motives
Suspicion poisons with malicious gloss.
Were I that thing for which I pass, that traitor,
A goodly outside I had sure reserved,
Had drawn the coverings thick and double round me,
Been calm and chary of my utterance;
But being conscious of the innocence
Of my intent, my uncorrupted will,
I gave way to my humors, to my passion:
Bold were my words, because my deeds were not.
Now every planless measure, chance event,
The threat of rage, the vaunt of joy and triumph,
And all the May-games of a heart o’erflowing,
Will they connect, and weave them all together
Into one web of treason; all will be plan,
My eye ne'er absent from the far-off mark,
Step tracing step, each step a politic progress;
And out of all they'll fabricate a charge
So specious, that I must myself stand dumb.
I am caught in my own net, and only force,
Naught but a sudden rent can liberate me.
How else! Since that the heart's unbiased instinct
Impelled me to the daring deed, which now
Necessity, self-preservation, orders.
Stern is the on-look of necessity,
Not without shudder may a human hand
Grasp the mysterious urn of destiny.
My deed was mine, remaining in my bosom;
Once suffered to escape from its safe corner
Within the heart, its nursery and birthplace,
Sent forth into the foreign, it belongs
Forever to those sly malicious powers
Whom never art of man conciliated.
Paces in agitation through the chamber, then
pauses, and, after the pause, breaks out again
into audible soliloquy.
What is thy enterprise? Thy aim? Thy object?
Hast honestly confessed it to thyself?
Power seated on a quiet throne thou'dst shake,
Power on an ancient, consecrated throne,
Strong in possession, founded in all custom;
Power by a thousand tough and stringy roots
Fixed to the people's pious nursery faith.
This, this will be no strife of strength with strength.
That feared I not. I brave each combatant,
Whom I can look on, fixing eye to eye,
Who, full himself of courage, kindles courage
In me too. 'Tis a foe invisible
The which I fear—a fearful enemy,
Which in the human heart opposes me,
By its coward fear alone made fearful to me.
Not that, which full of life, instinct with power,
Makes known its present being; that is not
The true, the perilously formidable.
O no! it is the common, the quite common,
The thing of an eternal yesterday.
Whatever was, and evermore returns,
Sterling to-morrow, for to-day 'twas sterling!
For of the wholly common is man made,
And custom is his nurse! Woe then to them
Who lay irreverent hands upon his old
House furniture, the dear inheritance
From his forefathers! For time consecrates;
And what is gray with age becomes religion.
Be in possession, and thou hast the right,
And sacred will the many guard it for thee!
But, as such, the Romantics, Milton, and the “Satanic” or Byronic Hero have been much on my mind of late.
Excerpt from Appendix C to “The Statesman’s Manual, or The Bible the Best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 1816..
Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels
But in its utmost abstraction and consequent state of reprobation, the Will becomes satanic pride and rebellious self-idolatry in the relations of the spirit to itself, and remorseless despotism relatively to others; the more hopeless as the more obdurate by its subjugation of sensual impulses, by its superiority to toil and pain and pleasure.
In short, by the fearful resolve to find in itself alone the one absolute motive of action, under which all other motives from within and from without must be either subordinated or crushed.
This is the character which Milton has so philosophically as well as sublimely embodied in the Satan of his Paradise Lost. Alas! too often has it been embodied in real life!
Too often has it given a dark and savage grandeur to the historic page! And wherever it has appeared, under whatever circumstances of time and country, the same ingredients have gone to its composition; and it has been identified by the same attributes.
Hope in which there is no cheerfulness; steadfastness within and immovable resolve, with outward restlessness and whirling activity; violence with guile; temerity with cunning; and, as the result of all, interminableness of object with perfect indifference of means; these are the qualities that have constituted the commanding genius!
These are the marks that have characterized the masters of mischief, the liberticides, and mighty hunters of mankind, from Nimrodto Napoleon. And from inattention to the possibility of such a character as well as from ignorance of its elements, even men of honest intentions too frequently become fascinated.
Nay, whole nations have been so far duped by this want of insight and reflection as to regard with palliative admiration, instead of wonder and abhorrence, the Molocks of human nature, who are indebted, for the far larger portion of their meteoric success, to their total want of principle, and who surpass the generality of their fellow creatures in one act of courage only, that of daring to say with their whole heart, “Evil, be thou my good!
..I have learned to look on Nature . . .
as a presence that disturbs me
with the joy of elevated thoughts;
a sense sublime…
Whose dwelling is the light of Setting Suns,
and the round ocean,
and the living air,
and the blue sky,
and in the mind of Man:
A motion and a spirit that impels
all thinking things,
all objects of all thought,
and rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still a lover of the meadows,
the woods and mountains;
and of all that we behold from this green earth . . .
Well pleased to recognize in nature
and the language of the sense
the anchor of my purest thoughts,
the nurse, the guide,
the guardian of my heart, and soul,
of all my moral being.
William Wordsworth, 1798
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