Ich grolle?


Taking a popular text from Heine, I would like to set out in some measure my agenda.

Ich grolle nicht, und wenn das Herz auch bricht,
Ewig verlor’nes Lieb! Ich grolle nicht.
Wie du auch strahlst in Diamantenpracht,
Es fällt kein Strahl in deines Herzens Nacht.
Das weiß ich längst.

Ich grolle nicht, und wenn das Herz auch bricht,
Ich sah dich ja im Traum,
Und sah die Nacht in deines Herzens Raum,
Und sah die Schlang’, die dir am Herzen frißt,
Ich sah, mein Lieb, wie sehr du elend bist.

These verses ran through my head briefly during lectures this morning, and I looked to see what it was that was resonating about them. The text is extremely stark, absurdly strong, and very improper; dark sentiments that frighten me rather than attract. Nevertheless, the striking thing about the poem is its evasive nature; the way the slippery Dichter tries to shift the focus away from himself. ‘Ich grolle nich! Ich grolle nicht!’ I am not complaining! Really! She is nasty and is making me think these bad things. It is not my fault, and I am not bitter towards her, even though she does have a black heart. I think though that Heine is pointing us by his repeated denials to the opposite side. He is bitter, and what he is expressing seems to me to be precisely the struggle and confusion of a certain flavour of self-awareness.

Circuitously, the observation is that this double-thinking, self-deceptive way of dealing with our cracks under the plaster is precisely what is occupying me at the moment. Between good character at the bottom and kind actions on the surface, the inner squeeze is on the Bergschrund, the hidden unstable interface between the two.

The interest is personal, trying to understand the taste of events and shade of months in a way that is not often found in books, but also spans the observation of innumerable conversations with shifting feet and tongues at the corner of the mouth; comparing the language and style of authors; and years of diving deeper into real church.

I am tempted to try and fling together a list of concerns or a build a taxonomy of the emotions I have seen or felt, but the issue is too broad. Meta-mumbling is easy, but when I need to give specifics language leaves me short again. What I can perhaps convey is my hope that, rather with looking narrowly at any one tension like depression or isolation, finding a way to express a deeper work in us will bring glory to Jesus.