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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

206                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

In Brief Is an elnenjungen Dichter Rilke insists on loneliness as a neces-
sary condition of poetic production, and this loneliness he couples
with distance (Weite) from those who are near; which means that
the true poet must relentlessly alienate himself from friends and
relatives. This is the utter isolation to which he subjected himself
after his Worpswede days; elsewhere he refers to his o^mEinsam-
keitsfanatismus. 'Was not tut\ he urges his young poet, 'ist dock nur
dieses: Einsamkeit, grosse innere Einsamkeit. In-sich-Gehen undstunden-
lang nlemandem begegnen, - das muss man erreichen konnen. Einsamsein,
me man alsKindemsam war> als die Erwachsenen umhergingeny mit Dingen
verflochten, die mchtig und gross schienen, mil die Grossen so geschaftig
aussahen und mil man von ihrem Tun nichts begriff* This Verinnerlichung
is of course much more determined than the Sammlung (German
words alone express the conceptions) which poets of previous
generations had called for.

Somewhat surprising in Rilke - though we have seen that at one
period of his life he identified sex with religion - is the attribution
in these Letters to a Young Poet of the creative impulse of genius to
the stirrings of sex. 'Und tatsdchlich\ he argues while discussing
DehmePs sexualism, 'liegtja Mnstlerisches Erleben so unglaublich nahe
am geschlechtlichen^ an seinem Weh und seiner Tuust^ dass die beiden Er-
scheinungen eigentlich nur verschiedene Formen einer und derselben Sehn-
sucht und Seligkeit sind* In another letter to this young poet he
discusses the grievous burden of sex, but nevertheless describes
sexual pleasure (die korperliche Wollusf) as *eine grosse unendliche Er-
fahrung, die uns gegeben wird, ein Wissen von der Welt^ die Fulle und der
Glarn^ attes Wissens* and as ^Sammlung %u Hohepunkteri*. And he con-
tinues : 'denn auch dasgeistige Schaffen stammt von dem physischen her, ist
ernes Wesens mit ihm und nur me eine leisere.> ent^ucktere und emgere
Wiederholung kiblicher Wollusf. See p. 71.

In the outward aspects of his work Rilke is what the French
call *un viswF\ that is, he reproduces visual impressions. He sees like
a painter or sculptor; and therefore the effect of his most charac-
teristic poetry lies perhaps more in painting or grouping than in
magic of rhythm, though in this he is unsurpassed. If the devices
of his technique were grouped they would coincide with those of
Stefan George - vowel harmony, alliteration, assonance, interior
rhymes. There is similarity, too, in the way both poets reveal the
theme of a poem^r^//^?; there is, however, the difference that
Rilke's title may give an indication. But in spite of such external