Angelus Silesius is best remembered for his short mystical poetry which expresses his mystic experiences often in seeming paradoxes.
‘O Man, as long as you exist, know, have, and cherish,
You have not been delivered, believe me, of your burden.”
Angelus Silesius was born into a Polish Lutheran family. As a young man he was influenced by the teachings of the German mystic Jacob Boehme. Angelus later left his Lutheran faith to become a Catholic Monk (in 1661). He was drawn to the monastic life because of his inner mystic yearnings.
His two best known books of poetry include ‘ The Soul’s Spiritual Delight’ and The Cherubic Pilgrim.
Angelus was often embroiled in controversy with various Protestant sects that he wrote criticisms of. However despite this his poetry reveals Angelus had a deep spirituality and strong conviction that God could be accessed through love. Angelus also said that God could love nothing inferior to himself and therefore in essence he concluded that God and man are essentially one.
Angelus Silesius was the monastic name he took on becoming a monk. His original name was Johann Scheffler. He was born in 1624 in Breslau and died in 1677.
Selections from The Cherubinic Wanderer
by Angelus Silesius
translated with an introduction by J. E. Crawford Flitch
1 (II. 188)
BEING IS NOT MEASURED
Turn wheresoe’er I will, I find no evidence
of End, Beginning, Centre or Circumference.
2 (I. 263)
GOD NEVER EXPLORETH HIMSELF
The Thought and Deed of Deity
Are of such richness and extent
That It remaineth to Itself
An Undiscovered Continent.
3 (VI. 174)
IN THE SEA MANY ARE ONE
A Loaf holds many grains of corn
And many myriad drops the Sea:
So is God’s Oneness Multitude
And that great Multitude are we.
4 (V. I)
ALL INTO ONE AGAIN
The All proceedeth from the One,
And into One must All regress:
If otherwise, the All remains
5 (I. 25)
GOD IS NOT GRASPED
God is an utter Nothingness,
Beyond the touch of Time and Place:
The more thou graspest after Him,
The more he fleeth thy embrace.
6 (I. 15)
What hath been told of God is not enough for me:
My life and light flow from the Super-Deity.
7 (I. 284)
MAN MUST GO BEYOND ALL KNOWLEDGE
What Cherubs know sufficeth not: beyond their zone
I fain would take my flight unto where nothing’s known.
8 (I. 285)
THE KNOWER MUST BECOME THE KNOWN
Naught ever can be known in God: One and Alone
Is He. To know Him, Knower must be one with Known.
9 (I. 43)
MAN LOVETH EVEN WITHOUT KNOWING
One only Thing I love and know not what it is:
Because I know it not, therefore I’ve chosen this.
10 (V. 41)
MORE KNOWN LESS UNDERSTOOD
The more thou knowest God, the more thou wilt confess
That what He truly is, thou knowest less and less.
11 (I. 178)
THE BLAME IS THINE
If gazing on the Sun endangereth thy sight,
The blame is in thine eyes, and not in that great Light.
12 (I. 294)
GOD IS WITHOUT WILL
We pray: Thy Will be done! and lo! He hath no Will:
God in His changelessness eternally is still.
13 (IV. 166)
THE REST AND WORK OF GOD
Rested God never hath, nor toiled—’tis manifest,
For all His rest is work and all His work is rest.
14 (III. 170)
OF ETERNAL MOTION
The secret of Eternal Motion thou wouldst learn,
I, of Eternal Rest: which is of more concern?
15 (I. 49)
REST IS THE HIGHEST GOOD
Rest is the highest Good. I’d keep both eyes close pressed,
That He might have repose, were God Himself not Rest.
16 (I. 44)
THE SOMETHING MUST BE FORSAKEN
If thou dost love a Something, Man,
Thou lovest naught that doth abide.
God is not This nor That—do thou
Leave Somethings utterly aside.
17 (V. 328)
SIN TROUBLETH NOT GOD
God feeleth pain for sin in thee
As in His son,
But in His Self of Deity
He feeleth none.
18 (V. 16)
THROUGH THEE GOD LOSETH NAUGHT
Choose, Man, which of the twain thou wilt,
Thy self-destruction or thy peace.
Through thee God suffereth no loss,
Neither through thee hath He increase.
19 (V. 34)
GOD LOVETH NAUGHT BUT HIMSELF
God is so dear unto Himself,
Folded in self so utterly,
That He can never cherish love
For anything that is not He.
20 (V. 92)
GOD FORESEETH NOTHING
God foresees nothing—’tis thy dull and blundering sense
Doth clothe Him with the attribute of Providence.
21 (V. 173)
GOD HATH NO THOUGHTS
God thinketh naught. Yea verily,
Were thought in Him, then might He sway
—Which were a thing unthinkable—
Now this way, now the other way.
22 (II. 55)
GOD IS AND LIVETH NOT
God is, but in God-wise. He loves and lives, ’tis true,
But not as I or thou or other beings do.
23 (V. 124)
WHAT IS SPOKEN OF GOD IS MORE FALSE THAN TRUE
Since thou dost measure God by creature qualities,
There’s more of lie than truth in thy theologies.
24 (V. 358)
GOD BECOMES WHAT HE WILLS
Eternal Spirit, God becomes
All that He wills to be—but still
Abideth ever as He is,
Without a form, an aim, a will.
25 (I. 115)
THOU MUST THYSELF BE SUN
I must myself be Sun. I with my beams must dye
The all-uncoloured Sea of the whole Deity.
26 (II. 17)
GOD DENIETH HIMSELF TO NONE
Take, drink, all that thou wilt or canst—’tis given thee free,
Thou hast the whole of Godhead for thy Hostelry.
27 (V. 339)
NO CREATURE FATHOMETH THE GODHEAD
No creature fathometh how deep the Godhead is,
Even the soul of Christ is lost in that Abyss.
28 (IV. 38)
GOD NAUGHT AND ALL
God is a Spirit, a Fire, a Being and a Flame,
And yet again He is not one of all these same.
29 (IV. 1)
GOD BECOMETH WHAT HE NEVER WAS
Here in the midst of Time God doth become what He,
The Unbecome, was not in all Eternity.
30 (II. 245)
THE GODHEAD IS MY MOTHER
God hath begotten me—such my true genesis,
But do thou never ask me who my Mother is.