FROM BAHR TO DEHMEL IIj Der mite Strom lag stumm undfahl, am 13jer floss em schwankendLicht, die Weiden standen starr und kahl. Ich aber sah dir ins Gesicht undfuhlte deinen Atem flehn und deine Augen nach mir schrein und - eine Andre vor mir stehn und heiss aufschluch^en: Ich bin dein I The fourth stanza returns to the landscape (as the boat touches shore the black, trembling image of the rigid willows fades in the grey water), so that what we get is a moment's tense drama set in a mysterious and haunting glimpse of a dark landscape. The inspiration of the poem was what is on the face of it a sordid domestic event: while Frau Paula was away at the seaside Dehmel had an affair with the domestic help, Kate B. Two years later the girl died by her own hand, and a ring Dehmel had given her was returned to him by her direction; and this message from the grave inspired him with the poem Dm EJnge in Weib und Welt. It holds good of all DehmePs best poems that one must know what woman they are concerned with and the exact moment of the relationship; then one realizes how real the feeling is. It may be disturbing to some that where Dehmel creates something startlingly beautiful it is when he is seized by this lust of possession. His 'Raubersztm* is thrust forward throughout the mass of his lyric verse, and there is a letter from him (No. 3 2) in which he describes the wild hunger which grips him when a human being comes near him, 'der Eignes in sich hat. Als ob ein ^aubtier die Nmtern blaht^ fdngt dann etwas in mir an ^ufiebern: da ist Nahrungfur dicb> mein B/#/.' His attitude is here, as elsewhere, that he is the saviour (Erloser) of the girls he deflowers; and the general sense of the tide Erlosungen is, of course, erotic. This is Dehmel - for better or worse.1 The title of the next collection of verse, Aber die I^iebe (i 893), is assumed to question that of the first: marriage may be salvation, but what of love?2 The 'Leitwort points to the themes: 'In alien Tiefen \ musst du dich prufen^ \ %u Deinen Zielen \ dich klar^ufuhlen. \ 1 For the facts of Dehmel's life Julius Bab's Debmelhzs to be collated with the 'Briefe (1923) as edited by Frau Ida Dehmel; the latter are the main source of safe information. 2 Mrs Dehmel savs the title shows the influence of Strindberg.