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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

104                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

post-War Germany is pathetically expressed in a letter of
in 1918, he says, Germany might have shamed the world by accept-
ing humiliation and changing its pre-War policy. After wandering
about in Switzerland, Italy, and France he stationed himself- one
cannot say that he settled - in the Rhone valley, and passed his
last years in an old tower dating from the thirteenth century near
Sierre in Valais, his Chateau de Muzot sur Sierre, placed at his
disposal by the Swiss patron of literature Werner Reinhart of
Winterthur, whom Rilke ever afterwards referred to as his Lehns-
berr. Here in the little garden he had a hundred roses planted;
and he died in 1926 from blood poisoning caused by pricking
himself with the thorn of one of his roses he gathered one day for
a lady visitor. He is buried in the cemetery at Rarogne.

Outwardly Rilke's life was eventless; and yet it is the intensity
of his experiences which we follow up in his work from stage to
stage. In his early verse there is naturally more imitation than ex-
perience, certainly in luarenopfer, the only strictly juvenile poems
admitted to Erste Gedichte (1913), where they take place with
the three verse collections which chronologically followed them:
Traumgekrbnt (i 897), Advent (1898) and Mir %ur Feier (i 899). Laren-
opfer is - if one may be allowed a paradox - urban Heimatkunst: the
poems reproduce the architecture and the medieval and Baroque
aspects of Rilke's native city of Prague. Metrically the stamp is
that of Heine:

Alte Hauser, steilgegiebelt,

hohe Turme voll Gebimmel, -

in die engen Hofe liebelt

nur ein win^ig Stuckchen HimmeL

Und aufjedem Treppenpflocke
mude lachelnd- Amoretten;
hoch am Dache urn barocke
Vasen rieseln TLosenketten.

Heine-esque ballads rub shoulders with crass Armeleutepoesie. But
there is already Rilke's verbal invention and glaring imagery:

Die Stadt mrschwimmt me hinter Glas.
Nur hoch> me ein behelmter Huney
ragt klar vor mir die grunspangrune
Turwkuppel von Sankt Nikolas.
1 Briefe an einejunge Fraut pp. 43-4.