132 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE the image of one of his poems1) the linked figures frozen in a dance under dead boughs in the complicated pattern of an Oriental carpet come to life, some evening or other, with the dead boughs stirring, chilling the spectator's sense with the mystery revealed so the secret woven intricately into the poem comes with the o-ift of its beauty - but not at call, not at any hour accustomed; to the many it comes never, and rarely to the rare. Poetry is thus esoteric, a priestlike evocation, only for the adept in the ivory tower. The pose of perfection which George assumed for his verse he cultivated too in his personal appearance and in his relations with the outer world. Above all he kept his distance. His attitude to poets not in his Circle was almost that of Algabal: ICH bin ah einer so me SIE als vide- Ich tue was das leben mit mir tut Und traf ich sie mit rut en bis aufs blut: Sie haben korn undhabenfechterspiele. Which means: they are best-sellers; but poetry is mine. His garb and appearance were a godsend to caricaturists: they made his monocle and his long stiff hair pushing out Liszt-like below his tall hat, his 'viermalgeschlungene Kultkran>atte\ and his clean-shaven ascetic face familiar to the irreverent. There was a rumour that he was an illegitimate son of Liszt; but he himself prided himself mightily on the resemblance of his pale face with its sunken cheeks to the Hell-marked profile of Dante. (He recited his verse in dark- ened Berlin salons with Rembrandtesque candle-light illuminating this ascetic profile with its projecting chin.) When Maximilian Dauthendey first met him he was almost frightened by his tall hat and frock coat and cardinal's face. In 1895 appeared Die Bitcher der Hirten- andT?reisgedichte> der Sagen und Sange und der hdngenden Garten. George's intention in this book was to conjure up from the depths of his being, where they had slumbered as an inheritance from the past, and to sing into verse the primitive forms of culture - (to quote Gundolf) 'the soul of God in the three phases of history - pastoral, medieval, oriental - whose ideals are the composite substance of present-day litera- ture'. But whereas Classicism, Romanticism, and Orientalism had hitherto worked themselves back in the laborious toil of scholar- 1 Der Teppich in Der Teppicb des Lebens.