Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

FROM   BAHR   TO   DEHMEL                          105

stories, Michael Schonherrs Liebesfruhlhig (1904) and Der Messias-

(1906), there is entertaining literary satire and something
of Gottfried Keller's spirit.

One striking feature of the naturalists5 campaign for a regener-
ated literature was that they gave full acknowledgment to two
poets of the older generation, both former officers - MARTIN GREIF
(1839-1911) and HEINRICH VON REDER (1824-1909). Both contri-
buted to Die Gesellschaft. In Heinrich von Reder's poems (Feder-
<%eichmmgen> 1885; L^nsches Skimpy nbuch9 1893), particularly in the
vignettes of hunting experiences, there is a realistic element, but
what seemed to bring them close to the new ideals for verse was
the hinted secondary meaning, the symbol of human sorrow in
the aspect of nature presented, or in the fate of bird or beast; and
it is just this flash of vision together with a gem-like perfection of
form which still delights in the verse (Gedichte^ 1868; final edition
1895 ; Neue ~Lieder und Mtiren, 1902) of Martin Greif, as in his Der
Geworbene^ a wistful epitome of what it means to be a soldier:

Sie gruben eirnn Soldaten eh?,
sie trommelten, prasentierten,
sie schossen ihm ins Grab hinein^
die Degen salutierten :
6Leb wohl, Kamrad, leb wohlT

Und wie ih??i nacb die Trommel schlug^

dem Kriegsmann in der Erden,

da schwur der Rnab, der*s Kreu^ ihm trug>

auch ein Soldat %u werden :

'Woblan, O Rnab, mblanT

What touches the heart here is the contrast - not expressed but
hovering in the air so to speak - of the chorister solemnly bearing
his Cross, the ceremonial of church and army, the nation's need of
the boy's desire and the pathos of it. And all this human feeling
expressed with no pretence of poignancy - rather with an old
soldier's weathered hardness - informs the lyrics of a book which
shocked and delighted (much as Kipling's RarrackrKoom Ballads
did in their day in England) the few who read it (23 copies were
sold in two years!) - the Adjutantenritte (1883) of Freiherr DETLEV
VON LILIENCRON (1844-1909). Born (as a Danish subject) at Kiel,
he belonged to an ancient stock of barons, whose rich estates had