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Translations From Novalis: Spiritual Songs
by [?]


Without thee, what were life or being!
Without thee, what had I not grown!
From fear and anguish vainly fleeing,
I in the world had stood alone;
For all I loved could trust no shelter;
The future a dim gulf had lain;
And when my heart in tears did welter,
To whom had I poured out my pain?

Consumed in love and longing lonely
Each day had worn the night’s dull face
With hot tears I had followed only
Afar life’s wildly rushing race.
No rest for me, tumultuous driven!
A hopeless sorrow by the hearth!–
Who, that had not a friend in heaven,
Could to the end hold out on earth?

But if his heart once Jesus bareth,
And I of him right sure can be,
How soon a living glory scareth
The bottomless obscurity!
Manhood in him first man attaineth;
His fate in Him transfigured glows;
On freezing Iceland India gaineth,
And round the loved one blooms and blows.

Life grows a twilight softly stealing;
The world speaks all of love and glee;
For every wound grows herb of healing,
And every heart beats full and free.
I, his ten thousand gifts receiving,
Humble like him, his knees embrace;
Sure that we share his presence living
When two are gathered in one place.

Forth, forth to all highways and hedges!
Compel the wanderers to come in;
Stretch out the hand that good will pledges,
And gladly call them to their kin.
See heaven high over earth up-dawning!
In faith we see it rise and spread:
To all with us one spirit owning–
To them with us ’tis opened.

An ancient, heavy guilt-illusion
Haunted our hearts, a changeless doom;
Blindly we strayed in night’s confusion;
Gladness and grief alike consume.
Whate’er we did, some law was broken!
Mankind appeared God’s enemy;
And if we thought the heavens had spoken,
They spoke but death and misery.

The heart, of life the fountain swelling–
An evil creature lay therein;
If more light shone into our dwelling,
More unrest only did we win.
Down to the earth an iron fetter
Fast held us, trembling captive crew;
Fear of Law’s sword, grim Death the whetter,
Did swallow up hope’s residue.

Then came a saviour to deliver–
A Son of Man, in love and might!
A holy fire, of life all-giver,
He in our hearts has fanned alight.
Then first heaven opened–and, no fable,
Our own old fatherland we trod!
To hope and trust we straight were able,
And knew ourselves akin to God.

Then vanished Sin’s old spectre dismal;
Our every step grew glad and brave.
Best natal gift, in rite baptismal,
Their own faith men their children gave.
Holy in him, Life since hath floated,
A happy dream, through every heart;
We, to his love and joy devoted,
Scarce know the moment we depart.

Still standeth, in his wondrous glory,
The holy loved one with his own;
His crown of thorns, his faithful story
Still move our hearts, still make us groan.
Whoso from deadly sleep will waken,
And grasp his hand of sacrifice,
Into his heart with us is taken,
To ripen a fruit of Paradise.


Dawn, far eastward, on the mountain!
Gray old times are growing young:
From the flashing colour-fountain
I will quaff it deep and long!–
Granted boon to Longing’s long privation!
Sweet love in divine transfiguration!

Comes at last, our old Earth’s native,
All-Heaven’s one child, simple, kind!
Blows again, in song creative,
Round the earth a living wind;
Blows to clear new flames that rush together
Sparks extinguished long by earthly weather.