Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

186                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

chronicle which relates that Christoph von Eilke fell fighting the
Turks in Hungary in 1663. The poet, dreaming his yearning youth
into an imaginary and heroic relative in the days of old, gives us
his rapid sketch in a series of vivid snapshots. Noble boys riding
together, with dust on their fine clothes, dreaming of home and
beauty, tell of their mothers. Christoph, eighteen years old, brings
a message to a general, who appoints him cornet. He writes to his
mother: - a slow letter in great erect characters: 'Meinegute Mutter\
seidstofy: ich trage dieFahne* The regiment comes to a castle; com-
fort again . . . 'in seidenen Sesseln sit^en und bis in die FingerspiP^en so:
nach dem Badsein. Und meder erst lernen, was Frauen sind\ The short
sentences of the picturing prose burst into lovely verse with
strangely scattered rhymes when the cornet comes to his love
story. 'Die Grdfin Idchelt? He is her page . . . Childhood, that dark,
soft robe, falls from his shoulders. 'Die Turmstube ist dunkeL Aber
sie kuchten sich ins Gesicht mit ihrem ILacheln. Sie fasten vor sich her me
Elinde undfinden den andern me eine Tur. Fast me Kinder, die sich vor der
Nacht angstigen, drdngen sie sich ineinander ein. Und dochfurchten sie sich
nicht. Da ist nichts^ wasgegen sie ware: kein Gestern^ kein Morgen; denn
die Zeitist eingestur^t. Und sie bluhen aus ihren Trummern.' The Turks
arrive - drums beat - clarions call - but the banner is not there.
The Turks set fire to the castle. Cornet Rilke rushes out. *Auf
seinen Armen trdgt er die Fahne me eine misse, bewusstlose Frau. Und er
findet ein Pferd, und es ist me ein Schrei . . . Und da kommt auch die
Fahne meder %u sich^ und niemals war sie so koniglich; undjet^t sehn sie
sie alle^fern voran, und erkennen den hellen, helmlosen Mann und erkennen
die Fahne.'' And sixteen scimitars swirling round the cornet's head
end his saga. *Der Waffenrock ist im Schlosse verbrannt? The fascin-
ation of the story is heightened by its very lack of description:
details are thrown out which must be pieced together; as for
instance the last sentence, which reveals that the boy had rushed
out from the alcove without his Waffenrock.

Das Buch derWder (1902) marks a transition from the mysticism
of Das Stundenbuch to Neue Gedichte, in which picture and mysticism
blend. The title and the poems of Das IBuch der Wilder show the
influence of Rilke's residence among the painters of Worpswede,
where the business of the day was the making of pictures - and
pictures of a real world. The volume is made up of a series of
impressions and sensations ^Erlebnisse*\ each of which is shaped
to a picture. Notable is the metrical skill with which the intensi-