A Book of German Lyrics

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Title: A Book Of German Lyrics
Author: Various
Release Date: July, 2005 [EBook #8565]
[This file was first posted
on July 23, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: German, with English comments
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

E-text prepared by David Starner, Thomas Berger, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team
Selected And Edited With Notes And Vocabulary
Assistant Professor Of German, University
Of Wisconsin
[Illustration: Ricordo di Tivoli, by Anselm Feuerbach]
In compiling this Anthology my aim has been not so much to acquaint
the student with individual great poems as with the poets themselves.
With this end in view I have made the selections as full and as varied as
possible and included in the Notes short introductory sketches of the
poets. Since the book is intended for the work of fourth and fifth
semester German in College (or third and fourth year High School),
pedagogic considerations imposed certain limitations not only as to
individual poems but also as to poets. Thus I felt that I must exclude
Novalis, Hölderlin, Brentano, Annette von Droste, Nietzsche and
Dehmel. My standard of difficulty--aside from matters purely
linguistic--was: Could a similar poem in English be read and
appreciated by the same class of students? Moreover I tried out in a
class of fourth semester German all poems that seemed to offer special
difficulties and have made use of the experience thus acquired.
Some of my readers will undoubtedly be surprised at finding only two
poems of Schiller included in the collection. May I point to the length
of these two poems, 270 lines? Even to Goethe I have given only 362
lines. Why did I choose these two poems? The lighter lyric verse of
Schiller is not representative of the poet nor would it have enriched the
Anthology with a new note. Das Lied von der Glocke is too long for

this small volume and is readily accessible in three different school
editions. Schiller is at his best in his philosophical lyrics: as Goethe has
said, in this field he is absolutely supreme. Poems like _Das Ideal und
das Leben_ or Der Spaziergang are far too difficult for our younger
students. Das verschleierte Bild zu Sais, however, offers a
philosophical problem which the younger mind can grasp without
special training in philosophy. A few introductory remarks, such as I
have given in the notes, will prepare the way. Both poems, furthermore,
exemplify Schiller's ethical idealism. Certainly no other poems
available at this stage could do more.
I have often been asked by teachers: How do you teach lyric poetry?
An answer is found in my Notes to a number of the poems. The chief
prerequisite is a warm love for the poets: nowhere is enthusiasm more
contagious. A few introductory remarks will open the world of the
poem to the student. The teacher must, of course, develop in the
students their latent rhythmical sense both by example and precept.
Aside from this lyric poetry teaches itself.
As to the use of the book I should suggest spending two or three weeks
on one or two poets--I should begin with Goethe--and after that spend
one hour a week for a semester or even a year. Some poems could be
assigned for outside reading and then a group of poems be discussed in
On the whole I have limited myself to those poets that to-day stand out
as preëminent. A possible exception is the once famous Rückert. I
could not resist the temptation of including his Aus der Jugendzeit, a
poem of consummate beauty, Rückert's one perfect lyric. Time has
been relentless in its winnowing process. But if Geibel, Wilhelm
Müller and Bodenstedt have given way to Mörike, Keller and Hebbel,
we assuredly have no reason for lament. If this little book help
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