FROM BAHR TO DEHMEL Il$ Manche Nacht, and Die stille Stadt are the most famous. Aus banger Brust is such a night-piece, but the thrill of this *Ehemannsgedicht is in the unashamed image of copulation. Much quoted is the L<?//- wort of the original edition: 'Erst mnn der Geist vonjedem Zweck genesen \ undnicbts mehrwissen will als seine Triebe, \ dann offenbartsich ibm das weise Wesen \ verliebter Torheit und der grossen Liebe*; this agrees with Nietzsche's command that we should clasp our pas- sions to our bosoms as our highest aim. All this sexualism of Dehmel hardly seems compatible with a gentleman's respect for ladies, which does exist in Germany, even when as in Eduard von Keyserling's Baltic novels there may be one woman for respect and another for passion. The drama of DehmePs second marriage provides the matter of the curious connubial epic Zwei Menschen (1903). Dehmel regarded it as a cycle of ballads, but ballads stripped of antique flummery, and modern because the experience transmutes the physical thrill of sex to spirituality; he wrote to Frau Isi in an early stage of their acquaintance: 'Ich babe die "Form der neuen 'Balladegefunden^ die keines antiquarischen Mummenscban^es bedarf^ und eine Form, die es erlaubt, in tausend Variationen ein gan^es Seelenleben und Menschenscbicksal vor^u- fuhren* The classification of the poem as a ILoman^enroman is satis- fying: it is a novel made up of linked lyric snatches - a JLoman^ero loosely in Heine's sense (not in the Spanish sense of a ballad col- lection). FERDINAND AVENARius1 (1856-1920) had made much of his idea of a lyric epic, but his "Lebe (1893) is not a novel; nearer to Dehmel's innovation is Coventry Patmore's The Angel in the House. But what a difference in spirit! The English poet does not shirk the physical implications of marriage, but the very idea of his poem is to glorify wedded love as spiritual communion and social decency. Dehmel's poem on the other hand is a defiant challenge to accepted notions of decency. The animality of love is stressed, and there are renderings of physical passion made quiver- ingly perceptible by the rise and fall of the rhythm. The violence is sometimes appalling. The story itself is admittedly ridiculous: the architect Lux at some duodecimo German court or other pur- loins papers and has a love-affair with Lea, the wife of the ruling prince. She kills her blind baby. The wife of Lux dies; Lea says: 1 He founded (1887) and edited Der Kunstwart, one of the most important literary journals of the period. His volumes of verse are Wandern und Werden (1881) and Stimmen und'Bilder (1898).