Germany (1772 - 1801) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic : Romantic
Christian : Protestant
Poems by Novalis
Books - Links
As his title suggests, the future Baron von Hardenberg was born into a noble German family in lower Saxony. He was sent to a religious school as a boy, but he balked at the strict atmosphere. He later lived with his uncle who introduced him to the French literature and rational philosophy.
In the 1790s, the ideas of the French Revolution spread among idealistic intellectual circles throughout Europe, greatly inspiring the young Novalis. He was also deeply moved by reading the mystical philosophical writings of Goethe.
When Novalis was a young man, he fell in love with a teenaged girl named, appropriately enough, Sophie (the goddess of wisdom, the feminine embodiment of the divine in Western gnostic traditions). His experience of love for the young woman was so deep that it became a transformative, one could say "mystical" experience for the young Novalis. But, sadly, Sophie died two years later.
This loss inspired his Hymns to the Night collection of prose and poetry and aphorisms in praise of the sacred encounters with nature, night, sleep, and the magnetic connection between the masculine and the feminine.
He died at the age of 29 of tuberculosis.
Novalis was one of the early German Romantics, and he is sometimes referred to as "the prophet of the Romantics."
Poems by Novalis
- Over I journey
- The youth thou art who ages long hast stood
- Uplifted is the stone
- When Geometric Diagrams...
A good, brief biography.
Some translated writings by Novalis, an article on Novalis by Thomas Carlisle, and links.
The Novalis Society
German-language site with extensive information on Novalis.
Novalis: Hymns to the Night
The full text of Hymns to the Night in English.