Hesse on Death

We fear death, we shudder at life’s instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts we know that we, too, are transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something last longer than we do.

-Narcissus and Goldmund


Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation.

-Letter, 1950


I have been researching for my essay on mourning and after a 16 hour research bender yesterday I have subsequently had enough of Freud, Lacan and Derrida. And Jonathan Dollimore. And Judith Butler, who crops up e v e r y w h e r e. So I thought I’d check out what one of my all time favourite poets, writers and philosophers had to say on the matter of death. I am totally blown away. Everything that Hermann Hesse writes is just phenomenal, inspiring, intriguing, profound. I honestly feel so inspired right now. What a legend!

Happy Saturday everyone! xx


  1. Hi, I was just reading through the first two or three posts on your blog after finding you through another blog that I follow (Inside my crazy world). I enjoyed what I was reading and was just about to leave a comment on your “Casual Crazy” post when I scrolled down and noticed this post.
    And how could I not leave a comment on this post? There have been times when I have been convinced that perhaps I imagined Hermann Hesse myself because most of the time whenever I have mentioned him to people I am met with blank stares. So, I am very happy to find that there is someone else who adores him just as much as I do.
    The first book I ever read myself, apart from what I was made to read at school, was when I was about 21. Someone gave me a box full of books and the first book I pulled out of the box was Steppenwolf and it literally blew my mind and changed my life for ever. I have since read most of his books and actually just as I read the quote from “Narcissus and Goldmund” it all came flooding back, I remember that book being a particular favourite of mine at the time. It’s been quite a few years since I have read any Hermann Hesse but I still consider myself a devotee. In fact through him I went on to read many other amazing poets and authors that I knew he was influenced by such as Goethe. I also noticed that you were reading “The Glass Bead Game”, did you finish it I wonder?
    I am aware that I may now be starting to appear like an eccentric rambling fool so I will soon finish this comment, although I could quite happily type forever. I think I will also go back to your “Casual Crazy” post and leave a comment, which was my original intention, as I myself can relate to what you were saying as I spent many years trapped in mental health services under some kind of section or other. But first I must go back to the blog from which I found your blog because she needs some words that might make sense for her at the moment. But finally may I leave you with a quote also regarding death by another of my favourite poets Mr. Walt Whitman, which is in many ways very different to the first Hesse quote, although that quote is from the point of view of the character Goldmund, your second Hesse quote is closer to this one by Whitman.


    Gliding o’er all, through all,
    Through Nature, Time, and Space,
    As a ship on the waters advancing,
    The voyage of the soul—not life alone,
    Death, many deaths I’ll sing.

    Sorry for leaving such a long comment, but it does seem to be in my nature to do so.
    Be happy,

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