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178                   MODERN  GERMAN   LITERATURE

poetic mysticism), alas! bare, not the Greatest One, ebut only the
Spring of God, the Son, the Word'. And so God is still waiting
for His tree to ripen, in a land where lonely men - men as lonely
as the monk of the poem - listen; and they will all behold a dif-
ferent God, for God is like a wave that flows through beings.
What is clear in these lines is Rilke's peculiar rejection of Christ,
for which his mother is blamed: she made him, as a boy, kiss the
marks of the nails in images of the Crucified Saviour. Very curious
is the poet's description of God as his own son (just as Stefan
George imaged himself as both father and son of Maximin). Rilke
even figures God as his prodigal son, who left him to win a king-
dom (the God I create, being an idea, wanders away from me and
grows). A passage follows which seems hard on fathers, and may
be coloured by the son-father conflict of the time:

LJebt man denn einen Vater? Geht man nicht,
me du von mir gingst^ Hdrte im Gesicht^
von s einen hulflos her en Handenfort? . . .
1st uns der Vater denn nicht das, was war;
vergangm Jahre, welche fremd gedacht,
veraltete Gebarde, tote Tracht,
verbluhte Hande und verblichnes Haar?

Then suddenly the image changes, and in a passage of feminine
tenderness there is the old mystic conception of God as the soul's
lover; and of the soul as Ruth amid the alien corn:

Und meine Seek 1st ein Weib vor dir.
Und 1st me der Naemi Schnur, me JSjtth.
Sie geht bei Tag um deiner Garben Hauf
me eim Magd, die tiefe Dienste tut.
Aber am Abend steigt sie in die Flut
und badet sich und kleidet sich sehr gut
und kommt %u diry wenn alles um dich mht,
und kommt und deckt %u deinen Fuss en auf*
Und fragst du sie um Mitternacht, sie sagt
mit tiefer Einfalt: Ich bin Rath, die Magd.
Spann deine Flugel uber deine Magd. . .

In The Book of Poverty and Death the salient feature is that the
great leprous city rises between Rilke and the God he seeks. Very