German Poetry: A Critical Anthology

German Poetry: A Critical Anthology

German Poetry: A Critical Anthology

German Poetry: A Critical Anthology

Excerpt

To the Student After two years of college German you should be able to read and enjoy the greater number of the poems in this anthology. A good many you could easily read even earlier, while some, even with the assistance provided by the notes, will still take a good deal of thought and study. Your anthologist hopes that he has not included any poems that are not worth this effort.This text does not contain a vocabulary. You will need to consult your dictionary frequently to understand everything in this anthology even though it contains many helps in the form of explanations of allusions that may be unfamilar to you, glosses many words whose meaning you might mistake (or might not find in the ordinary desk dictionary), and affords help with difficult constructions and unusual grammatical forms.Unlike other anthologies of German poetry now used in our colleges, this anthology contains a number of interpretive essays, most but not all of them in English. You are not necessarily expected to agree with all these interpretations. Remember, however, that every work of art can be seen from many different points of view, and the greater it is, the more points of view. The interpretation of Hamlet, for example, is still to be found. There is perhaps only one "rule" for interpreting a poem as a poem: the interpretation must be derived from the work itself, not imposed from without, though of course outside information can be of the greatest assistance.This anthology also contains quite a number of exercises, usually in the form of questions on the poem you have just read, and occasionally, interpretations by German critics have been placed under the exercises. The purpose of these exercises is to make you read the poems more closely and think, perhaps even dream, about them more intensely. "On rêve sur un poè`me comme on rêve sur un être," a French poet ( Paul Valéry) has said. One can dream over a poem as over a living form. A poem we have read only once we have hardly read at all. Poetry is the most concentrated -- though not necessarily the most involved -- form of verbal expression we know. Thus quite unlike the way one reads a newspaper, one must always read a poem slowly. And, because it possesses compact and multiple layers of feeling and meaning, one should read, and even dream, a poem again and again.Some may want to know where to find further material on the German lyric. A great deal of excellent work has been done in this field in recent years. The first two items in the following short list will lead you to much useful material.

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