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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

420                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

Miegel have been dealt with as women writers (pp. 342-3); both
infuse into the ballad something of the new spirit of the revolt of
woman. BORRIES FREIHERR VON MUNCHHAUSEN (1874-1945) on the
contrary merely carries on the ballad tradition of Graf Moritz von
Strachwitz: the dashing bravery of the Germanic warrior, and, if
the theme be modern, the ways of a junker with a lady, form the
staple of Die ftalladen und ritterlichen Lieder (1908) and Das Balladen-
buch (1929; final edition 1950). The ballads handle motifs from
Nordic myth (Wodans Rift, Weissagung der Wala, Wodans Lied vom
Ymir-Kampf], Danish history, the Middle Ages, the Thirty Years
War, Mdrchen and legends. His poems of personal experience were
collected in Das Uederbuch (1928) and Idyllen (1933).

The verse and stanza forms continue traditional, but with new-
melodic rhythms, in the work of certain poets who in this respect
are transitional between impressionism and expressionism - Georg
Heym, Georg Trakl, Ernst Stadler, Paul Zech, and Armin T.
Wegner. As far as form is concerned Franz Werfel, too, may be
ranged with this group, though actually he is the very apostle of
expressionist ethics. The first two intensify certain morbid themes,
and prepare for the expressionist doctrine of the regeneration of
humanity by dwelling on the phases of decay, death, and decom-
position, while Heym, Zech, and Wegner by their presentation of
the city as a nightmare take their place by the side of Rilke.

GEORG HEYM (1887-1912) is with some fitness called 'the German
Rimbaud', not because of any similarity of life - he was drowned
at twenty-five when skating on the Havel - but because of his
obvious imitation of the French decadent. His two volumes of
verse (Der ewige Tag, 1911; Umbra Vitae, 1912; Gesammelte Gedichte,
1947) sing demonic gloom into pictures of Berlin. Typical of his
manner is Die Tote im Wasser, the description of the corpse of a
woman floating along a Berlin canal - a white ship manned by
great rats1 - 'Ihr dicker "Bauch entragt \ Dem Wasser gross, ^erhohlt und
fast ^ernagt? This theme of the decomposition2 of beauty we find
again in Alfred Wolfenstein's (p. 425) brilliant translation of Rim-
baud's Ophe'lie\ it is ghastliest in Gottfried Benn's Schone Jugend
and again in Heym's Ophelia - here the dead girl floats along on a

1 This recurs: Armin T. Wegner's Die Ertrunkemn.

2 The ultimate inspiration is Baudelaire's poem La Charogne* See also
Heym's Schwars$ Visionen* Der Schldfer im Walde (obviously modelled on
Rimbaud's Le dormeur du val)t and Bzst du nun tot? (the picture of a strangled
woman's corpse).