19 December 1911, Berlin
Let us consider today the second Mystery Drama, The Soul's Probation. You will have noticed that in our various stage performances, and especially in this play, an attempt was made to bring the dramatic happenings into connection with our anthroposophical world view. In this play in particular, we wanted to present on the stage in a very real way the idea of reincarnation and its effect on the human soul. I need not say that the incidents in The Soul's Probation are not simply thought out; they fully correspond with observations of esoteric study in certain ways, so that the scenes are completely realistic in a definite sense of the word. We can discuss this evening first of all the idea that a kind of transition had to be created, leading from Capesius' normal life to his plunge into a former life, into the time when he lived through his previous incarnation.
I have often asked myself since The Soul's Probation was written, what enabled Capesius to build a bridge from his life in a world where he had known — though certainly with a genial spirit — only what is given by external sense perception with a world view bound to the instrument of the brain; how it was, I say, that a bridge could be created from such a world to the one into which he then plunged, which could only be revealed through occult sense organs. I have often asked myself why the fairy tale, with the three figures at the rock spring (Scene Five) had to be the bridge for Capesius. Of course, it was not because of some clever idea or some deliberate decision that the fairy tale was placed just at this point, but simply because imagination brought it about. One could even ask afterward why such a fairy tale is necessary. In connection, then, with The Soul's Probation there came to me certain enlightening points of view about the poetry of fairy tales in general and about poetry in relation to anthroposophy.
A person could well put into practical use in his life the facts implicit in the division of the soul into sentient, intellectual, and consciousness souls, but when he does, riddles of perception will loom up in a simply elemental- emotional way with regard to his place in, and relationship to, the world. These riddles do not allow themselves to be spoken out in our ordinary language, with our ordinary concepts, for the simple reason that we are living today in too intellectual a time to bring to expression in words, or through what is possible in words, the subtle distinctions between the three members of our soul.
It is better to choose a method that will allow the soul's relationship to the world to seem diversified and yet quite definite and clear. What moves through the whole of The Soul's Probation as the connecting link between the events themselves and what is significant in the three figures, Philia, Astrid, and Luna, had to be expressed in delicate outlines; yet this had to call up strong enough soul responses to bring out clearly man's relationship to the world around him. It could be presented in no other way than to show how the telling of the fairy tale about the three women awoke in Capesius' soul, as a definite preparation for his development, the strong urge to descend into those worlds that only now are beginning to be perceived again by human beings as real.
There will now be a recital of the fairy tale, so that we can reflect upon it afterward.
(Scene Five: Tale of the Rockspring Wonder)
Once upon a time there was a boy
who lived — the only child of a poor forester —
within a woodland solitude. He knew
besides his parents hardly any other people.
His build was slender,
his skin almost transparent.
One could look long into his eyes:
they treasured deepest spirit wonders.
And though indeed few people entered
the circle of his life,
he never was in need of friends.
When in the nearby mountains
the golden sunlight glowed and glimmered,
the boy's rapt, musing eye drew forth
the spirit gold into his soul
until his heart resembled
the morning brightness of the sun. —
But when through darkening clouds
the morning sunrays could not pierce
and dreariness hung over mountain heights,
the boy's eye, too, grew dull;
a mood of sadness filled his heart. —
The spirit weaving of his narrow world
took hold of him so fully
that it was no less strange to him
than were his body and his limbs.
The trees and flowers of the woods
were all his friends:
there spoke to him from crown and calyx
and from the lofty tree-tops spirit beings
and what they whispered, he could understand. —
Such wondrous things of worlds unknown
unlocked themselves before the boy
whenever his soul conversed
with what most people would regard as lifeless.
At evening his anxious parents
from time to time missed their beloved child. —
The boy was at a spot nearby
where from the rocks a spring burst forth,
and waterdrops, dispersing thousandfold,
were scattered over stones.
When moonlight's silver glance,
in sparkling colours' sorcery,
was mirrored in the water's misty spray,
the boy could sit for hours on end
beside the rock-born spring.
And figures, formed by spirit-magic,
arose before his youthful vision
in rushing water and in moonlight's glimmer.
They grew into three women's forms
who told him of those things
toward which his soul's desire was turned. —
And when upon a gentle summer night
the boy was sitting at the spring again,
one woman of the three caught up a myriad of drops
out of the glittering spray
and gave them to the second woman.
She fashioned from the tiny drops
a chalice with a silver gleam
and passed it to the third.
She filled it with the moonlight's silver rays
and gave it to the boy,
who had beheld all this
with youthful inner sight. —
Now in the night
which followed this event,
he dreamed that he was robbed
by a fierce dragon of the chalice.
After this night the boy beheld
just three times more the wonder of the spring.
Henceforth the women came no more
although the boy sat musing
beside the rock-born spring in moonlight's silver sheen.
And when three hundred sixty weeks
had run their course three times,
the boy had long become a man
and left his parents' home and forest country
to live in a strange city.
One evening, tired from the day's hard toil,
he pondered on what life had still in store for him,
and suddenly he felt himself a boy,
caught up and carried to his rock-born spring.
Again he could behold the water-women
and this time heard them speak.
The first one said to him:
Remember me at any time
you feel alone in life.
I lure man's eye of soul
to starry spaces and ethereal realms.
And whosoever wills to feel me,
I offer him the draught of hope in life
out of my wonder goblet. —
And then the second spoke:
Do not forget me at the times
when courage in your life is threatened.
I lead man's yearning heart
to depths of soul and up to spirit heights.
And whosoever seeks his strength from me,
for him I forge the steel of faith in life,
shaped by my wonder hammer. —
The third one could be heard:
To me lift up your eye of spirit
when your life's riddles overwhelm you.
I spin the threads of thought that lead
through labyrinths of life and the abyss of soul.
And whosoever harbours trust in me,
for him I weave the living rays of love
upon my wonder loom. —
Thus it befell the man,
and in the night that followed this
he dreamed a dream:
a savage dragon prowled
in circles round about him, —
and yet could not come near him.
He was protected from that dragon by
the beings he had seen beside the rock-born spring
and who with him had left his home
for this far-distant place.
It seems to me that the world of fairy tales can quite rightfully be placed between the external world and everything that in past times man, with his early clairvoyance, could see in the spiritual world; with everything, too, that he can still behold today if, by chance, either through certain abnormal propensities or through a trained clairvoyance, he can raise himself to the spiritual world. Between the world of spirit and the world of outer reality, of intelligence, of the senses, it is the world of the fairy tale that is the most fitting connecting link. It would seem necessary to find an explanation for this position of the fairy tale and the fairy tale mood between these other two worlds.
It is extraordinarily difficult to create the bridge between these spheres, but I realized that a fairy tale itself could construct it. Better than all the theoretical explanations, a simple fairy tale really seems to build this bridge, a tale that one could tell something like this:
Once upon a time there was a poor boy who owned nothing but a clever cat. The cat helped him win great riches by persuading the King that her master possessed an estate so huge, so remarkably beautiful that it would amaze even the King himself. The clever cat brought it about that the King set forth and traveled through several astonishing parts of the country. Everywhere he went, he heard — thanks to the cat's trickery — that all the great fields and strange buildings belonged to the poor boy.
Finally, the King arrived at a magnificent castle, but he came a bit late (as often happens in fairy tales), for it was just the time when the Giant Troll, who was the actual owner of this wonderful place, was returning home from his wanderings over the earth, intending to enter his castle.
The King was inside looking at all its wonders, and so the clever cat stretched herself out in front of the entrance door, for the King must not suspect that everything belonged to the Giant Troll. It was just before dawn that the Giant arrived home and the cat began to tell him a long tale, holding him there at the front door to listen to it. She rattled along about a peasant plowing his field, putting on manure, digging it in, going after the seed he wanted to use, and finally sowing the field. In short, she told him such an endless tale that dawn came and the sun began to rise. The wily cat told the Giant to turn around and look at the Golden Maid of the East whom he surely had never seen before. But when he turned to look, the Giant Troll burst into pieces, for that is what happens to giants and is a law they have to conform to: they may not look at the rising sun. Therefore, through the cat's delaying the Giant, the poor boy actually came into possession of the wonderful palace. The clever cat at first had given her master only hope, but finally, with her tricks, also the great castle and the vast estate.
One can say that this simple little tale is extremely significant for its explanation of fairy tale style today. It is really so that when we look at men and women in their earthly development, we can see what most of them are — those who have developed on earth in the various incarnations they have lived through and are now incarnated. Each one is a “poor boy.” Yes, in comparison to earlier historical epochs, today we are fundamentally “poor boys” who possess nothing but a clever cat. We do, however, it's true, have a clever cat, which is our intelligence, our intellect. Everything the human being has acquired through his senses, whatever he now possesses of the outer world through the intelligence limited to the brain, is absolute poverty in comparison to the whole cosmic world and to what man experienced in the ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon epochs. All of us are basically “poor boys,” possessing only our intelligence, something that can exert itself a little in order to promise us some imaginary property. In short, our modern situation is like the boy with the clever cat.
Actually, though, we are not altogether the “poor boy”; that is only in relation to our consciousness. Our ego is rooted in the secret depths of our soul life, and these secret depths are connected with endless worlds and endless cosmic happenings, all of which affect our lives and play into them. But each of us who today has become a “poor boy” knows nothing more of this splendor; we can at best, through the cat, through philosophy, explain the meaning and importance of what we see with our eyes or take in with our other senses. When a modern person wants somehow to speak about anything beyond the sense world, or if he wishes to create something that reaches beyond the sense world, he does it, and has been doing it for several hundred years, by means of art and poetry.
Our modern age, which in many ways is a peculiarly transitional one, points up strongly how men and women fail to escape the mood of being “poor boys,” even when they can produce poetry and art in the sense world. For in our time (1911), there is a kind of disbelief in trying to aim toward anything higher in art than naturalism, the purely external mirroring of outer reality. Who can deny that often today when we look at the glittering art and literature expressing the world of reality, we can hear a melancholy sigh, “Oh, it's only delusion; there's no truth in any of it.” Such a mood is all too common in our time. The King of the fairy tale, who lives in each one of us and has his origin in the spiritual world, definitely needs to be persuaded by the clever cat — by the intelligence given to man — that everything growing out of the imagination and awakened by art is truly a genuine human possession. Man is persuaded at first by the King within him but only for a certain length of time. At some point, and today we are living just at the beginning of such a time, it is necessary for human beings to find once more the entrance to the spiritual, divine world. It is today necessary for human beings, and everywhere we can feel an urgency in them, to rise again toward the spheres of the spiritual world.
There has first, however, to be some sort of bridge, and the easiest of all transitions would be a thoughtful activating of the fairy tale mood. The mood of the fairy tale, even in a quite superficial sense, is truly the means to prepare human souls, such as they are today, for the experience of what can shine into them from higher, supersensible worlds. The simple fairy tale, approaching modestly with no pretension of copying everyday reality but leaping grandly over all its laws, provides a preparation in human souls for once more accepting the divine, spiritual worlds. A rough faith in the divine worlds was possible in earlier times because of man's more primitive constitution, which gave him a certain kind of clairvoyance. But in the face of reality today, this kind of faith has to burst into pieces just as the Giant Troll did. Only through clever cat questions and cat tales, spun about everyday reality, can we hold him back. Certainly, we can spin those endless tales of the clever cat to show how here and there external reality is forced toward a spiritual explanation.
In broad philosophical terms, one can spin out a long- winded answer to this or that question only by referring to the spiritual world. One still keeps all this as a kind of memento from earlier times; with it one can succeed in detaining the Giant for a short time. What is with us from earlier times, however, cannot hold its own against the clear language of reality. It will burst into pieces just as the Giant Troll burst, on looking at the rising sun. But one has to recognize this mood of the bursting Giant. It is something that has a relationship to the psychology of the fairy tale. Because I find it impossible to describe such things theoretically, I can get at this psychology only through observing the nature of the human soul. Let me say the following about it.
Think for a moment how there might appear livingly, imaginatively, before someone's soul what we recently described in the lectures about pneumatosophy, 1Rudolf Steiner, The Wisdom of Man, of the Soul, and of the Spirit, Anthroposophic Press, Inc., Spring Valley, NY, 1971. depicting briefly some details of the spiritual world. In these anthroposophical circles, we certainly speak a good deal about the spiritual world. Before a person's soul, it should come at first as a living imagination. There would be little explicit description, however, if you intended only to describe what urges itself forward toward the soul, even toward the clairvoyant soul. A queer sort of disharmony comes about when one mixes such truths as those about ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon conditions, as described in our last three anthroposophical meetings, 2Rudolf Steiner, Inner Realities of Evolution, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1953. into the dismal, ghostlike thoughts of modern times. Over against those things raised up before the soul, one is aware of man's narrow limits. Those secrets of divine worlds have to be grasped, it would seem, by something in us resembling a troll. A swollen, troll-like giant is what one becomes when trying to catch hold of the pictures of the spiritual world. Before the rising sun, then, one has voluntarily to let the pictures burst in a certain way in order for them to be in accord with the mood of modern times. But you can hold something back; you can hold back just what the “poor boy” held back. For our immediate, present-day soul to be left in possession of something, you need the transformation, the matter-of-fact transformation, of the gigantic content of the world of the imagination into the subtlety of the fairy tale mood. Then the human soul will truly feel like the King who has been guided to look at what the soul, this “poor boy” soul, actually does not possess. Nevertheless, it does come into possession of riches when the gigantic Troll bursts into pieces, when one sacrifices the imaginative world in the face of external reality and draws it into the palace that one's phantasy is able to erect.
In former times, the phantasy of the “poor boy” was nourished by the world of the imagination, but in view of today's soul development this is no longer possible. If, however, we first of all give up the whole world of the imagination and press the whole thing into the subtle mood of the fairy tale, which does not rely on everyday reality, something can remain to us in the fairy tale phantasy that is deep, deep truth. In other words, the “poor boy,” who has nothing but his cat, the clever intellect, finds in the fairy tale mood just what he needs in modern times to educate his soul to enter the spiritual world in a new way.
It therefore seems to me from this point of view to be psychologically right that Capesius, educated so completely in the modern world of ideas, though certainly with quite a spiritual regard for this world, should come to the realm of the fairy tale as something new that will open for him a genuine relationship to the occult world. So there had to be something like a fairy tale written into the scene to form a bridge for Capesius between the world of external reality and the world into which he was to plunge, beholding himself in an earlier incarnation.
What has just been described as a purely personal remark about the reason I had for putting the fairy tale at this very place in the drama coincides with what we can call the history of how fairy tales arose in mankind's development. It agrees wonderfully with the way that fairy tales appeared in human lives. Looking back into earlier epochs of human development, we will find in every prehistoric folk a certain primitive kind of clairvoyance, a capacity to look into the spiritual world. Therefore, we must not only distinguish the two alternating conditions of waking and sleeping in those early times, with a chaotic transition of dream as well, but we must assume in these ancient people a transition between waking and sleeping that was not merely a dream; on the contrary, it was the possibility of looking into reality, living with a spiritual existence. A modern man, awake, is in the world with his consciousness, but only with his sentient consciousness and with his intelligence. He has become as poor as the boy who had nothing but a clever cat. He can also be in the spiritual world in the night, but then he is asleep and is not conscious of it. Between these two conditions, early man had still a third, which conjured something like magnificent pictures before his soul. He lived then in a real world, one that a clairvoyant who has attained the art of clairvoyance also experiences as a world of reality, but not dreamlike or chaotic. Still, ancient man possessed it to such a degree that he could encompass his imaginations with conscious clarity. He lived in these three different conditions. Then, when he felt his soul widening out into the spiritual cosmos, finding its connection with spiritual beings of another kind close to the hierarchies, close to the spiritual beings living in the elements, in earth, water, air, and fire, when he felt his whole being widening out from the narrow limits of his existence, it must have been for him, in these in-between conditions, like the Giant who nevertheless burst into pieces when the sun rose and he had to wake up.
These descriptions are not at all unrealistic. Because today one no longer feels the full weight of words, you might think the words “burst into pieces” are put there more or less carelessly, just as a word often is merely added to another. But the bursting into pieces actually describes a specific fact. There came to the ancient human being, after he had felt his soul growing out into the entire universe and then, with the coming of the Golden Maid of the Morning, had had to adapt his eyes to everyday reality, there came to him the everyday reality like a painful blow thrusting away what he had just seen. The words really describe the fact.
But within us there is a genuine King, which is a strong and effective part of our human nature; he would never let himself be prevented from carrying something into our world of ordinary reality out of that world in which the soul has its roots. What is thus carried into our everyday world is the projection or reflection of experience; it is the world of phantasy, a real phantasy, not the fantastic, which simply throws together a few of the rags and tatters of life, but it is true phantasy, which lives deep in the soul and which can be urged out of there into every phase of creating. Naturalistic phantasy goes in the opposite direction from genuine phantasy. Naturalistic phantasy picks up a motif here and a motif there, seeks the patterns for every kind of art from everyday reality and stitches these rags of reality together like patchwork. This is the one and only method in periods of decadent art.
With the kind of phantasy that is the reflection of true imagination, there is something at work of unspecified form, not this shape nor that, and not yet aware of what the outer forms will be that it wants to create. It feels urged on by the material itself to create from within outward. There will then appear, like a darkening of the light-process, what inclines itself in devotion to external reality as image-rich, creatively structured art. It is exactly the opposite process from the one so often observed in today's art work. From an inner center outward everything moves toward this true phantasy, which stands behind our sense reality as a spiritual fact, an imaginative fact. What comes about is phantasy-reality, something that can grow and develop lawfully out of divine, spiritual worlds into our own reality, the lawful possession, one can say, of the poor lad — modern man — limited as he is to the poverty of the outer sense world.
Of all the forms of literature the fairy tale is certainly least bound to outer reality. If we look at sagas, myths, and legends, we will find features in all of them that follow only supersensible laws, but these are actually immersed in the laws of external reality as they leave the spiritual and go into the outside world just as the source material, historical or history-related, is connected to a historical figure. Only the fairy tale does not allow itself to be manipulated around real figures; it stays quite free of them. It can use everything it finds of ordinary reality and has always used it. Therefore, it is the fairy tale that is the purest child of ancient, primitive clairvoyance; it is a sort of return payment for that early clairvoyance. Let old Sober-sides, the pedant who never gets beyond his academic point of view, fail to perceive this. It doesn't matter; he needn't perceive it. The simple fact is that for every truth he hears, he asks, “Does it agree with reality?”
A person like Capesius is searching above everything else for truth. He finds no satisfaction in the question, “Does it agree with reality?” For he tells himself, “Is a matter of truth completely explained when you can say that it accords with the external world?” Things can really be true, and true and true again, as well as correct, and correct and ever correct, and still have as little relationship to reality as the truth of the little boy sent to buy rolls from the village baker. He figured out correctly that he would get five rolls for his ten kreuzers, but his figuring did not accord with reality; he practiced the same kind of thinking as the pedant who philosophizes about reality. You see, in that village, if you bought five rolls, you got an extra one thrown in — nothing to do with philosophy or logic, just plain reality.
In the same way Capesius is not interested in the question of how this or that idea or concept accords with reality. He asks first what the human soul perceives when it forms for itself a certain concept. The human soul, for one thing, perceives in mere external, everyday reality nothing more than emptiness, dryness, the tendency in itself continually to die. That is why Capesius so often needs the refreshment of Dame Felicia's fairy tales, needs exactly what is least true to outer reality but has substance that is real and is not necessarily true in the ordinary sense of the word. This substance of the fairy tale prepares him to find his way into the occult world.
In the fairy tale, there is something left to us humans that is like a grandchild of the clairvoyant experience of ancient human beings. It is within a form that is so lawful that no one who allows it to pour into his soul demands that its details accord with external reality. In fairy tale phantasy the poor boy, who has only a clever cat, has really also a palace obtruding directly into external reality. For every age, therefore, fairy tales can be a wonderful, spiritual nourishment. When we tell a child the right fairy tale, we enliven the child's soul so that it is led toward reality without always remaining glued to concepts true to everyday logic; such a relationship to reality dries up the soul and leaves it desolate. On the other hand, the soul can stay fresh and lively and able to penetrate the whole organism if, perceiving in the lawful figures of a fairy tale what is real in the highest sense of the word, it is lifted up far above the ordinary world. Stronger in life, comprehending life more vigorously, will be the person who in childhood has had fairy tales working their way into his soul.
For Capesius, fairy tales stimulate imaginative knowledge. What works and weaves from them into his soul is not their content, not their plot, but rather how they take their course, how one motif moves into the next. A motif may induce certain powers of soul to strive upward, a second motif persuades other powers to venture downward, still others will induce the soul forces to mingle and intertwine upward and downward. It is through this that Capesius' soul comes into active movement; out of his soul will then emerge what enables him finally to see into the spiritual world. For many people, a fairy tale can be more stimulating than anything else. We will find in those that originated in earlier times motifs that show elements of ancient clairvoyance. The first tales did not begin by someone thinking them out; only the theories of modern professors of folklore explaining fairy tales begin like that. Fairy tales are never thought out; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had that power. What was seen in a dream was told as a story — for instance, “Puss in Boots,” one version of which I have just related. All the fairy tales in existence are thus the last remnants of that original clairvoyance. For this reason, a genuine fairy tale can be created only when — consciously or unconsciously — an imagination is present in the soul of the teller, an imagination that projects itself into the soul. Otherwise, it is not a true fairy tale. Any sort of thought-out tale can never be genuine. Here and there today, when a real fairy tale is created, it arises only because an ardent longing has awakened in the writer toward those ancient times mankind lived through so long ago. The longing exists, although sometimes it creeps into such secret soul crevices that the writer fails to recognize in what he can create consciously how much is rising out of these hidden soul depths, and also how much is disfigured by what he creates out of his modern consciousness.
Here I should like to point out the following. Nothing put into poetic form can actually ever be grounded in truth unless it turns essentially to such a longing — a longing that has to be satisfied and that longs for the ancient clairvoyant penetration into the world, or unless it can use a new, genuine clairvoyance that does not need to reveal itself completely but can flash up in the hidden depths of the soul, casting only a many-hued shadow. This relationship still exists. How many people today still feel the necessity of rhyme? Where there is rhyme, how many people feel how necessary it is? Today there is that dreadful method of reciting poetry that suppresses the rhyme as far as possible and emphasizes the meaning, that is, whatever accords with external reality. But this element of poetry — rhyme — belongs to the stage of the development of language that existed at the time when the aftereffects of the ancient clairvoyance still prevailed.
Indeed, the end-rhyme belongs to the peculiar condition of soul expressing itself since man entered upon his modern development through the culture of the intellectual or feeling soul (Verstandes- oder Gemütsseele). Actually, the time in which the intellectual or feeling soul arose in men in the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch (747 B.C. to 1413 A.D.) is just the time when in poetry the memory dawned of earlier times that reach back into the ancient imaginative world. This dawning memory found its expression in the regular formation of the end- rhyme for what was lighting up in the intellectual or feeling soul; it was cultivated primarily by what developed in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch.
On the other hand, wherever the culture of the fourth epoch had penetrated, there was an incomparable refreshment through the effects of Christianity and the Mystery of Golgotha. It was this that poured into the European sentient soul. In the northern reaches of Europe, the culture of the sentient soul had remained in a backward state, waiting for a higher stage, the intellectual soul culture that advanced from the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. This took place over the whole period of the fourth epoch and beyond, in order that what had developed in Central and Southern Europe, and in the Near East, could enter into the ancient sentient soul culture of Central Europe. There it could absorb the strength of will, the energy of will that comes to expression chiefly in the sentient soul culture. Thus, we see the end-rhyme regularly at home in the poetry of the South, and for the culture of the will that has already taken up Christianity, the other kind of rhyme — alliteration — as the appropriate mode of expression. In the alliterations of Northern and Central Europe we can feel the rolling, circling will pouring into the culture of the fourth epoch at its height, the culture of the intellectual or feeling soul.
It is astonishing that poets who want to bring to life, out of primeval soul forces in themselves, the memory of some primeval force in a particular sphere sometimes point back to the past in a quite haphazard fashion. This is the case with Wilhelm Jordan. 3Wilhelm Jordan (1819-1904), Nibelungen, Canto One, Sigfridsage. In his Nibelungen he wished to renew the ancient alliterations, and he achieved a remarkable effect as he wandered about like a bard, trying to resurrect the old mode of expression. People did not quite know what to make of it, because nowadays, in this intellectual time of ours, they think of speech as an expression only of meaning. People listen for the content of speech, not the effect that the sentient soul wants to obtain with alliteration, or that the intellectual soul wants to achieve with the end-rhyme. The consciousness soul really can no longer use any kind of rhyme; a poet today must find other devices.
Fräulein von Sivers [Marie Steiner] will now let us hear a short example of alliteration that will characterize how the artist, Wilhelm Jordan, wished to bring about the renewal of ancient modes.
Und es nahten die Nomen, von niemand gesehen,
Zu geräuschlosem Reigen und machten die Runde
Um diese Verlobten. Ein leiser Lufthauch,
Das war die Meinung der Minneberauschten,
Winde sich murmelnd herein zum Kamine;
Doch hinunter zur Nachtwelt, zu Nibelheims Tiefen,
Und hinauf zu den Wolken zu Walhalls Bewohnern
Erklang nun für andere als irdische Ohren
Vernehmlich wie Seesturm der Nomen Gesang:
Dein eigen ist alles,
Dein Heil wie dein Unheil,
Dein Wollen und Wähnen,
Dein Sinnen und Sein.
Wohl kommen, gekettet
In ewige Ordnung
Die Larven des Lebens,
Die Scharen des Scheins.
Sie ziehen die Zirkel,
Sie zeigen die Ziele,
Sie impfen den Abscheu,
Sie wecken den Wunsch;
Doch dein ist das Dünken,
Und wie du geworden,
So wirst du dich wenden,
Wir wissen die Wahl.
Rough English Translation
And the Norns then came nearer but no one could see them;
In soft silent steps they circled and swayed
Around the Betrothed — who, burning with love,
Thought a breath of sweet air was blowing about them;
While down to the night-world, in Nibelheim's nethermost,
And high in the heav'ns to the hosts of Valhalla
The Norns sang their song, for other than earth-ears
As clear as the clamorous raging of sea storms:
All is thine own:
Thy healing or hating,
Desires or delusions,
Thy thought and thy life.
Chained will come, cheerless,
In order eternal,
The hosts of the hidden,
The Larva of Life.
They mark out their measures,
They forecast fulfillment,
They implant raging passion,
Awaken the will.
Yet thine is the thinking,
The fashioning, forming,
The testing and turning:
We challenge thy choice.
Wilhelm Jordan really did bring the alliteration to life when he recited his poetry, but it is something that a modern person no longer can relate to completely. In order to agree sympathetically with what Jordan proposed as a kind of platform for his intentions, 4In the 1925 German edition of this lecture there is the following footnote: “Translated into the language of spiritual science, one could say that Jordan wished instinctively to revive for the consciousness soul as poetry what the sentient soul had earlier developed quite naturally.” one has to experience those ancient times imaginatively in those of the present. It is much like bringing to mind all the happenings of these last few days in our auditorium in the Architektenhaus during the Annual Meeting, 5December 10, 1911. Discussions took place on December 12, 14, 15. and perceiving them shrouded in astral currents that make visible what was spoken there. Then one can also discover that what in these days repeatedly played into our efforts for knowledge and understanding is the pictorial expression of a Jordan idea; that is, one could rightly understand what he set up as a kind of program to revive a mood that had held sway in the old Germanic world:
... der Sprache Springquell ...
Bedarf nur der Leitung, um lauter und lieblich
Mit rauschendem Redestrom bis zum Rande
Der Vorzeit Gefäße wieder zu füllen
Und new zu verjüngen nach tausend Jahren
Die wundergewaltige uralte Weise
Der deutschen Dichtkunst.
(The source of speech requires only guidance to fill again to the brim the ancient vessels with rushing streams of verse, sonorous and beautiful; and after a thousand years to bring anew to life the wonder and the power of the ancient German art of poetry.)
But to attain this goal, an ear is needed that can perceive the sounds of speech. This belongs intrinsically to the imaginations of the ancient clairvoyant epoch, for it was then that the feeling for sounds originated. But what is a speech sound? It is itself an imagination, an imaginative idea.
As long as you say Licht (light) and Luft (air) and can think only of the brightness of the one and the wafting movement of the other, you have not yet an imagination. But the words themselves are imaginations. As soon as you can feel their imaginative power, you will perceive in a word like Licht, with the vowel sound “ee” predominating, a radiant, unbounded brightness; in Luft, with its vowel sound “oo,” a wholeness, an abundance. Because a ray of light is a thin fullness and the air an abundant fullness, the alliterating “I” expresses the family relationship of fullness. It is not unimportant whether you put together words that alliterate, such as Licht and Luft, or do not alliterate; it is not unimportant whether you string together the names of brothers or whether you put them together in such a way that the hearer or reader feels that cosmic will has brought them together, as in Gunther, Gemot, Giselher. Such an ancient imagination the sentient soul could perceive in the alliteration.
In the end-rhyme the intellectual soul could recognize itself as part of the ancient imagination. When language is made alive, its effects can be felt in the soul even into our dreams, where it can secrete certain imaginations for a person to become aware of in dream. These imaginations appear also to clairvoyance, correctly characterizing, for instance, the four elements. It does not always hold good, but if someone truly feels what, for example, Licht and Luft are, and lets this enter into a dream, there often blossoms out of the dream-fantasy something that can lead to a characterization of those elements, light and air. Human beings will not become aware of the secrets of language until it is led back to its origin, led back, in fact, to imaginative perception. Language actually originated in the time when man was not yet a “poor boy” but also when man had not yet a clever cat. In a way, he still lived attached to the Giant, imagination, and out of the Giant's limbs he was aware of the audible imagination imbuing each sound. When a tone is laid hold of by the imagination, then the sound originates, the actual sound of speech.
These are the things I wanted to bring to you today, in a rather unpretentious and disconnected way, in order to show how we must bring to life again what mankind once lost but that has been rescued for our time. Just as Capesius wins his way to it, we must win it back, so that human beings can grow rightly into the era just ahead of us and find their way into higher worlds, thus truly to participate in them.