RILKE 197 grotesque of the ending words 'offen me der Tod*. The transposi- tions of statues (Fruher Apollo, Archdiscber Torso Apollos, Kretische Artemis] provide perhaps the best object-lessons for testing Rilke's sculptural theories. The conception of permanence in a Ktwsfding is brought out in Tanagra. The very soul of dancing flashes and flames in Spaniscbe Tan^erin. Die Insel: Nordsee is one of the com- paratively rare poems with German themes: the taciturn character of Holstein men is interpreted by that turning inwards of the spirit which means so much to Rilke; we get it even in Morgue, attributed to corpses washed out of the Seine - 'Die Augen baben binter ibren Li Jem j sich umgewandt und scbaum jet^t bhmn\ Morgue is not in- tended to be grotesque; the grotesque poems proper are Legends von den drei Lebendigen und dm drei Toten, Der Konig von Miwster, Totentam^ Dasjungsie Gericbt^ Die Versucbung^ Papageienpark. Kre^i- gung (and this will shock many) is also in the nature of a grotesque. For humour veiling pathos Der Konig should be read - and com- pared (as a portrait of a Spanish prince) with Stefan George's Der Infant. On May i9th, 1922, Rilke wrote from his tower at Muzot to a lady1 that zest in creation had returned to him: 'Die mir uber alles Heben(i9i2 ingrossartigerEinsamkeitbegonnenm mdseit 1914fast gafis^ unterbrochenen} Arbeiten konnten meder aufgenommen — , konnten unter jmendlicberFahigkeit^ ^uEnde gebracbtwerden* - Danebengingeine fdeim Arbeit her, fast tmgewollt, em Nebenstrom, uber jo Sonettey die Sonette an Orpheus genannt, und geschrieben ah ein Grabmalfur eittjungverstor- benes Mddchen? He is referring to the Duineser Elegien (1923). The first of them had been written in 1912 at Duino (p. 165); hence their title. Rilke not only loved the Duineser Elegien 'more than all else', but he actually rated them as his best work; and this is one reason why critics and academic teachers burrow into them to earn the cachet of superior intelligence. The form alone should make one sceptical. Rilke called these poems 'elegies* because they are approximately in elegiac metre. Technically this implies dis- tiches of rising hexameter and falling pentameter to give the sob and sigh of plaintive feeling, but the Duineser Elegien are far from conforming to this traditional type - the lines are merely hexa- meter-like, but not so like as those at which Tennyson turned up his classic nose - cbarbarous experiment, barbarous hexameters'. It is of course quite consistent with Rilke's general system of effect 1 'Briefe an elnejmge Frau (1930).