Gerhart Hauptmann.

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pen was able to evoke. Jensen visualized upon the printed page atmosphere,
color, litrhts and shadows, as the painter does on canvas. He introduced
in fiction the element of nature study and limned with genial realism the
scientist type, which had previously been the butt of satire. The formid-
able quantity of his works is hardly more bewildering than the versatility of
his mind. The poet's temperament, the painter's vision, the philosopher's
perspective, the scholar's knowledge, the earthborn's experience — all
these enter into his work, which with crystalline transparency reflects his
serious reading of life.

The dominant quality of his verse, collected some time ago under
the title ' Vom Morgen zum Abend' and recently re-issued in a new edition
(B. Flischer, Leipzig) is sincerity. With remarkable fearlessness he gives
utterance to religious heresies, but even in his combative mood there is
never a touch of indelicacy. One of the most interesting poems in the
book is 'Lilith.' In her, the prototype of woman, the mother of life, the
poet sees the supreme spiritual power of mankind. But Adam could not
grasp her greatness; he begged the Creator to give him only a woman, not
a goddess, one who would willingly receive, not imperiously demand.
So Lilith was left alone with her great longing to love and to render happy
the man whose companionship she was to share. In her despair she tore
out of her heart this longing and implanted it in the hearts of the human

404



AMELIA VON ENDE 405

race that was to be. In time this heirloom of Lilith became the great
dynamic force which spurs man forever to seek some far-off goal, and the
source of the greatest sorrows and the greatest joys of life. For originality
of conception and dignity of expression this poem is a rare achievement.
There are other poems in the volume full of the mature wisdom of noble
manhood. Many readers familiar with the 'Lieder aus Frankreich-von
einem deutschen Soldaten,' which were considered the best poetical monu-
ment of the war of 1870, will be surprised to learn that these peoms are not
included in the book. Jensen is one of the few German writers of the older
generation whom the material prosperity of the country has not made
insensible to its spiritual poverty. The new empire not having fulfilled
its ideal promises, his patriotism would not allow those songs to be re-
published.

While the appearance of Jensen's poems must be welcomed both as
a human document and an artistic achievement, one can but regret the
publication of the poems of two other seniors among the German writers.
Surely an author of such high standing as novelist and dramatist, as Adolf
Wilbrandt, should hesitate to give to the public a volume of verse so little
calculated to enhance his reputation, as ' Lieder und Bilder' (Cotta, Sutt-
gart). The book is mainly composed of occasional poems of which Ger-
many has already more than all the other countries combined. Birthday
greetings, even if they are addressed to Bismarck, lines sent with a bouquet
to be worn at a ball, verses written for festival monographs or special editions
of magazines, or for recitation at some solemn celebration, are not likely
to be inspired bv a spark of true fire. There is much of this inartistic
timeliness in the book of Rudolf von Gottschall: Spaete Lieder' (Gebr.
Paetel, Berlin). These prologues for Schiller days, for a navy festival,
for various occasions lend themselves to a display of resonant phrases which
may strike a responsive chord in masses keyed up to the mood of the occa-
sion, but when the spell of the moment is past, the hoUowness of their ring
becomes almost painful. Genial spirit and fluent form do not save either
of these books from bearing the stamp of mediocrity.

Of quite another character is the book of verse by Georg von Oertzen.
His 'Memorien des Znf nils' (¥. Bielefeld, Freiburg i. B.) reflect a somewhat
robust, but lovable personality. The poet is an octogenarian, but he has not
lost the sense of values. He offers impressions and confessions full of sane
acceptance of reality, a virile joy of life. A sage who sees the meaning of
the passing show, who bravely lashes the follies and sympathetically pictures
the sufferings of his fellow-beings, there is a strength and a spontaneity in
his book, which sharply contrasts with the weary senility of some of the



4o6 RECENT WORKS BY GERMAN WRITERS

junior poets of his country. Prince Scheonaich-Carolath, too, shows no
signs of age in his 'Gedichte' (Goeschen, Leipzig). In his early formative
period he drank deep of the fountain of tolk-song and has derived from that
source an admirable simplicity. His is a religious nature; there are
moments when he speaks like one inspired with a mission to raise mankind
to a higher spiritual level. In his purely personal moods he often strikes
lyric notes of rare charm. Maurice Reinhold von Stern's new volume
' Dortner iind Lerche' (Literarische Bulletin, Leipzig) proves him to be
a nature poet of distinction, whose spiritual searchings into the mysteries of
being have revealed to him the secret bonds between the universe and the
individual soul. He gives plastic utterance to his abstract imaginings, yet
always preserves a rare delicacy of outline and intimacy of feeling.

Ernst von Wolzogen has been so identified with the spirit of modern
Germany, even in its most absurd manifestation, the ill-starred Ueherbrettl,
that it is difficult to imagine him to have reached the age, when the human
mind is inclined to ramble over the road of the yesterdays. His new book,
' Ferse zu meinem Leben' (Fontane, BerHn) maintains his reputation for
originality. It is a sort of diary with poetical annotations. Were it not
for the biographical material they contain, some of the verses might as well
have remained unwritten; but the preface of the author justifies their
publication. The portrait of the author, whose hearty humor and refreshing
Bohemianism have made him a favorite figure among contemporary
writers, smiles at one through the pages of his curious book. Otto Erich
Hartleben, too, was an amiable Bohemian, but his posthumous volume
' Meine Verse' (S. Fischer, Berlin) reflects his Dionysian joy of living with
the measured cadence and the tempered tone of classical tradition. Unlike
his stories and his plays, which tackle social problems with sparkling humor
or with mordant satire, his verse expresses his reading of life but indirectly.
It is a book which deserves to be taken more seriously than that of the
confrere who survives him, but it lacks the intimate personal charm of the
other.

As a self-made artist Christian Wagner once bid fair to be ranked with
Conrad Deubler, the Austrian poet-philosopher, whose prose was read and
whose presence was sought by men of distinction in many walks of life.
But his poetic fund soon gave out and spoiled by his critics he became
artificial. Now he has made a selection from his poems under the title
^ Ein Blumenstrauss' (Germann's Verlag, Schwaebisch-Hall), which ^is
remarkable both for philosophical content and poetic form. There are few
German writers today who have caught the undertones in the harmony of
nature with such a sympathetic ear. The book is radiant with a serene
acceptance of fate and a solemn faith in eternity.



AMELIA VON ENDE 407

Among the newcomers are two poets of an originality as distinct as it
is divergent: Ernst Lissauer and Alfons Paquet. Lissauer takes up in
his book, Der Acker' (Hugo Heller, Vienna), one segment of life and makes
it the pivotal point for a panorama of symbols, clear, strong, vital and
tangible, moving with admirable consistency in the narrow compass of his
vision, yet opening vistas into the larger world. Paquet, whose book bears
a no less significant title, 'Auf Erden' (published by subscription and already
out of print), roves and loafs over the earth with the Wanderlust of a true
worldling, embracing, owning, sensing all and seeking its meaning. Lissauer
limits himself to the traditional meter and form; his lines and his stanzas
are short, his style is terse, and in some instances he arrives at that finality
of expression which is the artist's ultimate aim. Paquet Hstens with ear
intent to the song of hfe, as his wheel whirrs at midnight through the valleys
of his native land, as he stands on the railroad bridge, or gazes into the glare
of a foundry, or peers into the infinitude of the steppe, or hails the bewil-
dering vastness and activity of the new world. And as he hstens, the hues
he speaks echo it all, and the plaint of toil, the clarion of strife, the chant
of faith, the cancan of pleasure and the monody of death become a many-
voiced, endless canon, sung over an organ-point of multifarious rnachinery,
beating the time and holding the key in an awesome, mysterious hum.
Paquet recalls Whitman; his horizon is as large, his conception as demo-
cratic ; the rhythm of the ' Leaves of Grass ' vibrates in his lines and his style
often becomes diffuse. Both Lissauer and Paquet have been the first in
some years to strike a new note in the poetry of Germany; they are both
unusually virile individualities. Men who have encompassed experience,
they sing of vital things and their songs ring convincingly true.

The dramatic production of the past months has not been great, but
it has brought at least one surprise. When a writer belonging to an older
generation achieves a genuine dramatic success by means as old as they
are naive, before an audience as sophisticated as that of the Schauspielhaus
of Berlin, the world has cause to wonder. Ernst von Wildenbruch has long
stood for an interpreter of truths through the medium of historical images.
A certain fraction of German theatergoers never fails to respond to the
patriotic appeal which his works convey, be it ever so indirectly. But 'D/^
Rabensteinerm,' which was given shortly before the close of the season, is
not a historical but a romantic drama, the plot whereof is childishly simple
and the treatment almost trite. Yet the secret of his success is not far to
seek. Wildenbruch is the last heir of the Schiller tradition; with him it
may die, unless a revival is close at hand. He is a poet who has remained
young at heart in the very hotbed of premature senility. He has kept the



4o8 RECENT WORKS BY GERMAN WRITERS

hoK- lamp ever burning before the ideals of his younger days. In his
flamboyant enthusiasm there is no false note; he is thoroughly in earnest
and he is always sincere. The ring of this sincerity finds response in the
hearts of the people and wins the favor of his audiences. There is no other
man today who could risk the experiment of presenting in the Schauspielhaus
a play on the same lines; for no other man would be credited with having
a spark of the spirit, of which Schiller is the embodiment.

Nor is his success entirely due to this element in his work. Wildenbruch
is an admirable technician; he has an architect's eye for construction, an
almost infallible instinct for building up situations with a logical assurance
that makes them appear natural and even necessary, and for reaching
a final dramatic climax. His treatment of the masses is theatrical, but it is
effective, and under the spell of the dramatic moment the audience asks not
for psychology. One motive enters into the plot of 'Die Rabensteinerin'
which claims the attention of American readers. When the scion of the old
patrician Welser family has succeeded in winning for his bride the daughter
of the robber-barons, the father, hurt in his Welser pride, but impressed
by the racial traits of the young woman, decides that they should work out
their salvation in the new world. This final chord is a fine psychological
touch, emphasizing at once the gulf between two generations and pointing
the way out of the inevitable conflict. The play is published by Grote,
Berlin.

Eberhard Koenig's 'Stein' (Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin) was written
for the Lutherfestspiel verein and perhaps not intended for anything but
a festival play. But the work deserves notice, not only for its good work-
manship but for its national meaning. The central figure is Stein, the
Prussian diplomat and patriot, so prominent during the momentous period
of 1806 13. Although the poet has by no means exhausted the dramatic
possibilities of the life of Stein, he has conveyed the idea of a nation's
regeneration through the ideals of a hero convincingly and eflPectively.
His language is dignified and powerful. The success at the initial per-
formance in Jena was due more to the poet who has profoundly touched
by his stirring scenes and gripping words the patriotic chord, than to the
dramatist who had previously proved, that he is able to do better work.

' Thomas Mann's ' Fiorenza' has at last been performed in Frankfurt
and has proved not only a poetic drama of power, but a thoroughly playable
play. Eduard Stucken's 'Gawan' is another proof that even in Germany
the poetic drama often has to go begging before it finds a stage to undertake
its performance. 'Gawan' (S. Fischer, Berlin) has been performed in
Munich. The play is based upon the English poem of Sir Gawain, the



AMELIA VON ENDE 409

main outline of which has been faithfully adhered to until the end, when
the 'green knight' becomes death. Obeying an order from the Lord and
assisted by the Virgin Mary, who lends her shape to the seductive chatelaine
of the poem, the hero is tempted. He promptly repents of his failure and
lays down the magic girdle before the statue; this rapidly changes into
the living Virgin, who wards off death from the penitent, unveils the Grail
and offers him the sacred draught. By this conclusion the sub-title of the
play — a mystery — is justified. The play could not fail to find favor
with various portions of the audience by its appeal to the taste for gruesome
decapitations, which have recently proved so effective, by its introduction
of Parsifal motives and by the exquisite stage management.

Franz Duelberg is a writer on art belonging to the younger Munich
school, whose dramatic attempts always excite some controversy. His
imagination is exotic, his language affected and his composition lacks the
simple lines of a great work of art. But he has an abundance of ideas and
he expresses them in myriads of images, and although it is difficult to find
one's way through the maze, he succeeds to impress with a semblance of
power. His ' Korallenkettlm' (Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin) has a mediae-
val plot of great strength, the theatrical resources of which have been
thoroughly exploited and even exaggerated by the author. Yet the play
tends to confirm the hope that Duelberg will some time learn to discipline
his gifts and use them to better results than at the present time.

Whether he writes lyric verse or little stories, like the exquisite ' Ge-
schichten vom lieben Gott,' Rainer Maria Rilke is always a poet of noble dis-
tinction. But his first dramatic attempt has hardly conveyed the impression
that he is also a dramatist of power. He has written a series of well-
constructed, but detached scenes, in which the dialogue takes the place of
action. Although the psychology was convincing enough and the suggestion
of undercurrents of thought and feeling admirable, these dynamics of the
^ drame intime' did not save the play from failure through the lack of a firm
groundwork.

In the fiction recently published there is one volume by Rudolf von
Gottschall which ranks high above the poems of the monogenarian author.
Yet it does give one a peculiar feeling to see the vast difference in manner
more than matter, which separates him, who was once the champion of
a young (jermany against the conventionalities of an older generation,
from the young writers of the day. In ' Neiie Erzaehlungcn' (Gebr. Paetel,
licrhn), he has retained much of the ardor and of the combativeness of his
younger days; but even in these stories he cannot ignore an opportunity
to vent his wrath upon the mutual booming society which the young gener-



410 RECENT WORKS BY GERMAN WRITERS

ation of German literati seems to have organized. He calls them a race of
'blast' megalomaniacs, fed on false philosophisms and suffering from
congested mysticism.' Though there is some truth in his remarks, they
mar the tenor of stories otherwise harmless. Still he cannot be denied
a mastery of narrative style, a language full of color and mobility and great
constructive power. He was always a landscapist of no mean order, and
the setting of the stories lends itself to charming descriptions. The time
of the first two stories is the present, the scene of the last is Silesia shortly
before the peace of Tilsit.

It would be interesting to trace the connection between the new chapter
of psychology, which is called child-study, and the new chapter of literature
which has given us the child in drama and fiction. Among the writers who
have treated the child types in their works from the standpoint of superior
psychological knowledge, Franziska Mann is likely to be ranked first. Her
insight into the growth and the w'orkings of a child soul is admirable; she
watches over her little men and women as a mother over her brood, as
a sculptor over his shapes of clay. There is a tender solicitude in the way
she reveals to her readers some rare individuality, still in the making, but
already endowed with all the instincts and impulses of the adult human
being. The stories in her latest book, 'Kinder' (Axel Juncker, Berlin) are
sketchy, her portraits are not finished; but neither are her models and the
lives in which they will figure. The little book has a tantalizing charm of
suggestiveness.

Frau Viebig has in her latest novel returned to an older manner.
' Absolvo te' (Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin), the story of a young girl,
married by her mother to a wealthy old man, is told with the directness
which has once made the author rank with the greatest disciples of Zola
in Germany. The daughter of a schoolmaster, the heroine has a modest
education and can claim a refinement quite unusual in the country place,
whither she has come as wife of Herr Tiralla, a typical Gutsbesitzer of the
province of Posen, good-natured, ignorant and coarse. The mother did
not long witness the material prosperity and marital misery of her child.
The young wife had in her youth been inclined toward a semi-spiritual,
semi-sensuous devotion to the church, and never forgiven the mother for
marrying her to an old brute of bibulous habits. Even when a little girl
is born to them, the parents remain strangers. The child has inherited
the mother's religious nature and as she grows up, shows symptoms of
religious hysteria. While she has heavenly visions in her room, the father
in his apartment consumes greater and greater quantities of liquor. The
idea of getting rid of him becomes an idiosyncrasy with Frau Tiralla, long



AMELIA VON ENDE 411

before her unspent woman love finds a worthy object in the friend of her
step-son. All this is told with a virile, but not repulsive realism. The
atmosphere of the story is hot with the breath of strife in the breast of Frau
Tiralla and Martin Becker. When death comes to the old man by his own
hands, and Martin leaves the house, Frau Tiralla reads in the ecstatic
eyes of her daughter that forgiveness, which even her confessor might deny
the unfortunate woman. ' Absolvo ^^' is a very powerful book.

Books on Schiller are still appearing on the market. An important
little volume was recently added to the series called 'Die Kultur' (Bard,
Marquardt & Co., Berlin). It is entitled 'Schiller's Weltanschauung und
unsere Zeit,' and the author is Alexander von Gleichen-Russwurm. Calling
poets the conscience of their nation, he is of the opinion that Germany has
failed to reach the goal which Schiller had cherished. His ideal reading
of life lacks the material character of the present time. It is constructive,
while the present is destructive. He was a builder who would have hedged
in with walls whatever he thought worthy of reverence. Our generation
on the contrary tears down the walls. The author defines Schiller's idea
of freedom, and emphasizes the fact, that the poet deemed only him capable
of becoming a liberator, who had the proper amount of reverence. In
Schiller's ideas about the aesthetical education of mankind the author sees
a valuable ethical factor. He would have the poet remain our leader in
the world of beauty. The references to Schiller's international influence
are interesting. Among other illustrations there is the reproduction of
a miniature of Schiller which had been in the possession of Charlotte
von Kalb.



TWO SONNETS

By Harry T."^ Baker

The Elizabethans '

'Attempt! attempt!' the inner Genius cried.
Then eager, vast, unconquerable youth
Opened the flood-gates, and the crimson tide
Came rushing, heart to hand. Tameless, in truth,
Their utterance, yet no man had seen of yore
The virile splendor that flashed o'er their page.
Bounds they admitted none, but more and more
Dared and accomplished till it seemed dull age
Could ne'er o'ertake them. To the verge o' the world
Quested their voyagers of soul and sea.
Barbarians, gods, with credulous lips uncurled,
They wrote, unwitting, for eternity.

Earth bloomed anew, and, while these voices rang,
The primal morning-stars together sang.

After Reading Shakespeare^ s Sonnets

Are these but trifles of his empty hours,
His cold convention after passionate flame
In Romeo and Antony } These but flowers
Of artifice, and love a dainty name \
Rather, the poet's mighty heart beat on
In truest music, murmuring his woe
O'er passion Profitless and hope forgone,
Or sounding the deep joy that comrades know.
His unrecording century stands aloof.
Austere in silence. Cherish, then, the few
Inestimable strains what whisper proof
Not always did he shun our eager view:

Though Lear and Hamlet mirrored not his mind,
Here without mask he greeted all mankind.



412



FIDELITY

By Catulle Mendes
Translated by R. T. House

A GOD was a rich shepherd of the plain. His wife left her
pitcher on the earth upon a day when the sun was like
fire. She laid her down in the shade of a tree, and there
came a dream to her:
She dreamed that she slept sweetly and awoke
hearing the voice of Agod speaking thus and commanding:
'Let us arise; for I sold to the dealers of Segor, a year and half a year
in the past, five score of sheep; they owe me yet more than a third part
of the purchase-money. I am old and my feet are heavy; the debtors are
far hence. Who will go for me and claim the debt from them ^ How may
I find a faithful messenger? Bring thou the twenty silver pieces; for thus
it is better.'

His docile helpmeet urged not the lonely desert, nor its hungry wild-
beasts, nor its cruel robbers. 'I am thy servant,' she said, 'speak thy will.'
With arm extended, 'Thither' said the shepherd; and then without loss of
time she took her mantle of wool and departed. Her feet were heavy in
the way; for the path was filled with sharp stones. Her foot-soles shed
blood and her eyes shed tears; but she went morning and evening and
paused never at all. The terrible night came, and everything was black and
silent; but she went and paused not. Then she heard a dreadful cry,
and a hand of iron covered her mouth, and one tore her mantle and thrust
a great knife into her breast with a sure thrust.

She awoke in great fear and all her body trembled. Then she saw her
husband at her side, and he said: 'I sold to the dealers of Segor, a year
and half a year in the past, five score of sheep; they owe me yet more
than a third part of the purchase-money. I am old and my feet are heavy;
the debtors are far hence. Who will go for me and claim the debt from
them .'' How may I find a faithful messenger .'' Bring thou the twenty
silver pieces; for thus it is better.'

The faithful helpmeet answered, 'My lord and master has spoken; I
am ready.' She called her sons. The older was a noble boy, and she
put her right hand about his neck. And she kissed the little brother, and
took her mantle of wool and departed without loss of time.

413



LIFE AND LETTERS

IT otten occurs to us that in this age when every one has something
to sav and wants to sav it to as many people as possible, and con-
versely nobody is especially anxious to hear what any one has to
say, that we are terribly in need of some cheaper way of repro-
ducing our thoughts than printing. With a maximum of orators
or sages or seers and a minimum of audience of laymen it is next to
impossible to sell enough copies of anything at twenty-five cents to pay the


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Online LibraryGerhart HauptmannAnd Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) → online text (page 12 of 13)