The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXXI. Non-English Writings I

§ 3. John Kelpius

Contemporary with Pastorius, most quaint and curious, are the odes and theosophical writings of John Kelpius and his mystic brotherhood, called The Woman in the Wilderness. Yet more impressive still is their act of awaiting in the American forest the end of the world, forecast to come at the close of the century by the mystic astronomer Zimmermann, who died on the eve of embarkation for the New World in 1693. No hermit in the African desert was ever more sincere in his flight from the world’s temptations or more devout in his communion with the Divine Spirit than Kelpius in his dingy cavern by the banks of the Wissahickon, then beyond the area of settlement. His anxious soul, shedding a mystic brightness upon the gloom of the wilderness, long pleaded in vain to be released from the bonds of the flesh:

  • Tormenting love, O sweetest pain, delay,
  • O delay not longer the blessed day!
  • Speed on the time, let the hour come!
  • Remember the covenant graciously sealed,
  • In faith, to the whole world be it revealed!