Translation:Writings of Novalis/Monologues

Novalis Schriften, Volume 2  (1907)  by Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, edited by Jakob Minor, translated from German by Wikisource
From Novalis's Nachlass



It's actually an odd issue regarding speech and writing: True speech is is mere word play. The ridiculous misconception that can only be wondered at is that people fancy—that they speak on behalf of things. Straight away, the peculiarity about language is that it is only concerned with itself. That is why it is such a wonderful and productive secret—that when one merely speaks only to speak, he straight away utters the most marvelous, original truths. But if he wants to speak of something specific, the whimsy of language will make him say the most laughable and perverse things. This also gives rise to the hatred that many earnest people have for language. They notice its mischievousness, but they do not notice that the endless disdainful chatter is the immeasurable serious side of language. If one could only make people understand that it is with language as it is with mathematical formulas—They constitute a world for themselves—They play only amongst themselves—express nothing but their wondrous nature, and that is why they are so expressive—that is why the peculiar play of relationship between things are reflected in them. Only in their freedom are they parts of nature and only in their free movement does the world soul express itself and makes them into the delicate measure and outline of things. So, it is also the same with language—anyone who has a keen sense of its application, its rhythm, its musical spirit, who hears the delicate workings of its inner nature for itself, and subsequently moves his tongue or hand, will be a prophet, on the other hand, anyone who knows well how to write truths like these, but does not have sufficient ear and sense for it, will be bested by language itself and, like Cassandra of the Trojans will be mocked by the people. If I believe that I have specified the essence and function of poetry as clearly as possible, I still know that no person can understand it, and because I had wished to say it, no poetry can come into existence. But what about when I am obligated to speak? And would this linguistic compulsion to speak be the distinguishing characteristic of language's inspiration, language's activity within me? And if my will only wanted everything that obligated me, could this be poetry without my knowledge or belief and a secret of language made comprehensible? and so would I become a celebrated writer, because a writer is only a language devotee?—



From the cradle prejudice, weakness, and deprivation haunt us, allowing us feel the oppression of life in the entirety of its weight. All our wishes remain unfulfilled, our plans fail, our most beautiful hopes, our most flourishing prospects evaporate. Often it seems to me that am alone in the world, and the deities of plague seem to dwell around me and inside of me, chasing away the delight- often so glorious to me, so wonderful- that my imagination creates. It is certainly the saddest situation, and I know it from an unfortunately youthful experience: to see oneself oppressed, mistreated and shackled by obstinacy and caprice, wandering around without a friend in the labyrinth of sorrowful ideas and objects, one's thirst for knowledge, the drive and aspiration for fame and fortune to be frustrated and hindered and to see oneself squeezed into miserable, oppressive human, bourgeois relationships—skepticism towards all, a depressing hatred of humanity must immediately arise from this.— — —The most beautiful years of our humanity, glorious youth, where only graces and flowers press upon our imagination, where a certain inexpressible feeling of immortality, eternal life can be worshipped, can they be enjoyed and felt in this circumstance? Unhappy one who shared this fate—am I the unhappy one?—Greater youth, greater joys—"Heavenly air, freedom, freedom!—the world below is a prison."

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