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 Or, haply, pilgrims from the Fatherland,
Weak, timid, homesick, slow to understand
The New World's promise, sought his helping hand.
Or painful Kelpius,1 from his hermit den
By Wissahickon, maddest of good men,
Dreamed o'er the Chiliast dreams of Petersen.
Deep in the woods, where the small river slid
Snake-like in shade, the Helmstadt Mystic hid,
Weird as a wizard, over arts forbid,
Reading the books of Daniel and of John,
And Behmen's Morninig-Redness, through the Stone
Of Wisdom, vouchsafed to his eyes alone,
Whereby he read what man ne'er read before,
And saw the visions man shall see no more,
Till the great angel, striding sea and shore,
Shall bid all flesh await, on land or ships,
The warning trump of the Apocalypse,
Shattering the heavens before the dread eclipse.
Or meek-eyed Mennonist his bearded chin
Leaned o'er the gate; or Ranter, pure within,
Aired his perfection in a world of sin.
Or, talking of old home scenes, Op der Graaf
Teased the low back-log with his shodden staff,
Till the red embers broke into a laugh
1 Magister Johann Kelpius, a graduate of the University of Helmstadt, came to Pennsylvania in 1694, with a company of German Mystics. They made their home in the woods on the Wissahickon, a little west of the Quaker settlement of Germantown. Kelpius was a believer in the near approach of the Millennium, and was adevout student of the Book of Revelation, and the Morgen-Rothe of Jacob Behmen. He called his settlement ‘The Woman in the Wilderness’ (Das Weib in der Wueste). He was only twenty-four years of age when he came to America, but his gravity, learning, and devotion placed him at the head of the settlement. He disliked the Quakers, because he thought they were too exclusive in the matter of ministers. He was, like most of the Mystics, opposed to the severe doctrinal views of Calvin and even Luther, declaring ‘that he could as little agree with the Damnamus of the Augsburg Confession as with the Anathema of the Council of Trent.’He died in 1704, sitting in his little garden surrounded by his grieving disciples. Previous to his death it is said that he cast his famous ‘Stone of Wisdom’ into the river, where that mystic souvenir of the times of Van Helmont, Paracelsus, and Agrippa has lain ever since, undisturbed.
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