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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

RILKE                                         173

man, or rather seeking Himself in man, in the second man is
desperately seeking a God of strength who is only to be won by
wrestling and tribulation; the first is the God of everyday life, the
second the God man is to create. Das Stundenbuch, by which Rilke
achieved fame, is composed of three books: Das Buch pom moncbi-
schen ILeben, von der Pilgerschaft^ von der Armut und vom Tode. The
Book of the Monastic Life had been written in 1899 after Rilke's visit
to Italy, but before he had seen Russia; the inspiration must, there-
fore, be Italian. The Book of Pilgrimage (written 1901) is based on
impressions of Russia. The Book of Poverty and Death (1903) repro-
duces the terrible suffering of the poet's first stay in Paris. The
three books together develop Rilke's persistent idea that man is
both creature and creator. Man's primitive conception of God
was that He is perfect (in the sense of 'completed'., *vollentkf\ so
that evolution and God were terms which excluded each other.
This conception, Rilke believed, was only possible with primitive
beings who were not conscious that man evolves; and Rilke's
reasoning is that God must evolve as man evolves. Such a doc-
trine is of course only possible to one who believes that God is
an idea and as an idea (or ideal) sprung from the yearning brain
of man. *Mit memem R.eifen \ reift \ dein Rjeich* he calls out to God
in Das Stundenbuch. The conception of God as created by His own
creature comes out in the famous passage of The Book of the Monkish

Life*
J *                Was wirst du tun, Gott> wenn ich sterbe?

Ich bin dein Krug (wenn ich ^erscherbe?}
Ich bin dein Trank (wenn ich verderbe?}
Bin dein Gewand und dein Gewerbe,
mit mir verlierst du delnen Sinn,

Nach mir hast du kein Haus, darin
dich Worte, nah und warm> begrfissen.
Esfdllt von deinen miiden Fussen
die Samtsandaley die ich bin.
Dein grosser Mantel lasst dich Jos.
Dein Blick^ den ich mit meiner Wange
warm, me mit einem Pfuhl9 empfange^
mrd kommen, mrd mich suchen^ lange 
tmd legt beim Sonnenuntergange
sichfremden Steinen in dm Schoss.

Was mrst du tun., Gott? Ich bin bange.