Once when I was shedding bitter tears, when, dissolved in pain, my hope was melting away, and I stood alone by the barren mound which in its narrow dark bosom hid the vanished form of my life -- lonely as never yet was lonely man, driven by anxiety unspeakable -- powerless, and no longer anything but a conscious misery.
-- As there I looked about me for help, unable to go on or to turn back, and clung to the fleeting, extinguished life with an endless longing: -- then, out of the blue distances -- from the hills of my ancient bliss, came a shiver of twilight -- and at once snapt the bond of birth -- the chains of the Light.
Away fled the glory of the world, and with it my mourning -- the sadness flowed together into a new, unfathomable world -- Thou, Night-inspiration, heavenly Slumber, didst come upon me -- the region gently upheaved itself; over it hovered my unbound, newborn spirit. The mound became a cloud of dust -- and through the cloud I saw the glorified face of my beloved. In her eyes eternity reposed -- I laid hold of her hands, and the tears became a sparkling bond that could not be broken.
Into the distance swept by, like a tempest, thousands of years. On her neck I welcomed the new life with ecstatic tears. It was the first, the only dream -- and just since then I have held fast an eternal, unchangeable faith in the heaven of the Night, and its Light, the Beloved.
On May 13th, 1797 Novalis had an experience that changed his life. The death of his young bride to be (March 1797), Sophie von Kuhn opened up the gateways to the spiritual worlds. From then on Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (2 May 1772 – 25 March 1801) changes his name to "Novalis" or new man. Rudolf Steiner states that Novalis had an initiatory experience on May 13 and united with his higher-ego.
Now I know when will come the last morning -- when the Light no more scares away Night and Love -- when sleep shall be without waking, and but one continuous dream. I feel in me a celestial exhaustion. Long and weariful was my pilgrimage to the holy grave, and crushing was the cross. The crystal wave, which, imperceptible to the ordinary sense, springs in the dark bosom of the mound against whose foot breaks the flood of the world, he who has tasted it, he who has stood on the mountain frontier of the world, and looked across into the new land, into the abode of the Night -- truly he turns not again into the tumult of the world, into the land where dwells the Light in ceaseless unrest.
On those heights he builds for himself tabernacles -- tabernacles of peace, there longs and loves and gazes across, until the welcomest of all hours draws him down into the waters of the spring -- afloat above remains what is earthly, and is swept back in storms, but what became holy by the touch of love, runs free through hidden ways to the region beyond, where, like fragrances, it mingles with love asleep.
Still wakest thou, cheerful Light, that weary man to his labor -- and into me pourest joyous life -- but thou wilest me not away from Memory's moss-grown monument. Gladly will I stir busy hands, everywhere behold where thou hast need of me -- praise the lustre of thy splendor -- pursue unwearied the lovely harmonies of thy skilled handicraft -- gladly contemplate the clever pace of thy mighty, luminous clock -- explore the balance of the forces and the laws of the wondrous play of countless worlds and their seasons. But true to the Night remains my secret heart, and to creative Love, her daughter.
Canst thou show me a heart eternally true? has thy sun friendly eyes that know me? do thy stars lay hold of my longing hand? and return me the tender pressure and the caressing word? was it thou did adorn them with colors and a flickering outline -- or was it she who gave to thy jewels a higher, a dearer weight? What delight, what pleasure offers thy life, to outweigh the transports of Death? Wears not everything that inspires us the color of the Night? She sustains thee mother-like, and to her thou owest all thy glory. Thou wouldst vanish into thyself -- in boundless space thou wouldst dissolve, if she did not hold thee fast, if she swaddled thee not, so that thou grewest warm, and flaming, begot the universe. Truly I was, before thou wast -- the mother sent me with my brothers and sisters to inhabit thy world, to hallow it with love that it might be an ever-present memorial -- to plant it with flowers unfading.
As yet they have not ripened, these thoughts divine -- as yet is there small trace of our coming revelation -- One day thy clock will point to the end of time, and then thou shalt be as one of us, and shalt, full of ardent longing, be extinguished and die. I feel in me the close of thy activity -- heavenly freedom, and blessed return. With wild pangs I recognize thy distance from our home, thy resistance against the ancient, glorious heaven. Thy rage and thy raving are in vain. Unscorchable stands the cross -- victory-banner of our breed.
Over I journey
And for each pain
A pleasant sting only
Shall one day remain.
Yet in a few moments
Then free am I,
In Love's lap lie.
Lifts, wave-like, at me,
I gaze from its summit
Down after thee.
Your lustre must vanish
Yon mound underneath --
A shadow will bring thee
Thy cooling wreath.
Oh draw at my heart, love,
Draw till I'm gone,
That, fallen asleep, I
Still may love on.
I feel the flow of
Death's youth-giving flood
To balsam and ether
Transform my blood --
I live all the daytime
In faith and in might
And in holy fire
I die every night.
Novalis was tall and slender and of noble proportions. He wore his light brown hair in long clustering locks which at that time was less unusual than it would have been now; his hazel eyes were clear and glancing; and the color of his face, especially of the fine brow, almost transparent. Hand and foot somewhat too large, and without fine character. His look was at all times cheerful and kind. For those who distinguish a man only in so far as he puts himself forward, or by studious breeding, by fashionable bearing, endeavors to shine or to be singular, Novalis was lost in the crowd; to the more practiced eye, again, he presented a figure that could be called beautiful. In outline and expression his face strikingly resembled that of the Evangelist John, as we have seen him in the large noble painting by Albrecht Durer, preserved at Nurnberg and Muchchen.
In speaking , he was lively and loud, his gestures strong, I never saw him tired; although we had talked far into the night, it was still only on purpose that he stopped, for the sake of rest, and even then he used to read before sleeping. Tedium he never felt even in oppressive company, among mediocre men; for he was sure to find someone who could give him yet some new piece of knowledge, such as he could turn to use, insignificant as it might seem. His kindliness, his frank bearing, made him a universal favorite; his skill in the art of social intercourse was so great that smaller minds did not perceived how high he stood above them.
Though in conversation he delighted most to unfold the deeps of the soul, and spoke as inspired of the regions of invisible worlds, yet he was mirthful as a child; would jest in artless gaiety, and heartily concede to the jestings of his company. Without vanity, without learned haughtiness, far from any affectation and hypocrisy, he was a genuine, true man, the purest and loftiest embodiment of a high immortal spirit. (Ludwig Tieck described Novalis shortly before his death at the age of almost 29; Novalis Journal for Anthroposophy; Lona Truding author)