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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

FROM   BAHR   TO   DEHMEL                          109

Liederlich: the bold bad baron comes and conquers some delightful
female or other (peasant wench or princess is all the same) - and
departs.

Liliencron and his immediate followers, such as Gustav Falke
and Otto Julius Bierbaum, were entirely German in tradition; that
is, in essentials their verse continues native styles - in particular
the Volkslied, Heine, Theodor Storm, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer.
Even their 'free rhythms' - e.g. Liliencron's famous rendering of
the last stages of maudlin intoxication, Betnmken - are in the tra-
dition of Heine's North Sea poems, and owe nothing to French
vers libres. GUSTAV FALKE (1853-1916) was a music teacher, and the
influence of popular songs and of strict musical rhythm count for
much in his regular technique. He was born in Liibeck and settled
in Hamburg, and was thus geographically close to the Schleswig-
Holstein group of poets, but the local colouring in his verse1 is
scant; what does distinguish his poetry - after the elegiac playing
with conceptions of death in his first volume and futile attempts
to strike the bold erotic note in the fashion of his entourage - is
gentle praise of the domestic idyll, as in Atts dem Takt. In this
poem, as in others, poignant expression is given to Falke's physical
inability - as a hopelessly decent man so to speak - to launch out
into the lyric libertinage of Liliencron and Bierbaum and the sexual
revolt of Dehmel; and there is always an undertone of disappoint-
ment in his acceptance of old-fashioned feeling and his idealization
of hearth and home. 'Kesignationspoesie7 like that of Theodor Storm;
but resignation brings peace, and after the defiant Nietzschean
assertion of the rights of personality in the verse of his neighbours
to read Falke satisfies some atavistic feeling and cleanses the mind.
This spinner of quiet dreams finds the very stuff of poetry in
evening slippers and flickering firelight (Der Dichter).

It was the reading of Liliencron's work which stimulated Falke
to try his hand in verse. Liliencron encouraged him and, so to
speak, launched him, and they remained close friends. Liliencron's
friendship with another poet, RICHARD DEHMEL (1863-1920), was
as close as that of Goethe with Schiller; and in later life, when
Dehmel had left Berlin to settle in Blankenese, they were neigh-
bours and allies in their war on literary and moral philistinism.

1 Mynheer der Tod (1891); Tew% und A.ndacht (1893); Zwischen %wei Nacbten
(1894); New Fahrt (1897); Mit dem ILeben (1899); Hobe Sommertage (1902);