Du bist mein wunsch und mein gedanke Ich atme dich mit jeder luft Ich schlürfe dich mit jedem tranke Ich küsse dich mit jedem duft

Du blühend reis vom edlen stamme Du wie ein quell geheim und schlicht Du schlank und rein wie eine flamme Du wie der morgen zart und licht.


VII

George's poetry comes not from an overflowing heart and as the result of an uncontrollable impulse. The element of will was a part of the creative urge, and the reader is conscious of this. His poetic idea was not carried on the flow of words but controlled it, so that the reader's attention is not carried on the flow of words either but is aware of their manipulation, and without careful attention to this can derive no satisfaction from the poems. George did not himself think that there was any break in his poetical development, nor indeed is there. His mission as a poet began with the aim of rescuing poetry from that effeteness which was prevalent in his youth, and in his mature years he directed that mission upon the civilization of his time, for he saw that poetry is an index of the age in which it is written.

Like Hölderlin he recognized that he was a poet in penurious times: 'Dichter in dürftiger Zeit'. But he did not ask himself, as Hölderlin did, to what purpose one should be a poet in such times. Or if he did, his answer was ready to hand: for the very reason that they are penurious. For he recognized the truth of Jean Paul's saying: 'No age is in such need of poetry as that which thinks it can do without it'. Like Hölderlin too he realized that the gods had abandoned men, and like him he sought to replace them. But his attempt to do so was fraught with even greater difficulties than that of his predecessor. Nor can it be maintained that his desperate effort to find a substitute for the gods was more successful than Hölderlin's. Like him too he feels himself to be the bearer of a message to his people; his aim is to form a community of those who share his ideals and to build a new society. That he should succeed in doing this to any wider extent was not to be expected; but amongst those he collected around him who were ready to carry his ideas out into the world -- friends of similar aims in his youth and disciples

-56-

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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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