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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

108                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

effective words from everyday life (such as Bureau, Zigaretten, Ein-

glas) previously regarded as too tawdry for the purpose. The second

main element of his style is what is now interpreted as impression-

ism: Liliencron gives, not (like the naturalists) a drab section of a

continuous state, but momentary, very vivid impressions of some-

thing unusual, or a series of such impressions with everything

unnecessary eliminated. The difference is that between a photo-

graph and a film; the naturalists freeze life, Liliencron shows it in

flashes of movement. This verbal magic is enhanced by other

qualities, above all by his delightful rough humour, which .may

come out in a juggling with words (Tigert er aufdich heraus, \ Tat^

ihn! me die Kat^ die Maus\ or in a startling pretence of coarseness

(Das war der Konig ULagnar, \ Der lebtefromm undfrei. \ Er truggepichte

Hosen, \ Wie seine Leichtmatrosen, \ Die rochen nicht nach Rosen, \ Das

war ihm einerlei)\ he is a master, too, of sound-painting (die Quelk

klungklingklangf] and of metaphor (Em Wasser schn>at%t sich selig

durchs Gelande; Es schleicht die Sommernacht auf Kat^enpfoten). His

ballads,1 mostly in the old pattern of rough quatrains, are best

where they deal with historical episodes of his native province;

savage frays and stark revenge is their theme. They may not pull

at the heart-strings, as the best ballads do, but they have that fierce

delight in fighting for its own sake which is the oldest element of

German poetry. Liliencron's waywardness unshapes but lends a

charm to his higgledy-piggledy epic (kunterbuntes Epos'} Poggfred

(1896-1908), in the style and stanza of Byron's Don Juan slowed

down in the more serious parts by ter^a rima. The title is Low

German for 'frog's peace', a pious fiction for the poet's country

mansion (more likely his abode at the time of composition was in

plain lodgings at Altona) ; the poem is a panorama of the memories

and fancies of the poet's life shaped as humorous episodes or

allegorical visions.

Of Liliencron's prose there is little to say, but more than of his
dramas, which are unreadable. His novels2 are written anyhow,
and apart from his Kriegsnovellen (i 894), which often have the literal
truth of experience, even his short stories are negligible; the mass
of them (Am Marsch und Geest, Konige undBauern, ~Koggen und Wei%
all 1900) have too much of the swagger of his famous

1 Collected \x\~Balladencbronik (1906).

2T$mde Hummelsbutte! (1886); Der Macen (1890); Mit dem linken Ellbogen
(1899); L^/z und Luge (1908; with biographical interest).