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this knowledge. The solution to the question posed creativity in 1789, a year so filled with hope: his poem

by this secret knowledge is the creation and reproduc- "The Artists" ("Die Kiinstler") and his inaugural

tion of geniuses; the means of attaining that goal is the address as Professor of History at the University of

poetic principle. The concept of genius, considered Jena, "What Is World History and To What End

from the Neoplatonic standpoint, is the key to under- Should It Be Studied?"

standing the lawfulness of the universe. Seventeen hundred eighty-nine was the year

"The innermost secrets of the art of poetry" ot_ when the successful American Revolution and George

which Schiller spoke, the poetic principle, is the Washington's inauguration filled the minds and hearts

transfinite conception of higher orderings which de- of republican humanists with joy, when the first phase

termine the lawfulness of the universe. It is the poetic of the French Revolution threatened to lead to someprinciple

alone which allows the human mind to thing similar in Germany, so that a humanist republic

attain a quality of thought that corresponds to Plato's could be established there as well. Seventeen hundred

conception of the higher hypothesis, which is, in turn, eighty-nine was the year Schiller's hopes that this

the sole conception adequate to the universe's lawful- political goal could soon be realized ran highest--a

hess. republic that would encourage the unfolding of all of

For Schiller the art of poetry is that sphere in the human species's potential powers--and that this

which reason, through creative synthesis, produces a highest condition could be attained in practice, a

higher unity of existing systems of knowledge. Poetry condition, still lying dormant in man's nature and

is Nicholas ofCusa's Coincidentiaoppositorum,in which powers, that would, allow "the greatest possible freethe

contradictions between spiritual and material dora of the individual along with the greatest flourknowledge,

between Geisteswissenschafiand Naturwis- ishing of the state." The age of reason seemed close at

senschafi, are superseded at a higher level. In this hand; the "Century of Man" seemed about to cornunending

process of perfection, genius's creative ac- mence. And this is precisely how Schiller composed

tivity is the singularity which represents the transition "The Artists," one ofth e greatest poems ever written.

from a given ordering to a higher one. The creative

power of genius is the clearest expression of the "self- How beautifully, O man, with your branch of

subsisting principle," the "free principle in man," palm,

which corresponds to the transfinitely self-expanding You stand on the century's slope,

lawfulness of the universe.

In proud and noble manliness,

Schiller knew this before Beethoven had devel- With open mind, with spirits high,

Stern yet gentle, in active stillness,

oped beforethe Cantor sameand principle Riemannin had his late established string the quartets, same The ripest son of time--

concept for mathematical physics, and before modern Free through reason, strong through

Through meeknessgreat, and rich with

laws,

treasures

plasma physics was able to empirically verify the same

lawfulness in the field of natural science through the Long lain dormant within your breast;

discovery of negentropic processes in plasma. But it is Lord of nature who loves your chains,

also part of the eternal truth of Schiller's knowledge Who tests your strength in countless battles,

that he could assume that in a century or two, "when Whothe under wilderness!* you emerged resplendent from

new revolutions in philosophical thought have come

99 .... e

about, his wrmngs and hxs poetry would becom * Translator's Note: A number of translators have attempted to render

newly and more deeply understood in precisely this "Die K_instler" into the English language, but have failed so miserably

sense. The revolution in philosophical thought antic- that

lines

their

into

results

straitjackets

are scarcely

of meter

readable.

and

Intent

rhyme,

on

they

forcing

convey

Schiller's

neither

supple

the

ipated by Schiller--a revolution whose fruits we are meaning nor the intense musicality of Schiller's verse. Such abominaseeing

today--is sparked by a single universal mind1; tions are responsible for the fact that Schiller's poetry is virtually

and no one has ever been clearer than Schiller about unknownto English-speaking circles today.

For this reason, the translator of this article decided to undertake

those great souls, often produced only once in a an original line-by-line translation of the poem, with the intention of

century by human society, who unite in their living accurately conveying at least the meaning of the poem in nonmetric,

being all the intellectual accomplishments of their unrhymed lines. What this rendering loses in musicality is partially

counterbalanced by running Schiller's original alongside, so that the

epoch, and who enrich every sphere of knowledge reader with some German background may study the poem in greater

through their creative power, depth. Although this is admitted]), not a true "Englishing" of Schiller's

There is probably no better way to acquaint the poem, we trust it will be only the first of many efforts to give Schiller

back to America.

reader with Schiller's intensely rich work than to The historicalsketchessupplementing this articlehave been

single out two products of the 30-year-old Schiller's contributedby JamesCleary andJohn Sigerson.--JohnSigerson

22 June 1980 / CAMPAIGNER

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