It seems clear that Marie, the Madonna, is interchangeable in Novalis's mind with Sophie. Is this what Rosemary Redford Reuther means when she describes the Marian cult as the 'spiritual eroticism' of males who, like Schubert, had to struggle in order to reconcile sexuality with religion? The many pictures Novalis has seen of Mary can never equal the inner picture he has of her. After Sophie's death, the idealised lover and the humanised mother of God became one, just as in the poet's mind the profane life of the artist is at one with the sacred love of the priest. Perhaps Schubert, who despised the hypocritical hellfire-threatening clerics he came across, would have agreed with what Novalis wrote about the coming together of two worlds:
'Poet and priest were one in the beginning—only later times have separated them. The true poet is however always a priest, just as the true priest has always remained a poet. Ought not the future to bring back this ancient condition of things?'
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1991