Hermann Hesse, Peter Camenzind, translated by W. j. Strachan
As this personal love of nature began to grow in me and I listened to her voice as to a friend and travelling companion who speaks in a foreign language, my melancholy, though not cured, was ennobled and cleansed. My ear and eye became more acute, I learned to grasp subtleties and fine distinctions, and longed to hear the pulsation of life in all its manifestations more clearly and at close quarters - perhaps even to understand and enjoy the gift of expressing it in poetic form so that others also could get closer to it and seek out the springs of all refreshment, purification and childish innocence with deeper understanding. For the time being it remained a wish, a dream. I did not know whether it could ever be fulfilled, and I did what was nearest by loving everything visible and by no longer treating anything around me with scorn of indifference. p.84
I wanted to teach the people to be conscious of the pulse of the earth and take part in the life of the universe; not to forget in the bustle of their petty lives that we are not self-created gods but children belonging to the earth and the cosmic whole. I wanted to remind them that, like the songs of the poets and our dreams, the rivers, oceans, drifting clouds and raging storms are symbols and bearers of our hopes which spread their wings between heaven and earth; whose ultimate goal is the confident certainty of the right of citizenship and immortality of all living creatures.
But I was also eager to teach men to look for springs of joy and rivers of life in a brotherly love of nature. I wanted to preach the art of seeing, walking and enjoying life, of finding happiness in the present; to make it possible for mountains, seas and green islands to convey their message through their mighty and captivating tongues; to open up the view to the infinitely various manifestations of life as they blossomed day by day and overflowed beyond our towns and houses. I wanted to make people feel a sense of shame that we should know more about foreign wars, fashions, gossip, literature and art than about Spring unfolding its vital force outside our towns and the river that flows beneath out bridges and forests, and the lovely meadows traversed by our railways.
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