Four Mystery Plays
The Soul's Awakening (Written 1913)
The same. Hilary's Wife in conversation with the Manager.
That fate itself doth not desire the deed
Which yet my husband thinks imperative,
Seems likely when one views the tangled threads
This power doth weave to form the knot in life,
Which holds us here in its compelling bonds.
A knot of fate indeed, which truly seems
Unable to be loosed by human sense —
And so, I take it, it must needs be cut.
I see no other possibility
Than that the strand which links thy husband's life
To mine must now at last be cut in twain,
What! Part from thee! — My husband never will.
'Twould go against the spirit of the house
Which by his own dear father was inspired
And which the son will faithfully uphold.
But hath he not already broken faith?
The aims that Hilary hath now in view
Can surely not be found along the road
On which his father's spirit ever walked.
My husband's happiness in life now hangs
On the successful issue of these aims.
I saw the transformation of his soul
As soon as, like a lightning flash, the thought
Illumined him. He had found hitherto
Nothing in life but sad soul-loneliness,
A feeling which he was at pains to hide
E'en from the circle of his closest friends
But which consumed him inwardly the more.
Till then he deemed himself of no account
Because thoughts would not spring up in his soul
Which seemed to him to be of use in life.
But when this plan of mystic enterprise
Then stood before his soul, he grew quite young,
He was another man, a happy man;
This aim first gave to him a worth in life.
That thou couldst e'er oppose him in his work
Was inconceivable till it occurred.
He felt the blow more keenly than aught else
That in his life hath yet befallen him.
Couldst thou but know the pain that thou hast caused,
Thou wouldst not surely be so harsh with him.
I feel as if my manhood would be lost
If I should set myself to go against
Mine own convictions. — I shall find it hard
To do my work with Strader at my side.
Yet I decided I would bear this load
To help Romanus, whom I understand
Since he concerning Strader spake with me.
What he explained became the starting-point
For me of mine own spirit-pupilship.
There was a power that flamed forth from his words
And entered actively within my soul;
I never yet had felt it so before.
His counsel is most precious, though as yet
I cannot understand and follow it;
Romanus only cares for Strader now;
He thinks the other mystics by their share
Not only are a hindrance to the work
But also are a danger to themselves.
For his opinion I have such regard
That I must now believe the following:
If Strader cannot find a way to work
Without his friends, 'twill be a sign of fate, —
A sign that with these friends he must abide,
And only later fashion faculties,
Through mystic striving for some outward work.
The fact that recently he hath become
More closely knit to them than formerly,
Despite a slight estrangement for a while,
Makes me believe that he will find his place
Within this state of things, though it involves
A failure, for the present, of his aims.
Thou see'st the man with only that much sight
With which Romanus hath entrusted thee;
Thou shouldst gaze on him with unbiased eye.
He can so steep himself in spirit-life
That he appears quite sundered from the earth.
Then spirit forms his whole environment
And Theodora liveth then for him.
In speaking with him it appears as if
She too were present. Many mystics can
Express the spirit-message in such words
As bring conviction after careful thought;
What Strader says strikes home e'en as he speaks;
One sees that he sets little store upon
Mere inward spirit-life that is content
With feelings only; the explorer's zeal
Doth ever prove his guide in mystic life.
And so his mystic aims do not destroy
His sense for scientific schemes which seem
Both practical and useful for this life.
Try to perceive-this faculty in him,
And thou shalt learn his judgment of his friends
Is far more weighty than the adverse views
Romanus hath acquired of their worth.
In such a case as this, so far removed
From all the vista of my usual thought,
The judgment of Romanus seems to me
Some solid ground to stand on. If, myself,
I enter realms to mysticism near,
I surely need such guidance as indeed
A man can only give me who can win
My confidence by so much of himself
As I myself can fully comprehend.
(Enter the Secretary.)
Thou looks't distracted, friend; what is thy news?
Good doctor Strader died a few hours since.
Died? — Strader?
What. Not Strader dead? — Where now Is Hilary?
He is in his own room.
He seemed quite stricken when the messenger
First brought the news to him from Strader's house.
(Exit Hilary's Wife, followed by the Secretary.)
Dead — Strader! Is this reality?
Or has the dreaded spirit sleep o'ercome me?
The fate which here doth guide
The threads of life wears now a serious face. —
O little soul of mine, what mighty hand
Hath now laid hold upon thy thread of fate,
And given it a part within this knot.
‘But that which must will surely come to pass!’
Why is it that these words have never left
My mind since Strader spake them long ago
When talking with myself and Hilary? —
As if they reached him from another world
So did they sound; — he spake as if entranced, —
What is to come to pass? — Right well I know
The spirit-world laid hands upon me then.
Within those words there sounds the spirit-speech —
Sounds earnest —; how can I its meaning learn?