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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

RILKE                                         205

ing of the Virgin's virginity is more or less in consonance with
the comic role Joseph plays in Germanic folksongs, Let^/e Gedichte
tmdPragmentarisches (Vol. Ill of Collected W7ork$> 1927) are for the
most part complementary to the Dumo Elegies. Rilke's translations
(Vol. VI of Collected Works] are mostly interesting for the light
they throw on the bent of the poet's mind and for help in the
interpretation of his themes : thus his versions of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (1919); Portugtesische Brief e
(1913), his translation of the letters of the Portuguese nun Mari-
anna Alcoforado ; and his Die vierund^iran^tg Sonette der I^oui^e Lake
'Lyoneserin (1918) elucidate his conception of the selfless nature of
true love. These translations were made at Capri in 1907; Rilke
was helped by his hostess and by Dora Heidrich, who was by
birth an Englishwoman. The Portugiesiscbe Briefe were made from
the French translation. Rilke's translations at Muzot of certain of
Paul Valery's poems and his own French poetry (Poemes Jrancais^
Paris, 1935) represent his last phase.

There is no need to distil Rilke's poetic creed, for he states it in
his Brief e an einen jungen Dichter1 (1929) and above all in a famous
passage of M?//<?:

^ mit Versm ist so wenig getan^ mnn man sie fruh schreibt.
Man sollte war ten damit and Sinn und Sussigkeit sammeln ein gaffes
Leben lang> und ein langes n>OMdgIicby und dann^ gan^ ^um Schluss,
vielleicht konnte man dann %ehn Zeilen schreiben^ die gut sind. Denn
Verse sindnicht, me die I^eute meimn^ Gefuhle (die hat man fruh genug)
- es sind ErfahrungetL Urn ernes Verses willen nmss man viele Stddte
sehen, Menschen und Dinged (Take with this his poems which have
Heimatlosigkeit for theme, above all Der Frewde.2} *Und es genugt
auch nicht\ we read further, 'class man Erinnerungen hat. Man muss
sie vergessen konnen^ wenn es viele sind^ und man muss die grosse Geduld
baben^ ^u warten, bis sie wiederkommen? ('Emotion remembered in
tranquillity'!) *Denn die Erinnermgen sind es noch nicht. Erst wenn
sie Blut werden in uns, Blick und Gebarde^ namenlos undnicht mebr %x
mterscheiden von uns selbst^ erst dann kann es gescheheny doss in einer
sebr seltenen Stunde das erste Wort eines Verses aufstebt in ibrer Mitte
und aus ibnen ausgeht*

1 The young poet was Franz Xaver Kappus (1883- ), who made a repu-
tation later by his sensational novel of the post- War period, Die lebenden
Vler^ebn (1918).                                                                   2 Neue Gedichte, IL