Hermann Hesse: “Stages”

This graceful poem by Hermann Hesse offers permission to let our beliefs evolve as we acquire new experiences and capacities. It feels like a good introduction to the new year, and to a hoped-for series of blog posts about how my understanding of Christianity has changed during my shift from a guilt/forgiveness framework to a trauma/recovery framework for organizing my experiences.

Text courtesy of the Poemhunter website, which unfortunately does not give the translator’s name.


As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.

The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slave of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

2 comments on “Hermann Hesse: “Stages”

  1. Andy Winternitz says:

    I think of Peter and Andrew on the Sea of Galilee and Mary’s Magnificat in regards to being ready to be given new and unexpected directions/instruction/epiphany.

    I really enjoyed the way that Herman Hesse and the Stages poem with its “be ready…to find new light” articulate being open to inspiration.

  2. Tom Sorrell says:

    This poem tells me to move on in life and accept the new stages of life. For example, when your kids leave home to go off to college, or after a divorce, or after your dad passes away.

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