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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

XXIV
THE NEW VERSE

Formally considered nee-Hellenism (pp. 123, 278) finds its
most determined expression in the odes and elegies of JOSEF
WEINHEBER (1892-1945). Born in Vienna as the son of a
horse-butcher and innkeeper, he was, after the early death of his
parents, brought up in an orphanage; as a gifted pupil he had the
privilege of attending the Freies Lyxeumu The privations of his
boyhood and youth are the key to the almost savage anti-social
elements in his work. His first hooks of verse - Der einsatm Mensch
(1920), Von beiden Ufern (192}), Boot in der Ruckt (1923) - written
while he was a post-office clerk in Vienna (1911-32), fell flat,
possibly because they had, together with Baudelairean nowwux
frissons, a fleshly admixture; or, to put it brutally, there was more
Tier than Geist in the poet's handling of his basic motifs - the
conflict of brute instincts and mental striving, of good and evil,
his neurotic hatred of those more favoured by fortune than the
poet doomed to loneliness by his nobler nature. After the publi-
cation in 1934 of Add und I3nt$rgang he was the poet of the day;
here his solution for the conflict of contrasts is self-effacement at
the call of duty; this was interpreted as being in accord with the
ideals of the racial resurgence and therefore he was claimed as
theirs by the Nads. He wrote birthday poems for the Fiihrer, but
there is nothing specifically Nazi in Add mul {Jntergpngi his much
quoted lines *Uns %temt \ %ttfalkn;jt(hvttkw au/seinew Schild? is and
ever was good British sentiment too. But it is rather form than
themes which gives Add wd Vnterf^n^ its permanent place in the
history of lyric verse. In his Gtdanfan %/t miner Dis^/plin (in the
volume tlbtrdit DUkthmst) Wcinhcber says that It was not because
of a longing for Hellas* not because of humanistic feeling, that he
turned to Greek forms, but because he had come to realise that in
rhymed verse the thought ends with the line (Bf^r///) whereas in

536