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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

RILKE                                        207

correspondences of technique Rilke is far removed from Stefan
George in the essential qualities of his poetry, above all in the
tempo and the inner rhythm of his verse. Thus, while George has
the monotonous regularity and (except when whipped by indig-
nation) the majestic tread of the great classics, Rilke strikes metrical
magic from a complicated irregularity: he fits the rhythm of emo-
tion or the shocks in the sense to truncated or elongated lines, or
marks the flow of feeling by sudden changes of metre (Takhvecbsel).
He is unsurpassed in the intricate linking of sentences and in the
folding over of verse lines to give snake-like suppleness to the
pattern of the stanza or poem. He is capable of such tours de force
as the building up of a longish poem of one sentence (Der Apfel-
garteny TLomiscbe Fontane). His rhymecraft is marvellous; and here
his skill does not lie so much in the rareness of the rhyme (e.g.
^Xahe  Skarabde\ ?nude - Efude) as in his juggling with unstressed
vocables (me ~ die\ und - ACra/), by which he may depress one
rhyme and lift the other into high relief. Where foreign words fit
the mood of the poem he heightens this mood by using them
ingeniously as rhymes (e.g. Die Parke1). Not infrequently the pith
of the poem rings resonantly or echoes sadly in a last carefully
spared rhyme. His vowel-colouring is as rich and sensuous as he
hints it to be in Perslsches Heliotrop2:

Denn sieh: wie sfisse Worte nachfs in Sateen
beisammenstebn gan^ dicht, durcb nicbts getrennt^
aus der Vokak wacbem Violett
bmduftend durcb das stille VLimmelbett.

His handling of words is just as masterly, and ranges from appar-
ent simplicity of diction (Die "ELrblindendfi-: Die Tuiebendfi] to daring
neologisms and scientific or erudite terms, which surprise and yet
seem inevitable in the place accorded them." Like Stefan George
he may venture into medieval German (with a quaint charm as in
Die betligen drei Konige - 'Magenkraffty or use dialect forms - e:g,
^/(M.H.G. gel) fotge/b.3 He forms arbitrary plurals to create the
impression he desires: Smaragda tmdRjtbmien* for an Oriental effect;
or he may vary his plural - thus quite close as the pages turn we

1 New Gedichte, II.                           2 Ibid., I.

3  Schwar^e Kat%e, Neue Gedicbtey II.

4  Dte heiligen drei Konige in Das &ucb der Bf/der,