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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

426                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

loves lines of one syllable; thus some of his poems are stringed
ejaculations. The reason for the monosyllabic lines is the expres-
sionist conception of'clenching' the feeling; such a line is 'geball?.
This verbal idiocy is intensified in the Verse' of the Dadaisten.

Die Neue Sachlichkeit or Gebrauchslyrik is theoretically at least
a way out of this madness. The general idea of this 'functional
poetry'1 is that the poetic value of a thing is in the concrete use to
which it can be put; the result of such a theory is 'Konkretisierung
or 'Aktualisiertmg of poetry; or, shall we say, real reality trans-
formed to novelty because things are shown not as glamorous
visions or coloured impressions but as functions - that is, what is
considered important is their purpose in life, not their significance
or outward semblance in art.

It would be foolish to dismiss the Nazi lyrists as mere propa-
gandists; after all Virgil was in the same boat. But there is no
danger in saying that these poets who obey the lifted thumb of the
new Augustus are less than any Roman poet. In those days they
were a glittering galaxy; but the moment the tumult and the shout-
ing dies they fade out like the stars at dawn. All the anthologies2
of their racial fervour are practically unreadable out of Germany.
A few poems have proved their singable qualities; for instance
Dietrich Eckhart's Deutschland ermche! is an excellent onomato-
poeic rendering of the tocsin - brazen clangour and clashed anger.
Perhaps the best poems are those addressed to the Fiihrer: here
we have sometimes a striking personal note. The idealization may
seem crazy; but for all we know Dietrich von Bern or Siegfried
himself may have been, mentally, of the calibre of Hitler; to poetry
legend is all

1 'Functional architecture* **Neue SachliAMt\ glass houses and factories
have hygienic functions.

2 Rufe in das Reich (1934), ed. Herbert Bohme, himself one of these bards
(Kampfundftekenntnis, Destitutes Gesiinge}.