Saturday, February 09, 2019

Poem Retrospective IX

The Blue Flower is found in Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen, one of the central works of German Romanticism:

"It is not the treasures," said he to himself, "that have awakened in me such unutterable longings. Far from me is all avarice; but I long to behold the blue flower. It is constantly in my mind, and I can think and compose of nothing else. I have never been in such a mood. It seems as if I had hitherto been dreaming, or slumbering into another world; for in the world, in which hitherto I have lived, who would trouble himself about a flower?--I never have heard of such a strange passion for a flower here. I wonder, too, whence the stranger comes? None of our people have ever seen his like; still I know not why I should be so fascinated by his conversation. Others have listened to it, but none are moved by it as I am. Would that I could explain my feelings in words! I am often full of rapture, and it is only when the blue flower is out of my mind, that this deep, heart-felt longing overwhelms me...."

It came to symbolize a kind of longing for the infinite or the beyond, the point where ideal and real are no longer separate, that is most naturally expressed in poetic speech, and yet in some way also exceeds even such expression. Tapio is the old Finnish forest spirit; he is, through his wife Mielikki associated with bears (mead-paws).


The blue flower grows in the realm of Tapio,
where tree-roots deeper than any mountain's grow,
where forest-tops are marching like the sea,
an endless and everlasting sea,
and mead-paws dance in fields untouched by snow
where blossoms flourish whose names nobody knows
on a hill whose name nobody knows.

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