Verschweigen wir was uns verwehrt ist ́
Geloben wir glücklich zu sein
Wenn auch nicht mehr uns beschert ist
Als noch ein rundgang zu zwein.

But throughout the prevailing melancholy of these poems there is a sense of expectancy; and the coming of illumination which is heralded in the last poem of Waller im Schnee by the appearance of the brother on the shore who 'beckons, waving his joyous banner' is repeated in the lines:

Mein feuebtes auge späht nur fern
Nach diesem Einen aus der gern
Die harfe reich und wohlgestimmt
Der unsre goldne harfe nimmt ́

Nor is there absent an element which varies the dominating tone of melancholy: the note of admonition or self-encouragement-for as in Das Jahr der Seele, the 'ich' and 'du' must ultimately be considered parts of the poet's own soul. Thus one poem concludes with the lines:

Nicht vor der eisigen firnen
Drohendem rätsel erschrick
Und zu den ernsten gestirnen
Hebe den suchenden blick!

And there are other poems in which the same note is struck.


VI

The tendency to see George as a figure of masterfulness, of complete self-possession, to which the later volumes lend some evidence has been extended to cover the whole of his life. This is a simplification of his personality which is not justified. Up to and including Das Jahr der Seele there is a continuous reference in the poems to states of mind which are far from indicating such a convinced attitude of self-possession. As has been suggested, all these earlier collections express a seeking and proving of possible modes of life, and in all of them there are poems which are the expressions of uncertainty, misgiving, doubt and even of world-weariness and despair, so that on the whole it may be said that a sense of melancholy prevails, not least in Das Jahr der Seele and in Traurige Tänze. It is only from Der Teppich des Lebens

-45-

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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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