124 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE friendship was decisive: soon the young poet was associating with the poets of the Pleiade; and at their instigation he read Baudelaire Rimbaud, Edgar Allen Poe. He was a guest at the Tuesday even- ing gatherings in Mallarme's salon in the rue de Rome, and here he met Verlaine. His acquaintance in the French capital with three young Mexicans induced him to learn Spanish; and when he visited Spain in 1889 he dreamed himself into the illusion that he had returned to a land of which long, long ago he had been ruler and tyrant - an illusion which he was to weave as poetic reality into his Hymmn., Pilgerfabrten, and Die hdngenden Garten. Spain, accord- ing to his own account, transformed his very soul: the hard, sharp lines of the landscapes round about Toledo and Madrid and the dark forbidding royal palaces filled him with that feeling of regal loneliness and unapproachable pride which he was to read into his first published book, and which was to be the mark of his life-long poetic pose. In 1889 George went to Berlin to study languages at the Uni- versity. Here he revelled in the melody and colour of the Spanish language as he spoke it with his three Mexican friends, whom he had found here once again; and here, too, his immersion in Romance studies alienated him more and more from German literature, which was then in its heyday of naturalism. Indeed, German seemed so harsh to him that in addition to attempting French verse he put together a language of his own which shaped Latin roots into the form and melody of Spanish; and in this lingua romana he first couched his Zeichnungen in Grau and the first of the I^egenden which later he transposed into their present German form.1 In this undergraduate's verse as we now read it in Die Fibel the poet to be is already adumbrated. The Zeichnungen in Grau are occupied with a boyish resistance to the peril of sensual enjoy- ment (^tierische Zuckungen'}: the youth must watch lest the divine goal should vanish and a moment's flame transfigure a clay image. There are strange glimpses of a temptress - in Gelbe Rose she is swathed in yellow silk in the yellow refulgence of false daylight in warm air quivering with perfumes: a Hindoo goddess from the Ganges, she seems a figure of wax, and soulless save when her densely shaded eye, weary of rest, suddenly lifts its lid. In George's first published trilogy of verse - Hymnen, 1890; Pilgerfahrten, 1891; Algabal, 1892; now in one volume - travel 1 Specimens of the first version are printed in Die Fibel (1901).