Novalis, Hymn to the Night III


Once, when I poured out bitter tears, when dissolved in pain, scattered, and I was standing alone at the barren mound which hid the figure of my life in its narrow, dark space– alone, as no one could be more alone, driven by unspeakable anxiety–strengthless, with just one thought left of need. –As I looked around for help, could not move forwards and not backwards, and hung onto the fleeting, extinguished life with infinite craving:–then came from blue distances–from the heights of my old blessedness, a twilight shiver–and with one stroke my birth’s bond ripped–Light’s chains. There the earthly splendour fled and my sadness with it–misery flowed into a new, unplumbed world–You, Night-inspiration, heaven’s sleep, came over me–the region lifted gently up; over the region my released and newborn spirit floated. The hill became a cloud of dust–through the cloud I saw the transfigured features of my beloved. In her eyes rested the forever–I took her hands, and my tears were a glittering and unrippable bond. Years by the thousands flew off to the distance, like storms. In her embrace I wept overjoyed tears at the new life. –It was the first and the only dream–and only since then I’ve felt an unchangeable, eternal faith in the heaven of Night and its Light, the beloved.

~ Novalis (trans. Dick Higgins)