Where the world divides lyrics Oysterband twenty

E.T.A. Hoffmann
The elixirs of the devil
E.T.A. Hoffmann

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Foreword by the editor

I would like you, dear reader! under those dark plane trees where I read the strange story of my brother Medardus for the first time. You would sit with me on the same stone bench, half hidden in fragrant shrubs and brightly colored glowing flowers; you would, like me, look longingly at the blue mountains that tower up in strange structures behind the sunny valley that spreads out in front of us at the end of the foliage. But now you turn around and see a Gothic building barely twenty paces behind us, the portal of which is richly decorated with statues. - Through the dark branches of the plane trees, images of saints look right at you with clear, lively eyes; it is the fresh frescoes that are emblazoned on the wide wall. - The sun is glowing red on the mountain, the evening wind rises, life and movement everywhere. Wonderful voices go whispering and rustling through trees and bushes: as if they were rising and rising to singing and organ sound, it sounds from afar. Serious men, in wide-folded robes, walk with their pious gaze raised in silence through the leafy walkways of the garden. Have the saints come to life and come down from the high ledges? - The mysterious showers of the wonderful sagas and legends that are depicted there waft around you, as if everything were happening in front of your eyes, and you may willingly believe in them. In this mood you read the story of Medardus, and even then you may consider the monk's strange visions to be more than the random play of the heated imagination.

Since you, dear reader! If you have just looked at images of saints, a monastery and monks, I can hardly add that it was the wonderful garden of the Capuchin monastery in B. that I took you to.

Once, when I was staying in this monastery for a few days, the venerable prior showed me the papers left by Brother Medardus and kept in the archives as a curiosity, and it was only with difficulty that I overcame the prior's reservations about communicating them to me. Actually, said the old man, these papers should have been burned. - Not without fear, you will agree with the prior, I give you, dear reader! now the book formed from those papers in my hands. But if you decide to go with Medardus, as if you were his loyal companion, through gloomy cloisters and cells - through the colorful, most colorful world and with him to endure the gruesome, horrific, mad, and ridiculous of his life, then you will perhaps delight in the manifold images of the camera obscura that open up to you. - It can also happen that what appears to be shapeless, as soon as you take a closer look at it, soon appears to you clearly and round. You recognize the hidden germ which a dark doom gave birth and which, shot up into a lush plant, grows on and on, in a thousand tendrils, until a blossom, ripening into fruit, attracts all the sap of life and kills the germ itself.

After I diligently read through the papers of the Capuchin Medardus, which was difficult enough for me, since the Blessed had written a very small, illegible monastic handwriting, I also felt as if what we commonly call dream and imagination could well be symbolic knowledge to be the secret thread that runs through our life, tying it tight in all its conditions, as though to be regarded as lost, who believes with that knowledge gained the strength to forcibly tear that thread and take on the dark power, who commands us. Maybe you are, dear reader! like me, and for important reasons I wish that very warmly.


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