STEFAN GEORGE AND HIS CIRCLE 123 there. His pedigree has been carefully traced, and it is claimed that he was of pure German blood1: he had 'brownish golden' hair and pale blue eyes like turquoises. His early environment is assumed by his biographers to have influenced the spirit of his work in two directions: his sense of architectural construction, seen in the symmetrical shaping of his volumes of verse, and that unbending hardness and even cruelty which made him a literary dictator and eliminated all tenderness from his work are attributed to an atavistic imprint of the old Roman colonization of his home- land,2 while to the Roman Catholic pomp and ceremonial of the Rhineland he instinctively owed his pose as poet-priest and the symbolistic ritual of his freethinking. These tendencies, we are told, were so deeply inherited in him that they surged up from his inner consciousness and were born anew, instead of being a cul- tured revival such as informs neo-hellenism and romanticism. Whereas the neo-hellenists have shown their literary affiliation by outward signs such as the use of Greek metres, George's every nerve tingles atavistically with the essential spirit of Hellas: the deification of the body and the embodiment of the deity (die Ver- gottung des I^eibes und die Verleibung des Gottes). (Da h&ret ouch geloube %uo, as Walther von der Vogelweide remarked; but faith is re- quired for any appreciation of George.) At the Realschule at Bin- gen George did best in languages; Italian he learnt out of school. At the age of fourteen he entered the Ludwig-Georg Gymnasium at Darmstadt. Here in 1886 his juvenilia, some preserved in Die Fibel, begin; already the influence of Italian poets - Petrarch and Tasso - is giving austerity to his form. He learnt Norwegian to read Ibsen; and indeed when he left school in 1888 foreign lan- guages had laid such a spell on him that his father agreed that he should fit his career to this main interest. He went to London, and what appealed to him in his stay there is indicated in his poem Von einer Reise 1888-89 *n Die Fibe/, while Die Glocken, one sus- pects, imitates rhythmically the chimes of some London church. Thereafter he stayed for a time in Montreux, and thence went to Italy and Paris, where he made friends with one of the standard- bearers of the young symbolist movement, Albert Saint-Paul. This 1 But Josef Nadler (Literaturgeschicbte der deuischen Stamme und "Landscbafieri) insists that George's father was a Walloon, and that his mother came from Lorraine. See also Frau Ida Dehmel, 'Derj/mge Stefan George* > Berliner Tageblatt, July ist, 1935: 'DieFamilie Georges tst fran^psischen Ursprmgs\ 2 See his poems Porta Nzgra and Ursprunge (in Der shbmte Ring}.