134 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE poets themselves had merely rendered the social conventions of their age. This is a fanciful statement. Stefan George's knowledge of the medieval mind was too shallow for these poems to have any value as interpretations of medieval mentality; what he gives us is merely his own conception of the states of mind of knight, squire, poet and hermit; and this conception is just what he in- tended it not to be - romantic; romantic, because it is based on false intuition. The situation and pose may be medieval; the spirit is modern. The Parzival and Holy Grail poems (Die Tat, Irrende Schar, Der Einsiedel] have the mood of Wagner, not of Wolfram, George's Frauenlob is not the dull, didactic rhymester of decayed Minnesong, but the romantic minstrel of the myth: he sees his black coffin, draped in black cloths, borne to the Minster by maidens who - widows now of Beauty's priest - pour noble wines and flowers and precious stones down into his grave. This is not to say that the distinctive elements of the medieval and of the other two periods, as they serve for literature, are not magically evoked; e.g. the plastic beauty of Greek form, Catholic spirituality and the ideals of chivalry,1 the glaring colours of the Orient; notably in the medieval central piece Sporenwache, one of the most intense renderings in all literature of the theme of the spiritual consecration of the chosen one to his ideal. If we would appreciate these careful poems we must remember that the idea is: J (ICH) was this squire dreaming the night out in the visionary chapel, J was this Frauenlob unkissed and ripe for death; for in me is the multifarious, mysterious past; and this poem is a recovery for my- self of a past dim phase of my existence. The theme of Die hdngenden Garten has some affinity with Algabal: it limns in a voluptuous setting the tyrannic power of Oriental potentates. The visions are again essentially romantic: the conqueror striding in the taken city over corpses and raising (as might Holofernes) his smoking sword to his god; the child who is to be Sultan pictured in all the pomp of his future state (Kindliches Konigtum: no doubt once more the poet calling up the splendour in his blood); white aras with saffron-yellow crowns, songless and with wings never unfolded behind their grating dreaming of distant palms; the anointing of the bride with oil and salves for the Caliph's bed2; strophes of 1 E.g. Mannentreue in Der Waffmgefahrte, Marienkult in Das Bild. 2 An obsession of Heinrich von Kleist: 'Von Salbm triefend me die Perser- brauf.