Dass sie ihr werk willfährig wieder treibt:
Den leib vergottet und den gott verleibt.

The poem, Templer1, in which these lines occur is highly revealing. The sacred band of young men is acclaimed, an ideal fellowship it is true, but one which recalls the disciples of George. All the immemorial deeds and necessary changes which the world requires are performed by men who are members of this fellowship. And not only in the world of action do they impose their will, but upon the order of human life as determined by nature. If nature should refuse to carry on her task in some dark period of the world, only one who has constantly combatted her and exercised compulsion upon her and never has proceeded in accordance with her laws is able to force her to pursue her task obediently. But what is her task? It is, as George enunciates it: to deify the body, and make bodily the deity. The final step has been taken, both in the exercise of control and in the separation from nature. Her task has been imposed upon her, not by God but by man. George's fundamental obsession with power, expressed even in his ideal of a highly disciplined personal life, stands openly revealed. The ideal of humanism has been exalted to a supreme, magnificent but impious height. The superman has been realized. Man, nature and God have been subjected to human compulsion.


II

If the words 'obsession with power' be used, however, the idea (so frequently imputed to George) must be guarded against that this is in any way connected with political ideas, and that it implies any belief in the ideas of German aggrandizement or in the achievements of the second Empire. It is in the world of the spirit that his power rules. His attitude to the Germany of his day, to its political and economic ambitions, its satisfaction with the state of culture attained, is at least as contemptuous as that of Nietzsche in Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen. The word Prussian, describing in any sense George's attitude of mind, is singularly out of place, as is apparent in the partially destroyed poem entitled Bismarck, in which his abhorrence and contempt for all that Prussia stood for were so plainly stated that he felt it unwise to publish it. The Templer of the poem, the body of

____________________
1
In Der Siebente Ring. The substance of the lines is given in this and the preceding paragraph.

-18-

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Stefan George
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Introduction 9
  • I 11
  • II 18
  • III 20
  • IV 26
  • V 31
  • VI 45
  • VII 56
  • Appendix 59
  • Biographical Dates 62
  • Select Bibliography 63
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