Novalis, 1772 - 1801

Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, better-known by his pseudonym Novalis, was a German poet, novelist, essayist, and philosopher.  His intuitive, pietistic, purposefully philosophical poetry and prose influenced New England Transcendentalists such as Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Freeman Clarke, Theodore Parker, George Ripley, Frederic Henry Hedge, and especially Margaret FullerW. T. Harris honored Novalis in his Journal of Speculative Philosophy by choosing a quotation from him as the journal's motto: "Philosophy can bake no bread, but she can procure for us God, Freedom, and Immortality."
Novalis has been written about as follows by Octavius Brooks Frothingham, the first historian of American Transcendentalism.
Of Novalis [Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg], scarcely more than a name to Americans, the same oracle speaks thus: "The aim of Novalis' whole philosophy is to preach and establish the majesty of reason, in the strict philosophical sense; to conquer for it all provinces of human thought, and everywhere resolve its vassal understanding into fealty, the right and only useful relation for it.  How deeply these and the like principles (those of the Kantean philosophy) had impressed themselves on Novalis, we see more and more the further we study his writings.  Naturally a deep, religious, contemplative spirit, purified also by harsh affliction, and familiar in the 'Sanctuary of Sorrow,' he comes before us as the most ideal of all idealists.  For him the material creation is but an appearance, a typical shadow in which the Deity manifests himself to man.  Not only has the unseen world a reality, but the only reality; the rest being not metaphorically, but literally and in scientific strictness, 'a show'; in the words of the poet:

'Sound and smoke overclouding the splendor of heaven.'

The invisible world is near us; or rather, it is here, in us and about us; were the fleshly coil removed from our soul, the glories of the unseen were even now around us, as the ancients fabled of the spheral music.  Thus, not in word only, but in truth and sober belief he feels himself encompassed by the Godhead; feels in every thought that 'in Him he lives, moves, and has his being.'"