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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

130                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

cerned, the main interest is in the contrast between the soft rhythm
and fluidity of Hofmannsthal (whose Der Tod des Titian enriched
the first number) and the hard metallic ring1 and plastic contours
of Stefan George's contributions. In other numbers of the first
'sequence' (Folge is the term used for the volumes of the journal)
George printed his translations of Verlaine, Mallarme, Swinburne
d'Annunzio, Jens Peter Jacobsen, and others. Klein in one of the
essays he contributed pointed out that, whereas in France Parnas-
sianism was completed, in Germany it was not. George is actually
a Mallarmean Parnassian, just as (to give another example) Richard
von Schaukal combines the pictorial and cumulative methods of
the Parnassians with the mystic melancholy of the symbolists. It
was Klein's function to explain the new technique; the foremost
demand is that the poet should take words dulled by everyday
usage and rear them aloft in a belt of radiance. Here we have the
very secret of the new verse. The idea is not new; we have seen
that Liliencron owed much of his originality to it. But whereas
with Liliencron this elevation of common words was spontaneous
or even devil-may-care, and at all events one of the elements of
his realism, with the aesthetes it is a conscious canon of the revised
poetics. George himself allocates these abrased words so cunningly
in his setting that they are coined anew; they are the old words
and rhymes, but used as they have never been used before. Rilke2
states the doctrine: 'Not a word in the poem (by this I mean
"un&" or "der"y "die", "das"} is identical with the same word as it
is known to conventional usage; in verse or in poetic prose these
words are like enskied constellations linked by the vast law of
Creation, transformed in the very heart of their being, in such
collocation snatched from the mere intercourse of speech, beyond
corporeal touch and undying/ And Rilke put the doctrine into
beautiful verse (Mir <%ur Frier):

Die arm en Worte, die im Alltag darbeny
die ^agen blassen Worte lieb ich so,
aus meinen Fes ten schenk ich ihnen Farben,
da Idcheln sie und werden langsamfroh*

1 Albert Saint-Paul characterizes George's first poems as 'dreams of a hero
sunk in gloom, dreams lit by a cold blue clearness, like rays of light striking
on steel*.

2 Gainer Maria Rt/ke. Aspetfs of his Mind and Poetry, ed. William Rose and
G. Craig Houston, p. 169.