13/27

It was no pleasure to come to grips with that disorder in myself and try to transform it into order. One thing became clear at once: the benign content in which I had lived with the world had not only been bought at too high a price; it had been just as corrupt as the outer peace of the world. I had believed that through the long, hard battles of youth I had earned my place in the world and that I was now a poet. Meanwhile, success and prosperity had had their usual effect on me, I had become complacent and comfortable, and when I looked carefully the poet was hardly to be distinguished from a writer of cheap fiction. Things had gone too well with me. Now, though, abundant provision was made for heavy going, which is always a good and salutary training, and so I learned more and more to let the business of the world go its way, and I could concern myself with my own share in the confusion and guilt of the whole. To detect this concern in my writings is something I must leave to the reader. And yet I always retained the secret hope that in time my people too, not as a whole but through many alert and responsible individuals, would successfully pass through a similar testing, and in place of laments and curses at the wicked war and the wicked enemy and the wicked revolution, in a thousand hearts the question would arise: How have I myself become a party to this guilt? And how can I regain my innocence? For one can always regain's one's innocence if he acknowledges his suffering and his guilt and suffers to the end instead of trying to lay the blame on others.

 

However, to make up for this, I had even during the war years something like a good star or guardian angel. While I felt myself very much alone with my suffering and, until the beginning of the transformation, hourly felt my fate as accursed and execrated it, my very suffering and my obsession with suffering served me as shield and buckler against the outside world.