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Novalis, The Fall of Europe

From Christendom or Europe, 1799


To endless life along

Uplifted is the stone -- And all mankind is risen -- We all remain thine own. And vanished is our prison. All troubles flee away Thy golden bowl before, For Earth and Life give way At the last and final supper.

To the marriage Death doth call -- The virgins standeth back -- The lamps burn lustrous all -- Of oil there is no lack -- If the distance would only fill With the sound of you walking alone And that the stars would call Us all with human tongues and tone.

Unto thee, O Mary A thousand hearts aspire. In this life of shadows Thee only they desire. In thee they hope for delivery With visionary expectation -- If only thou, O holy being Could clasp them to thy breast.

With bitter torment burning, So many who are consumed At last from this world turning To thee have looked and fled, Helpful thou hast appeared To so many in pain. Now to them we come, To never go out again.

At no grave can weep Any who love and pray. The gift of Love they keep, From none can it be taken away. To soothe and quiet his longing, Night comes and inspires -- Heaven's children round him thronging Watch and guard his heart.

Have courage, for life is striding To endless life along; Stretched by inner fire, Our sense becomes transfigured. One day the stars above Shall flow in golden wine, We will enjoy it all, And as stars we will shine.

The love is given freely, And Separation is no more. The whole life heaves and surges Like a sea without a shore. Just one night of bliss -- One everlasting poem -- And the sun we all share Is the face of God.

From: Novalis, Hymns to the Night


The Reformation sounded the knell of Christendom. It has ceased to exist. In their sectarian isolation, Catholics, Protestants and the Reformed are further apart from each other than they ever were from Moslems and pagans. The last Catholic states continued to vegetate, not entirely without feeling the harmful influence of their Protestant neighbours. Modern politics dates from this time, and some powerful states attempted to take possession of the seat of Catholic power, now transformed into a throne...

The Reformation was a sign of the times. It was important for the whole of Europe even though it only overtly erupted in a truly free Germany. The good spirits of all nations had secretly emancipated themselves and, filled with an illusory sense of their calling, they rejected obsolete constraint with increasing arrogance. The scholar is instinctively the enemy of the clergy in its old form; the intellectual class and the ecclesiastical class necessarily engage in a war of extermination when they are separated, for they are contesting one and the same position. This separation became increasingly accentuated, and the scholars gained more and more ground as the history of European humanity approached the era of triumphant science, and as knowledge and faith came into increasingly bitter conflict. It was in faith that people sought the cause of the general stagnation which they hoped could be cured with knowledge. The religious spirit everywhere suffered various persecutions of its former style and of its different present forms. People called the fruit of the new way of thinking "philosophy", which they took to mean anything that was against the past, hence essentially everything that attacked religion. The very particular hatred that was initially directed at the Catholic faith gradually became hatred of the Bible, of the Christian faith and ultimately of religion per se. And what is more, this hatred of religion was very naturally and logically extended to anything that might be the object of enthusiasm, and condemned imagination and sentiment, morality and the love of art, the future and the past; in the end, Man was necessarily put at the top of the ladder of beings, and the eternal and inexhaustible music of the universe became the monotonous ticking of an immense mill, driven and carried by the flood of Fate, a mill in itself, without architect or miller, a veritable "perpetuum mobile", a mill grinding itself.

Cf.  Pope Benedict XVI, The Papal Science  * David Turner, Byzantium : The 'alternative' history of Europe * On the future of the European music * Horizons of being * The harmony of the spheres. See also a brief comment on Novalis, and more links, at the Internet Start pages.


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