The years passed slowly by, and deeds and works advanced laboriously to their goal, one after the other—a goal that seemed as little mine as the deeds and works seemed to be what they are called. To me they were merely holy symbols, and everything brought me back to my one Beloved, who was the mediatrix between my dismembered ego and the one eternal and indivisible humanity; all existence was an uninterrupted divine service of solitary love.
Finally I became conscious that it was now nearly over. The brow was no longer smooth and the locks were becoming gray. My career was ended, but not completed. The best strength of life was gone, and still Art and Virtue stood ever unattainable before me. I should have despaired, had I not perceived and idolized both in you, gracious Madonna, and you and your gentle godliness in myself.
Then you appeared to me, beckoning with the summons of Death. An earnest longing for you and for freedom seized me; I yearned for my dear old fatherland, and was about to shake off the dust of travel, when I was suddenly called back to life by the promise and reassurance of your recovery.
Then I became conscious that I had been dreaming; I shuddered at all the significant suggestions and similarities, and stood anxiously by the boundless deep of this inward truth.
Do you know what has become most obvious to me as a result of it all? First, that I idolize you, and that it is a good thing that I do so. We two are one, and only in that way does a human being become one and a complete entity, that is, by regarding and poetically conceiving himself as the centre of everything and the spirit of the world. But why poetically conceive, since we find the germ of everything in ourselves, and yet remain forever only a fragment of ourselves?
And then I now know that death can also be felt as beautiful and sweet. I understand how the free creature can quietly long in the bloom of all its strength for dissolution and freedom, and can joyfully entertain the thought of return as a morning sun of hope.
It has often struck my mind how extraordinary it is that sensible and dignified people can keep on, with such great seriousness and such never-tiring industry, forever playing the little game in perpetual rotation—a game which is of no use whatever and has no definite object, although it is perhaps the earliest of all games. Then my spirit inquired what Nature, who everywhere thinks so profoundly and employs her cunning in such a large way, and who, instead of talking wittily, behaves wittily, may think of those naive intimations which refined speakers designate only by their namelessness.
And this namelessness itself has an equivocal significance. The more modest and modern one is, the more fashionable does it become to put an immodest interpretation upon it. For the old gods, on the contrary, all life had a certain classic dignity whereby even the immodest heroic art is rendered lifelike. The mass of such works and the great inventive power displayed in them settles the question of rank and nobility in the realm of mythology.