There is really something quite mad about speaking and writing: the proper conversation is a mere play on words. One can only be amazed at the ridiculous mistake that people make when they believe that they are speaking about things. Nobody knows the greatest hallmark of language: that it is concerned only with itself. That is why it is such a wonderful and prolific secret: that when one simply speaks for the sake of speaking, one expresses the most splendid and original truths. But if one wishes to speak of something particular, the capriciousness of language lets one say the most ridiculous and perverted things.
It is from out of this that a hatred of language grows in some serious people. They notice its playfulness, but they do not notice that contemptible chatter is the infinitely serious side of language. If one could only make people understand that what applies to mathematical formulas applies to language - they constitute a world for themselves - they only play with themselves, express nothing other than their own wonderful nature, and precisely for that reason they are so expressive - and that it is precisely for this reason that the strange play of relationships of things mirrors itself in them. Only through their freedom are they members of nature, and only in their free motion does the spirit of the world epxress itself and make them the delicate measure and pattern of things.
The same is true of language: one who has a fine feeling for its application, its tempo, its musical spirit, one who has perceived the delicate operations of its innermost nature and follows them through the movements of her tongue or her hand, such a person will be a prophet. Conversely, one who knows this, but does not have enough of an ear or sense to write truths such as these, will be mocked by language itself and by derided by me, as Cassandra was by the Trojans.
If I believe I have shown in the clearest manner the essence and office of poetry, I nonetheless know that no one will be able to understand me, and I will have said something completely foolish precisely because I wanted to say it at all, and so no poetry comes into being. But what if I had to speak? And what if this impulse to speak were the hallmark of the inspiration of languag, of the effectiveness of language in me? and what if my will only wanted what I had to do? could this not then, in the end, be poetry without my knowledge or my conviction, and so make a secret of language understandable? And would I then be a writer who was called, for a writer is only someone who is possessed by language?
Novalis, Monologue (complete text)