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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

STEFAN  GEORGE  AND   HIS   CIRCLE                131

Sie warmen sich die weissen Wlntern'angen.,
am Wunder^ welches threw Weh geschieht;
sie sind noch niemals in Gesanggegangen,
und schaudernd schreiten sie in meinem Lied.

George's style, Klein says in his first essay, is austerely classic:
rhymes are pure, rhythm is faultless; and since the impression is
conveyed by a meticulous choice of consonants and vowels the
meaning need not be stated. Sensations are felt, not phrased. Verses
which seem to be in another language plunge us into a strange
unrest. And all runs into the vast diapason by which we are moved
as by strong wine. Perfect as the form is, however, the worth of
the poem lies in its deep spirituality (Seelentiefe). Novels are to be
rejected as reporter's stuff (&erichterstattere?)\ and the theatre is on
the face of it hopeless because it has to be commercial. A later
essay by George himself is often quoted: 'Wirmllen keine erfindung
von geschichten sondern medergabe von stimmungen, keine betrachtung son-
dern darstellung) keine unterhaltung sondern eindruck. Die dlteren dichter
schufen der mehr^ahl nach ihre werke oder woIIten sie mnigstens angesehen
haben als stut^e einer meinung: einer Weltanschauung - wir sehen injedem
ereignis^jedem ^eifalter nur ein mittel kunstlerischer erregung? He ex-
plains that in his poetry symbol is threefold: that of the individual
words, that of the separate parts, and that of the whole which
holds the deeper meaning. Ludwig Klages then in another essay
(II. Folge, v) took the measure of a poet by his power of finding
signs ( = symbols) "for the mysterious values of soul and universe'.
Poetry would thus be a kind of cipher, and the cult of poetry
would be a secret intelligence system. But George in his further
interpretation of his technique in his book of prose essays Tage
und Taten makes more of the mood than of the veiling of the
meaning. In any case the peril of this attitude - or pose - is that
form becomes paramount: cthe worth of a poem is fixed', says
George, cnot by the meaning of it - for then it might be wisdom,
learning - but by its form'; the poet's task is thus to produce by
means of form, or in other words by sound and rhythm ('jenes tief
erregende an mass undklang\ a mood (Stimmung) which is not bound
to sense or substance; we thus get a process akin to that of music,
George, therefore, paints with vowels, or plays on them just as a
pianist plays on keys; he tangles his constructions; he swathes the
inner meaning of the poem in a floating- veil of svmKnl A o /v^ r.**