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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

RILKE                                         163

Kranke, die hingehen oder hmfabren, in alien Strasses . . . ^lanjuhlt ait]
einmal, dass es in dieser mi ten Stadt He ere von Kranken gibt^ Arm? en
von Sterbenden^ Volker von Toten? He had not been conscious of the
misery of the other great cities he knew. He did not run away:
like Verhaeren nerve-wracked in his tentacular city he hardened
himself, 'eben weil es schwer ist\ (Carlyle: 'Do that which thou
fearest to do.5) He shut himself off from company, but spent days
in the Bibliotheque Rationale. In 1903 he escaped, a sick man for all
his defiance of his malaise (as he calls it), to Viareggio near Pisa.
The last half of 1904 he spent at Borgeby Gard in Sweden and at
Charlottenlund near Copenhagen. From May, 1908, to February,
1910, he was again in Paris, where he wove his Scandinavian
memories into the nostalgic prose of Die Auf^eichnungen des Maite
I-Murids Brigge. In 1912 he spent four months in Spain; he was
fascinated by Toledo and Honda, and from Cordova he wrote to
the Princess of Thurn and Taxis - who from now onwards is in
the position to him of one of the grandes dames of previous cen-
turies to their impecunious poets - that since he had seen this
city he felt furiously anti-Christian: Christianity, he declared, was
an empty fruit whose skin should be thrown away. Mahomet, he
adds, spoke to God directly, whereas Jesus was a telephone to
God. 1911-12 he stayed at the castle at Duino on the Golfo di
Penzano on the Adriatic coast; it had been placed at his disposal
by the Princess of Thurn and Taxis. Here he found the mood to
write the first two of the elegies which bear the name of Duino.
The years of the War paralysed his genius. In 1916 he was declared
fit for service, but broke down under the weight of his knapsack,
and was mercifully given sanctuary in the Press censorship at the
War Office in Vienna; here he had friends for company - Stefan
Zweig, Franz Karl Ginzkey; and the colonel in charge asked him
just to put in an appearance in the mornings and busy himself
with his own work. This kindness he rejected, for conscience'
sake; but friends procured his release. 1917-19 he spent at Munich;
he was expelled because he was now a Czech and as such could
not claim Austrian protection. His contribution to the literature
of the War are the Fmf Gesangey now in Lefctfe Gedichte; he began
with praise of the God who carries a whole nation with Him; but
from the third song onwards to this God war is horrible, and the
fifth song begins: <Aufy mdschreckt den schrecklichen Gottl Bestur^t
ihn. | Kampf-Tuust hat ibn vor^eiten verwohnt. . . * Rilke's attitude to