RILKE 181 sonttchen L,ebens lst\ Life has a purpose: death; and the ripening unto death should be like the ripening of fruit, in sunshine and sweetness: 'Wir stehn in deinem Garten Jahr fur Jahr \ und sind die Baume, sussen Tod %u tragen? Salvation from unnatural wilting to a mean death in great cities can only come from a Saviour; 'der Gross te\ whom the Virgin did not bear; and in a terrific sexual image the poet calls for the creation of this One who, figured as female ^bauseinemLeben einenschonen Schoss> \ und seine Sebum errichte wie ein Tor1 \ in einem bknden Waldvonjungen Haaren'} because recep- tive of a thousand germs, shall in a great night conceive the future from the membrum virile of der Unsagbare. This Greatest One is the Messiah come at last: not Christ, but the Progenitor of Death (der Tod-Gebdrer\ the bringer to all of the great individual death, with, in his wake, the white-mounted legions (of self-perfection). 'And let me5, the poet continues, 'be mouth of this new Messiad.' Here of course we have something analogous to Stefan George's 'third humanism', his poet's vision (in Das neue Reich] of the poet-creator of the New Realm; where the two seers differ is in the value they attach to life here below - George, with his call to vitalize the present, stands for Diesseitigkeit, Rilke, with his old Catholic doc- trine that life is noble only in so far as it prepares for a noble death, stands for Jenseitigkeit; and thus in the two greatest of modern poets we find the typically German accentuation of dual- ism. And yet there is Weltfreude in neither, and Weltflucht in both; both are austere; and there is actually less austerity in the praiser of death than in the praiser of life; where both agree is in their rejection of common aims. In his interpretation of 'rich and poor' Rilke calls to mind (like George in Die bdngenden Garten) the glories of ancient culture - of the rich who forced life to be infinitely wide and warm. But the days of the rich (in this sense of the harmony of wealth and poetic life) have passed away, and we will not pray to God for their return - but we will pray that the poor shall again be poor. They whom we call the poor are merely the not-rich, they who are without will and world, marked with the stigmas of utter misery, wilted and withered in the dust of cities. And yet all they need to be a ring of roses on God's earth is to be permitted to be as poor as they really are ('so arm sein durfen, me sie mrklich sind'}; and Rilke now gives his interpretation of poverty as a glory radiated from 1 There is the same gross physical image in the poem Verk&ndigung (p. 189).