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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

PHASES   OF   LYRIC   POETRY                        425

pressionism proper launched their attacks in journals and antholo-
gies; e.g. in DerKondor (1912), published by KURT HILLER (1885- ),
who couched the manifestos of the 'activists' (die Aktivisten). The
first organ of the activist school had been Die Aktion (1910- ),
edited by FRANZ PFEMFERT (1879-1954); the 'action' demanded is a
political acceptance of expressionistic ethics as a State programme.
The poets of Die Aktion were all 'Chaotiker* or 'Wortchaotiker': to
them the world was chaos, and their verse too is a chaos of words
where sense may be as the needle is in the haystack. ALBERT EHREN-
STEIN (1886-1950), who had attracted attention by his Novelle
Tubutsch (1911), lashed at the War in Barbaropa. ALFRED WOLFEN-
STEIN (1888-1945) has pictorial intensity (Die gottlosen Jabre, 1914;
Die Freundschaft, 1917; Die Nackteny 1917); his poem Im Bestienhaus
has something of the symbolic significance of Rilke's Der Panther.
JOHANNES R. BECHER (1891-1958) was terribly prolific as an activist;
mercifully he anthologized his verse in Das nem Gedicbt (1918). In
his drama Arbeiter, Bauern, Soldaten (1919) the whole nation is trans-
formed to goodness and sets out eto God' with the spectators of
the play; all march except the All-Highest. Critics praise the 'Bol-
shevist vision' of his Maschinenrhytbmen (i 924); these poems, one of
them says, 'sind lange Maschinenballen, in denen die Worte mecbaniscb me
geolte Kolben aufundnieder steigen? For the study ofMofivik his verse
is important; e.g. Im DmJkelis one of the most vivid handlings of
the motif that in the misery of crowded cities people pass one
another as utter strangers, dead to one another: city life is thus
mechanical motion, a surging past, like cold sea waves, of lay
figures, each passing to his or her illusive scrap of pleasure or to
helpless misery; this is the purport too of Ernst Stadler's Abend-
schluss, Franz WerfePs Menschenblick and Nur Flucht, and Alfred
Wolfenstein's Begegnungen. He lived in Russia from 1935 to 1945.
With the circle of Der Sturm we come to genuine atrocities of
poetry. The journal - politically of the Red variety - lived twenty
years (1910-30); the editor was Herwarth Walden (p. 335). The
only poets of the circle who are worth mentioning are KURT
HEYNICKE (1891- ; Rings fallen Sterne, 1917; Ausgewdhlte Gedichte,
1952) and AUGUST STRAMM (1874-1915). Stramm fell on the Russian
front. Du (1914) is a book of love poems; Tropfblut (1919) of War
verse; Dicbtungen (1919), his collected work, includes his play
Sancta Susanna, which, set to music by Hindemith, was produced
in Berlin in 1918. The curiosity of Stratum's technique is that he
o*