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Ia6                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

Geschichte des verknnen Sohnes nicht die 'Legende dessen ist, der nicht
geliebt warden wollte? This, as we have shown, is literally true of
Rilke's own life; and he handles his determined homelessness in
other poems (Der Dicbter, Der Fremde). Sex problems form the
theme of many of the New Poems, and all phases of sex life are
touched, from the rejection of the male to sexual exhaustion; the
latter theme is in Abisag linked to a picture of maiden pre-puberty.
Woman in all her phases, from the pre-puberty of Abishag to the
gorgeous cruelty of Die Kurtisane, in whose hair is the gold of
her native Venice (and thus the picture is a Titian), whose eye-
brows are like the bridges leading over the canals to the throb
and peril of the sea:

. . . Wer

mich einmal sab, beneidet meinen Hund,
milsich aufihm oft in ^erstreuter Pause
die Hand> die nie an keiner Glut verkohlty

die unverwundbare> geschmuckt, erholt -.
UndKnaben, Hoffnungen aus altem Hause,
gehn me an Gift an meinem Mund ^ugrund.

Very penetrating are the poems which illuminate the state of mind
of prophets, medieval saints, beguines. In these religion is psycho-
logically interpreted; Vor-Qstern: Neapel forms a gross contrast
to these, and will by most be read as an obscene mockery of the
Catholic religion. Dinggedichte in the most literal sense are poems
which show the inner life of dead matter: poems on churches, Die
Laute> Die Sonnenuhr. Those poems which come under the heading
of flower-symbolism and animal-symbolism sometimes play with
recondite but luring significance (Das Roseninnere, Blaue Hortensie).
The transpositions of pictures may betray the influence of Cezanne
and Van Gogh, as for instance Auswanderer-Schiff: NeapeL In this
picture of an emigrant ship in the Bay of Naples taking in oranges,
fish, and bread no colour is mentioned except cdas grosse gram
StKff*; nevertheless one sees over the deep blue of the sea the
terraced shore and, in splashes, the yellow of the oranges, the
warm brown of the bread, the silver scales of the fishes, and, in
grim contrast (life and death) the womb of the ship gaping open
to take coal in. A painting might have created the same impres-
sion, but more dubiously, for the poem is staged skilfully to the