Is the excitement of life driven
from my wandering years
A complete directory of the scriptures
can be found at the end of the volume
from my wandering years
Albert Langen, Munich
Copyright 1913 by Albert Langen, Munich
Printed by Hesse & Becker in Leipzig
Paper from Bohnenberger & Cie., Paper factory, Niefern near Pforzheim
Binding by E. A. Enders, Großbuchbinderei, Leipzig
In January 1894, driven by indomitable longing, I returned to the Bohuslän parsonage. But the strong impressions of the first stay, which were left without a slag in my memories, had become so spiritualized that reality could no longer reach the level of past impressions.
So I only stayed there until spring and then, before the snow had completely thawed away, I traveled to England in April, where I met an American artist couple, friends of the young Swede, with whom he had been in correspondence since his trip to America.
This new acquaintance is then linked to a series of new experiences that have determined my external life and my thoughts and a later stay in Paris and Mexico.
During my second stay in the parsonage, up to the spring of 1894, I finally wrote the drama without people: “Sehnsucht,” which I had been inspired to do in Munich, at Lake Achensee and in the court theater during Byron's Manfred performance. But I had carried the material around with me for too long and had already developed beyond the original idea, and found that I could not write the songs of longing, the desert, the sea and the glacier with as much content as I would have liked.
Or was I perhaps not above longing enough and had I become too longed for mind and body? Because the desire to find a woman, a girl who was lovingly, domestically and spiritually comradely around me in a small, quiet house, the longer I had to live away from home in a foreign country, this desire became more and more urgent in me .
But the fulfillment of this heart's desire lay entirely in the blind. Because I was unable to sustain myself and was only supported by my father if I had to. With a brain full of plans and a prospect of future works, I couldn't make money.
And my father, who from month to month threatened to deprive me of my livelihood because he wanted to spur me on in his own way to be hardworking, he gave me no sure help, so that I could then have tied a woman to myself. -
Already during my first stay in the rectory I had written a number of poems in the silent intercourse with natural things, each of which was supposed to give the mood of a certain experience of nature.
One poem was called "Amselsang", another "Buckthorn scent", a "full moon", a "morning scent", a "cloud shadow", a "sea water smell", a "rain scent". In these little attempts at poetry I dared to write down almost indiscriminately and faithfully images of sensations that appeared in me during the moonrise or the scent of buckthorn trees, in the rain, in cloud shadows or in Amselsang. They were heightened, fantastic images that must have seemed pointless to the everyday reader, but which had imposed themselves on me when I was lonely experiencing the rain, the moonrise and the scent of plants and the sea in the Bohuslan granite desert. And no matter how confused these attempts at poetry might appear on the first impression, there was still a truthful connection between image and sensation.
From youthful enthusiasm and permeated by the task of reproducing life in the chain of images I had lived through as realistically and emotionally as possible, apparently formless and senseless, adventurous poetry attempts emerged, which were nothing more than the first slate exercises of my later poetry.
These poems, which appeared in the volume "Ultraviolet, lonely poetry", can only be regarded as attempts at development and have no meaning for the general public. But without these attempts I would not have arrived at my later way of poetry, and if I were to be put again in the same world and in the same zeitgeist in which I grew up, I would not be able to act otherwise than I did.
I came up with the title “Ultraviolet” by accident. While traveling through Berlin I heard that Paul Scherbart wanted to found a publishing house called: Verlag der Phantasten. And I was asked to send contributions. But I didn't like the title “Fantastics” at all. It robbed the imagination of its dignity and struck me as degrading for the poets.
One morning I paid Scherbart a visit and asked him why he needed the word dreamers. I am very much in favor of the fact that the phantasy, which has been neglected by naturalism in recent years, should be honored again, since phantasy would be the most natural core of the poetic spirit. But the word “fantasist” does not correspond to the serious value of those who want to create their poems with imagination and far from the sober copying of reality.
"Tell me another title, if you can think of one," said Scherbart, vividly.
After a brief reflection, the word "ultraviolet" escaped me.
Scherbart said: “Not everyone understands that.” And I had to agree with him that the name could be too incomprehensible for a publisher.
But when I left Scherbart, I hung on to think about it in the street. Because Scherbart asked me: "How do you actually come up with the word 'ultraviolet'?"
Then I explained to him that my father, who knew optics, had awakened a great inner awe for this invisible light through his arguments about ultraviolet light rays - which have been proven to live in space but cannot be seen by the human eye. A holy shyness always stirred in me at the idea of this light "ultraviolet".
Outside the circle of my eyes, I told myself, a light had been discovered that could only be calculated but not enjoyed. And when I imagined that those ultraviolet rays would have to live alone in space without being able to enjoy the admiration of the human eye, a mysterious pain always shuddered through me. The ultraviolet light seemed to me to be the loneliest among the lonely living beings.
And since I had now admired and learned to appreciate the solitude in the north and found that it had a fruitful effect on my poetry, I saw the poet's imagination, which must mature and develop far from the world, as the closest companion of that ultraviolet light.
I know that this was a young man's crush and that I really didn't mean being alone. Because I would have loved to share the loneliness with a woman. And in the loneliness of love I would never have thought of feeling like a fellow sufferer of the lonely light ultraviolet.
But then I was proud - as every ascetic is proud of his hair, of his scourge, and of his scourge wound - to be the longing companion of the distant ultraviolet.
And so I decided, since the title was not suitable for a publisher, as Scherbart had suggested, to give my collection of poems the same title "Ultraviolet", which I had written down partly in Munich after paintings in the Secession and partly after impressions from nature in Bohuslän.
In my isolation from the world, I had also found that poems were easier to memorize when each poem was printed on a single sheet of book. Just as there is not enough space for a painting on the back of a painting, I found it bad when not every poem was printed on a sheet of paper, similar to manuscripts, where one usually only writes on one side. And with that in mind, I had my book “Ultraviolet” printed.
The assumption that the book would only stimulate a few artists determined me to only have a hundred copies printed. But so that I could pay for the printing costs with the fifty copies that I had sold, since I was giving away the remaining fifty, I set the price for each book at twenty-five marks. - Today the book is sold by second-hand bookshops for eighty marks, as I saw from various catalogs in recent years.
Anyone who knows a little about everyday literary life will be able to imagine that in the world of criticism there was no screaming when this strange book saw the window light of the bookstores. But I was as ignorant as John the Baptist in the desert. Little did I know that I had committed a fourfold sin in the eyes of criticism.
First: in a time of reality in which “rendering everyday life” was the watchword of the writing world, I had created fantastic poetry. It was said that with this book I wanted to run the criticism and that I was secretly sitting next to it and laughing at everyone and everything.
The second sin was: the layout of the book, the unprecedented layout of the only half-printed book. And this sin, like the first, was only a sin of simplicity of mine.
The third sin was the egregious title of "Ultraviolet," with all critics placing the emphasis on "Ultra". But while I had never considered the Latin origin of the word, but was always dominated by the melancholy of thought and feeling that that real and unreal light lived there in the most solitary manner at the extreme limit of the imagination of the universe.
My fourth and not small sin was that, with all three overstrains, I had set an overstrained price as the fourth, which, however, did not seem too high in relation to my printing expenses. Why shouldn't I be able to charge twenty-five marks for the book - all fifty copies were sold - since I wasn't claiming any profit for myself, but only wanted to get the amount of the printing costs.
For a long time I did not realize the degree to which I had embittered my future with this book. It is true that the artists, the painters, loved the book. The poets leafed through it in amazement, felt the youthful urge of the poet and were touched by the asceticism and honest cosmopolitanism that spoke from the lines. But the critics saw me as a cheeky intruder, a mad fool.
For twenty years I was able to find the word "ultraviolet" in almost every review written of my poetry. Like the brand that is burned into the flesh of a galley convict, the ABC book of my poetry was constantly recalled to me. Even when I was long past the beginnings of my first skills, they just wanted to talk about my first attempts at walking.
If I had not been born at a time when world views were generally molten, but, like the poets of earlier centuries, in an epoch of established ideals, then these new attempts at walking would not have been necessary. But just in the second half of the nineteenth century, European humanity in general began to detach itself from an ideal world that was almost two thousand years old.
Just as Olympus collapsed to the Greeks and Romans two thousand years ago, so the Old Testament heaven overthrew us after almost two thousand years of belief. And if you were honest about your time, you had to take account of the extinction of old ideals and, standing in the dark, try to walk, try to touch, to feel, to look for where a new light of the future would shine for life and art.
For me, such tactile experiments were my book “Ultraviolet”. I don't protect this book any other way. It's just an attempt at poetry, which was useful to me in an uncertain time, but which was never intended for the general public. -
I therefore dwelled at length on the origin of this book, not to apologize, but to explain myself and our time demands. -
My two-time stay in the north, in Bohuslän's distant parsonage, had the result that I had got to know lonely and most pristine natural life and at the same time had got rid of the narrow cultural relationships of old German pasts, so that I could no longer take well-trodden paths. This two-time stay in Sweden gave me a bigger view of the world. Years of living abroad followed, absorbing impressions of art and diverse human lives and blindly wasting time and assets, never asking about benefits and income, but only about life enrichment.
That at that time I was still bothered by the constant question: will this day bring a poem? And that every time I went I asked myself whether I would experience a poem on it. These rushed questions did not come from within. It was partly inspired by my outward youthful impatience to want to be active, partly it came from the incentive that my father exerted on me by letter, urging me from quarter to quarter to want to hear new things from me. I should always keep him up to date with plans and hopes for new books. He probably thought laziness could eat me up behind his back.
At home one did not want to trust and believe in the harmonious and innate natural diligence for development that is inherent in every young man who has seriously set himself a goal. And one encouraged those who progressed by themselves as if they were falling asleep.
Oh, how much worry we can get from such oversight of others! Trust is the feeling that young people have an absolute right to.
Under these circumstances, I was forced to ask: Will a poetry emerge from this journey? Will I be able to use this trip literarily? - But only after the trip around the world, in my fortieth year, did I feel mature to be able to reproduce what happened and what I heard in prose and poetry without interruption. Only then did it become second nature to me again to be able to experience unconsciously without having to think of literary or poetic exploitation.
During my summer stay in Denmark by the Isefjord in 1893, I made the design for a new seal.
I gave this the title "The black sun". In this poem I wanted to represent the sun of sorrow in contrast to the joyful sun. Just as night follows day, I said to myself, the black ray of a black sun also wanders through the day of joy, and I let those marked by it join together to form a group of sufferers. This train of sufferers was supposed to be a counterpart to the Bacchus train that I had seen in the large painting by Rubens in the old Pinakothek in Munich.
The train wanders through the heather. Naked men, naked women, naked virgins and boys, wounded by suffering, huddled together in suffering and yet not wanting to admit their suffering, but each marked by the germ of death, wander and camp in the forest in the evening. The strongest among them, the mature men and women pick poisonous black berries, and men and women die in one last embrace.
The girls, boys and old men, however, climb from the forest on the rocky slopes down to the sea in the morning and tie stranded trunks together to form a raft. You get on the raft. They adorned themselves with forest wreaths. The sea salt hangs on their lips as they sing. And when the white sun of the day stands at noon, the black sun of sorrow sends up a great dark wave from the depths of the sea, which devours the raft with the wreathed singers. -
The idea for this poetry came to me at the Isefjord. Once I was walking in the fields in a sad mood, tormented by loneliness and troubled by worrying about daily life, past a moor.Attracted by the sight of the black moor soil and the eerie moor water, and lured by thoughts of deathly lust, I sat down on the edge of the moor and felt how the gloom, which might have frightened me in a happy mood, now did me good in my sadness.
I had never before experienced that dark things attracted me, and that I felt comfortable in dark things, because I was always warm and cheerful. But now, as I sat on the moor and received some relief from the gloom of the landscape, I said to myself: there must be two suns. A joy-minded person who pleases the joyful, and a pain-minded person who does good to the suffering. And it seemed to me as if the black sun of sorrow looked at me from the depths of the moor and welcomed the gloom of my grief in me.
The poem “The Black Sun”, which I then began to write, was composed for the first time in internal rhymes, whereby, to express the echo of wandering, I put the rhyming words in the middle of the lines so that the steps of the wanderers stepping in time can be heard allow.
In Copenhagen I wrote the first song of this poem, in London the second song, and later in Stockholm the final. The whole poem was composed over the course of about two years. I always had to take long breaks from work between the different chants, since I could only continue to write on this poem when I was grieved by a deep sorrow.
This epic, too, although I later had it published in a new edition - two years ago - I count among the developmental writings of my poetic apprenticeship, about which I want to report in this book in passing.
These books for young people were ecstatic outbursts of a young imagination. I had not yet found the beloved who gives spiritual joy as a counterbalance to earthly joy in life. Only later, in the love experience, did my poetry become warm-blooded, while my poems before that, like rays of northern lights, shot out of my head and were more haunted than work of art.
In my youth I always had a cheerful and cheerful disposition, and when I woke up in the morning I was never grumpy and fearful, always moved by hopes and the warmth of life. Everything I had experienced had always been festive for me, in spite of the relentless seriousness that had prevailed in my father's house. Because when I was twenty my father was soon seventy years old. I often felt a little too wise upbringing and at that time felt a little senile and clumsy in blood, especially since I could not cultivate love affairs and fleeting love affairs like other young people my age. I was always filled with a constant fear of missing and being able to miss the great passion.
I saw my father and mother as role models of the most self-sacrificing love. I would only have been able to speak of love to a girl if I wanted to make her my wife.
But the depression of not being able to support a woman in my circumstances at the time, and the thought that maybe every day I could meet the woman to whom I might have said: "We want to love each other," and for whom I then probably love, but would have no means to live together - these considerations haunted me constantly and made me reluctant to face the world from which I had to wrest the hope of a possibility of life every day since I had left my father's house.
From letter to letter, my father threatened to deprive me of my monthly maintenance, so my worries were not unfounded. And every day I enjoyed just like a person who casts quick glances at a landscape, meanwhile always rumbling subterranean earthquakes that scare him every moment and tell him about his possible downfall in the next few seconds.
Since I also did not find the ease in myself to be able to write in the conversational style for daily newspapers in order to procure money for myself - because I was in an intellectual upheaval and consciously and unconsciously striving for a new type of poetry and unconsciously, attentive to the new poetic spirit had to live - so I was often very unhappy in all the days of my travel, and despite all the new impressions, always unhappy surrounded by the daily worries that made me helpless.
Of course, no one should notice my often desperate situation in my clothes, demeanor and demeanor. And so my face usually wore a smile that was only half zest for life, but the other half was supposed to cover my worries with a mask of courtesy.
In the winter of 1893, before I came to Bohuslän for the first time, I had written a little philosophical reflection that I had entitled "the art of the intimate". In Bohuslän I added a second part to this pamphlet, “The Art of the Sublime”. In the “Art of the Intimate” I spoke of Jacobsen's spelling, Ola Hanson and the like, including the painter Munch. Whereas in the “Art of the Sublime” I contrasted the aforementioned artists with the poets Homer, Dante and the like. Likewise, in painting I compared Michel Angelo and the great Italians with the old Dutch and the secessionists of the modern age. And compared Beethoven and Wagner with Mozart and Grieg in music. With this overview of the art life of all time, I wanted to show how the demands in the art world were always directed towards the sublime and the intimate at the same time.
I hoped that this manuscript, which I believe had only fifty printed pages, would bring me a little income as well. A Copenhagen lawyer whom I had met and who enjoyed the work covered the printing costs for the book. The young Swede had translated the manuscript into Swedish, and so these thoughts emerged one Germans in more swedish Language in one danish Bookseller printed in Copenhagen. I lost the German handwriting later while traveling, and the little work never appeared in anything other than Swedish. I am telling this to remind you of some of the hopes and plans that one makes as a young writer, and that die off like saplings of a tree that grow next to the main branches and then wither.
While I was writing that treatise on “intimate art” in Berlin in the winter of 1893, the thought had also occurred to me that one would have to set up intimate theatrical stages, stages in rooms or halls that do not show the stage setting separated from the audience by a square section, but the audience - which should be spread out casually in groups in the hall - should give the impression that they were not just experiencing a show, but an intimate event in which they were participating. By not being separated from the set design, the audience should feel more closely linked to the experiences.
I had also believed that since the actors had not yet completely shed their pathos, the writers would first have to appear in some plays themselves and show the actors the new variety. Because the intimate art of reality first paved the way in the minds of the writer, and only through it, I thought, could the actor be taught the then almost unknown play of reality.
A year earlier in the winter of 1891, when I was still at home in Würzburg, I had translated a Maeterlink intimate drama, “The Intruder” (l’Intruse), which was still quite unknown at the time, from the book “The Blind”. Maeterlink then gave me the right to introduce this piece for Germany.
At the end of the winter of 1892 I made a few visits to various writers in Berlin with Mrs. Marholm and asked them to found an "intimate theater". I found open ears. It seemed as if some performances were to take place, because the desire for an intimate stage was generally in the air.
But since it was already spring, the matter was postponed until the next winter. But real security could not be obtained, and my trip to Sweden and my long stay abroad then broke off the various negotiations.
I was a little discouraged by the statement made by the then board of the “Freie Bühne” to which I had submitted Maeterlink's drama “The Intruder” in my translation. He said that now was not the time for intimate art in the Maeterlinkian sense that was too delicate and fantasy blue. Especially since Gerhart Hauptmann wanted to convert the German public to strong sobriety, Maeterlink would not attract any attention.
And I also saw that at the moment Berlin really wasn't the ground for intimate fantasy and emotional tenderness like Maeterlink offered. -
In Copenhagen, in addition to the small manuscripts “The Art of the Intimate” and “The Art of the Sublime”, I had written a small sketch at the request of the newspaper “Politiken”. As I said before, at that time I was not entirely free from the delusion of having to write fantasies in which I - as a contrast to the old worn-out human incarnations in nature, such as elves, fauns, monsters, gnomes, etc. - nature wanted to give without human figure world, only as a picture and experience in itself.
In that newspaper sketch I had described in color what the light of the summer sunbeams experienced when it stole from the cornfields through the cracks of the closed shutters into an old tapestry hall of a Danish manor house and there caused an uproar of new life among the old, dusty furniture.
The Copenhagen newspaper brought the sketch I had asked for, together with my picture and a review of my novel “Josa Gerth”. And it was this newspaper that first applied the word “color poet” to me, the word that would later remain my companion name in the literary world for years to come. -
After my second stay in the Bohuslän parsonage in the winter of 1893–1894, I traveled from Sweden to London at the beginning of April 1894. I set off on a coastal steamer from the Swedish port of Uddevalla, south of Fjellbacka, and, crossing the North Sea, reached the Thames estuary in three days.
Today I cannot forget the impression made by the English fishing fleets, which lay quietly in the sea at the entrance to the Thames on the great silver bank of the water, over which the early spring sun flashed with silver-rimmed clouds. The quietly working boats looked like countless dark fish on a white metal plate.
This sight of the union of the sea and silent sea workers made me breathe a sigh of relief again before arriving in London. An oppressive shudder accumulates in every young heart when one is supposed to come to a strange cosmopolitan city. It shuddered me to be swallowed up by London, by the different concepts of life and conflicting attitudes to life that had built up there. And so I enjoyed once more, as if saying goodbye to the loneliness at sea, which had become a wise comrade to me in Sweden, the last sea view, which so infinitely bright and peaceful with its sea workers reflected an indestructible state of happiness.
It was evening when we landed silently in the dark in the dirty dock waters, at sooty, gloomy unloading halls in London. And more than the sea roared at noon, now all around the millionaire London roared at night.
I took up residence in a guesthouse on Upper Wooburn Place, near the British Museum, where the friends of the young Swede, the American young artist couple, lived.
The American's first name was James and his wife's name was Theodosia. He was a New Yorker and she was from San Francisco, and both had met in France on the Parisian Montparnasse, the artist district of the Parisian Americans. They had just got married in England and lived here in a room in the guesthouse, carefree with artist worries.
In them I not only got to know the people of a new zeitgeist, but also the simplicity and unspoilt nature of the young continent from which they came spoke from their actions and their thoughts.
During our first conversations, it seemed to me that I was talking to schoolchildren. The two American artists had a somewhat instructive tone in everything, the way schoolchildren talk to one another who quite correctly consider themselves and their companions to be immature people. Since they did not speak German, our conversation was conducted in English or in poor French, which increased the instructive tone for both of them.
I hadn't heard much about occultism and not much about astrology, nothing about the English mystical painter Blake and his ghost poems, nor did I know Swedenborg's supersensible philosophy. I didn't know anything about secret societies. I only knew that this kind of learning was called medieval bustle in Germany, and that it had always appeared to me as such from a distance. I never believed in fortune-telling, never in the drawing up of horoscopes, nor in Egyptian, Arabic or Indian astrology. The American couple, however, called themselves adepts of a mystical secret society that they were not allowed to talk about.
James wanted to be a sculptor, Theodosia a painter, and that was why they had come to Europe from America. And when I asked them why they needed the mystical teaching for their art, they told me quite correctly that every art needs a spiritual content, a spiritual line of education. And when I asked them whether their secret society was Freemasonry, they laughed and said that the Freemasons were a long way from the circle to which they belonged.
The room they lived in was spacious and formed for both of them: bedroom, living room, dining room and studio. So far I had never met a young married couple from the educated classes who, depending on such a modest space, lived as happily as these Americans. And when I think back to that London room today and the open fire, the London fog in front of the window squares and the eternal tea that has been boiled on the coals of the grate all day, then I am still delighted by the humble spirit of those striving and mutually stimulating American young married couple.
Countless photographs were pinned to the wallpaper on the walls of her room. Botticelli, whose fame all Americans had brought into fashion at the time, was represented with his picture “Primavera”. Leonardi da Vinci's “Mona Lisa”, a few photos of Albrecht Dürer's woodcuts and various pictures of Michel Angelo's work were randomly distributed on the wall around the fireplace for study purposes and for artistic purposes.
At first I didn't really want to listen when the Americans explained to me the mysticism of Michel Angelo's representations, the mysticism of Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer and always wanted to speak of the mysticism and symbolism of all the old masters. But to have found two people who were looking for a new worldview in mysticism, who believed they would find a new salvation in Egyptian, Arabic and Indian astrology, who were looking for a meaning in life at all, that attracted me to these American artists.
And I made myself patient to listen to their very unbelievable mystical explorations, which they brought back home again and again from their secret society.
I would like to know more about these secret gatherings. They said, however, that I was still far too incredulous and doubtful and that, blindly submissive, without mistrust, I must first immerse myself in astrology and occult teachings, and if I were then filled with the sacred urge to want to become an adept, I would find the way to this secret society all by yourself.
Sometimes in the first few days I wondered whether all of her demeanor might not be an artist's joke. Perhaps they would laugh at me in amusement later. For it struck me as monstrous that two people from America, the land of reality, and two modern men from the country of work, wanted to return to the darkness of astrology, alchemy, scholasticism and mysticism. It was as if free people were begging for chains and dungeons.
The American wisdom had nothing in common with the knowledge of the theosophists. They vigorously denied it when I asked if their covenant had anything to do with theosophy.
They did not paint or sculpt in London, but said they would take it up again when they returned to Paris. They had only come to London now to delve into the secret sciences and to be instructed and instructed in that secret society.
But they were never in a gloomy mood, always cheerful and happy. Only for me there was something disembodied about her happiness. They could only dwell on supernatural thoughts, like those theosophists I had met in Munich.
They laughed at me when I asked them if the teaching they were pursuing was spiritism.At that time I knew too little about occultism and only later did I find out that both of them belonged to an occult society.
Because the conversations with those two occultists were always half English and half French, I felt very much thrown out of my equilibrium and moved out of my Germanness, and the loneliness of my thoughts was therefore infinitely greater in infinite London than in them Rectory in Bohuslän, where I had a refreshing exchange of ideas with nature. For the conversations about mysticism only tortured me at first. When I followed the lines of thought of those occultists, I felt as if I were walking in the footsteps of the black sun that I had forged into the black moor at the Isefjord in Denmark.
Great, gloomy London itself appeared to me like a mighty black sun. When I came from the Swedish ship that night and entered the dark docks and immediately had to climb into the belly of the earth and travel almost twenty stations underground in smoky tunnels to get to Upper Wooburn Place, I believed through to chase the bowels of the earth.
At noon that day I had been on the silver bank of the sea under the silvery sun, had entered the Thames through the silvery air, past the green shores of Greenwich and Richmond, and now there seemed nowhere more freedom of the sea and rural greenery. Ever since I drove there in the underworld, I felt as if I were leading into the earth's eclipse, of all nature and naturalness, as if I were exchanging clear thoughts for dark fantasies.
Strangely enough, however, when I saw it during the day, London did not seem so towering in the sky and not as busy and greedy for big cities as Berlin had seemed to me in those days. The many streets in London, in which small family detached houses were lined up in a row, very unadorned and simple, without shop windows and, only two-story, appeared in their simplicity and inconspicuousness and in their dignified usefulness, even if monotonous, at least humane.
The shopping streets of London were no-nonsense working streets where making money seemed a natural necessity, and the work was not feverish but thorough, strong, and simply done.
Thanks to a clear way of life, rooted in the English people and introduced by genders, to which the whole city indulges itself like a well-working machine that is nowhere disturbed by arbitrariness, this metropolis with its small family houses looked almost peaceful and cozy like a giant village.
The blessing of being able to submit to the paternal custom and to incontrovertible social custom had an extremely beneficial effect on a population of millions. And the impeccable order in English day-to-day life surrounded the strangers like a protection, like the consecration of sacred natural laws. Even the most arbitrary person is encouraged to self-discipline by the English life of order and order, which keeps huge London together, like a safely managed estate, working perfectly. For without self-discipline and subordination of the individual to the mass structure, here, as everywhere in the universe, nobody could advance.
The Englishman, who continually distributes respect or contempt, also breeds the strangers who come to him, just as he is accustomed to teach the lands he has conquered and their natives about English order and the English sense of life.
England, as we know, achieved with this strict order that around the world her language became the language of travel and the world. I felt this well-established, well-trained English being, proud of itself and powerfully subordinating itself to everything foreign, as a beneficial force from the very first step when I set foot on English soil.
When I got off the subway on that evening of arrival at the boarding house on Upper Wooburn Platz - which was in no way different from the thousand quiet side houses, and which made it look domestic and elegantly withdrawn - I felt myself already on that street through the silent order probably repealed.
There was an old-fashioned door knocker on the outside of the front door, a clapper that fell on a bronze plate. A slender maid in a black dress with white cuffs, a white collar and a white bonnet opened and led me through the vestibule, which, however, had no bare corridor and no bare staircase. Even these secondary house rooms were comfortably furnished with household appliances and picture decorations, and I felt as if I had entered an old manor house and a circle of old family traditions.
Even the space in the house that is used sparingly everywhere, where built-in cupboards, wallpaper doors and nested chambers make full use of the house space - I would say internalized house life and clearly reminded one of the value of every inch of London floor - this saving of space increased the appeal of living . One found oneself in such a house as in a box, which contained secret compartments, and in which what had been carefully thought out aroused confidence in the person entering and gave him confirmation of the value of life. Having to limit oneself and being able to limit oneself wisely and skillfully, having to breed oneself for life, that was what everyone here who wanted to take life seriously spoke to at every turn, inside and outside the houses of London.
That the English people live on a narrow island and in their fatherland loves every foot's breadth of earth, that they live, so to speak, deserted in the sea, dependent on themselves, surrounded by the immense horizons of the sea, which allow this people to see the world and at the same time make them love their homeland. one was made aware of this every day in London. And that this merfolk, separated from the mainland, in contrast to the mainland peoples, had to develop more idiosyncratic and, in the best sense of the word, more obstinate, that was explained to me every day as I wandered and observed the English peculiarity and English solidarity of the London streets.
So I was not astonished that here in the center of the five parts of the world, here where one has daily generous contact with Egypt, India and with the most distant Buddhist Asia, strange mixtures of thoughts can arise. Mixtures of thoughts which, just as well as modern science, can produce a continuation in the development of the human spirit. Since the English in the Far East live in constant contact with a foreign folk spirit, Asian ancient wisdom can come to London in a more genuine and unadulterated manner through the straight-line sea traffic of the English than is the case in Germany or in the other main countries, which are not so much the focus of world traffic.
In Germany in the last century science tore old world views in the hearts and minds of the educated, but it did not build new ideals. In England, however, where the paternal custom is more firmly established than in our country, it is not so easy to tear down, but build - similar to nested rooms in houses - Buddhist, Mohammedan and ancient Egyptian worlds of ideas into the Christian worldview. And, by not only importing raw products from the Asian colonies in London, but also the intellectual products of the subjugated Asian nations, one tries in England to found realms of thought from the union of foreign worldviews, forged together with the domestic world of thought.
The Indians, Egyptians, Asians and Africans, whom the Londoner encounters every day in his streets and in the societies as belonging to the English Empire, he could not in the long run also spiritually disregard and had to reflect on their spiritual life, which was alien to him.
Most of the time the English nowadays have a better understanding of Japanese and Chinese works of art than any European, and English literature is rich in Asiatic translations and in serious works of simple, faithful descriptions of art and customs by Asiatic peoples. While the German travel works are often written down by German scholarly knowledge, the many works of English private travelers - of whom there are of course legions in the immense world traffic of English ships - are more human, friendlier and more intimate. The content of these works is filled more with all-human admiration than with spiritual arrogance.
While in England, due to the enormous world and peoples' intercourse, new views are mixed with the old views and allow possibilities for a mental transformation, in Germany, since the realization of reality in the nineties, the developments towards new spiritual ideals have almost completely stalled. From the large German fleet one does not yet sense any international traffic or world exchange of ideas in the German land itself.
But I do not want to say that in England great intellectual upheavals have been achieved among the broad masses of the people. But practical upheavals have been achieved, such as the establishment of the blessing Salvation Army from England or the teaching of "Christian science" from England and America, which strives for the health of the body through conscious spiritual exaltation.
In Germany itself, nothing of the kind emerged from the nation. We still live caught up in a scientific sense of reality.
But a people of seventy million should still rouse themselves to new spiritual heights, to new ideals. Still caught up in the spirit of the eighties and nineties, in which artists and scholars showed the way to reality and to tear down false ideals, the German world was now drifting into a lust for reality.
The time of Goethe, which was raised by the Greek gods, the time of Walter von der Vogelweide, in which Christianity was still a young and flourishing ideal, will of course not return. But the lust for reality that prevails today, which is devoid of spiritual lust, degenerates into a lower pleasure in the long run, in which people longing for a new spirit cannot forever participate. And the desire for a new spiritual elevation hovers in the air everywhere, just as there is a longing for spring at the end of winter.
This striving for a new worldview, which I experienced in the young American couple twenty years ago in London, confirmed to me even then that the naturalistic art, which found its first greatest representative in German literature in Gerhart Hauptmann, was not the only saving development in poetry would remain.
A union of strong reality and the highest spirituality, a festive world view of the festive worldly life and a new world of festivities for the young poets will arise from humankind who feels humble and yet all powerful.
Because nothing is too small and nothing too dark in world life, except that it does not have to find acceptance into the intellect and into the feeling of a new humanity, so at that time, after I had overcome the first reluctance, I willingly opened my heart and ear to medieval ones too World, the Egyptian magic, the Assyrian astronomy, the Indian doctrine of adepts, the medieval alchemy and listened for days and weeks to the arguments of the young and spiritually delighted American couple.
I had the large volumes of the ghost poet William Blake read to me and interpreted. And if the world in Bohuslän was strong, magnificent, of course clear and palpable for me by the sea and by the granite and in the dignified rectory, it was exactly the opposite, unclear, ghostly, but not unnatural, in all the darkness not unbelievable Now before me in that little London room the groping, enthusiastic dark world of magic.
At first I believed that those two people who wanted to initiate me into the secret world of the spirit life were just as intent on performing miracles as I and my friend, the young philosopher, a few years earlier, on that August afternoon at the estate near Würzburg, had miraculous wishes have had.
I therefore told the Americans that I had long since got away from the longing to experience miracles and indicated to them that my worldview consisted in seeing the greatest and smallest life in space, as well as myself, as festively belonging together and every life to be regarded as his own creator and at the same time as a co-creator of the whole universe. I told them that the universe was viewed by me as a festive life, as an infinite festivity, in which we all celebrate forever in joy and sorrow and all change forms from new life to new life and in doing so all possess everything and at the same time everyone's possession are.
The two Americans said: “That is basically the same teaching that we mean. We found out about it in a secret society, and you and your friend the philosopher came to the same conclusion through your own thought.
We believe the same. We also believe that we humans could work miracles, but out of wisdom we do not want to disturb the work of creation through foolish addiction to miracles. Because then we would no longer be wise. We also believe in the festivity of life. But we also believe that one can make use of the great forces of the stars just as one has made use of electricity and steam.
Because no reasonable person can doubt that the star masses that move in the heavens, that soon approach each other, soon move away from each other, in which entire solar systems wander, that these suns, which orbit each other with their planets - that these suns World-body masses approaching and departing one another do not have to exert influence on the life that consists of them.
The gigantic fluctuations which the approaches of such monstrous masses produce mutually, do not remain without influence on the vegetable, animal, chemical and human world, which may be on the different stars.
That is why the shifting positions of the stars are important for the smallest atomic life, i.e. also for human life on our star. The displacements of the stars bring about changes in chemical processes due to atomic displacements. Because, as everyone knows, the different stars are at different stages of combustion. They are also composed differently. And assuming that the same elements would also be present on every star, these have different effects in different heat and cooling levels. "
I said this last explanation to myself when the two Americans tried to make me believe the influences of the stars. I said to myself: if you look at the universe as a chemical mass in which every solar system means a molecule that is again composed of atoms, and if you look at the planets of every solar system as atoms of the solar system molecule, you can well imagine that Turmoil and changes in this chemical compound arise when, for example, a comet, representing an atom, approaches a molecule, a solar system, and crosses its orbit.
Assuming that some chemical substance is more active on the comet than on the planet whose orbit the comet is crossing, it will act like a fermentation germ on the planet's previously calm orbit. Because through radiation, the comet can rebelliously hurl tiny bodies, such as electrons, into the solar system from a distance and temporarily produce decomposition processes, which of course then turn out to be unrest, earthquakes, disturbances, diseases of the water, diseases of the air, diseases of the earth , Disturbances in electricity, which also make themselves felt as diseases of the electric currents on that planet. The living beings of our planet, humans for example, would then think more restlessly, act more restlessly, out of balance, be more warlike and become more feverish and violent.
Wars, which otherwise could be avoided with more calm consideration, will become inevitable in the irritable state of mind in which the whole planet is due to the radiation disturbance which it received from the comet, just as malformation, terrestrial disease and famine could then result .
Thinking people must understand that the entire world of stars, conceived as a world of molecules, atoms or electrons, with circling molecular worlds, i.e. solar systems, is subject to continuous changes that set in depending on the molecular shifts, depending on the star positions.
At every hour of the night and day the star position is different around the planet earth. So the effects in the universe and on earth, the chemical processes that take place, are subject to hourly changes.
If we now say that the chemical mass Jupiter, or the chemical mass Venus, or the chemical mass Mercury is moving away from or approaching the chemical mass Earth, then fluctuations in all life on earth must necessarily occur, as with the approach of a comet.
But not only all stars are to be thought of in differently strong elemental compositions. But also the different plants, the different animals and the different people are composed of different weight parts of those elements. If a star approaches that can have a harmful or beneficial effect due to its composition, every living being on earth will feel happier or more unhappy, happier or more unhappy when it approaches.
And that is why the ancient astrologers said: this is a happy day for those who were born under Jupiter, for example. Because on this day the chemical composition in the universe through the creation of Jupiter, i.e. through molecular changes that the atom Jupiter creates, is favorable for all those who have a similar chemical composition as the planet Jupiter.
The eternally changing chemical processes, the approaching and diverging star masses, which every hour chemically influence the body composed of elements of man, animals, plants and the whole earth, just as they are influenced again, these star wanderings and The resulting hourly different star mixtures, these hourly changing chemical processes make one understand the star interpretation, which has been practiced for centuries and millennia by all earth peoples, by Chinese, Indians, Africans, Aztecs and Teutons, as a science that is by no means supernatural.
If an astrologer knows the hour of birth of a person and has looked up the star position of that hour, which he has already found in the astronomical records, he can calculate the future hours for that person from the astronomical calendar, in which harmful influences will inevitably hit him . Similar to how a chemist can predict which influences a certain chemical mixture can be beneficial or disadvantageous.
So the astrologer adheres to star processes. He is, so to speak, the connoisseur of heaven chemicals, applied to the chemistry of the human body. Just as there are clever and unwise chemists, there are of course also clever and unwise astrologers.
The Indians, the Arabs, the Egyptians, who were born under more cloudless skies than we, and who were able to study the stars on more nights of the year than we have, in the most ancient times, as everyone knows, made the greatest advances in the observation of the sky . On my trip around the world, I was led to spacious courts at some Indian royal courts, specially built for astrology, where large masonry instruments were distributed, which today, as in the most ancient times, were used for measurements and astronomy.
Whether it is worth predicting the influenced days of life, the good or the bad, of a human life from the stars, everyone will have to feel for himself. Not everyone desires to want to know the hours that are harmful or beneficial for them.
Just as nowadays the farmer and the aeronaut and the sailor, before they go to work, like to make use of the forecast of the weather station and the weather glass, so there may well be people who, like the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans did what they wanted to know when they were happy before they made any important decision. Since all things in life have their immature, their ripe and overripe hours and their withered hours, those who do not have a strong instinctual eye themselves will resort to tools that support their instincts. The strong instinctual person, however, will get by without a star interpretation. A strong farmer, an aviator or a sailor, who has the determination of the weather in instinct and experience, so to speak in his blood, this strong man will not care about the not always certain weather forecast predictions. -
When I spoke in detail with the American couple about astrology and other occult sciences in London every day, my mind, which had previously enjoyed its contemporary scientific enlightenment and overcoming medieval mysticism, turned to these conversations more and more attentively from day to day.
I was ashamed to say to myself that in the modern German schools in which I had grown up we had had to blindly learn the contempt for astrology from teachers who were not taught about astrology. We pupils had been made stupid by the unenlightened in this, as in many other ideologies, and we were thoughtlessly stuck all our lives in this blind contempt which had been mistaken for the higher enlightenment of a new age.
The teachers had with the sentence: Nobody can know the future, astrology is something supernatural, and we modern people no longer deal with the supernatural - astrology is quickly dismissed. I had to admit this to the two American occultists.
The two Americans kept repeating to me: astrology is not a supernatural force. In astrology, natural forces are used. The star interpretation is as natural as you can sweeten your tea with the sugar and make the tea inedible with the salt. The weather map of the weather station and the star map of the astronomical station are recognized scientific facts, and astrology is based only on facts, not on paranormalities or supernaturalities.
And since I am in favor of observing life and advocating life enrichment, the science of astrology became understandable to me as I considered all this calmly and not blindly rejecting it. I understood that it was roughly the same as the weather forecast.
The starry sky, rich in influences, that I saw above me at night, filled with bearers of fate, was no longer just a picture of luminous spheres that shimmer like an empty fireworks show and only delight with their light. The night images of the stars always look into my window, full of events, like the faces of a crowd, among whom I greet acquaintances here and there, who influence my fate unconsciously, just as I must unconsciously affect them.
Lives with which one is in close proximity, in conversation or in thoughts, become warmly familiar. And so, after this knowledge, the planets became warmly familiar to me. They became neighbors of my life, just as those birds that nest in my garden are more familiar to me than those that only fly past in the sky.
For me, the planets Venus, Jupiter and Mars were only stars in the stellar mass. But they came close to me as I contemplated the night sky after I had experienced their special influence on the life of the earth. They are family members of our earth, I said to myself, members of our solar relationship.
Those seagulls in Bohuslän, whose breeding site I had visited, had become more familiar to me from the hour when I had immersed myself in their breeding life after I had been reminded of the seagulls life of their own by the captain and the pastor. And in thinking about being stupid and disturbing the nurseries of the gull mothers, after getting acquainted with the habits of that bird world, I had become more of the inner comrade of those gulls than I had been before. I had felt the seagulls as space comrades before, but I had not yet come close to them as neighbors in life. And the same thing had happened to me now with the stars.
With the fact that one feels the world togetherness of all life in Spirit made clear, one has only taken the first step towards the knowledge of the universe festival. The spirit, our distant world, also has a body that is familiar to earth, which leads us to closeness to the world, which is why we have to adopt the new world view experience not only mentally, but also physically want, in order to get to world intimacy, which then gives the spiritual festive mood also the earthly festive mood. Because only from the two festive moods does the warm, festive attitude towards life emerge.
But it was not just from deepening the intellectual deepening of the American couple, who were striving to find life, that I benefited in London. I also got to know a new way of life from the simple everyday life that they led.
The young American husband made housework easier for his wife wherever he could in order to spare her. Since he could not offer her a house of her own, he was doubly careful about her. And it was a pleasure to see how none of the handouts he gave her struck him as degrading in relation to his manly dignity.
To spare her, the weaker, was his dignity. If he knew her happy, then he felt worthy of living and did not think of adding any other glory to his manhood. And indeed, in devotion to her, in concern for her well-being, he proved his manhood better than if he had boasted self-loving with empty dignity.
There was a market at the intersection of Upper Wooburn Square. Not a market in the German sense. There were four shops in the four blocks that formed the intersection. There was a baker's shop, a butcher's shop, a drug store that was also a fish shop, and a vegetable and tropical fruit shop. So there was everything necessary for daily nourishment.
The chemist offered poultry and fish, jams and a hundred other things to eat. The green goods store was rich in vegetables from the Mediterranean regions and tropical fruits from the English colonies. The butcher's shop was appetizing and showed fresh goods on clean marble, and the baker's shop offered baked goods and biscuits of all kinds.
The young American artist took a handbag every morning and bought everything he needed for meals, and I went with him and marveled at his knowledge. He knew how to select the freshest vegetables, the best pieces of meat, the tastiest fish in their raw state. I have always found this morning walk entertaining and stimulating.
In the fish shop you heard about the last fishing trips, about the sea storm that had prevented the lobster shipment. In the vegetable shop you heard about the banana harvest, which had been particularly cheap in Ceylon that year, about the pineapple shipments that had just arrived from the West Indies. You heard from the butcher about the cattle ranching and cattle breeding in the various English provinces that supplied London, and you had been a little bit all over the world for twenty minutes.
When we came home and the American had given his purchases to the cook of the pension, and she had carried the things down to the kitchen in the basement, and when later at breakfast time, at twelve noon, and at English lunchtime, after Six o'clock in the evening, when all the things you bought were brought to your room well prepared by the smart waitress, you ate the dishes more excitedly and amused, because you had already come close to their places of origin while shopping.
Finding nothing too small, helping yourself even in the smallest things from hand to hand, without weighing yourself in false dignity and wanting to assert, this was what I had never before had the opportunity to observe in Germany. And I learned a new day to day life in the vicinity of the newly married Americans, for the two of them lived together intimately and nobly.
The young man never felt the need to sit in coffeehouses or go to clubs. He and his wife knew many people in London and went to different houses for tea on Sundays, and once or twice a week they visited the occult society of which they were members. They spent half the day or a whole day in the reading room of the British collections, since they had come to London to immerse themselves intellectually. Later they wanted to return to their studio work in Paris.
I was also able to get a ticket to the British reading room through a friend who owned a house in Kensington. Because you can only count on approval of an admission request if you can show the signature of a London house owner.
There, in the largest reading room in the world, I saw for the first time the mighty, large volumes in the original, which Albrecht Dürer - who was an occultist - wrote about human body measurements with pictures and text. I also saw the large portfolios of Leonardo da Vinci, his originals on fortress architecture, drafts for his siege engines and the first sketches for his masterpiece "Mona Lisa", rare works of art that I did not have the opportunity to enjoy again later. The young American sculptor studied those Albrecht Dürer's books, and I translated the German texts into English for him.
The volumes of the English ghost poet Blake, who lived around 1810, also fascinated me very much. - The occultists claim that it can be proven that all the great masters of the Italians, as well as the masters of medieval Germany, the painters and also Goethe, devoted much of their lives to the study of the Kabbalah. That is why these men are works of such lasting beauty, because they do not only want to offer external sensory stimulation, but because they have also grasped the secret world of primal wisdom, the key of which lies in the Kabbalah.
The English poet and painter Blake, who thoroughly studied the wisdom of the Kabbalah, has composed strange volumes of poetry that are teeming with ghost names. In his works, which are thicker than the Bible, he has peculiarly drawn images of what each line tells in words over every line he wrote: flying spirits on clouds, stars, planets, half animal, half human monsters. The pages of his books therefore look very strange, as every thought is represented not just in words, but also in line images.
Earlier I had heard talk of Kabbalah knowledge, similar to astrology, as something strange and unreasonable. I learned, however, that this knowledge is as well-founded as astrology, which can appear necessary or unnecessary to every individual, like the weather forecast.
Kabbalah knowledge penetrates into the depths and into the powerful spiritual experience, which has been stored up by strong brains of all centuries, by brains that have searched for the world beyond everyday life, as Solomon did and the Arab mathematicians and the Indian Brahmins, such as the Cult of the Greeks in Delphi and the Isis cult of the Egyptians.
But these explorations, even if they seem to lie far from the sense of reality of today's science, were once researched and compiled with a no less high sense of reality.
A person who goes to bed in the evening because he earned money during the day and got tired, and who then sleeps soundly and gets up again in the morning and earns money again and falls asleep again in the evening - for example, he would never be able to observe the star positions change at night. And so he will miss many thousands of other observations that do not happen by chance on the way to earn money and which force themselves upon him.
That is why this person must not want to claim, because he did not experience a thousand observations himself, which exist outside of his professional path and which can be observed by others who have made exploring and observing the world their profession, that these things that he has not seen, does not exist at all.
It would be nonsense to claim that there are no stars because someone who went to sleep with the chickens would never have seen the starry sky.
And so a clever person and a person who feels creator and creature at the same time must not just blindly insist on his present life, but must also observe the values of the past. The secret values that foreign peoples, foreign centuries fathomed, must also be observed and accepted by every wise spirit. Just as we appreciate the deeds of history, we must also learn to appreciate the thoughts of occult traditions, which are nothing other than the historical events of thought, values from the history of silent, secret observations, from the history of those secret realities that seem to be in the unreal lie and keep coming back and always living on.
I don't mean, of course, that everyone can delve into the occult. But those who want to count themselves to the intellectual nobility of the nation should, before they make quick judgments for which they have no previous knowledge, first reflect on the old traditions themselves, before they pass the deepest naturalities for nonsensical unnaturalities.
How far these secret teachings are useful and applicable to today's life, everyone should answer for themselves.Anyone who wants to consult astrology should be free to do so undeterred and ridiculously. Only then is our time, which is so fond of being called the enlightened, really worthy of being called enlightened when it no longer obstructs the paths that the centuries-old human spirit has gone through.
In all the conversations I had with the two Americans about mysticism and after my day of study in the reading room of the British collections, I often felt quite lonely. And the chimes of a church that struck and played the same tune every hour on Upper Wooburn Street came often sweet and bland into my quiet room and, like in my mouth, was the boring taste of the oatmeal porridge I ate with my tea in the morning.
I was longing for the German word and German mood when one day the maid handed me a business card when I got home from the reading room and said that the gentleman who handed in the card wanted me to visit him. That visitor was the German poet Frank Wedekind.
At that time only a few works by Frank Wedekind had appeared. I had read his drama “Spring Awakening” in Munich two years earlier. The description of a gruesome tragedy which growing children have to endure in school and at home from foolish teachers and cold-blooded parents had shaken me very much. I didn't know Wedekind himself. When I made my return visit, he told me that he had received my London address from Otto Julius Bierbaum from Berlin, which he had found out again from Richard Dehmel.
Wedekind and I often met afterwards in the Piccadilly House, which was the only coffee house in London at the time, as there were usually only standing bars, tea and liqueur rooms.
Wedekind had just come to London after a long stay in Paris. His moods, it seemed to me, fluctuated between enthusiasm for the world and contempt for the world.
When I came from the British collections or met from the neo-idealistic conversations between the two Americans and Wedekind, it was a strange contrast. At night in the Union tavern, where he was to be found, you could only get in if you knocked on the door in a certain way. From the outside this tavern was a lightless house, and inside a long guest room one found a very mixed clientele, circus and vaudeville artists, and Wedekind with a toddy. When he told me about his experiences in Paris, while sometimes a circus dancer jumped on the table next to us in high spirits and danced can-can while the guests were saying hello, then I felt as if I had come across a living hellish picture.
Hell here was actually harmless. But the contrast between the nocturnal environment and my American friends at Upper Wooburn Place was stark enough. And I, who for almost a year in Scandinavia had only been used to the mute sea and the mute stone world, was a little surprised at the surprising change of scenery.
Spring came. In the cosmopolitan city, however, you only noticed it in the shop windows and at the art exhibitions and in the tulip beds in Regent Park and Hyde Park, which were conjured up overnight by the gardeners. I sometimes visited those large gardens on the concert days when the London social time was just beginning. -
James had drawn my attention to a circle of English poets who gathered around the then unknown poet Oscar Wilde. The American told me that Oscar Wilde held receptions every day at tea time in a posh bar on Hyde Parkstrasse. This spring this poet had applied the fashion of the green rose and always wore one in his buttonhole. The American himself didn't know him.
But since I knew nothing of Oscar Wilde's poems, I didn't think of going to him, not even after reading Wilde's Salome in the British reading room, which seemed to me like a lewd degradation of the good old Bible legend. -
Before the spring days came, there were a few more heavy, dark foggy days, with the London fog like a thick yellow smoke turning midday into night and awakening in me a strong longing for Germany.
During these foggy days, the American couple introduced me to the Irish poet Yeats, who was then living in London and who, like them, belonged to that secret society. This man too longed for new ideals.
Yeats firmly believed in different spirit realms between heaven and earth, in divisions of heaven inhabited by different sizes of spirits. Similar to how the poet Blake had portrayed them in his poems and pictures. Yeats told me: just as there are kings, officials, merchants and day laborers on earth, so there are also rankings among the immediate forces, among the astral bodies that have left their bodies after death. And the different spirits who have lived in different bodies do not suddenly become one and the same spirit, but are also divided into different hierarchies after death.
There are differences in strength in the spirit realms, Yeats said, as well as in the physical realms. He said he had a certain feeling that the spirits of his old Irish homeland gods, who had had to shrink back from Christianity, were still in the air over Ireland and could be called back. Many of the old songs and legends still lived in the Irish country folk and were told and sung many times in front of the fires of the chimneys on winter nights. And Yeats had made an appointment with another Irish poet that they would go from village to village dressed as compatriots and revive their belief in the old Irish gods by telling the peasants the Irish heroes and doctrines. -
At the same time a Yeatsian play was being played in the Drury Lane Theater in London, to the premiere of which the poet had invited the American couple and me. I still remember that the play attracted the whole literary world of London, and that Aubrey Beardsley, the then well-known English painter who had just published his "Yellow Book", had drawn the playbill, and that the play was therefore an annual artistic event .
But I did not understand anything about the play and attributed it to the spring air that my eyes closed while the stage was being played. I only see a lady in front of a large fireplace in a dark room and behind her a moonlit blue window. But what the lady spoke to spirits and living people did not come to my mind.
When I woke up there was clapping. Before that, before we went to the theater for that morning performance, the sun had shone, and we had met a circle of Yeatsian acquaintances in a breakfast room next to the theater, where the first copy of Aubrey Beardsley's "Yellow Book" had been passed around.
Then after the theater it was a grayish late afternoon out on the street. Spring rain fell from spring clouds, running over the London pavement with lukewarm water.
The ghost of this monotonous spring rain sat next to me in the box and put me to sleep. I was a little ashamed when the long, pale-faced, black-haired Irish poet asked us how we liked his play. I didn't know how to answer him. When we sat by the fireplace in the simple room of the Americans at home and waited for the water to boil, we started talking again about the ghosts.
If the fog had already made me weak-hearted, which suddenly stuck itself unexpectedly like a dark gag in the window and stifled my breath, the spring and the ghost conversations did so much more. And I longed to go to Germany, harder and harder. A few small coincidences then suddenly drove me to leave.
One afternoon I was in Hyde Park. I sat in one of the penny chairs on Rotten Row; many spectators had settled in the afternoon parade. Light landauers and heavy carriages, driven by handsome gentlemen or ladies, and drawn by thoroughbred horses, passed by incessantly, as if a general race were going on.
I had read a newspaper and looked up to see a very pretty vehicle made of light wood, the lively horses of which were being led by a young, very beautiful lady who was sitting on a high coachman's seat next to her stable boy. Lady, carriage and horse seemed to belong together like a violinist and his violin. The beautiful picture flashed past me. I regretted that it had disappeared so quickly and that I could not see the lady again.
Then I hear a rattle, an eerie rattle. At the same time, all the people sitting next to me jump up and get into their chairs so that they can look over the heads of the crowd. For a moment everyone looked intently for a direction. I couldn't move forwards or backwards, a wall of people had formed so quickly. But from the faces of the coachmen, who stopped in long lines on the opposite side of the Rotten Row, I saw that something very bad must have happened.
Then the rumor ran through the crowd from mouth to mouth that a car had hit a curbstone and overturned. The lady who steered was thrown onto the stones. And a few minutes later pale faces turned and one told the other briefly and firmly: "The young lady and her servant are dead!"
Gradually I was pushed to that place by the stream of people. The corpses of the lady and the stable boy had already been carried away. The horses on the smashed wagon have just been unhitched and led away. The beautiful animals were still trembling and their excitement could hardly be restrained. The thin, light vehicle lay shattered like a toy by the baffle stones. Then the rubble was swiftly carried away and the rows of wagons that had been held back by the policemen moved forward again with their prancing horses, and the spectacle of wagons glided past me and shone again over the scene of the accident.
Unsuspecting ladies greeted and nodded to each other from inside the car, not knowing that one of their ranks had just disappeared like a ghost. And I asked myself: what difference is there between ghosts and reality? Aren't we all an unreal spook since we can come so quickly and disappear so quickly? Then why shouldn't the spirit world be believable? Our earthly life itself is only a fleeting spirit world!
And I was longing to find peace from the many experiences and from the many thoughts that my life gave me to think about here. -
Then came a Sunday when the two Americans and I were invited to breakfast with an English lady. She lived a long way from us in one of the most distant parts of London. We should only come there when the weather is nice, so that we can enjoy the small house garden. However, it was slightly foggy at Upper Wooburn Platz and it was raining a little. So we hesitated to go out. But then we made up our minds and left.
Our astonishment was great when, after a few underground stops, we climbed out of the earth into the daylight, found blue skies and heard from that lady that the weather in her district had been fine all morning and that it had not rained a drop there.
So London is so big that each end can have a different weather, we said with a laugh. And the spring weather of that part of the city did it to me. I only returned to our gray area, only to pack my suitcase soon afterwards and say goodbye to gray London and our American friends.
Then I traveled to Germany via Harwich and Hook of Holland and initially to Berlin.
It was the first of June when I drove through Holland, where the cornfields were already high. Here and there one saw small sails appear over the tips of the stalks. That looked strange, sailboats in the grain! The canals were covered by the ears of corn, and the ships came silently with their white sails over the still green stalks.
I would have loved to get off the train and sit here on the edge of a cornfield and stare into the rounded, silver-sunny clouds that look livelier than anywhere else over the flat Holland. And I would have loved to dream away the summer here and see the sailing boats. Because I was very tired of the city. The many conversations over the past few months and the artificial life of thought in the British reading room and by the American fireplace had made me hungry for nature.
And since I had seen the young American artist couple live modestly and yet happily in their bed and breakfast room, there was the urge and the longing to find a girl with whom I could now have enjoyed spring, summer, autumn, winter, - become so strong in me that the empty view of the landscape made me impatient and every day seemed painful to me that so aimlessly exposed me to the world view instead of the world embrace. And I longed for world warmth and longed for the closeness of a beloved woman.
I had once expressed my wish to marry to the Americans in London in London, and they had replied: “Whoever desires strongly, draws reality into reality through desires. But, "they added," you have to keep thinking about your desire and wanting it again and again. Then use it to shape the future for yourself and you will find your way to the woman you love by yourself. Because this is already born and is going around somewhere on earth, unconsciously longing for you, just as you unconsciously long for it. Direct all your thinking to your wish and you must meet that woman soon. "
And the two good people deeply regretted that there was no other way to help me than through patience and strong wishes. And they wanted to wish with me that I should be happy very soon.
But in my ears the talk of some other people was always around: “A poet should remain free. A poet should not attach himself to a woman. The poet belongs to the world and he destroys himself as a poet when he establishes a household. "
These sayings aroused many doubts in me against my wishes. And the doubts as to whether a poet would be happy if he had bound a woman to himself for life pressed me so much that spring after I had arrived in Berlin from London that the doubts grew stronger and with my heart's desire every day began to wrestle. And out of this struggle between longing for love and doubt, a little verse drama "Sun" arose during those months, which I wrote in Berlin.
Impressions that I still had of Bohuslän and the sea voyage to England with a view of the fishing boats at the mouth of the Thames condensed into a lake picture. And in the drama I wanted to portray people from the beginning of the Christian era, when Christianity and paganism still lived vacillating in the folk spirit.
I moved the action to a lake in a stilt village. The young fisherman whom I called “Sun” - the name is the English word for sun - was myself, and I disguised myself as a skald, a folk singer, in that stilt village.
The brothers hate Sun because they believe he is a wizard. They say he can bewitch the lake, the fish, and the water. Because Sun speaks to all things. Even at night, when he sits on the balcony of the pile building in the moon, he talks to the moon, to the waves and to the shadows of the moon. And during the day he leans towards the grass and talks to the grass, talks to the elder tree, talks to the morning sun. And when he's out in the boat, bent over the edge of the boat, he doesn't catch fish like other people, but he talks to the fish and to the aquatic plants.
It was said that he often lay back in the boat and talked to the clouds and talked about the wind. But it is not speeches like the others that he is giving. He hums and sings as if he were the master of all things or as if he belonged with all things. He can lie so still for hours without a sound. Then he listens to all things and hears everything, claim his brothers.
And his brothers persuaded the monk, who had come to the lake years ago with other monks and had already converted the stake village, that he, the Christian priest, should drive Sun out of his clan. So that the magician does not disturb the fishing trips and does not determine the weather at will.
But at the time the brothers had gone to fetch the monk and the clan, the young daughter of another stake farmer sneaked into Sun's house. And she met the skald, who had come home from the lake, and suddenly, consecrated by her love for him, she understood the elder tree that sang in the evening, and the waves and the sunlight. She understood the language of all things from the moment the young skald put his arm around her and pulled her to him. Because Sun had loved the girl for a long time.
But she had come to warn him about his brothers.She told him that while the hail cloud had pattered down over the lake today and that he had continued singing in the boat undisturbed on the lake, without being bothered by the hail and storm, his brothers had loudly declared him a magician. For the brothers are filled with hatred and envy for his peacefulness and calm.
They had now incited the clan and had gone to fetch the monk who was supposed to drive the magical creature out of Sun. And if Sun did not want to give up sorcery, they said, the clan would chase him out into the jungle to the wild animals, and he would no longer be allowed to live among Christian people. The girl feared very much for Sun's life.
While she was still talking to her lover, the sun was setting in front of the house and a blackbird was singing. And the young skald just smiled and told her he wasn't afraid of his brothers. He does not practice magic.
But she, whom he was hugging, and who in her love now heard the sunset singing into the house, and who understood the song of the blackbird not only as a call but as a love song when Sun was near, understood that the young skald was not a magician was. She saw that he knew how to listen peaceably and festively, and that all things sang peaceably and festively, because he let them sing undisturbed in a way that his noisy brothers could not understand.
When it quickly got dark and the fearful woman tried to persuade the lover again that he should flee voluntarily so that the monk and the brothers and the clan should not harm him, but Sun fearlessly refused and went to meet the approaching people, the girl stayed near him to see if something could be done to him.
In the evening the people came up with torches in their hands and the monk in their midst. He picked up a wooden cross in his right hand and stepped in front of the young skald and asked Sun to name the evil spirits with whom he communicated day and night, in the moon, in the sunshine and in the storm. Because one knows, said the monk, that Sun spoke to the air and to the water, to the sun and to the trees, with all kinds of unreasonable and dead things that cannot answer him. So it would have to be spirits that he knew how to conjure up out of nowhere. But the spirit of God does not tolerate any gods next to it, and he, the priest of God, must drive the unclean spirits out of Sun.
But the whole people stood in silence and nodded at the monk's speech and waited for the young skald to explain himself publicly and answer for his mysterious actions.
The young skald looked peacefully, smiling quietly and seriously, into all the faces of the people who all hated him out of lack of understanding. And Sun simply said to the monk that he heard the elder tree and the waves of the lake and the wind and the clouds and the sun singing, and that he was also singing songs to all life, for his heart was happy and festive. And how can one regard the song of the blossom and the song of a wave and the song of a blackbird as an evil spirit, since the language of all life is joie de vivre, which he hears everywhere and which would be beneficial and happy. And he also said that he answered the spirits of things in songs that his heart sang to him. And he has no evil in his heart against the clan and nothing against the monk.
Then the Christian priest started up furiously and shouted that the young skald was already so obsessed with evil spirits that he could no longer distinguish between evil spirits and good ones. Because only demons dwelt in the dead things of nature. And if the skald could not promise to stop the magic conversations at home and on the lake, then he would have to leave the clan and be chased out of the village to the evil spirits of the forest.
Sun said to the monk that he could never stop singing. That he could hear the lives that live around him sing, and that he could never help singing the songs that were inspired by his heart.
After the young Sun had said this, he straightened up and strode out of the hut, untied his boat from the arbor and rowed out onto the lake into the night. The monk and the people now understood that Sun had left them willingly and forever.
And while the people were still amazed and listened to Sun's oar strokes, which echoed in from the lake outside in the night, a young girl jumped out of the dark corner. That pushed its way through the people and jumped out of the hut. And all the people called the girl's name. And the people cried out because the girl had jumped into the lake and was now swimming after the young man who was rowing away.
But the girl's father rushed excitedly out onto the balcony and angrily called his daughter back. But only the echo of the mountains answered their name. The girl did not turn back and followed the outcast. Then the father raised both fists in the air and cursed his child and hurled after the fleeing people, curse after curse, through the night.
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