A sublime soul can rise to all kinds of greatness, but by an effort; it can tear itself from all bondage, to all that limits and constrains it, but only by strength of will. Consequently the sublime soul is only free by broken efforts.
The present age has witnessed an extraordinary increase of a thinking public, by the facilities afforded to the diffusion of reading; the former happy resignation to ignorance begins to make way for a state of half-enlightenment, and few persons are willing to remain in the condition in which their birth has placed then.
Joy, thou spark from Heav'n immortal, Daughter of Elysium! Drunk with fire, toward Heaven advancing Goddess, to thy shrine we come. Thy sweet magic brings together What stern Custom spreads afar; All men become brothers Where thy happy wing-beats are.
There are evil spirits who suddenly fix their abode in man's unguarded breast, causing us to commit devilish deeds, and then, hurrying back to their native hell, leave behind the stings of remorse in the poisoned bosom.
If yon wish to be like the gods on earth, to be free in the realms of the dead, pluck not the fruit from the garden! In appearance it may glisten to the eye; but the perishable pleasure of possession quickly avenges the curse of curiosity.
While the womanly god demands our veneration, the godlike woman kindles our love; but while we allow ourselves to melt in the celestial loveliness, the celestial self-sufficiency holds us back in awe.
When the measured dance of the hours brings back the happy smile of spring, the buried dead is born again in the life-glance of the sun. The germs which perished to the eye within the cold breast of the earth spring up with joy in the bright realm of day.
History, insofar as it accustoms human beings to comprehend the whole of the past and to hasten forward with its conclusions into the far future, conceals the boundaries of birth and death, which enclose the life of the human being so narrowly and oppressively, and with a kind of optical illusion, expands his short existence into endless space, leading the individual imperceptibly over into humanity.
It is at the approach of extreme danger when a hollow puppet can accomplish nothing, that power falls into the mighty hands of nature, of the spirit giant-born, who listens only to himself, and knows nothing of compacts.
When the mechanic has to mend a watch he lets the wheels run out; but the living watchworks of the state have to be repaired while they act, and a wheel has to be exchanged for another during its revolutions.
Man ever talks, and Man ever dreams Of better days that are yet to be, After glittering goal, that distant gleams, Running and racing untiringly. The worldly may grow old and young as it will, But the Hope of man is Improvement still. Hope bears him into life in her arms, She flutters around the boy's young bloom, The soul of youth with her magic warms, Nor rests with age in the silent tomb; For ends man his weary course at the grave, There plants he Hope o'er his ashes to wave.
If the art of gardening is at last to turn back from her extravagances and rest with her other sisters, it is, above everything, necessary to have clearly before you what you require . . . It is certainly tasteless and inconsistent to desire to encompass the world with a garden-wall, but very practicable and reasonable to make a garden . . . into a characteristic whole to the eye, heart, and nderstanding alike.
Everlastingly chained to a single little fragment of the Whole, man himself develops into nothing but a fragment; everlastingly in his ear the monotonous sound of the wheel that he turns, he never develops the harmony of his being, and instead of putting the stamp of humanity upon his own nature, he becomes nothing more than the imprint of his occupation or of his specialized knowledge.
Culture, far from giving us freedom, only develops, as it advances, new necessities; the fetters of the physical close more tightly around us, so that the fear of loss quenches even the ardent impulse toward improvement, and the maxims of passive obedience are held to be the highest wisdom of life.
The reason for you complaint lies, it seems to me, in the constraint which your intellect imposes upon your imagination. Here I will make an observation, and illustrate it by an allegory. Apparently, it is not good-and indeed it hinders the creative work of the mind-if the if the intellect examines too closely the ideas pouring in, as it were, at the gates.
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield! Against stupidity the very gods Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason, Resplendent daughter of the head divine, Wise foundress of the system of the world, Guide of the stars, who are thou then, if thou, Bound to the tail of folly's uncurb'd steed, Must, vainly shrieking, with the drunken crowd, Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
We are citizens of an age, as well as of a State; and if it is held to be unseemly, or even inadmissible, for a man to cut himself off from the customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, why should it be less of a duty, in the choice of his activity, to submit his decision to the needs and the taste of his century?
As freely as the firmament embraces the world, so mercy must encircle friend and foe. The sun poursforth impartially his beams through all the regions of infinity; heaven bestows the dew equally on every thirsty plant. Whatever is good and comes from on high is universal and without reserve: but in the heart's recesses darkness dwells.
Rarely do we arrive at the summit of truth without running into extremes; we have frequently to exhaust the part of error, and even of folly, before we work our way up to the noble goal of tranquil wisdom.
Around, around, Companions all, take your ground, And name the bell with joy profound! CONCORDIA is the word we've found Most meet to express the harmonious sound, That calls to those in friendship bound.
The Greeks put us to shame not only by their simplicity, which is foreign to our age; they are at the same time our rivals, nay, frequently our models, in those very points of superiority from which we seek comfort when regretting the unnatural character of our manners. We see that remarkable people uniting at once fullness of form and fullness of substance, both philosophising and creating, both tender and energetic, uniting a youthful fancy to the virility of reason in a glorious humanity.
Futurity is impregnable to mortal ken: no prayer pierces through heaven's adamantine walls. Whether the birds fly right or left, whatever be the aspect of the stars, the book of nature is a maze, dreams are a lie, and every sign a falsehood.
Each state of the human mind has some parable in the physical creation by which it is shadowed forth; nor is it only artists and poets, but even the most abstract thinkers that have drawn from this source. Lively activity we name fire; time is a stream that rolls on, sweeping all before it; eternity is a circle; a mystery is hid in midnight gloom, and truth dwells in the sun. Nay, I begin to believe that even the future destiny of the human race is prefigured in the dark oracular utterances of bodily creation.
The empire of Saturnus is gone by; Lord of the secret birth of things is he; Within the lap of earth, and in the depths Of the imagination dominates; And his are all things that eschew the light. The time is o'er of brooding and contrivance, For Jupiter, the lustrous, lordeth now, And the dark work, complete of preparation, He draws by force into the realm of light. Now must we hasten on to action, ere The scheme, and most auspicious positure Parts o'er my head, and takes once more its flight, For the heaven's journey still, and adjourn not.
The voice of our age seems by no means favorable to art, at all events to that kind of art to which my inquiry is directed. The course of events has given a direction to the genius of the time that threatens to remove it continually further from the ideal of art. For art has to leave reality, it has to raise itself bodily above necessity and neediness; for art is the daughter of freedom, and it requires its prescriptions and rules to be furnished by the necessity of spirits and not by that of matter.
Wouldst thou wisely, and with pleasure, Pass the days of life's short measure, From the slow one counsel take, But a tool of him ne'er make; Ne'er as friend the swift one know, Nor the constant one as foe.
Far must thy researches go Wouldst thou learn the world to know; Thou must tempt the dark abyss Wouldst thou prove what Being is; Naught but firmness gains the prize, Naught but fullness makes us wise, Buried deep truth e'er lies.
Man is made of the wholly common, and custom is his nurse; woe then to them who lay irreverent hands on his old house-furniture, the dear inheritance from his forefathers: For time consecrates, and what is gray with age becomes religion.
Egotism erects its center in itself; love places it out of itself in the axis of the universal whole. Love aims at unity, egotism at solitude. Love is the citizen ruler of a flourishing republic, egotism is a despot in a devastated creation. Egotism sows for gratitude, love for the ungrateful. Love gives, egotism lends; and love does this before the throne of judicial truth, indifferent if for the enjoyment of the following moment, or with the view to a martyr's crown--indifferent whether the reward is in this life or in the next.
Utility is the great idol of the age, to which all powers must do service and all talents swear allegiance. In this great balance of utility, the spiritual service of art has no weight, and, deprived of all encouragement, it vanishes from the noisy Vanity Fair of our time.
You worthy critics, or whatever you may call yourselves, are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness which is found in all real creators, the longer or shorter duration of which distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer. Hence your complaints of unfruitfulness, for you reject too soon and discriminate too severely.
As noble Art has survived noble nature, so too she marches ahead of it, fashioning and awakening by her inspiration. Before Truth sends her triumphant light into the depths of the heart, imagination catches its rays, and the peaks of humanity will be glowing when humid night still lingers in the valleys.
Regarded in isolation, an idea may be quite insignificant, and venturesome in the extreme, but it may acquire importance from an idea which follows it; perhaps, in a certain collocation with other ideas, which may seem equally absurd, it may be capable of furnishing a very serviceable link.