When do you plant a gestaded cannabis seed
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When do you plant a gestaded cannabis seed
GEORG TRAKL AND THE LITERATURE OF DECADENCE Ruth Wishart A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of St Andrews 1994 Full metadata for this item is available in St Andrews Research Repository at: http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/ Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/13361 This item is protected by original copyright GEORG TRAKL AND THE LITERATURE OF DECADENCE by Ruth Wishart A thesis submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy University of St Andrews December 1993 ProQuest Number: 10170670 All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. uest. ProQuest 10170670 Published by ProQuest LLC(2017). Copyright of the Dissertation is held by the Author. All rights reserved. This work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC. ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, Ml 48106- 1346 DECLARATIONS I, Ruth Wishart, hereby certify that this thesis, which is approximately 100,000 words in length, has been written by me, that it is the record of work carried out by me and that it has not been submitted in any previous application for a higher degree. I was admitted as a research student under Ordinance No. 12 in October 1987 and as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in March 1988; the higher study for which this is a record was carried out in the University of St Andrews between 1987 and 1990, and then 1992 and 1993. In submitting this thesis to the University of St Andrews I understand that I am giving permission for it to be made available for use in accordance with the regulations of the University Library for the time being in force, subject to any copyright vested in the work not being affected thereby. I also understand that the title and abstract will be published, and that a copy of the work may be made available to any bona fide library or research worker. date: signature of candidate: I hereby certify that the candidiate has fulfilled the conditions of the Resolution and Regulations appropriate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of St Andrews and that the candidate is qualified to submit this thesis in application for that degree. date: signature of supervisor: ABSTRACT This thesis examines the poetry of Georg Trakl within the context of literary decadence in Europe at the turn of the century (1880—1914). It provides an analysis of Trakl’s early writing, and traces themes of literary decadence which recur throughout his work, particularly in the late prose and the dramatic fragment of 1914. In so doing, it also undertakes a comparative study of Trakl’s poetry and decadent literature in Austria, Germany, France and England. Chapter One looks at the literary background and attempts a definition of what was understood by literary decadence in France and Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. Chapter Two examines motifs of crime and horror in Trakl’s writing, paying particular attention to the concept of Lustmord in the early dramas B1aubart and Don Juans Tod and the later dramatic fragment of 1914. Chapter Three examines the issue of sexual guilt, and the portrayal of women in Trakl’s poetry, from the femme fatale of the early poetry to the figure of the sister and the androgyne in the later poetry. Chapter Four traces the theme of blasphemy from the early lyric to the last poetic utterances of 1914, and touches briefly on the question of Trakl as a Christian poet. Chapter Five looks at motifs of isolation, obsession with death and decay, and poetry as the expression of the poet’s etat d’ame. Chapter Six provides an analysis of the language and style of the early poetry, focusing on Trakl’s affinity with the style of literary decadence. PREFACE This work was undertaken in the belief that a close examination of Trakl’s early poetry, prose and drama, which have rarely been regarded in any detail within Trakl scholarship, would provide a better understanding of the later lyric, labelled by many critics as ‘hermetic’. I have concentrated on themes of decadence which can be traced throughout Trakl’s oeuvre, and which elucidate much of the later poetry; this method of study, and cross-reference within Trakl’s writing, has provided in particular a better understanding of the late prose poems and the dramatic fragment of 1914. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my supervisor, Professor Ray Furness, whose guidance and encouragement have been unfailing. I would also like to acknowledge the ready assistance of the following institutions, which put both published and unpublished material at my d i sposa1 : The Trak1 —Archiv, Salzburg The Brenner—Archiv at the University of Innsbruck The Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach I am particularly grateful to Professor-Magister Hans Weichselbaum at the Trakl—Archiv for his help. I received financial support for my research from the Scottish Education Department and from the University of St Andrews Travel Grant. It is impossible for me to acknowledge my indebtedness to all the individuals who have contributed in some way to this finished product; my thanks must go to friends in St Andrews and Wurzburg who provided me with encouragement, understanding, and advice. Above all, I would like to thank my parents for the support which they have shown throughout this period of study. Edinburgh, December 1993 I ch glaube, es miifite furchtbar sein, imnier so zu leben, im Vollgefiihl all der animal ischen Triebe, die das Leben durch die Zeiten walzen. Ich habe die f iirchter 1 ichsten Mog 1 i chke i t en in mir gefiihlt, gerochen, getastet und im Blute die Damonen heu1en horen, die tausend Teufel mit ihren Stacheln, die das Fleisch wahnsinnig machen. Welch entsetzlicher AlpM CONTENTS Preface 7 Epigraph 8 CHAPTER ONE: LITERARY DECADENCE “Une race condamnee au malheur”: The Literary Background 9 “Womit kennzeichnet sich jene literarische Decadence?”: Decadence in France, Austria and Germany 16 CHAPTER TWO: CRIME AND HORROR “Die Nacht ist vo11 Wahnsinn”: The Legend of Bluebeard 28 “Deine Kindertage sind urn”: Herbert’s Loss of Innocence 36 “Du geifernd Tier”: The Personification of Decadent Sexuality 40 “Keusch bluhende Rose”: Elisabeth as Ambivalent Victim 50 “Dies wirre Bild”: Style and Imagery 53 “Orgel seufzt und Hoile lacht”: Blaubart Themes in the Later Lyric 60 “Im Zwiespalt deines Wesens”: Don Juan’s Dual Nature 77 “Weg, schreck1iches Gesicht”: The Struggle with Guilt 80 “Da bin mit meinem Morder ich allein”: Lustmord as LustseIbstmord 86 “O! ihr stillen Spiegel der Wahrheit”: The Mirror as a Symbol of Recognition 93 “Die Fieberlinnen des Jiinglings”: Blaubart’s Heirs 101 CHAPTER THREE: WOMEN AND SEXUALITY “O rasende Manade”: The Masochistic Vision 113 “Die herrlichste Hetare”: The Allure of the Femme Fatale 119 “Verruchter Wollust Sufie”: Incest as a Decadent Motif 133 “Ein Geschlecht”: The Androgynous Ideal 150 “Schwester sturmischer Schwermut”: The Sister as Redeemer 169 CHAPTER FOUR: PERVERSE RELIGIOSITY AND BLASPHEMY “In der Hoile se1bstgeschaffener Leiden”: The Suffering Saint 175 “In seelenlosem Spiel mit Brot und Wein”: Catholicism 187 “Der flammender Sturz des Engels”: The Struggle with Sin 196 CHAPTER FIVE: ISOLATION AND THE SOUL “Mich daucht’, ich traumte”: Introspective Subjectivity 208 “Das Schweigen der Ver1assenheit”: The Poet’s Isolation 210 “Und dich zermalmt des All tags grauer Gram”: Ennui 216 “In meiner Seele dunk 1em Spiegel”: Seelenstande 221 “So spielt um kranke Blumen noch die Sonne”: The Aestheticism of Death and Decay 229 “O Nacht, ich bin bereit”: The Poet’s Longing for Death 240 CHAPTER SIX: LANGUAGE AND STYLE “Car nous voulons la Nuance encor”: Decadence as a Literary Style 250 “Meine ganze, schone Welt, vo11 unendlichen Wohllauts”: The Escape in Aestheticism 255 “Style ing^nieux, compliqu^, saveant”: Over-ref inement 258 “Notre style doit etre rare et tourmente”: Linguistic Experimentation 261 “De la Musique avant toute chose”: The Musicality of Poetry 264 CONCLUSION “Das lebendige Fieber”: The Conquest of Decadence? 270 FOOTNOTES 280 BIBLIOGRAPHY 335 CHAPTER ONE: LITERARY DECADENCE 9 So ist Dekadenz eine Abendrote der Menschheit, mit aller Miidigkeit des Abends, mit der indischen Stille des Abends, durch die lautlose Winde rinnen, a lies in schwankende Bewegung auf- losend. Und iiber den tausend Farben des Abends sinkt die Sonne mit der Theatralik eines Sternes, der kein Morgen verspricht.1 “Une race condamnee au malheur”: The Literary Background “Je suis 1’Empire a la fin de la Decadence”;2 these words, from Paul Verlaine’s sonnet ‘Langueur’ well convey the climate of the late nineteenth century: solitude, ennui, moral impotence expressed in an identification with the mood of Rome in its decline. The concept of decadence in Europe at the end of the century was not a new one, but rather the culmination of a century or more of gradual decline. In France, where the artistic movement was born and flourished, “decadence” was the final stage of a literary trend which included the writings of the Marquis de Sade, the French Romantics and Baudelaire. In the late eighteenth century, the moral decline which was regarded as widespread in France, and much criticized by Montesquieu and Rousseau amongst others, found its affirmation in the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Unlike Rousseau, the ‘divine Marquis’ revelled in the lack of moral standards which he saw about him: “1 ‘etat le plus heureux sera toujours celui oil la depravation des moeurs sera la plus universe 1 le.”3 His 10 writing presents a world of sexual perversion, where flagellation, rape, vampirism and castration are regular occurrences, and where gratification is only achieved through brutality and even murder. His novels Justine and Juliette demonstrate his belief that virtue leads only to oppression and ruin, whereas happiness and prosperity are gained through vice. The far- reaching influence of de Sade on the later generations of Romantics and decadents has been examined by Mario Praz in his study of The Romantic Agony (Chapter Three, “The Shadow of the Divine Marquis”).4 The French Romantics, disillusioned by the failure of the revolutions of 1789 and 1830, turned their contempt of the bourgeois from politics to literature. First advocated by Th^ophile Gautier in his preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin, the theory of “1’art pour l’art” became the basis of Romantic Aestheticism: “Il n’y a de vraiment beau que ce qui ne peut servir a rien; tout ce qui est utile est laid . “.5 In turning away from philistine society, the Romantics sought escape in the excesses of their art, which became an exploration of all that is outside conventional morality. Hence we find in their works a fascination with criminality, prostitution and adultery. As Maigron points out, adultere and orgie were the “deux principaux mots du dictionnaire romantique”.6 This delight in sin took its extremest form in works which emulated the Marquis de Sade with their treatment of sadism and perversion. In the French Romantics we find, too, emphasis on the sensitivity of the artist and the constant search for new sensations. Describing Raymon de Ramiere, the hero of Indiana, George Sand spoke for a whole generation: “Un insatiable besoin demotions d£vore 1eur vie; la passion les domine et rien ne saurait maitriser ses transports.”7 In the criticism of one contemporary critic, Taine, we find a summary of the traits of Romanticism which could just as aptly apply to decadence at the end of the century: “Partout 11 le degotit, 1’abrutissement et la maladie, l’impuiss- ance, la folia, le suicide”.8 The term ‘decadence’ has carried connotations of degeneracy, corruption and weakness, especially amongst the aristocracy, since the days of the Roman Empire, and has often appeared within this context. In his Considerations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et leur decadence of 1734, Montesquieu not only popularized the concept of decadence in eighteenth century Europe, but also made an indirect criticism of his own society with the suggestion that abandonment to luxurious material comfort contributed to the Romans’ decline, a theme which was re—iterated by Rousseau in his Di scours si le re tab 1issement des sciences et des arts a contribue a epourer les moeurs (1750). The association of decadence and literature was probably first made by Voltaire in the mid-eighteenth century in his complaint that French literature had been in a state of decline since the golden age of Classicism: Nous sommes en tout sens dans le temps de la plus horrible decadence. Cependant soyez stir qu’ i 1 viendra un temps oil tout ce qui est £crit dans le style du siecle de Louis XIV surnagera, et oti tous les autres Merits goths et vandales resteront plong^s dans le fleuve de l’oubli.9 A similarly pejorative view is found in D6sir£ Nisard’s Etudes de moeurs et de critique sur les poetes latins de la decadence, which draws a parallel between French Romanticism and the decadent literature of the declining Roman Empire. In his view, decadence in literature was characterized by an over-refinement of style, with emphasis on “Erudition”, “description”, and a “prdferance pour le laid”.10 By the mid-nineteenth century the notion of decadent literature was widely accepted in France, not just in connection with ancient Rome, but now applied also to French Romanticism, albeit in a predominantly pejorative manner. It was Charles Baudelaire who first 1 2 gave the concept of decadence a positive value. In his Notes Nouvelles sur Edgar Poe, whilst mocking the use of the term by Classical scholars as meaningless, he defends the style which is understood by this term: Litterature de decadence! – Paroles vides que nous entendons souvent tomber, avec la sonority d’un bSilement emphatique, de la bouche de ces sphinx sans £nigme qui veil lent devant les portes saintes de 1’Esthetique classique . Il est dvidemment question d’un poeme ou d’un roman dont toutes les parties sont habilement disposes pour la surprise, dont le style est magnifiquement orne, o£i toutes les ressources du 1angage et de la prosodie sont utilisdes par une main impeccable J 1 In the Notes, Baudelaire lays out his theory of aestheticism as well as drawing close parallels between his own ideas and those of Poe; the central issues here have their roots in Romanticism: the importance of beauty (“Un artiste n’est un artiste que grSce a son sens exquis du Beau”),12 imagination (“La reine des facu1tes”),l3 and conscious artistry, as well as the artist’s role in revealing a spiritual realm beyond the reality of appearances (“C’est cet admirable, cet immortel instinct du Beau qui nous fait considdrer la terre et ses spectacles comme un aper^u, comme une correspondence du Ciel”).l , he is calling to her to turn from the threshhold of sexuality. As Blaubart confirms, the golden key “offnet zum Brautgemach die Tur” ; rather than forbidding her to enter this forbidden room, he violently takes her in. Her sexual awareness replaces the fairy tale motif of curiosity, her loss of virginity is at the same time her death at Blaubart’s hands. This explains, too, why the murder of the wives takes place on their wedding night, while in more traditional versions of the tale, it is weeks, even months before the wives are tempted to use the golden key. The problematic nature of sexuality is a theme which runs throughout Trakl’s work. Much of the symbolism and style of this piece is, admittedly, somewhat crude, but that does not detract from its importance for an understanding of Trakl’s entire oeuvre. Otto Basil certainly fails to see the symbolic significance of the play when he dismisses it as “ein b 1 utriinst iges , grand-gui gno 1-haf t es Dramolett”* E1i sabe th: Mein Herr! Als wir gingen durch dies Haus Da loschten alle Fackeln aus! Mich daucht es weint wo immerzu! The chaos inside the castle, and in the emotions of the protagonists, is mirrored in nature: “In den Wipfeln wiih 11 das Friih 1 ingsgebraus ” . The onomatopoeia of this image underlines the surge of the wind outside the window, and at the same time the tension and rush of sexual awareness within both Herbert and Elisabeth: It is not by chance that the season is spring, the traditional time of passion and love. One can see in the fact that the play is conceived as a Puppenspiel further evidence of the influence of Maeterlinck, although Ariane et Barbe-bleue was not one of the plays which the Belgian dramatist wrote for marionettes.20 Here Trakl uses puppets to reflect one of the underlying themes of the play: that his characters, in particular Blaubart, are ruled by forces outwith themselves. This was not the only Puppenspiel which Trakl wrote. Klettenhammer has found evidence of an early Kaspar Hauser drama, which seems to have been 35 written in the decorative style of Jugendstil, rather than the flagrant decadence we find in Blaubart.She cites Buschbeck’s essay on “Salzburgs Kultur aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart”, which lists amongst Trakl’s early work “ein Puppenspiel Kaspar Hauser, dessen verziickte, friih 1 ingswarme Primitivitat von ganz eigentiiml ichen Reiz ist und das in seinetn Wesen merkwiirdig an die schdnen e inf ach-dekora t i ven Gemalde Karl Anton Reichels erinnert”.22 The essay makes no mention of a Blaubart drama. K1ettenhammer examines the evidence that both the early Puppenspiele were prototypes for the Dramenfragment of 1914. Webber suggests that the Blaubart drama was actually a parody of the earlier Kaspar Hauser play.23 The play is prefaced by an ironic Vorausnahme, which anticipates the conclusion of the tale, namely that Blaubart will reform his ways. There is perhaps a slight echo of Tieck’s Moralitat here; Trakl certainly seems to be upholding the pose of the cynic which characterizes much of Sammlung 1909, challenging the anticipated objections of his audience and reassuring them that all will be well in the end. There is, however, an undeniable hint of blasphemy in the final ’’Amen! ” A variant Zueignung addresses Blaubart, rather than a self-righteous audience. Beklagst du, Verworrner dein wirres Bi Id Das von Gelachter und Schmerz zerwiihlt Gedulde, dich, bis du wieder erstehst Und gewande1t, auf sittsameren Wege gehst. Here, there is more emphasis on the fact that Blaubart’s fate is outwith his own control. Both his suffering and his redemption are in the hands of a higher power; the prologue can only advise patience in suffering: “Gedulde. ” We think here of the pass ivity of later protagonists, such as Elis: “Lafi, wenn deine Stirne leise blutet/ Uralte Legenden/ Und dunk 1e Deutung des Vogelflugs” . There is a more genuine 36 note to this variant prologue, which Trakl rejected, an understanding of Blaubart’s predicament, rather than a cyni ca1 pose. “Deine Kindertage sind um”: Herbert’s Loss of Innocence The opening words of the first scene point to Blaubart’s sinful nature and his need for forgiveness, as well as Elisabeth’s need of God’s mercy in her plight. This is a theme which will be expounded in the second scene, for the focus of attention here is not so much on Blaubart as on his two servants, in particular Herbert. It is through this figure that Trakl first examines the central theme of the play: the problematic nature of sexual awareness as sin. We first see Herbert in a position of servitude and piety, on his knees, seeking God’s mercy for Elisabeth. He knows of Blaubart’s past, and of the inevitability of the murder which is to come; he is aware, too, of the ghosts of the previous brides who haunt the castle. This would all be in keeping with the fairy tale as we know it, except for an important line in Herbert’s first speech: “Hi If den Sundern aus ihrer Hollennot!” . The plural noun here refers not merely to Blaubart, the most obvious sinner, but also to his victim, Elisabeth. As we shall see, sexuality is constantly associated with sin and death throughout this play. The wedding ceremony has just been completed; its consummation is, in the eyes of the innocent Herbert, sinful, and therefore leads to damnation in hell for Elisabeth as well as Blaubart. It first appears that Herbert, in his naivety, cannot bear to be in the presence of such evil (“Ich halt’s nicht aus!” ); yet we soon realize that 37 there is more to his predicament than this. In a trance-like state, he imagines the “B1utbrautnacht” not with horror, but rather with vicarious sadistic pleasure, already tainted by the evil within the place. His purity struggles as he expresses the desire to be free of his senses, that he might not be contaminated through them, but even in expressing this desire, he knows that it is futile: “Nimm mir Ohr und Aug! Ich bin verflucht!” . He is already damned, not by the presence of Blaubart, but by the loss of his innocence; for Herbert, it is not the sexual act which seals his damnation, but simply the very knowledge of sexual feeling. His cry for help is as much for himself as for E1i sabeth. The second version of the scene makes the nature of Herbert’s suffering more explicit. Dreaming of Blaubart and Elisabeth has aroused a feeling of “Fiebergluhn”, which Herbert himself does not entirely understand. In his dream he flees from his own sexuality as soon as it is awakened (“Fuhlt ihre Nah, wie im Fiebergluhn -/ Und muJBte schrein und vor ihnen fliehn!” ). Yet the damage has been done; he is left feeling contaminated by uncleanliness and disease. The old servant confirms the nature of his dream: “Deine Kindertage sind um —” ; a variant carries the line: “Deine ruhigen Tage sind um . For Trakl, sexual awareness means a loss of peace. The third, fragmentary version of the scene contains a further intensification of Herbert’s sexual awakening, for here his “Fiebergluhn” is not in response to a dream, but to the physical presence of Elisabeth. In his naivety, he is still unable to understand or name his passion. The old servant’s response is one of pity: “Du sol 1st sie nicht ansehn, mein armes Kind” . Herbert’s response to his predicament is quite different in the two fuller versions of the scene; yet in both versions, as we will see, are themes which are 38 central to Trakl’s later lyric. In the first version, Herbert feels the need to escape from the castle and make the hideous crimes of Blaubart known in the village. By making verbal expression of these crimes, publically, Herbert can find release from them. This is a theme which pervades Trakl’s lyric, the need to find a release from his own suffering through his poetry. Here, Herbert intends to give voice to “das Namenlose”, not in the hope that the villagers will storm the castle and rescue Elisabeth, as in Maeterlinck’s play, but simply in an attempt to release himself from the evil power of Blaubart’s crimes and the related problem of his own awakening sexuality. The second version of the scene provides a less happy end. As we have seen, the reason for Herbert’s anguish is his subconscious awareness of his own sexuality. He is aware that his dream is evil, yet he is not able to express its sexual nature. This psychological suppression of his emotions is his attempt to cope with his sexuality; he has neither the strength nor the maturity to face the truth, therefore chdoses to forget his dream, to deny it verbal expression and the power of language. A look at the variants confirms this interpretation. Trakl chose “Ich vergafi – warum” over “Und weiB nicht warum” and “Micht ahnt – warum!” ; in these rejected lines, Herbert’s knowledge of the nature of his dream is either non-existant, or at best vague. The final version, however, makes it obvious that Herbert understood his dream, but subconscious1y drove this knowledge from his mind. In this version, Herbert’s need to escape is not so that he can make known Blaubart’s crimes in the village, nor that he can no longer stand to be in the presence of evil, but that he can no longer bear the presence of one who awakes his sexual need. For Herbert, to be aware of sexuality is to be in a state of sin; this is accompanied by guilt, expressed in 39 visions of decay and death: “Aasgeier umflattern wieder den Ort!” . Here is the premonition, too, of Elisabeth’s death at Blaubart’s hands. The blood which will be spilt on the threshhold is obviously symbolic, not only of Elisabeth’s death, but of the loss of her virginity and her innocence. This is the threshhold of the forbidden chamber of sexuality; the door between virginity and sexual experience is at the same time the door between life and death. Herbert’s vision of blood is in reality “Der Fackeln flackernde Glut” – the symbolism of the virile, destructive flames reinforces the fact that Elisabeth’s innocence will be taken by ma 1 e force. Herbert calls for Elisabeth to turn back before she enters the forbidden chamber. “Der Tod vor der Schwelle” is death with innocence preserved. His desire to die in place of Elisabeth is the desire not simply the desire to atone for her murder, as an innocent sacrifice; the motivation behind Herbert’s suicide is as much for himself as for Elisabeth. The guilt of his own sexuality, and thus his own sinful nature, causes him to jump out of the window in an attempt to preserve his own purity.24 He chooses death “vor der Schwelle”, because he has felt in himself the possibility that he could become like Blaubart. It was an awareness which haunted Trakl in his own life: “Ich habe die f iirchter 1 i chs ten Mog 1 i chke i ten in mir gefiihlt, gerochen, getastet und im Blute die Damonen heulen horen, die tausend Teufel mit ihren Stacheln, die das Fleisch wahnsinnig machen.”25 Herbert’s function is not as antithesis to Blaubart; he symbolizes archetypal man entering sexual awareness, which ends, in its extremest form, with rape and murder. Herbert’s dreams adumbrate Blaubart’s crimes; it is only by suicide that Herbert can prevent his degeneration into brutality. 40 “Du geifernd Tier”; Sexua1i ty The Personification of Decadent Blaubart, like Don Juan and the saint of the early poem, is seen to be suffering at the hands of God: “Hab nie Herr einen gesehn in der Welt -/ Der so wie Ihr von Gott gequalt!” . Like Huysmans’ Gilles de Rais, he is a superman capable of great good and great evil, although there is little evidence of the former; God can in this way be seen as responsible for his suffering, for in creating one with such capacity for good, he has also created a man with a capacity for excessive evil.26 The figure of Bluebeard is the personification of decadent sexuality. Bahr, in Die gute Schule, had called for “eine neue Erscheinung der Liebe, we 1che sich in die allgemeine Decadence schickte”,2? a love which is masochistic and sadistic: “Die neue Liebe mufite ungeheuer sein, gewaltsam, roh, jah, furchtbar, mafi1 os-gothisch mufite sie sein, wie die Zeit.”28 The relationship betwen the artist and Fifi, which forms much of the content of Die gute Schule, is characterized by sadistic and masochistic desires, described by Bahr in crude voyeuristic detail: Da heulte er auf, wie ein hungriges Raub- tier, endlich liber der Beute, und riB sie an sich und warf sich auf sie und durchwiihlte sie mit bebenden Fingern und walzte sich mit ihr, jauchzend in kurzen, schrillen, heiseren Pfiffen, und verwundete sie mit bissigen Kiissen, am ganzen Leibe, als wollte er sie zerf1eischen.29 In 1B95, Przybyszewski described a similar emotion of brutal sexuality in Vigilien, which shocked Berlin literary society: Aus den abgrundigsten Tiefen meines Seins krochen merkwiirdige Empf indungen empor; neue, immer neue, unbekannte, wilde, ver- brecherische Instinkte wurden wach, und gre11, vo11 Hollenrote lag vor meinem grauenden Blick der finstre Abgrund in mir aufgetan . Alles schrie in mir nach Rache 41 und Verbrechen. . ich sah eine schwarze, ode Leere, und dann hort’ ich einen Schrei in mir: Morde sie!30 This animalistic nature of decadent love is portrayed by Trakl with equal exaggeration: Ist’s ein Affe oder ist’s ein Stier Ein Wolf oder ander reiBend Getier Hei lustig geschnabelt zur Nacht — Bis zweie nur mehr eines macht! Und eins ist der Tod! Trakl’s language is insufficient to express the horror of Blaubart’s crime; the affectation with which he likens Blaubart’s bestial nature to that of a predatory wild animal is, rather, embarrassingly comic. Blaubart’s irreverent and cruel attitude is portrayed in the song which, rather than mitigating Elisabeth’s fear (“Ich sing’ dir ein Lied, das dich lachen macht.” ), makes clear his complete lack of repentance, and protests his innocence with mocking blasphemy: “Wenn das mein Herze wufite!/ Erbarm’ dich, o Jesus Christe!” . In his song, his perverse sexual desires are tinged with a penchant for necrophilia: Wer sagt, dafi ihr Licht erloschen war, Als ich zur Feier loste ihr Haar. Wer sagt, dafi ihr stummer Mund verwest, Als ich zur Nacht bei ihr gewest. Wer sagt, dafi offen stiind’ ein Grab, Und dafi ich im Blick was Boses hab! 31 Within the symbolism of this play, however, is a close connection between sexuality and death. Blaubart is referring here not to an existing corpse, but to his bride, in this case (for it has happened many times before), to Elisabeth herself. Such is the inevitability of his crime that as soon as he loosens her hair, a sensuous gesture leading to the sexual act, she is condemned. For the sexual act is in itself seen as an act of sin and therefore an act which sacrifices innocence and brings death. The inevitable cycle of sexuality, death and decay is found throughout Trakl’s poetry (one thinks, for example of ‘Die junge Magd’). As soon as Blaubart spends the night with his victim, she is tainted by decay. The fact that her mouth is “stumm” emphasizes her inability to free herself from her predicament, for she is unable to express her fear or her guilt, and thus unable to find release and perhaps redemption through expression. Blaubart, too, calls for silence, only too aware of the power of words, and blasphemously denies the accusations of the bells, which symbolize righteousness and piety (one is reminded of the “Sturmg1ocken” which Herbert wanted to ring); bells which not only echo Herbert’s death, but which also foreshadow the funeral toll for Elisabeth, whose grave has already been dug. Blaubart prepares for the murder of Elisabeth in a spirit of hedonistic devil worship: “Starb Gott einst fiir des Fleisches Not/ Mufi der Teufel feiern zur Lust den Tod” . As Webber points out, his insistance that she drink wine is a parody of the Eucharist;32 thus the wine, spilt, not only functions as a crude symbol of her virginity, as in Hofmannsthal’s ‘Die Beiden’, but also stands for the blood of Christ, spilt for human sin. Here is adumbrated, then, the theme of woman as man’s redeemer which will be essential to the later I yr i c.3 3 Blaubart is not without a sense of humour, albeit a somewhat cynical one, especially in his mockery of Elisabeth’s sweetheart, Heinrich. In Blaubart’s view, even innocent love, such as that between Elisabeth and Heinrich, is motivated by one thing only, and that is a desire for sex which is both brutal and animalistic. Courtship and wooing have but one goal – the wedding night. Unlike the innocent Heinrich, Blaubart fully acknowledges this goal, at the same time with mocking cynicism: “Wie dein Knabe – so keusch, o lieb ich dich!/ Doch soli ich dich Kindlein ganz besitzen – ” . Once he has taken her virginity, however, she will no longer be the “Kindlein” which he wished to rape, and her subsequent murder is inevitable. 42 43 Decadent sexuality, driven by a desire for new sensations, explores even perversion and murder. As Clement, one of the monks in Justine explains to the heroine: “. tu ne sais pas jusqu’oti nous entraine cette depravation, 1 ‘ ivresse oli elle nous jette, la commotion violente qui resulte, dans le fluide eiectrique, de 1’irritation produite par la douleur sur l’objet qui sert nos passions; comme on est chatouilie de ses maux!”3* And Ompha1e, like Justine one of the victims, speculates upon the depravity to which the monks will sink: “. le meurtre, le plus execrable des crimes, serait-il done pour eux, comme pour ce ceiebre marechal de Retz, une sorte de jouissance dont la cruaut^, exaltant leur perfide imagination, pOt plonger leur sens dans une ivresse plus vive?”35 Trakl’s Blaubart is equally brutal in his sexuality; here is no longer the motive of the fairy tale, Blaubart does not kill his wives to punish curiosity, but simply in a hedonistic and grotesque celebration of murder. Regarding Blaubart as the personification of exceptional and perverse male sexuality, one should not forget the psychological significance of his unusual beard. This symbolism is no doubt embedded within the original legend, and, although no actual reference is made to his beard in the text of Trakl’s play, one cannot but wonder if Trakl bore in mind a passage from Weininger’s Geschlecht und Charakterz “Die Wirkung des mannlichen Bartes auf die Frau ist in einem weiteren Sinne und aus einem tieferen Grunde, als man vielleicht glaubt, psycho 1ogisch ein vo11standiges, und nur in der Intensitat geschwachtes, Abbild der Wirkung des mannlichen Gliedes selbst.”35 Sexuality is the key to this play. In reply to Elisabeth’s question, “Tragst du nicht am Hals ein Sch 1 iisse 1 e i n? . Was offnet’s mir?” , Blaubart willingly answers, “Es offnet zum Brautgemach die Tiir! ” . Yet it is sexuality fraught with death and 44 decay: “Sein Geheimnis ist Verwesung und Tod” . In Blaubart’s view, all human activity is motivated by sexual need, this is “des Fleisches tiefster Not” , and thus all human activity leads to death and decay. In the imagery of his speech, innocence is like an unopened flower, but a flower once opened, like a maiden de-flowered, must die. This is to be the fate of Elisabeth, like so many others: “In Mitternacht du briinstige Braut/ Zur Todesblume greifend erblaut” . The relationship between man and woman is characterized by harsh, violent sexuality: “Lust peitschen HaB , Verwesung und Tod/ Entsprungen dem Blute, gel lend und rot” . Blaubart’s extreme viewpoint is not unlike that of the misogynist Weininger in Gesch1echt und Charakter: Dafi aller Gesch1echtstrieb der Grausamkeit verwandt ist, hat man nach Novel is oft wiederholt. . Alles, was vom Weibe geboren ist, mufi auch sterben. Zeugung, Geburt und Tod stehen in einer unauf1 os 1ichen Beziehung; vor einem unzeitigen Tode erwacht in jedem Wesen auf das heftigste der Gesch 1 echt s t r i eb als das Bediirfnis, sich noch fortzupf1anzen. Und so ist der Koitus, nicht nur psycho 1ogisch als Akt, sondern auch vom ethischen und naturphi1osophischen Gesichtspunkte dem Mord verwandt: er ver — neint das Weib, aber auch den Mann; er raubt im Idealfall beiden das BewuBtsein, um dem Kinde das Leben zu geben. . Hier vollendet sich die Parallele zwischen der Grausamkeit der Erotik und der Grausamkeit der Sexualitat. Liebe ist Mord. Der Geschlechts- trieb negiert auch das korperliche, die Erotik das psychische Weib.37 Woman is entirely within the power of the man; in a later chapter, Weininger continues: So erklart sich denn die absolute Gewa1t der mannlichen Gesch 1 echt 1 i chke i t iiber das Weib. Nur indem der Mann sexue11 wird, erhalt das Weib Existenz und Bedeutung: sein Dasein ist an den Phallus gekniipft, und darum dieser sein hochster Herr und unumschrankter Gebieter. Der Geschlecht gewordene Marin ist das Fatum des Weibes; der Don Juan der einzige Mensch, vor dem es bis zum Grunde erz i t tert.3 8 45 Whether Trakl himself entirely subscribed to Weininger’s views on sexuality is questionable. It is well known that he said, with reference to contemporary views on women: “Totsch1agen sol It’ man die Hunde, die behaupten, das Weib suche nur Sinnenlust!”39 Blaubart takes the precept that “Liebe ist Mord” to its logical conclusion. The only way that he can possess Elisabeth “ganz” is to cut her throat: Doch soil ich dich Kindlein ganz besitzen – MuB ich, Gott will’s den Hals dir schlitzen! Du Taube, und trinken dein Blut so rot Und deinen zuckenden, schaumenden Tod! Und saugen aus deinem Eingeweid Deine Scham und deine Jungfrau1ichkeit A study of sexually motivated crime, Angst, Lust, Zerstdrung. Sadismus als soziales und krimine lies Handeln by Schorsch and Becker, reveals that the cruelty involved in such crime is motivated by a basic desire to wield total control over the victim: Sadistische Intentionen als Phantasien oder Handlungen zielen auf die Bemachtigung des anderen, auf ein totales Verfiigen iiber ihn, die Aufgabe seiner Eigenstandigkeit. Dominanz – Subordination in extremer Zuspitzung wird zum sexua1isierten Thema; es geht nicht in erster Linie um Aggressivitat oder Grausamkeit, sondern um Beherrschung. Schmerz zufiigen und Verletzen konnen dabei fehlen, sind aber deshalb ein haufiger Bestandteil sadistischer Aktivitaten, wei1 das Hinnehmenmussen von Schmerz, das Erleiden von Qua 1 der deutlichste Ausdruck von Se 1 bstaufgabe und Ohnmacht istJ° This is the closest Trakl comes to a graphic description of sexual perversion, a faint echo of the exploits described by de Sade in Justine or Juliette, or even Bahr in Die gute Schule. De Sade’s protagonists, both male and female, find many and increasingly bizarre uses for their victims’ intestines after they have committed Lustmord; Huysmans, probably taking the “Divine Marquis” as his Lehrmeister, attributes a similar predilection to his Gilles de Ra i s : 46 Gilles et ses amis se retirent dans une chambre £loign£e du chateau. C’est la que les petits gar^ons enferfo^s dans les caves sont amenes. On les deshabille, on les bSillonne; le Marechal les palpe et les force, puis il les tail lade & coups de dagues, se complait & les d^membrer, pieces & pieces . Cedit sire s’^chauffait avec des petits gar^ons, que1que fois avec des petites filles avec lesquelles il avait habitation sur le ventre, disant qu’i1 y prenait plus de plaisir et mains de peine qu’e le faire en leur nature. Apres quoi, il leur sciait lentement la gorge, les depe^ait . Le vampirisme le satisfait pendant des mois. Il pollua les enfants morts, apaisa la fievre de ses souhaits dans la glace ensanglantee des tombesJi The vampire element in Blaubart continues the blasphemous parody of the black mass. As Christ’s blood was shed on the cross, so Blaubart takes the blood of Elisabeth; the appellation “Taube” (and its variant form, “Lilie” ) reinforce the parallels with divine purity. Perhaps one may also see here a pre figuration of the theme of woman as man’s redeemer, in that Elisabeth’s blood may lead to some form of recognition, if not salvation, for Blaubart. The imagery has all the symbolism of Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Blaubart’s desire to feed on Elisabeth’s blood is synonymous with his desire to rob her of her virginity. In her vision she calls upon Heinrich to drink her blood, revealing that the criminal potential of Blaubart is within her too; like Dracula’s victims, she too may become like her violator, and the description of her “zuckenden, schaumenden Tod” is remini scent of van Helsing’s murder of the vampire brides, accompanied as it is by “the horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam.” . The theme of sexuality as a violent battle between the sexes, often culminating in Lustmord, is far from uncommon in Austrian and German literature around the turn of the century. Przybyszewski, as we have seen, deals repeatedly with this topic. One thinks also of Wedekind’s Biichse der Pandora, with Jack the Ripper as the Lustmtirder who brings an end to Lulu’s sexual games; the phallic symbolism of the knife is obvious. 48 In the poems of the Viennese decadent, Felix Dormann, which are characterized by a rather harmless pose, this brutal love gives way to repulsion and ennui. In ‘Madonna Lucia’, the protagonist, like Blaubart, expresses a desire to possess his mistress: Du muBt in mir versinken, Mir ganz zu eigen sein, Ich will Deine Seele trinken Wie feuerf 1 ussigen WeinJG Like Elisabeth, Lucia is filled with desire equal to that of her lover: Von Deinen Lippen ringt sich Ein jauchzender Liebesschrei, – Und achtlos ro11en die Stunden In endlosen Kiissen vorbei.*7 Dormann1s protagonist is, however, no match for the femme fatale he has awakened; his response is one of disgust. Like Blaubart, his desire is to kill his lover once he has used her; but the passive and world-weary decadent falls back into ennui: Ich konnt ‘ Dich erwiirgen, Lucia, Wie giftige Vipernbrut, Ich mochte Dein Antlitz zerfetzen, Zerstampfen in rasender Wut.48 Was stachelst Du wieder und wieder Erldschende Sinnengier, Hinweg mir aus den Augen, Mir eke 11, eke 1t vor Dir. Perhaps the most famous treatment of this theme is in Kokoschka’s Morder, Hoffnung der Frau, which reduces the battle between male and female to its most basic level, a relationship of love and hate, attraction and repulsion, physical dependence and desire to dominate and destroy. Their division and confrontation is symbolized on stage by the phallic tower and the vaginal cage, which stand as isolated representatives of their irreconcilable domains. The ending of Kokoschka’s drama is as bleak as that of Blaubart: the force of their passionate hatred brings mutual destruction, as the woman lies brutally murdered and the tower burns.48 49 Blaubart’s collapse at the foot of the cross after the murder has been interpreted by some critics as his eventual submission before God.50 A close examination of the text reveals, however, that this act is neither a simplistic admission of guilt, nor a final act of b1asphemy. Up until his murder of Elisabeth, Blaubart’s attitude is one of unrepentance. He answers Elisabeth’s despairing question – “Neigt niemand sich meiner grausen Not?” – with mockery: “Gott!” As far as Blaubart is concerned, there is no one to help her, and divine aid is useless. This blasphemy is emphasized by the presence of the crucifix on the stage; although it is only mentioned at the end of the play, one must remember its visual presence on stage throughout the entire scene. One can imagine Elisabeth turning towards it as she cries, “Gott steh mir bei!” ; indeed, a variant has her beg Blaubart for mercy for the sake of Christ: “Erbarm dich mein um Christi Tod” . This has, of course, no power to move the satanic B1aubart. He drags her violently from the stage, only to return some time later dripping with blood; as he falls down before the crucifix, we are reminded of Trakl’s description of Tolstoy as a figure of Dionysian vitality who had submitted to Christianity: “Pan unter dem Kreuze zusammenbrechend”.52 It is hard to see any real piety or search for forgiveness here; the drunken ecstasy after the crime is the delirious pleasure of a sadist.52 The fact that Blaubart falls “wie niedergemaht” closes the play with the opening theme: namely, that Blaubart is controlled by forces outwith himself, whether by Satan, during his life time, or by God in his death. Blaubart’s collapse at the foot of the cross is reminiscent of Gilles de Rais’ gesture, as described by Huysmans in Bas. Gilles de Rais, no longer satisfied with physical abuse of his victims, turns to spiritual 50 abuse, and a bizarre decadent fusion of expiation and sin. Finally madness leads to repentance and submission beneath the cross: “Les corps qu’i1 a massacres et dont il a fait jeter les cendres dans les douves ressuscit- ent a 1’£tat de larves et 1’attaquent aux parties basses. Il se d£bat, clapote dans le sang, se dresse en sursaut, et accroupi, il se traine a quatre pattes, tel qu’un loup, jusqu’au crucifix dont il mord les pieds, en rugissant.”53 “Keusch bliihende Rose Elisabeth as Ambivalent Victim Blaubart’s victim, Elisabeth, is, like Herbert, tainted not only by the presence of evil, but also by her own sexual desires. Although emphasis is placed on her purity and youth, it soon becomes apparent that this is not her first encounter with sin: “TrSumt gestern unter dem Lindenbaum/ An Vaters Haus einen bosen Traum” . Like Herbert, she has been troubled by bad dreams of awakening sexuality. It is important to note that the dream took place “gestern”, that is before she met Blaubart, while she was still in the ’safe’ childhood domain of her father’s house, under the linden tree, where childhood sweethearts traditionally meet.5* Again, we see that the “pure” love of Elisabeth and Heinrich is destroyed by sexuality. Elisabeth’s innocence is not violated by Blaubart’s presence alone1, nor does he, as is the case with Herbert, act as a catalyst for her awareness of the violent potentiality of her own sexuality; the key to her doom, to the forbidden chamber of sexual desire, comes from within herself, and the parental authority of “Vaters Haus” is violated in the face of lost innocence. Certainly, her proximity to Blaubart may 5 1 have a corrupting influence, intensifying the sado masochistic element of her vision. In her dream-like trance she names her once-innocent sweetheart, Heinrich, and calls for help – not only from Blaubart, but from her own sexuality. Like Herbert, now that sexual desire has been stirred, she can no longer find peace at night; she is completely cut off from her previous innocent self: “WeiB nimmer, nimmer was gestern war” . This loss of innocence is accompanied by a sensation of choking on her own blood: “Blut stickt und wiirgt mir die Kehle zu” ; spilt at the sacrifice of her innocent self, it is at the same time a symbol of her death at Blaubart’s hands and her own sexuality, which is accompanied by physical maturation in the form of mens t ruat i on. Her vision is a sexual fantasy of a blatantly sado-masochistic nature, and, by involving Heinrich, taints his presumably innocent love, too.55 This fantasy, born out of her innermost desire, corrupts the innocence of her love, thus making her, and not Blaubart, guilty of her own degeneration. This is one of the clearest examples we have in Trakl’s writing of the influence of Weininger’s philosophy.56 Elisabeth becomes, if only temporarily, the personification of sexuality, which Weininger claimed was the true nature of woman: “weil sie nichts ist als Sexualitat, wei1 sie die Sexualitat selbst ist”.57 Thus woman’s existence becomes one of desire for, and submission to, man: “So erklart sich denn die absolute Gewa1t der mannlichen Gesch 1 echt 1 i chke i t iiber das Weib. Nur indem der Mann sexuell wird, erhalt das Weib Existenz und Bedeutung: sein Dasein ist an den Phallus gekniipft. “58 Where Herbert had sought to make Blaubart’s crimes known in the village, Elisabeth’s exhibitionist desire is to make her own sexuality a public spectacle, to receive and inflict pain in an orgiastic frenzy. 52 The term “sado-masochism” had been used by the psychopatho1ogist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, whose study of sexual deviation, Psychopathia sexualis (1886), gave detailed accounts of sexual abnormalities within most European societies, including Lustmord, masochism and sadism. He had found as the result of his study that: “Wenn die Assoziation zwischen Wollust und Grausamkeit vorhanden ist, so weckt nicht nur der wolliistige Affekt den Drang zur Grausamkeit, sondern auch umgekehrt: Vorstellung und besonders der Anblick grausamer . Handlungen wirken sexuell erregend und werden in diesem Sinne vom perversen Individuum beniitzt.”59 Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the original “masochist”, provided the prototype of the willing male victim and the cruel dominant female in Venus im Pelz (1869). Woman, in Sacher—Masoch1s view is capable of the most diabolical as well as of the most divine: Kein Weib ist so gut oder so bose, dafi es nicht jeden Augenblick sowohl der teuf — lischen, als der gott1ichsten, der schmutzigsten, wie der reinsten Gedanken, Gefuhle, Handlungen fahig ware. . es hat den Charakter des Wilden, welcher sich treu und treulos, grofimutig und grausam zeigt, je nach der Regung, die ihn gerade beherrscht.6 0 One of the most blatantly sado-masochistic females in German literature of the Pin de siecle is Fifi in Bahr’s Die gute Schule: Es hatte sie einer vergewa 11 i gen miissen. Das brauchte sie. Einfach, wie iiber ein storisches Vieh, mit Zwang, mit Marter, mit GeiBel iiber sie her, nach seiner Willkur, nach seiner Laune, unter seinem Befehle, ohne Bitte, ohne Frage , in Ziicht i gungen, roh und grausam, herrisch, unerbitt1ich, dafi sie sich fiirchtete, dafi er sie unterjochte . Ah, das stellte sie sich schon vor – Wollust und Qua 1 zugleich.6* The vampire element found in many of these sado masochistic fantasies is present in Elisabeth’s vision, too : Mein Knabe komm! Trink’ meine Glut, Bist du nicht durstig nach meinem Blut, Nach meiner brennenden Haare Flut? 53 Here the vampire bride is offering up her own blood; offering to her innocent sweetheart the very blood which symbolizes her sexual maturation. The assonant rhyme of “Blut” pervades the passage, as her sexuality takes over every area of her life. Here, too, is the influence of Weininger’s concept of woman as sexuality, to the point of total submission: “Der Geschlecht gewordene Mann ist das Fatum des Weibes; der Don Juan der einzige Mensch, vor dem es bis zum Grunde erzittert.”62 Elisabeth’s desire for male domination is such that she offers up her life: Nimm alles, alles was ich bin – Du Starker – mein Leben – du nimm hin! Only when Blaubart attempts to seize her does she awaken from her vision and call on Heinrich to rescue her. This is, of course, in vain, for it is impossible to return to her previous state of innocence. Just before her death Blaubart teases her with the appellation “Keusch bliihende Rose auf meinem Altar- ” ; once she has awakened from her sado-masochistic vision, she may have regained some measure of “Keuschheit”, but she can do nothing to reverse her situation; a rose, once it has started to bloom, cannot return to the bud. “Dies wirre Bi Id”: Style and Imagery Thematically, the play is closer to the mature lyric than has been acknowledged by most critics. Stylistically, however, it still belongs very much to the epigonic early lyric of Sammlung 1909. It is hard to accept Schneditz’s rapturous enthusiasm for “dieses hinreifiende, kleine Drama”: “Es hat die ganze Dichte und dramatische Spannkraft einer komprimierten grofien Tragodie, starrt von unheimlicher Triebhaftigkeit und ist echtester Trakl.”63 Basil, on the other hand, is perhaps too harsh in his embarrassed condemnation of the piece: “Verse . auch Wendungen oder Wortungeheuer . sind von so gewalttatiger Lust, partout schauerlich zu wirken, dafi sie die gegenteilige Wirkung hervor— rufen. Das Stuck ware heute ein Heiterkeitserfo1g . “6 4 That the play has recently been performed with some measure of success proves that it rises above the level of the mere farcical. Cesare Lievi’s production of Blaubart at the Vienna Burgtheater in summer 1991, which was run again at the Berlin Theatertreffen in 1992, was held by one critic to be “the brightest jewel of the festival . a totally unse1fconscious surrender to beauty . a near-perfect fusion of text, music (Mahler, Schubert, Sibelius et a/) and visual beauty.”65 Lievi himself, discussing the text, stresses the poetical power of the language: “Es ist ja ein kleines Fragment mit einer sehr poetischen, kraft- vollen, bi 1derreichen Sprache . Die Bilder und Visionen der Sprache . erfordern eine besondere Art des Spiels. Wir haben das Stuck wie ein Gedicht ge1 esen.”6 6 In comparison with the power of Trakl’s later lyric, Blaubart is undeniably weak. Much of the language is, as Basil suggests, more comic in its effect, especially when the poet attempts to convey an atmosphere of horror. One thinks, for example, of Herbert’s final speech, punctuated, like much of the play, by a surfeit of exclamation marks: Die Schatten winken der bleichen Braut Was heifit mich tun — davor mir so graut! Kehr um — du Magd! Ein Schritt noch vom Tor! Ihr geliebten Frauen tretet doch vor! Der Tod vor der Schwe1 Ie! Bete fur mich! Der Tod vor der Schwelle: LaB mich sterben fur di ch. Maria, – Jungfrau o bitt’ fiir mich! and of the attempt to convey Elisabeth’s horror when she wakes from her vision: 54 55 Hu! Hu! Wies mich schuttelt und graut! Nicht du! Nicht du! O rette mich! Lieber! Some of the imagery contains clear echoes of other fin~de-si£cle lyric. The depiction of Elisabeth’s hair uses a standard topoi of decadent lyric. Trakl’s lines: Komm Lieber! Feuer flieBt mir im Haar Bist du nicht durstig nach meinem Blut, Nach meiner brennenden Haare Flut? have little to distinguish them from the imagery of a poem like Dormann’s ‘Madonna Lucia’: Ich will meine Zahne vergraben In Deinem knirschenden Haar, Im Blutrausch will ich vergessen, Dafi ich ein Anderer war.67 Blaubart’s image of the moon – “Der Mond/ Wie eine besoffene Dime stiert – ” – is a direct borrowing from Wilde’s Salom6: “The moon has a strange look tonight. . She reels through the clouds like a drunken woman. . I am sure she is looking for lovers.”68 Wilde’s play contains several images of the moon, always female. In Blaubart, however, the image of the moon as “eine besoffene Dime” is followed in quick succession by an image in which the moon has changed sex: “Sieh nur, wie der Mond dich brunstig anschaut!” . Webber seeks to trace this apparent contradiction to the relationship of Elisabeth and Blaubart to the moon.68 It seems clear, however, that Trakl has borrowed one image from Wilde, who was writing within a culture which regards the moon as unambiguously and unquestioning 1y female. In German mythology, however, the moon is male and the sun female — Frau Sonne und Herr Mond. This is the more powerful image in Trakl’s play, and one which we find again in the later lyric; in ‘Im Dorf’ the image of the lustful moon is again associated with sinful sexuality: Die Mauern starren kah1 und grauverdreckt Ins kiih 1 e Dunke 1 . Im Fieberbette friert Der schwangere Leib, den frech der Mond bestiert. Vor ihrer Kammer ist ein Hund verreckt. In ‘Die junge Magd’, the association is a similar one, 56 although here it is the sense of sound rather than vision which characterizes the moon as a perverse eavesdropper on the maid’s dreams: Nachtens iibern kahlen Anger Gauke1t sie in Fiebertraumen. Murrisch greint der Wind im Anger Und der Mond lauscht aus den Baumen. The image of the moon as a lecherous onlooker is more powerful than the Wildean borrowing, not only for its originality, but also because it underlines the play’s basic theme of awakening sexuality. As Janet McCrickard points out in her investigation of sun and moon mythology, “One of the most striking and recurrent elements in world religion is the association of women’s monthly cycle with the Moon. In virtually every tribal culture, menstrual bleeding is imagined as the visible result of an invisible encounter – sexual intercourse with the Moon, who is almost invariably a masculine deity among primitive peoples.”70 A study of the moon imagery throughout Trakl’s poetry reveals a symbolism of one of the major themes of Trakl’s lyric, namely the often cryptic relationship between sexuality and redemption. While sexuality is almost always associated with sin in the early lyric, as in Blaubart, in the mature lyric it is somehow connected to the figure of a female redeemer; almost every reference to the moon in Trakl’s lyric reflects this theme. In the early lyric, the moon is often seen as a source of male sexuality.71 In the earliest work, TraumIand, the moon presides over the scene where the young protagonist becomes aware of his own sexuality, and his own sexual fantasies, which involve his cousin, Mari a: wenn ich sah, wie beim leise p1 atschernden Brunnen im Mondenschein zwe i Menschen enge aneinander geschmiegt 1ange dahinwande1ten, als waren sie ein Wesen, und mich da ein ahnungsvo 1 1 er heifier Schauer iiberlief, da kam die kranke Maria mir in den Sinn; dann uberfiel mich eine leise Sehnsucht nach 57 irgend etwas Unerklarlichem, und plotzlich sah ich mich mit ihr Arm in Arm die Strafie hinab im Schatten der duftenden Linden lustwandeln . Subconsciously, even within his own fantasy, he realizes that his own sexual violation of her purity is somehow responsible for Maria’s imminent death, for her paleness increases in the moonlight: “Und in Maria’s grofien, clunklen Augen leuchtete ein seltsamer Schimmer , und der Mond lieB ihr schmales Gesichtchen noch blasser und durchtsichtiger erscheinen” . This symbolism of the moon as male sexuality is found throughout the early prose and lyric. In Maria Magdalena, it symbolizes Marcellus’ arousal as he watches Maria Magdalena dance: “Es ging vor sich in einer gluhenden Sommernacht, da in der Luft das Fieber lauert und Mond die Sinne verwirrt” . Sammlung 1909 also contains many examples of this symbolism., such as ‘Das Grauen’ and ‘Sabbath’, where it shines on the scene of the protagonist’s awakening sexuality. In ‘Schweigen’ the moon’s function is thus raised above the level of epigonic Symbolist topoi; the dreams which it awakens are of a sexual nature, causing the willows’ silent weeping. Such is the darkness of the protagonists’ sinful sexuality (one wonders if incest is hinted at here), that the expression of sorrow . around them is silent; theirs is an inexpressab1e sin, and finds no release through the nebulosity of the poem. In the third stanza of ‘Die drei Teiche in Hellbrunn’, the poet describes the mysterious and unfathomable nature of the pond which mirrors his own existence: Der Mond steigt auf, es blaut die Nacht, Erbliiht im Widerschein der Fluten – Ein ratselvolles Sphinxgesicht, Daran mein Herz sich will verbluten. The atmosphere in which the poet glimpses his own puzzling reflection does much to explain the nature of his existence; two opposite forces are at work here in the poet’s life: the rising moon and the blue night, 58 the spheres of sexuality and spirituality, male lust and the female power to redeem. This is one of the dominant themes of Trakl’s lyric. In Gedichte we often find the moon associated with the suffering of sexual fantasies, which leads, as in Blaubart, to death and decay. One thinks of ‘Romanze zur Nacht’: Der Knab aus Traumen wirr erwacht, Sein Antlitz grau im Mond verfallt. or ‘Helian’, where the feverish dreams are connected with the sisters’ departure: Leise ro11en vergilbte Monde Uber die Fieberlinnen des Jiinglings, Eh’ dem Schweigen des Winters folgt. The association of the moon with incestuous sexuality is found in ‘In der Heimat’: Resedenduft. Die Mauern dammern kahl. Der Schwester Schlqf ist schwer. Der Nachtwind wiih 1 t In ihrem Haar, das mondner Glanz umspiilt In ‘Im Winter’ and ‘Die Ratten’ the moon is associated with images not only of male sexuality, but of prurience and disease, which suggest the predatory, bestial nature of male sexuality; this is found again in poems from Sebastian im Traum, such as ‘Geburt’, where the moon appears as a distant father-figure, reminiscent of its function in mythology, ‘Fohn’, and ‘Winternacht’. In the two longer prose poems, which, as we shall see, bear a striking resemblance to Blaubart, the moon is associated with violent male sexuality. Within the later poetry, however, we also find the moon associated with the seemingly contradictory concept of purity, most explicitly in ‘Gesang des Abgeschiedenen’, which describes a realm of spiritual harmony: “Mafi und Gesetz und die mondenen Pfade des Abgeschiedenen” . This is not, however, the entirely paradoxical transition which it may at first seem. Spirituality is found through the awareness of 59 suffering and renunciation of the source of that suffering, which is, as an examination of Trakl’s poetry shows, often sexuality: . und es schaut aus nachtigen Augen Stille dich der Bruder an, dafi er ruhe von dorniger Wanderschaft. The transition from the sexual to the spiritual sphere is symbolized in the moon imagery of several poems. ‘Ruh und Schweigen’ contrasts spirituality and suffering. When the light of the sun is buried, the time of the moon brings submission to suffering which is essentially sexual: “Oder er neigt das Haupt in purpurnem Schlaf” . As the moon is a reflection of the sun’s light, so the protagonist preserves tenuous links with the previous spiritual realm in which he dwe1t: Doch immer riihrt der schwarze Flug der Vogel Den Schauenden, das Heilige blauer Blumen, Denkt die nahe Stille Vergessenes, erloschene Enge1 . Although he does not have the strength to free himself from his sexuality, redemption comes in the form of a hermaphroditic sister-figure, who brings purging light to his darkness: Wieder nachtete die Stirne in mondenem Gestein; Ein strahlender Jungling Erscheint die Schwester in Herbst und schwarzer Verwesung. In 1Siebengesang des Todes’ redemption is gained through confrontation of sexuality, and expurgation of the bestial nature of man, which allows purity to return: Und es jagte der Mond ein rotes Tier Aus seiner Hoh1e; Und es starb in Seufzern die dunkle Klage der Frauen. Strahlender hob die Hands zu seinem Stern Der weifie Fremdling; Schweigend verlafit ein Totes das verfallene Haus. A strikingly similar image is found in ‘Abendland’: Mond, als trate ein Totes Aus blauer Hohle, 60 Und es fallen der Bliiten Viele iiber den Felsenpfad. Here, the image of the moon, a symbol of male sexuality, as a dead thing emerging from the blue, spiritual realm of the night is a powerful one. It is the way of redemption; as in ‘Siebengesang des Todes1, this is a path taken by those who have found purity by confronting and dying to the sinful sexuality within themse1ves: Auf schwarzen Kahn Hiniiberst arben Liebende. “Orge1 seufzt und Hoile lacht”: Blaubart Themes in the Later Lyric The atmosphere of threat and menace which is evoked in Blaubart with exaggerated affectation is much more effectively evoked in some of the later lyric. The first poem titled ‘Klage’, for example, uses the topoi of Blaubart in a much simpler way, the more effective for its quiet statement of terror and the desperate need for spiritual values: Orgel seufzt und Hoile lacht Und es fa£t das Herz ein Grauen; Mochte Stern und Engel schauen. The bestial, criminal nature of mankind was a problem which haunted Trakl throughout his life, and which he constantly sought to transfigure in his poetry. Two letters, written almost five years apart, testify to his fundamental awareness of his own potential criminality: Ich habe die f iirchter 1 ichsten Mog 1 ichkei ten in mir gefiihlt, gerochen, getastet und im Blute die Damonen heulen horen, die tausend Teufel mit ihren Stacheln, die das Fleisch wahnsinnig machen. Welch entsetz1icher Alp’72 61 . allzuviel Harte, Hochmut und allerlei Verbrecherturn – das bin ich . Ich sehne den Tag herbei, an dem die Seele in diesem unseeligen von Schwermut verpesteten Korper nicht mehr wird wohnen wollen und konnen, an dem sie diese Spottgestalt aus Kot und Faulnis verlassen wird, die ein nur allzutreues Spiegelbild eines gottlosen, verfluchten Jahrhunderts ist-73 Trakl was convinced that his own cruel, sinful nature was a mirror of western society, seeing himself not as an isolated sinner, but as a representative of human kind through the ages.7* It was this gathering violence in society which would result in the outbreak of the First World War, as Trakl foresaw. ‘Im Osten’ depicts a bleak picture of the triumph of mankind’s animal nature and the loss of spirituality: Dornige Wildnis umgiirtet die Stadt . Von blutenden Stufen jagt der Mond Die erschrockenen Frauen. Wilde Wolfe brachen durchs Tor. That man’s sinful nature leads to the crime of Lustmord is not a theme which is confined to the early dramas, Don Juans Tod and Blaubart. We find it, in particular, in four pieces which are closely related through themes, imagery, vocabulary and style: Verwand1ung des Bosen, Traum und Umnachtung, Offenbarung und Untergang and the Dramenfragment of 1914. Within the verse poetry, the figure of “der Morder” as a general concept, not specifically related to sexual murder, occurs in such poems as ‘Romanze zur Nacht’, ‘Mensch1iches E1 end’ , ‘Kaspar Hauser Lied’. The theme of Lustmord is, however, less common; it is touched upon in ‘Die junge Magd1, which focuses on awakening female sexuality. ‘De profundis* is the only verse poem which deals specifically with the theme of sexual crime and murder. It is, as the title tells us, a lament from the depths of human suffering, echoing the one hundred and thirtieth psalm (a variant title of this poem is ‘Psalm’): “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord”. In fear and in awe, the psalmist seeks God’s 62 mercy, yet realizing that divine forgiveness is not always instantaneous, he is patient in his waiting. It is this period of waiting which inspires dread rather than hdpe in the heart of the protagonist of ‘De profundis’. His cry for mercy is answered by silence: Gottes Schweigen Trank ich aus dem Brunnen des Hains. The horror of his sense of desolation is expressed more explicitly in a variant: HaB und Bitternis Trank ich aus dem Brunnen des Hains. Such is the evil of his crime that it extinguishes all hope: “Es ist ein Licht, das in meinera Mund erloscht” . The depiction of his crime, the sexual violation and murder of a young orphan, is only a faint echo of the blatantly affected text of Blaubart. The girl, like Elisabeth, is apparently a figure of innocence, reminiscent of the Biblical Ruth: Am Weiler vorbei Samme1t die sanfte Waise noch sparliche Ahren ein. Her purity is such that she is like the bridegroom of Christ; one remembers, too, that it was from the womb of Ruth, the great-grandmother of David, that sprang the human family of Christ. Unlike Elisabeth, in whom we find signs of awakening sexuality, this orphan is undefiled, intensifying the abomination of the protagonist’s crime. In contrast, Trakl’s bitter self parody of the poem replaces the figure of innocence by a sexually frustrated and lustful old maid: Am Thore des Hauses Samme1t die alte Magd, sparliche Trinkgelder Die klotzigen Augen durchdringen gierig das Dunke1 der Flur Die stinkige Mose, harrt des kraftigen Schwanzes Nor does ‘De profundis* contain the explicit and exaggerated brutality of the murder; indeed, the crime itself is left unmentioned. We find only in the 63 description of the body faint echoes of Blaubart’s song: Bei der Heimkehr Fanden die Hirten den siiBen Leib Verwest im Dornenbusch. ‘De profundis’ hints at the hope of salvation; not through poetic expression of sin nor through recognition of his crime, but purely through divine grace, which comes to him in his despair: Nachts fand ich mich auf einer Heide, Starrend von Unrat und Staub der Sterne. Im Haselgebiisch Klangen wieder kristallne Engel. The theme of Lustmord is dealt with more explicitly in the three long prose poems and the Dramenfragment of 1914. Even a superficial reading of these complex and obscure texts shows that they are all closely related, not only thematically, but in imagery and style. The affinity of these texts with the decadent Lustmord theme of Trakl’s early piece, Blaubart, is evidence that Trakl’s dalliance with decadence was more than a youthful fascination which can be limited to his earliest works. We know from the manuscripts that all these pieces were written in Innsbruck between September 1913 and May 1914. The earliest of these, Verwandlung des Bosen, opens with images of evil and brutality: “Minute stummer Zerstdrung . Unter dem Haselgebiisch weidet der griine Jager ein Wild aus . ein Ort des Mordes, an dem ein steiniger Weg vdrbeifiihrt . . . aus dem Sternenweiher zieht der Fischer einen groflen, schwarzen Fisch, Antlitz vo11 Grausamkeit und Irrsinn . Bdse” . The atmosphere of evil established, the text focuses on the protagonist, who as sacrificial animal and pale priest is Blaubart, Elisabeth and Herbert in one: “Du, ein blaues Tier, das leise zittert; du, der bleiche Priester, der es hinsch1achtet am schwarzen Altar” . He is both “traurig und bdse” and there is the suggestion that he, like Blaubart, is the victim of cosmic forces which rule his fate: “Aber durch die 64 Mauer von Stein siehst du den Sternenhimme1, die Milchstrafie, den Saturn; rot” . The protagonist is in the end, however, more akin to Herbert than Blaubart; confronted with his own evil, he is forced to flee: “hinsterbend sturzte iiber schwarze Stufen der Schlafer ins Dunke1” . Here, the recognition of his own criminal nature, which is also implicit in Blaubart, paves the way for the possibility of redemption and leads to submission: “O! Verzweif1ung, die mit stummen Schrei ins Knie bricht” . Unlike Blaubart’s fall at the foot of the cross, this submission is accompanied by a tenuous hope of redemption, which will be examined in detail in a later chapter. It is tempting to try to glean some auto biographical material from Traum und Umnachtung, although the obscure imagery obfuscates any straightforward interpretation of Trakl’s childhood. The reference to the sister may hint at incest; the “nachtige Gestalt seiner Mutter” may refer to the fact that his mother discovered the relationship between brother and sister; but this must remain, on the whole, speculation. The prose poem itself does not rely on its affinities with Trakl’s own life for its va1ue. As in Verwandlung des Bosen, the dual nature of the protagonist is internalized; he is both evil and innocent. Like Blaubart, his suffering comes from God: “Gottes Zorn ziichtigte seine metal lenen Schultern” . He is filled with criminal desires: HaB verbrannte sein Herz, Wollust, da er im griinenden Sommergarten dem schweigenden Kind Gewa1t tat . Unter kahlen Eichbaumen erwiirgte er mit eisigen Handen eine wilde Katze . O, das graue Antlitz des Schreckens, da er die runden Augen iiber einer Taube zerschnittener Kehle aufhob. Huschend iiber fremde Stiegen begegnete er einem Judenmadchen und er griff nach ihrem schwarzen Haar und er nahm ihren Mund . 65 Yet he is also the innocent victim of his own criminal desires. Like Herbert, he flees from his own sexuality, which is aroused by the presence of the sister: “Aus blauem Spiegel trat die schmale Gestalt der Schwester und er stiirzte wie tot ins Dunke1” . And like Herbert, he is troubled by unspeakable dreams: “Wenn er in seinem kiihlen Bette lag, iiberkamen ihn unsagliche Tranen” . As in Verwand1ung des Bosen, the protagonist also has traits of the victim, murdering his own innocent self; Blaubart is therefore Elisabeth, the murderous brother is the sister. One is reminded of the physical similarity between Trakl and his sister Gret1 in the description of the violation of the silent child, in whom the protagonist recognizes his own “umnachtetes Antlitz” . Here, however, the parallels to Blaubart end. Traum und Umnachtung is a much more complex piece of poetry; the themes of guilt and damnation, the murder of the innocent self and especially the theme of incest will be examined in a later chapter. As Blaubart and Don Juans Tod were set in castles, and the protagonist of Traum und Umnachtung visited and dreamt he had lived in a castle, so the setting of the Dramen f ragmen t is: “Htitte am Saum eines Waldes. Im Hintergrund ein Schlofi” . Here, then, is the familiar setting for the Lustmord. A variant suggests that this will also be a re-enactment of the Bluebeard- theme: “Warum deuten wir die dunklen Sagen der Edelleute” . But this is no drama in the conventional sense; the characters occupy a nebulous reality with interchanging personae. The ambivalent identity of victim and murderer, male and female results from the externa 1ization of the emotions which were largely attributed to the protagonists in Verwand1ung des Bosen and Traum und Umnachtung; but this is not a return to the straightforward symbolism of Blaubart, for the relationship of guilt and 66 innocence has become much more complicated. Indeed, in t h is fragmentary piece, which Basil claims to be “das voI 1kommenste
in deutscher Sprache”,75 the protagonists themselves are often uncertain as to the identity and location of both the other and the self, and the text is full of questions: “Wo bist du, Peter? . wer bist du? . Wer hat mein Antlitz genommen . wo traumte ich das? Wo bin ich . Wer sind wir?”76 The complexity of the drama is reflected in the fact that there are two female victims – Johanna and Maria, who seems to be both sister and mother – and two male Lustmorder, each of whom has two identities – Peter/der Wanderer and Kermor/der Morder. Furthermore, the female victim, Johanna, is in turn mistaken by the Erscheinung for her murderer, and the Wanderer is stabbed by the Morder with obvious phallic overtones.7? In trying to identify the relationship between the protagonists, we must look first of all at the figures of Peter and Johanna, whom we can identify as brother and sister, son and daughter of the Pachter. Johanna, like Maria Magdalena, was one of the penitential women who followed Christ with the disciples. An unpublished poem, ‘An Johanna1, suggests that this might also be a cipher for Trakl’s own sister. This poem was written in Berlin, shortly after Gret11s miscarriage; the image of the second stanza connects Johanna with the sister- figure in Offenbarung und Untergangz In der dammernden Laube Safi ich schweigend beim Wein. Ein Tropfen Blutes Sank von deiner Schlafe In das singende Gias Stunde unendlicher Schwermut. The identification of the protagonist as the brother, that is the poet himself, is the logical conclusion to the identification of Johanna as the sister. This is reinforced by their shared memories of childhood: Als kam’ ich von den griinen Tannenhiigeln und Sagen 67 Unserer Heimat, Die wir lange vergafien — Yet even the poet is uncertain of their identity: “Wer sind wir?” This confusion arises out of some great horror; one may speculate that this refers to the incestuous relationship between Trakl and his sister, that the miscarried child was their own, as they are made aware in Berlin, the stony city,78 of the consequences of their childhood passion: Ein friedliches Dorf im Sommer Beschirmte die Kindheit einst Unsres Geschlechts, Hinsterbend nun am Abend- Huge 1 die weiBen Enke1 Traumen wir die Schrecken Unseres nachtigen Blutes Schatten in steinerner Stadt. Such speculation is no basis for literary analysis. However, a further textual cross-reference identifies Peter as the brother of Grete in the early one-act play, Totentag, which dealt with themes not unrelated to those of the Dramenfragment: sexual jealousy, contemplated murder and suicide. One cannot deny the evidence of emotions relating to autobiographical family relationships, especially the allegedly incestuous relationship with his younger sister, as a basis for much of Trakl’s work. In the Dramenfragment, Peter, in the first version of the first scene, is apparently aware of Johanna’s death, although that death does not occur until the second scene; the father, too, foretells her demise: “Sprichst du von deiner Schwester! Ihr Antlitz sah ich heut ’ nacht im Sternenweiher, gehiillt in blutende Schleier. Des Vaters Fremdlingin – ” . In the father’s dream—vision, however, Johanna appears as the “Knabe” who was found near the mill: “Die roten Fische haben seine Augen gefressen und ein Tier den silbernen Leib zerfleischt; das blaue Wasser einen Kranz von Nesseln und wildem Dorn in seine dunklen Locken 68 geflochten” . Confusion arises about the identity, and indeed the gender, of the murdered victim; one notes that in a variant, the murder victim of the opening lines is “ein Kind” , not a “Knabe”. Yet in another variant the “Pachter” identifies the dead boy as “unser Sohn, dein Bruder”, his “Erst- geborenes” . Further complication arises when we discover in scene two that it is Maria, the mother- sister figure who has been murdered. Peter’s premonition of his sister’s death is more akin to the depiction of that death in the next scene: “Die Schwester singend im Dornenbusch und das Blut rann von ihren silbernen Fingern, SchweiB von der wachsernen Stirne. Wer trank ihr Blut?” . This vampiric element to the murder takes us back to Blaubart’, but the complex relationship between the prose poems, the Dramenfragment and ‘An Johanna’ leads us to the conclusion that the vampiric murderer is none other than the brother, Peter. For Johanna’s blood which drips in ‘An Johanna’ into the brother’s glass, is also drunk by him in Offenbarung und Untergang’. “Und schimmernd fiel ein Tropfen Blutes in des Einsamen Wein; und da ich davon trank, schmeckte er bitterer als Mohn” . Here we have once more the Eucharist motif which was implicit in Blaubart; the Johanna-sister figure is also through the association of her silver arms, her bleeding feet and the thorn of her suffering with the figure of Christ cast into the role of redeemer. It is her blood which will atone for the sins of the brother. The realization that his son is his daughter’s murderer causes the Pachter, like der Alte in Blaubart, to blame God for suffering: “Gott mein Haus hast du heimgesucht” . He is helpless when confronted by the violent sexuality of his son and can do nothing to prevent the tarnishing of purity through evil betrayal: “In dammerndem Zimmer steh ich geneigten Haupts, vor der F1amme meines Herdes; darin ist Rufi und Reines . 69 Wer ruft euch; daB ihr in Schlummer das Haus und das weiBe Haupt verlasset eh’ am Morgen der Hahn kraht” . Peter, like Herbert, is overcome by sexual fantasies, which he attempts to identify with a B1uebeard-figure in the castle; as we have already seen, however, his own sexual criminality is responsible for his sister’s death, whether literally, or merely by involvement in his own sexual fantasy. Like Herbert, he tries to flee his own nature: “Gewitter ziehn iiber das Schlofi. Hoi lenfratzen und die flammenden Schwerter der Engel. Fort! Fort! Lebt wohl” . Left alone, the Pachter dwells on the uncertain fate of his family. As in Traum und Umnachtung, there is little hope of redemption, for the bread of communion has turned to stone. Their damnation can, perhaps, be traced to the incestuous nature of their relationship as a family: Maria is at once “hingegangenes Kind” and “mein verstorbenes Weib” , although in a variant, it is Kaspar — the eldest son? – who is the “hingegangenes Kind” , thus giving rise to an identification of mother and son; Johanna is For the Pachter “Blut von meinem Blute”, yet he is nevertheless uncertain as to her identity – “Wer bist du?”, and in a variant, he likens her to the mother – “Wie gleicht sie ihrer Mutter” ; Peter, the “dunkelester Sohn” is at the same time a representative of the father – “ein Bettler sitzest du am Saum des steinigen Ackers, hungernd, dafi du die Stille deines Vaters erfiilltest” . The close relationship is underlined in a variant, where Johanna, Peter and Frau are interchangeable figures called upon at the “Pachter”‘s death: “Johanna/Peter/Frau schliefie die Lider mir” . The second scene focuses on the murder which has taken place and its consequences for the other 70 protagonists involved in the maleZfemale relationship, that is Johanna, der Wanderer and der Mdrder. The victim is Maria, who, as the father’s child and wife, is also sister and mother to Johanna: “In kahlem Baum wohnt die Mutter, sieht mich mit meinen traurigen Augen an . Riihre nicht dran, Schwester mit deinen kalten Fingern” . Indeed, that the mother-sister- figure looks at Johanna “mit meinen traurigen Augen” indicates a further identification of this figure with Johanna herself; they are all aspects of the female victim, Blaubart’s Elisabeth. But the “Knabe” victim of the opening lines has not been forgotten. A variant draws further parallels between the mother- sister and the eldest brother, Kaspar. Johanna originally cries out: “Riihre nicht dran, Bruder, mit deinen kalten Fingern” . And die Erscheinung is none other than Kaspar. In the confusing world of shifting sexual identity, the distinction between male and female, violator and victim, is repeatedly blurred. Like Elisabeth, Johanna is aware of her own sexuality. Her opening words – “Stich schwarzer Dorn” – are also those of the sister in Of f enbarung und Untergang; but where the sister is addressing the protagonist in the prose poem, Johanna is alone. Her sexual fantasies, like Elisabeth’s, express sado masochistic desires involving an unknown agent – perhaps she, like her brother, is running from a mutual experience of sexual awakening; or they are of a brutal, se1f—vio1 ating nature, which may be an attempt to expunge her own sinful sexuality. A further parallel to Elisabeth’s (and Peter’s) vision is found in the vampiric element of her fantasies and her desire to flee her own brutal sexuality: “Fort! Fort! Rinnt nicht Scharlach vom Munde mir. Weifle Tanze im Mond” . Blood drips from her mouth; the “weifie Tanze im Mond”, far from being entry into the pure lunar sphere of the later poetry, are firmly rooted in the context of violent sexuality, and, as such, are more like the 71 frenzied moon—1it revels of Dracula’s vampire brides. Yet at the same time, she is the victim of the “Tier” who has aroused her passion, forcing her, as Dracula forces Mina, to drink his blood, and thus sealing her doom. With a deep sense of loss, she remembers the innocent joy of childhood, and feels the sorrowful reproach of her mother: “O wie siiB ist das Leben! In kahlem Baum wohnt die Mutter, sieht mich mit meinen traurigen Augen an” . As Elisabeth’s “boser Traum” took place at her father’s house, here, too, the father’s authority is supplanted: “Tier brach ins Haus mit keuchendem Rachen. . WeiBe Locke des Vaters sank ins Ho 1 1 undergebiisch” . Johanna’s sexuality, like Elisabeth’s, is characterized by the decadent motif of voluptuous hair: “Liebes es ist mein brennendes Haar” . The mothei—sister who appears to her in a vision may be a cipher for her own lost innocence; she warns her away from her own sexuality, but the warning comes too late, for the mother-sister has already suffered violation. The vision, given sight through Johanna’s own eyes, re enacts the murder which has already taken place, thus casting Johanna into the role of vicarious murderer. That the murder involved sexual violation is made clear from the imagery, which has distinct echoes of Blaubart: the image of an opening blossom -“Leises Schweben ergliihender Blute” – echoes Blaubart’s lines to Elisabeth, who is both “Zur Todesblume greifend erblaut” and “Keusch bliihende Rose auf meinem Altar” ; the inner wounding – “die Wunde die dir am Herzen klafft” — is the result of brutal sexual violation: “MuB ich, Gott will’s, der Hals dir schlitzen! . Und saugen aus deinem Eingeweid / Deine Scham und deine Jungfrau1ichkeit” . As the victim of the Lustmord, the mothei—sister is condemned to an eternity of pain: “Brennende Lust; Qua 1 ohne Ende. Fiihl’ meines Schofies schwarz liche Wehen” . In the variant, however, it is the innocent brother who has 72 been murdered: “Sieh wie ich schuldlos krank litt” . The victim in Trakl’s psychodrama is both male and female. The identification of the murderer provides further evidence for the inter-relationship between the various characters of this complex piece. In glimpsing the face of the murderer in the sister’s shadow, Johanna sees one who is the victim of his own sexuality: “In deinem Schatten wes Antlitz erscheint; gefiigt aus Metal 1 und feurige Engel im Blick; zerbrochne Schwerter im Herzen” . It is Peter; the “Hdllenfratzen und die flammenden Schwerter der Engel” , which symbolized his sexual awakening, have caused (or will cause) the deaths of the mother-sister- brother, Johanna, and his own innocent self. The death of Johanna, which Peter had foreseen in the previous scene, becomes clearer now. It is caused by her recognition of her brother as the murderer of her mother—sister; his sexuality, as we have seen, is linked directly to hers. It is, then, their mutual sexual awakening which has caused the mothei—sister- brother’s death. In recognising her brother as murderer, Johanna also recognises herself; not only the victim, but also the murderer has dual sexuality. This throws light on the vision’s recognition of Johanna as her murderer. Further insight into this inter relationship of Peter and Johanna comes from the image in Traum und Umnachtung of the sister as a hermaphroditic reflection of the brother: “Purpurne Wolke umwolkte sein Haupt, dafi er schweigend iiber sein eigenes Blut und Bildnis herfiel, ein mondenes Antlitz; steinern ins Leere hinsank, da in zerbrochenem Spiegel, ein sterbender Jungling, die Schwester erschien” . One is reminded, too, of the physical similarity between Georg and Gret1 Trakl; in the Dramenfragment, brother and sister are constantly cast and re-cast in their roles as victim and murderer.79 73 The recognition of sexual guilt causes, in turn, Johanna’s death in the thorn—bush which symbolizes her sexual torment. Like her violated sister, she will find no peace in death: “Schneeiges Feuer im Mond” . The moon as male sexuality will preside over her purgatory of passion. Johanna’s death, then, is a subconscious sexual pact of incest, suicide and murder. The scene of murder involving the two female protagonists now becomes a scene of murder between two male protagonists, der Wanderer and der Mdrder. As there is a similarity between Johanna and the mothei— sister, so there is a similarity between the wanderer and the murderer. These unnamed figures both seem, in fact, to be representatives of Peter. Here we have, then, the murder of the innocent self, which is a theme central to Trakl’s poetry, portrayed on stage. Der Wanderer is a direct descendant of Herbert; a figure of innocence at the brink of sexual awareness, who has chosen to forget the nature of his sexual dreams: “Wer schrie in der Nacht, stort das siifie Vergessen in schwarzer Wo 1ke mir?” . Like Herbert, he cannot successfully suppress his recognition of his own sexuality, and calls on the Madonna for help: “Stimme im Innern kiindet Unheil, hei 1 ige Mutter trockne den Schweifi auf meiner Stirne, das Blut” . His murderer is the personification of his own subconscious violence. Der Mdrder, like der Wanderer, has been woken from his sleep by the death of Johanna; he is der Wanderer’s opposite, his “verodete Pfade” a stark contrast to the latter’s “Weg und Huge 1” . Like Blaubart, he is himself a victim of a higher power, whom he blames for his suffering: “Wer hat mein Antlitz genommen, das Herz in Ka1k verwandelt. Verflucht dein Name! . Wer driickt das Messer in meine rote Rechte” . He, too, has chosen the easier way of forgetfulness and self-deception; his questioning meets only with “Wildes Vergessen” . As the fate of 74 Johanna has shown, recognition brings fatal consequences. The murder of the Wanderer is the murder of the innocent, righteous self. Not only is life taken, but with it all ability to express, and thus release, suffering – “Weg von meiner Kehle die schwarze Hand” – and all ability to see and thus all possibility of recognition – “weg von den Augen nachtige Wunde” . The forgotten dream of childhood, suffering at the mercy of one’s own sexuality, has come true: “purpurner Alb der Kindheit” . This is the bad dream which Herbert had fled in suicide; as Herbert and Blaubart are both aspects of male sexuality, so here, in perpetrating the murder of his own self, the murderer has, like Blaubart, secured his own damnation: “Lachendes Gold, Blut – o verflucht!” . The second version of the Dramenf ragment has a named figure, Kermor, as the apparently alien violator who disturbs the sanctity of the family; the Pachter regards him as a “Furchtbarer Gott, der eingekehrt in mein Haus” . But this figure is not the stranger he at first seems. The name Kermor is used elsewhere in the poetry, in a variant title for Traum und Umnachtung, which also has as possible titles: Der Untergang Kaspar/Kermor Miinchs . Kermor, therefore, is a variant of Kaspar, the eldest son; a further parallel to the variant titles of Traum und Umnachtung is seen in the murder victim in the pond: now “die Leiche des Monchs” , but still implicitly the body of Kaspar, the first-born son. The identification of brother and sister in guilt is reflected in the relationship of the father to Johanna and Kermor, both of whom he regards as “Fremd1ing/in”. In both figures, the father recognizes the alienation of sexuality and suffering, they are both his wayward children.80 Not only is Kermor a variant of Kaspar and brother to Johanna, but he also usurps the position of 75 the father, speaking lines which in the first version of the text are the father’s. The figure of Kermor, then, is not an outside force; the damnation of this family, as in Traum und Umnachtung, comes from within. The textual parallels between Kermor and the protagonist of Offenbarung und Untergang are obvious. What we find in this second Version of the play is a depiction of the bad (that is, sexual) dreams which have haunted the protagonists of each of these pieces: even before Blaubart, we have the dreams of the protagonist in Traumland – “ich . hing stundenlang wirren, sinnvfirwirrenden Traumen nach, bis der Schlaf mich ubermannte” ; Herbert’s “Ein boser Traum hat mich krank gemacht” ; Elisabeth’s “Traumt gestern unter dem Lindenbaum/ An Vaters Haus einen bosen Traum.” ; in Verwandlung des Bosen, “O die Hoile des Schlafs” ; in ‘Winternacht’, “Schwarz ist der Schlaf” ; in Traum und Umnachtung, which is in itself a dream of madness, “Wenn er in seinem kuh1en Bette lag, iiberkamen ihn unsSgliche Tranen. . da er aus bosen Traumen erwachte” ; and finally, the sleep-walking protagonist of Offenbarung und Untergang: “Seltsam sind die nachtigen Pfade des Menschen. Da ich nachtwande1nd an steinernen Zimmern hinging. ” . In the first version of the drama, the Wanderer and the Morder appear when Johanna collapses “besinnungs1 os” into the thorn bush, called out of night and sleep, as if to take part in her unconscious dream. Here, the violation takes place in a dream shared by Kermor and Johanna, as if Herbert in his fantasies had broken into Elisabeth’s vision of herself as a sado-masochistic femme fatale with voluptuous hair: “Wo bin ich. Einbrech ich in stiBen Schlummer, umflattert mich silbernes Hexenhaar! Fremde Nahe nachtet um mich. (Er sinkt am Herd nieder)” . Heir to Blaubart’s necrophilic desires, his dream of violation is of a corpse: “Leise hebt die silberne Hand das Bahrtuch von der finsteren Schlaferin, beut in 76 Dornen das metallene Herz” . His now is the father’s vision of Johanna drowned, but at the point of greatest desire – “Madchen dein gliihender SchoB im Sternenweiher” . Kermor, like Herbert, takes fright at his own sexuality, and seeks to flee from his dream, as Peter, his alter-ego, who has shared in his sexual awakening, has fled the room: “LaB ab – schwarzer Wurm, der purpurn am Herz bohrt!” . Johanna shares Kermor’s dream, or rather, he shares hers, as he is the intruder. Like Elisabeth’s vision, this dream is sado-masochistic: “O das wilde Gras auf den Stufen, das die frierenden Sohlen zerfleischt, Bild in hartem Kristall, laB dich mit silbernen Nageln graben – o stifles Blut” . On awakening, Kermor is overcome with guilt: “Heule Herbststurm! Falle auf mich, schwarzes Gebirge, Wo 1ke von Stahl; schuldiger Pf ad, der mich hergefiihrt” . It is too late, however, to reverse the damage; Johanna’s sleep, her innocence, has been violated. The mutual sexual awakening of brother and sister in the first version is here in the form of a shared dream: “Mein Blut fiber dich – da du brachtest in meinen Schlaf” . Much of the obscurity of this Dramenfragment, then, arises from the shifting personae and the portrayal of male and female, who are both violator and victim in a complex sexual struggle. The fraught issue of sexuality finds some kind of answer in Offenbarung und Untergang, written in May 1914, when Trakl had probably finished working on the Dramenfragment; it is an answer through recognition and expression, the very answer which Trakl sought in vain in his earlier works, but which provides a solution which is ultimately unreaIisab 1e. This last prose poem will be examined in detail in Chapter Three; it presents a scenario in which male and female, brother and sister, are both guilty and innocent. In the end, however, the sister is cast in the role of victim, thus 77 able to transfigure her guilt. The brother is left, like Kermor, to spend his days wandering “Dornige Stufen in Verwesung und Dunke1″ . Although the way to redemption from violent sexuality is hinted at, or given to the protagonist in the form of a spiritual revelation, for the male perpetrators of this crime, from Blaubart to the protagonist of Offenbarung und Untergang, there is no release from suffering, no indication of redemption. The problem of sexuality finds no solution here. ”Im Zwiespalt deines Wesens”: Don Juan’s Dual Nature All that Eine Tragodie two versions of a scene was never performed and We know that the entire remains of Trakl’s play Don Juans Tod. in 3 Akten is a fragmentary prologue and from the third act. The play no complete manuscript remains, play did exist, however: Dafi dieses Drama . ein abgesch1ossenes, abendf ii 1 1 endes Schauspiel war, bezeugt Franz Bruckbauer, dem Trakl angeblich erst 1912 die ganze Dichtung vorlas, wobei Bruckbauer ‘mehr noch als im Bann der dramatischen Vorgange im Bann der herrlichen, ganz neu klingenden Sprache gewesen’ sein will. Kurz nach dieser Vorlesung unter vier Augen teilte Trakl dem Freunde mit, er habe das Stuck verbrannt.81 The material of the play belongs to a well- established literary tradition. The original play of the famous legend, El Burlador de Sevilla Y Convivado de Piedra, dates back to the seventeenth century (Tirso de Molina, 1630); it was followed by a succession of plays on the subject, including Moliere’s Don Juan (1665) and Mozart’s opera (1787). In the nineteenth century the material was treated by authors including Byron, Hoffmann, Lenau, Merimee and Pushkin. Trakl may 78 well have known the version of the story by Lenau (1844), who deviates From the original legend by portraying Don Juan as a cold-hearted and cynical seducer who finally becomes the victim of ennui, allowing himself to be killed in an attempt to fulfil his desire for new sensations: Mein Todfeind ist in meine Faust gegeben; Doch dies auch langweilt, wie das ganze Leben. (Er wirft den Do Ich weg; Don Pedro ersticht ihn)82 Unlike the popular legend, Lenau’s Don Juan is killed not by a statue arisen from the dead, but by the son of the dead man (significantly called Don Pedro), who takes on the role of avenger, not only of his father’s death, but also of the women whom Don Juan has seduced. The opening lines of the prologue of Don Juans Tod, which is incomplete, stress the apparent blessing of the gods on Don Juan and his ancestors; the second part concentrates, however, on the reality of “Tod und heifier Wahnsinn” which is Don Juan’s fate. The gaps in the prologue are reported by Demmer in her dissertation, Georg Trakl: Anders, als zur Zeit da festlich hohe Traume seinen Blick umdiistern, sieht er jetzt die Gestalt Don Juans. Er sieht nicht mehr.ein dionysisch Antlitz . Juans Stimme klingt in seinem Herzen, als schliige klirrend Eis und Erz zusammen, und sie fill It sein Blut mit Schrecken. Furchtbar tont seine Seele das qualentlohte Schicksal wieder. Aus der Ewigkeit des Leides entsteigt Juan und geht, statt es jauchzend zu iiberwinden, in Finsternis unter.83 Whilst the prologue suggests revulsion of Don Juan’s acts, what we actually detect is a decadent fascination for the figure of the amoral and passionate seducer, much as we found in Blaubart. In his definition of decadence, Bahr noted that one of its principle features is “ein unersatt1icher Zug ins Ungeheure und Schranken1ose. . Alles Gewohnliche, Haufige, Alltagliche ist ihnen verhafit. Sie suchen die seltsame Ausnahme mit Fleifi.”84 Trakl can certainly be 79 categorized with the decadents in his portrayal of Don Juan not merely as a cold-hearted lover, as in the legend, but as a sadistic sexual criminal. The prologue emphasizes Don Juan’s dual nature; on one hand, a capacity for Dionysian joy; on the other, the pain and madness which must inevitably result when Such a Promethean figure is confined to an “Erdendasein” . It is this duality which is the cause of his tragedy; Don Juan’s fate is descent into hell and “Finsternis”. One is reminded here of Baudelaire’s ‘Don Juan aux Enfers’, which shows the hero as a “fils audacieux”,85 descending to hell with no sign of remorse: Mais le calme hesros, courbe sur sa rapiere, Regardait le sillage et ne daignait rien voir.88 As in Blaubart, Trakl makes it clear that Don Juan is at the mercy of a fate outwith his control, determined both by his own nature and his “Schicksal”, which has given him a destiny of alienation and suffering: “Ein Fremdgeborener und ein Qua 1 bestimmter” . Like Blaubart, he is singled out for a life of abnormal potential for both good and evil; he may achieve great heights and walk “auf eisigen Gipfeln, die den Menschen fremd” , but this leads to the mortal sin of hubris, his challenge of God, and his eventual damnation. There are obvious parallels between Don Juan and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, both in his Dionysian Lebensfreude and his defiance of God: “Ein Jager, der die Pfeile schickt nach Gott” . One notes here the contrast between the use of “Gotter” in the first part of the prologue, which suggests the gods of antiquity, and “Gott” of the final line, which suggests the Christian God. The prologue is strongly reminiscent of a passage from ‘Zwischen Raubvogeln’ in Dionysos- Ditbyramben. Zarathustra is here addressed as he stands high above a great chasm: O Zarathustra grausamster Nimrod! Jiingst Jager nach Gottes, ao das Fangnetz aller Tugend, der Pfeil des Bosen! — Jetzt — Von dir selber erjagt, deine eigene Beute, in dich eingebohrt.87 It was Don Juan’s audacity to challenge God that appealed to George Bernard Shaw. He uses the Don Juan material in a dream sequence in Man and Superman, a book which was in Trakl’s possession. In the “epistle dedicatory”, which forms a prologue to the play, Shaw sketches out his fascination for this figure in words which echo the stance of the decadents towards bourgeois mentality: Philosophically, Don Juan is a man who, though gifted enough to be exceptionally capable of distinguishing between good and evil, follows his own instincts without regard to the common, statute, or canon law; and therefore, whilst gaining the ardent sympathy of our rebellious instincts . finds himself in mortal conflict with existing institutions, and defends himself by fraud and force. . What attracts and impresses in ‘El Burlador de Sevilla’ is ndt the immediate urgency of repentance, but the heroism of daring to be the enemy of God.88 “Weg, schreckIiches Gesicht”: The Struggle with Guilt The main part of the extant drama comprises a long speech by Don Juan in which he comes to terms with a vision of his guilty conscience. Trakl shows an awareness of stage-craft in the direction which precedes Don Juan’s entrance: “Don Juan erscheint in der Tiir zur rechten Seite, durch die man die Leiche der Donna Anna auf einem Ruhebette liegen sieht” . During the speech, the dimly-lit corpse of Donna Anna, the source of his guilt, is visible off-stage.89 Thus, while Don Juan confronts and overcomes the fantastic 81 vision of his guilty conscience, the physical reality of Donna Anna’s corpse remains a constant reminder of his cr ime. The vision which terrorizes Don Juan has been interpreted both as that of “die ermordete Geliebte”90 and “a projection of the hero’s own dichotomy”.91 As Webber points out, the influence of Weininger is clear here: “Es gibt wenige Menschen die nicht ein oder mehrere Tiergesichter haben.”92 What Don Juan is confronted with here is a vision of his own bestial nature, a reminder of his guilt and liis crime, which he himself has sought to ignore in the thrill of erotic sensation and superhuman power which has accompanied the murder: Weg, schreck1iches Gesicht! Was scheuchst du mich von meinem Lager auf Da dieser Stunde tiefster Wonnenschauer Mir noch im Blute bebt und mich erfiillt Mit ubermensch1ichen Gesichten. Here, as in Blaubart, is clearly the influence of decadence; one thinks of Baudelaire’s ‘Le Vin de 1’Assassin’, where, after the crime, the murderer dec 1 ares: Autant qu’un roi je suis heureux; L’air est pur, le ciel admirable. ” Bahr examines the decadent attraction towards sin in his 1894 essay ‘Satanismus’. Like Baudelaire, Bahr recognized that evil is a fundamental aspect of human nature. The desire to experience vicious sexual crime as the extremest of sensations has already been examined in the works of Huysmans, Bahr, Przybyszewski and others; in Trakl’s Blaubart this theme is dealt with in a more explicit way (although we cannot, of course know, what was written elsewhere in Don Juans Tod) . Trak1’s Dostoyevkian Rasko1ni kov, overwhelming spectre and Don Juan is reminiscent, too, of the heroes Raskolnikov and Stavrogin. As with Don Juan’s ecstasy is threatened by an sense of guilt which haunts him like a threatens to rob him of his desire for 82 life. What Don Juan sees is the self-accusing stare of his own bestial nature: Ah! Schwebst du mir noch vor und blickst mich an Aus toderstarrten Augenhohlen, worin Die Finsternis, die noch kein Lichtstrahl je Erhellte, weint. This is a vision of the darkest depths of his soul, his basest nature; in his moment of triumphant ecstasy, when he feels himself to be superior to the rest of humankind, he is forced to recognize his own bestiality: “Mich eke 1t, sehe ich dich an – ich mocht’/ Es nicht und mufi” . Interesting here is Otto Rank’s psychoanalytic study of 1924-1932, where, as well as focusing on the Freudian concept of Don Juan’s oedipal motivation, he puts forward the suggestion that Don Juan and his servant Leporello are two aspects of the same identity, with the servant representing “the inner criticism, the anxiety and the conscience of the hero . We can understand, moreover, that the enormity of Don Juan’s wickedness is due to the splitting off of the inhibiting element of his personality.”9* As we have seen from the prologue, it is this dichotomy within Don Juan’s nature which will lead to his damnation; it is when he is walking “auf eisigen Gipfeln” that his true nature as a “Jager” is revealed. Don Juan’s attempts to quash this vision only serve to emphasize further his violent character: . So fass’ ich dich verfluchtes Gebilde du Auswurf meiner heifien Sinne Erwiirge dich mit diesen Handen, versenge Mit meines Atems Glut, dich, Tiergesicht! In contrast to Don Juan’s Dionysian excess, this vision of his murderous, guilty self is distinguished by a lack of vitality; its eyes are “toderstarrtet] Augenhohlen” and it fills the room with a silence which attempts to smother Don Juan’s instinct for life: . Und fulIst den Raum mit Schweigen, Das blafi, grufttief sich schleicht in meines Herzens Aufschaumend Pulsen und sch1angeng1eich sich windet Um meiner Sinne trunkene Entziickung, 83 Dafi ferner immer ferner mir des Lebens Vielstimmiges Gerausch verklingt. As in Blaubart, guilt is characterized by silence, by an inability to express and thus overcome the horror of the crime. This is a theme which is introduced at the opening of the scene, in a conversation between two servants, Catalinon and Fiorello, where the crime is described as a “namenloser Freve1”. The servants have fled the house in a desperate attempt to purge the vicarious guilt of being in Don Juan’s presence through articulation of the crime, in a manner reminiscent of Herbert’s need to let “Sturmg1ocken lauten in die Nacht”: Leer steht das Haus, die Diener sind geflohn Laut schreiend in die Nacht die Greueltat Die hier in dieser Stunde sich bereitet. Yet the suggestion here is that language has not sufficient power to overcome the horror of the crime. Catalinon’s opening speech touches on the f in-de-sidc1e theme of Spracbkrise: Dem UnfaBbaren hascht das trage Wort Vergeblich nach, das nur in dunk 1em Schweigen An unsres Geistes letzte Grenzen riihrt. In ‘Ein Brief’, Hofmannsthal described his own loss of faith in the power of language: “. sondern die abstrakte Worte, deren sich doch die Zunge naturgemaB bedienen muB, um irgendwe1ches Urteil an den Tag zu geben, zerfielen mir im Munde wie modrige Pilze.”95 Don Juan at first threatens to fall victim to this vision of his own guilt; a sense of claustrophobia and panic is created by the use of short clauses; the contrast to the complex sentences spanning several lines during the first part of the speech is obvious; surely the suggestion here, too, is that Don Juan is losing his power of expression: . Es engt der Raum sich und Verschlingt, der nahen Dinge sichere Gestalt. Es steigt an mir empor und schon Droht es mich zu umfassen. Don Juan does not succumb to his guilt, however; he refuses to recognize his own base nature by denying it 84 its very existence: “Weg Wesenloses!” . He is able to assert his vitality over the darker side of his nature, and his triumphal return to life is characterized by the joy of expression as well as Dionysian vitality: Noch wiedertont mein Blut von dieser Welt Die Erde halt mich und ich lache dein. (Er taumelt ans Fenster, und stoBt es auf) Hier offne ich dem Leben weit die Pforten, Und tonend braut*s herein, mich zu umfassen, Mit seinen Schwingen hii 1 11 ‘ s mich ein – und ich — Bin sein! Und atme ein die Welt, bin wieder Welt Bin Wohllaut, farbenheifier Abglanz — Unendliche Bewegung – bin. Unlike the count in Ver1assenheit, who remains passive behind the window whilst life, in the form of the storm, rages outside, Don Juan is essentially active; he is able to open the window, to experience life directly, breaking the silent, stifling oppression of his guilt with the endless movement of nature.96 The influence of Nietzsche, who believed that the purpose of the artist was to praise and affirm life, is obvious here: “Kunst ist wesentlich Bejahung, Segnung, Vei— gott1ichung des Daseins”.9? This is the same spirit which was behind Trakl’s letter to Minna of October 1908, where he writes of his own struggle against his animalistic instincts and his escape into his private aesthetic world of language and poetry (“Meine ganze, schone Welt, vo11 unendlichen Wohllauts” 96). Within this context, we should also note Rank’s assertion of the cathartic function of art as a means of releasing repressed guilt, which in the case of the Don Juan legend is “a tension between unchecked sensuality and the guilt and punishment tendency.”99 Perhaps Trakl’s treatment of the legend is a further attempt to deal with the sexual guilt born out of his own incestuous des i res. Don Juan as portrayed by Trakl is not only a figure of decadent sadism, but also a prime example of that which Nietzsche extolled; like Zarathustra, he is 85 an Ubermensch, one who rises above conventional morality to challenge the divine, fulfilling Nietzsche’s call for the “Umwerthung aller Werthe”. As J W Smeed has pointed out, towards the end of the nineteenth century, Don Juan developed from the Romantic hero into the Nietzschean Superman, “someone whose uncompromising desire to be himself inescapably led him to revalue conventional moral standards”,100 such as is found in Lipiner’s Der neue Don Juan (1880) and Bernhardi’s Don Juan (19Q3). Smeed looks also at the contrasting influence of Schopenhauer on the transformation of Don Juan, which has clearly also played its part in Trakl’s concept of his hero: The rival theory – that Don Juan is not so much set on a course of assertive individualism as unwittingly in the grip of a force stronger than he (the Life Force) – receives philosophical sanction from Schopenhauer. It matters little whether the Life Force manifests itself in and through Don Juan or whether he is the prey; the essential thing is that the human being is reduced to the status of an agent or too 1.10 1 Trakl’s Don Juan, like Blaubart, is caught between the two main philosophical influences of the fin de siecle, Nietzschean assertiveness and Schopenhauerian pasivity. It must not be forgotten that this fragmentary scene in which Don Juan exerts his own vitality over his guilt was not intended as the close of the play, which was more akin to that of Blaubart. This “dionysisch Antlitz” was to be replaced by a stony mask, “Dahinter Tod und heifier Wahnsinn lauern” . Nietzschean vitality was ultimately denied: “Aus der Ewigkeit des Leids entsteigt Don Juan und geht, statt es jauchzend zu liberwinden, in Finsternis unter” . There is a strange affinity between the cult of Dionysian vitality and the decadent desire to experience the extremest sensations. Dehme1’s ‘Bekenntnis’ depicts a similar fusion of rapture, ecstatic relish in crime, and rejection of conventional morality as is found in Don Juans Todz 86 Ich will ergr’iinden alle Lust, so tief ich diirsten kann; ich will sie aus der ganzen Welt schopfen, und sturb’ ich dran. Ich will’s mit all der Schdpferwut, die in uns lechzt und brennt; ich will nicht zahmen meiner Glut heifihungrig Element. Ward ich durch frommer Lippen Macht, durch zahmer Kusse Tausch? Ich ward erzeugt in wilder Nacht und groBem Wo 1 1 ustrausch! Und will nun leben so der Lust, wie mich die Lust erschuf. Schreit nur den Himmel an um mich, ihr Beter von BerufU°2 “Da bin mit meinem Morder ich allein”: Lustmord as Lustse1bstmord As an analysis of Blaubart has shown, the male protagonists, Blaubart and Herbert are two extreme aspects of the male sexual ethos, the innocent contrasted to the sadistic murderer, aspects which are internalized in the later prose poems. A much earlier poem, ‘Das Grauen’, which Sharp rightly calls “a drama of the psyche”,103 also depicts the internalization of the male struggle towards sexual identity.104 The self is split into the dual personality of Cain and Abel, and the poem reaches its climax with a vision of the self as murderous brother in the mirror. The split identity is present from the opening of the poem, in the detachment from the self expressed in the first line: “Ich sah mich durch Yer^assne Zimmer gehn’ . 87 As in Blaubart, the confusion and agitation of sexual awareness is externalized in the protagonist’s view of nature: – Die Sterne tanzen irr auf blauem Grunde, Und auf den Feldern heulten laut die Hunde, Und in den Wipfeln wiihlte wild der Fohn. The confusion of the stars mirrors the confusion in his own soul as a result of his sexual awareness,l05 and the howling dogs represent the bestial, untamable nature of male sexuality, like Blaubart’s “Wolf oder sonstig reifiend Getier” and Don Juan’s “Tiergesicht” . This is an image which is also found in the later lyric; one thinks of ‘Winternacht’, Traum und Umnachtung, where the protagonist is “ein f1ammender Wo If” , and ‘ Im Osten’ , where the forces of violence triumph: “Wilde Wolfe brachen durchs Tor” . The image of the stormy wind, here specifically Fohn, is one which we have already seen in Blaubart as symbolic of sexual excitement. Fohn is used consistent ly throughout the mature lyric in association with an atmosphere of sinful sexuality. This is found in ‘Im Dorf’, and in ‘Die Verfluchten’, where the ghostly Fohn accompanies a “gliihendes Gefiihl des Bosen” . In ‘Drei Blicke in einen Opal’, this lustfulness is in a context of perverse religious sentiment: “Aus Schwarzem blast der Fohn. Mit Satyrn im Verein/ Sind schlanke Weiblein; Monche der Wollust bleiche Priester” . The sexual sin associated with Fohn in ‘In der Heimat’ is that of incest, and the wind is seen to take an active part in the transgression of brother and sister: Im Sptilicht treibt Verfallnes, leise girrt Der Fohn im braunen Gartchen; . Der Schwester Schlaf ist schwer. Der Nachtwind wiih 11 In ihrem Haar, das mondner Glanz umspiilt. It is within this context that we are able to construe the negative imagery of ‘Fohn’ as the expression of a guilt which is specifically sexual: “Schmerz und Plage/ Des steinigen Lebens/ Dafi nimmer der dornige Stachel 88 ablasse vom verwesenden Leib” . The elements which here make up an atmosphere of sinful sexuality are by no means confined to the early lyric; indeed, here are images which, in the same context and with the same connotations, will recur throughout the poetry. The caesura after “Stille” intensifies, rather than relieves, the atmosphere of menace. The conflict is removed from nature to within the protagonist; the sultry atmosphere of fever reminds us of Herbert’s “F i eberg 1 iihn” : “Dumpfe Fieberglut/ Lafit giftige Blumen bliihn aus meinem Munde” . The image here is obviously borrowed from the French decadents: Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mai is the most obvious source; possibly also Maeterlinck’s ‘Aquarium’, which has in the translation by K L Ammer the line: “Und doch bliihen aus ihrem Munde/ Blumen auf b 1 auem Stiel”J06 The image of poisonous flowers blooming from his mouth is obviously linked to the concept of poetry as expression. It is tempting to see the “giftige Blumen” as the decadent poems of Sammlung 1909, of which this poem is one of the prime examples.107 Clearly, the protagonist is aware of his sexuality threatening to gain control over him, and seeks to find release from the ensuing guilt through poetic expression. Letters written not long after the completion of Sammlung 1909 describe the poetic process as one inspired by “das lebendige Fieber”,108 which at time threatens to overcome the poet: “Aber ich bin derzeit von allzuviel (was fur ein inferna1isches Chaos von Rhythmen und Bildern) bedrangt, als dafi ich fiir anderes Zeit hatte, als dies zum geringsten Teil zu gestalten The “Blumen” of ‘Das Grauen’ are poisonous, aggravating his own plight; rather than effecting release, his poems of indulgent decadence serve to ensnare him further in his sexual guilt, perverting the “blaue Blume” of the Romantic ideal, which is the subject of Trakl’s three unpublished poems to Novalis. In this later poetry, he 89 achieves a more successful transformation of suffering through poetry: In dunkler Erde ruht der heilige Fremdling. Es nahm von sanftem Munde ihm die Klage der Gott, Da er in seiner Blute hinsank. Eine blaue Blume Fortlebt sein Lied im nachtlichen Haus der Schmerzen. The image of the flower reminds us of the imagery of Blaubart, where sexuality is portrayed as a flower blossoming and dying, thus reinforcing the underlying theme of sexual suffering. That the flowers which come out of his own mouth are poisonous implies that essentially his suffering comes from within him. Although the murderous self may be externalized as Cain, it is nevertheless the mirror image of the protagonist, and ultimately therefore himself. He is poisoned by his own sexuality; as with Herbert and Elisabeth, corruption comes not from outside, but from within. The deadly nature of this sexuality may further be a reference to its unhealthy, abnormal nature; perhaps incestuous desire is implied here. The sense of threat is upheld in the image of dew falling as blood: “Aus dem Geast fallt wie aus einer Wunde/ Blafi schimmernd Tau, und fallt, und fallt wie Blut” . The sexual guilt which we have already established as central to this poem suggests that the image here is, as in Blaubart and the prose poems, one of sexual violation. The image of dew falling as blood figures not only as a premonition of the protagonist’s own self-murder, but of the sexual guilt which is its preliminary. Here, there may also be hints at the possibilty of redemption, which is closely associated with the imagery of blood and sexual wounding in the later poetry, although here they are somewhat tenuous.HO The dew falling from the tree’s branches like blood may stand as a veiled image of Christ nailed to the Tree. The image of Christ’s blood falling like 90 dew is found in ‘Gesang einer gefangenen Amsel’, written some five years later: So leise blutet Deraut, Tau, der langsam tropft vom bllihenden Dorn. The octet has set the background of sinful sexual awakening; the sestet focuses upon the murderous deed. The examination of Blaubart and the Dramenf ragment have shown the fatal consequences of recognition of one’s own sinful sexual nature; here, too, the protagonist is confronted with a vision in the mirror which reveals his true self. It is the very depth of this revelation which makes the smooth, empty surface of the mirror ” triiger isch” . There is no doubt that the reflection which the protagonist sees is of himself. His own doom is within him; Abel looking in the mirror is confronted by Cain, the innocent self by the self who has entered the world of sexual awareness. In the later lyric the reflection in the mirror will at times be of the sister; any doubt about the identity of the murderer here is dispelled by the last line: “Da bin mit meinem Morder ich allein” .111 The background again adds to the atmosphere of menace: “Sehr leise rauscht die samtene Portiere” .*l2 Here is no longer the confusion of the first stanza; the wild effects of the Fohn are reduced to a gentle rustling of a curtain, as the protagonist recognizes and accepts his sinful nature. Unlike Herbert and Peter, he does not try to flee his own sexuality, but passively acquiesces to his own self — rourderJ13 The darkness of the reflection (“Aus Graun und Finsternis ein Antlitz: Kain!” ) symbolizes its sinfulness; it is a reflection bound to the human sphere, through a glass darkly. Here, no divine light is shed to banish the darkness of sin; the only light is that of the moon, the symbol of male sexuality. The theme of Lustse1bstmord may be interpreted in one other Trakl poem: ‘Kaspar Hauser Lied’. The theme of contrast between the corruption of the town and the 91 purity of nature has been much examined;114 what is often ignored, however, is that Kaspar’s decline comes not from the influence of the town, but, as with most of Trakl’s protagonists, from within himself.115 The influence of the town-dwellers upon his development, which forms the basis of other versions of the story, such as Jakob Wassermann’s Caspar Hauser oder die Tragheit des Herzens, is noticeably absent here. The first two stanzas focus upon the figure of Kaspar as a figure of innocence and his harmonious relationship with nature and God. Like Abel in Genesis, God finds favour with him: Ernsthaft war sein Wohnen im Schatten des Baums Und rein sein Antlitz. Gott sprach eine sanfte F1amme zu seinem Herzen: O Mensch! As soon as he leaves the realm of nature, however, before he has had contact with others, the darkness of sin presents itself in his heart. Here, it is not a question of sexuality, but, as was the case with Cain, of dissatisfaction with what God has given him and a desire to control nature: Stille fand sein Schritt die Stadt am Abend; Die dunkle Klage seines Munds: Ich will ein Reiter werden. *16 It is possible, then, to see in the figure of the murderer, the same Cain/Abel split identity as in ‘Das Grauen’.11? Like the protagonist of the earlier poem, he is left alone with his fate: “Nachts blieb er mit seinem Stern allein” is an unmistakable echo of “Da bin mit meinem Mdrder ich allein” .l18 The symbolism of the star, as we have already seen, can carry implications of sexual awareness; perhaps Kaspar, too, has contemplated sexual dreams: “sein Ieiser Schritt/ An den dunklen Zimmern Traumender hin” . It is significant that he only sees the shadow of the rturderer, for this may indeed be his own shadow, as in an unpublished poem, ‘Der Schatten1: Da ich heut morgen im Garten saB – Die Baume standen in blauer Bliih, 92 Vo 11 Drosselruf und Tirili ~ Sah ich meinen Schatten im Gras, Gewaltig verzerrt, ein Wunderlich Tier, Das lag wie ein boser Traum vor mir. Und ich ging und zitterte sehr, Indes ein Brunnen ins Blaue sang Und purpurn eine Knospe sprang Und das Tier ging nebenher. The violent, bestial self is born out of apparent innocence and peace, and once present, does not leave the protagonist. In winter, the season where human disharmony with nature is at its greatest, the murderer comes upon Kaspar Hauser at twilight, like the murderer in ‘Dammerung’. In the depiction of “sein Morder suchte nach ihm” we are reminded of the vision of the Cain-self stalking the Abel-self in ‘Das Grauen’: “Ich sah mich durch verlass’ne Zimmer gehn” .1*9 The final line, “Silbern sank des Ungeborenen Haupt hin” is not the murder of the legend, but the submission to sexuality, the acquiescence to the murder of the innocent self that is familiar to us from ‘Das Grauen’. Significantly, a variant line reads: “Eines Ungeborenen sinkt des Fremdlings rotes Haupt hin” . Red, the colour of sexuality was to characterize Kaspar Hauser’s demise. Within this context must also be mentioned Trakl’s own mental state, which, after his breakdown at the front in October 1914, was diagnosed as “Geistesstorung (Dement. praec.)”;l20 dementia praecox is today known as schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by alternation between violently contrasting behavioural patterns. Perhaps this illness was the conclusion of an identity split into Cain and Abel; and perhaps the vision of the murderer which troubled Trakl in reality was, as for his Kaspar Hauser, nothing other than his own violent self: “Seit seiner Kindheit schon hat er zeitweise Gesichtsha11ucinationen, es kommt ihm vor wie wenn hinter seinem Riicken ein Mann mit gezogenem Messer 93 steht. Von 12—24 Jahre hat er keine solche Erscheinungen gehabt, jetzt seit drei Jahren leidet er wieder an diesen Ges i cht s t auschungen. “12l it was Trakl himself who claimed Kaspar Hauser’s fate as his own: “Wozu die Plage. Ich werde endlich doch immer ein armer Kaspar Hauser bleiben.”122 The image of the mirror reflection as a symbol of sinful nature is not uncommon in the literature of the fin de si£cle. Most notable, perhaps, is the portrait in Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which will be examined shortly.123 In a poem by Hofmannsthal, we find a situation similar to that of ‘Das Grauen’. ‘Vor Tag’ opens with images of the day awakening to life, and the violent forces which form its essence: . Nun im stummen Wald Hebt der Landstreicher ungewaschen sich Aus weichem Bett vorjahrigen Laubes auf Und wirft mit frecher Hand den nachsten Stein Nach einer Taube, die sch1aftrunken fliegt, Und graust sich selber, wie der Stein so dumpf Und schwer zur Erde fallt. . 124 The poem culminates in the has spent the night with a secretively away, implying sexual experience: depiction of a young man who woman and now creeps the sinful nature of his . Nun Schleicht einer ohne Schuh von einem Frauenbett, Lauf t wie ein Schatten, klettert wie ein Dieb Durchs Fenster in sein eignes Zimmer, . So great is his alienation from his past self that it is as if what was his the day before, now no longer belongs to him, but to the stranger that he was. His recognition of his sinfulness comes in a vision of himself as his own murderer, as in ‘Das Grauen’: . sieht Sich im Wandspiegel und hat plotzlich Angst Vor diesem blassen, iibernacht igen Fremden, Als hatte dieser selbe heute nacht Den guten Knaben, der er war, ermordet Und kame jetzt, die Hande sich zu waschen Im Kriiglein seines Opfers wie zum Hohn, 94 Like the protagonist in ’Das Grauen’, the boy here projects his own confused emotions on to nature: Und darum sei der Himmel so beklommen Und alles in der Luft so sonderbar. ”O! ihr stillen Spiegel der Wahrheit”: The Mirror as a Symbol of Recognition The mirror image is associated throughout Trakl’s poetry, as in ‘Das Grauen’, with the protagonist’s recognition of his own sinful nature, and, increasingly as the poetry develops, with his redemption. The theme of decadent Lustse1bstmord becomes its very opposite as the poet transcends his own sinfulness; in the end, through God’s grace, the mirror image is reflected back on itself, and Abel triumphs over Cain.125 With in the body of Trakl’s poetic work, reflection is both in a mirror and in water.125 In ‘Die drei Teiche in Hellbrunn’, the pools reflect not only the extremest conditions of human existence, but offer the poet a vision of his own soul: Erbluht im Widerschein der Fluten ~ Ein ratselvolles Sphinxgesicht, Daran mein Herz sich will verbluten. But here is no recognition, and the poet is left in sorrowful uncertainty. The imagery of ‘Die junge Magd’ is similar to that of ‘Das Grauen’, as is the theme of death through sexual guilt. The maid is at first, like Narcissus, enraptured by her own reflection as she collects water from the well, the motif of voluptuous hair emphasizing her fascination with her own sexual maturation. As she willingly indulges in her own sexuality, she becomes a stranger to her innocent self: Silbern schaut ihr Bi Id im Spiegel Fremd sie an im Zwie1ichtscheine 95 Und verdammert fahl im Spiegel Und ihr graut vor seiner Reine. Here, however, the reflection is not of the murderous, sexual self, but rather of the innocent self;’ the murder of ‘Das Grauen’ has taken place here, as the maid has already given herself over to her sexual nature. That her se1f — a 1ienation is sexually motivated is made explicit by the reference to her “Fiebertraume” and the juxtaposition of her past innocence and the powerful force of sexual attraction, with the wind again playing a phallic role, violating the night sky which bleeds the red of sexual wounding: Traumhaft singt ein Knecht im Dunke1 Und sie starrt von Schmerz geschiittelt. Rote traufelt durch das Dunke1. Jah am Tor der Siidwind riittelt. In ‘Psalm’, the image of “Schatten, die sich vor einem erblindeten Spiegel umarmen” is one of the many images of desolation and hopelessness which symbolize the human realm. Here, recognition is denied, as the mirror, “erblindet”, offers no reflection, no possibility of release from sinful sexuality, and the figures before it remain ghostly shadows. We may conclude from the associations of the mirror image with sexuality, that the embrace here is sexual, like the much earlier image in Traumland, where the boy’s desire for his cousin is depicted in the following sequence: Leise wollte ich dann am Fenster voriiber- huschen, als ich den zitternden, zarten Schatten von Marias Gestalt sich vom Kiesweg abheben sah. Und mein Schatten beriihrte den ihrigen wie in einer Umarmung. . Wie oft hat dieser kleine, mich so bedeutsam diinkende Vorgang sich wiederholt! Ich weifi es nicht. Mir ist, . als hatten unsere Schatten sich unzahlige Male umarmt . In accordance with its sexual symbolism, the image is often of two figures reflected in a mirror or in water. In ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’ there is no direct reference to the sister, yet we may interpret the image of “die Liebende” bent over the dark waters as brother and sister: “Ein Geschlecht” is not only a 96 possible reference to androgyny, but to the fact that the brother and sister do indeed come from one “Geschlecht”, that is elsewhere doomed to damnation. The recognition of their own sin is at the same time the recognition of the wickedness of Western civilization. As the reflection in ‘Das Grauen’ was seen in “Graun und Finsternis” , so here, the reflection is one of “ein steinernes Antlitz in schwarzen Wassern” . The recognition which comes from this reflection is the prerequisite for redemption; the downward movement of “die bittere Stunde des Untergangs” is reversed: Aber strahlend heben die silbernen Lider die Li ebenden: Ein Geschlecht. Weihrauch stromt von rosigen Ki ssen Und der siifie Gesang der Auf erstandenen. The connotations of androgyny in this poem cannot be ignored, and will be examined in detail later. Suffice it to say that here, recognition of sin provides release from flesh which had turned to stone and resurrection into new life. This redemption is denied in Traum und Umnachtung, where the sister appears as the protagonist’s androgynous reflection. The physical similarity between the poet and his youngest sister can be seen from photographs: “Schon als Kind sieht sie Georg auffallend ahnlich. Spater verstarkt sich noch diese Ahnlichkeit: grofi und kraftig erscheint die Nase in dem breiten, grobknochi gen Gesicht, aus dessen Ziigen Vitalitat und Sinnlichkeit sprechen.27 Else Lasker-Schuler, a great admirer of Trakl’s, was less favourably impressed by his sister, whom she called: “seine schlechte Copie”.128 One thinks also of the version of the Narcissus myth found in Pausanias’ Guide to Greece, where the youth’s amorous contemplation of his own face is in memory of his dead twin-sister, his exact counterpart J 29 it is significant that Weininger, whose Ph ilosophy clearly influenced Trakl, regarded male 97 desire as essentially narcissistic: “In aller Liebe liebt der Mann nur sich selbst.”130 The androgynous reflection is found also in Stefan George’s decadent volume Algabal. The gentle, more feminine side of his nature, and the suggestion of his bisexuality and hermaphroditism, are developed in the final stanza of the poem “So sprach ich nur in meinen schwersten tagen”: Dann schloss ich hinter aller schar die riegel- Ich ruhte ohne wunsch und mild und licht Und beinah einer schwester angesicht Erwiderte dem schauenden ein spiegelJ3l In Traum und Umnachtung, the protagonist is denied recognition of his guilt because of his own violence in shattering the mirror, thus avoiding the revelation of truth. It is this truth which he also attempts to flee at the opening of the piece: “Aus blauem Spiegel trat die schmale Gestalt der Schwester und er stiirzte wie tot ins Dunke1” . Here is not narcissistic self love, like that of Dorian Gray, nor the recognition of the self as sexual entity, but rather the recognition of the sister as the object of his sexual desires, Kleefeld’s “narzifitische Spiegelbeziehung”.132 It may be that he recognizes her in his own features, or that, as in ‘Ballade II’, she appears behind him, calling him.133 His attempt to flee from his own sexuality is futile. That he falls “wie tot” carries echoes, too, of Cain’s murder of Abel at the dawn of sexual awareness. The protagonist finds himself in the dark realm of sinfulness, where desire ripens like a red fruit and his suffering finds no release: “Nachts brach sein Mund gleich einer roten Frucht auf und die Sterne erglanzten liber seiner sprachlosen Trauer” . The red fruit of sexuality, like the “giftige Blumen” of ‘Das Grauen’ deny him release through expression of his suffering. The protagonist’s attempt to flee and find peace is futile; finally, in an act of silent retribution, an attempt perhaps, like Dorian Gray, to kill the image of Cain in the mirror, he attacks his own reflection: 98 “Purpurne Wo Ike umwolkte sein Haupt, dafi er schweigend iiber sein eigenes Blut und Bildnis herfiel, ein mondenes Antlitz*’ . This can do nothing to prevent his own damnation, however, and his final glimpse of recognition at the truth is in the reflection of the sister as “ein sterbender Jiingling” . He sees in the reflection of his own dying face the image of the sister, who is inextricably bound up with his guilt and sin; the two participants in the crime of incest cannot be separated, but the fusion into androgyny is not a solution here; the brother in the real world and the sister in the mirror form together “ein sterbender Jungling”, an androgynous ideal which cannot survive. Where they become one in resurrection in ‘Abend- landisches Lied*, here, unable to give up their sinful sexuality, they are one in damnation: “die Nacht das verfluchte Geschlecht verschlang” . In ‘Helian’ recognition leads to redemption through divine grace. Towards the end of this poem, when the movement is upwards out of the trough of sin and despair, we find the following image: In schwarzen Wassern spiegeln sich Aussatzige; Oder sie offnen die kotbef1eckten Gewander Weinend dem balsamischen Wind, der vom rosigen Huge 1 weht. The reflection in the water reveals the outer signs of sin and guilt in the form of leprosy; the depth of their wickedness is again in the image of black, rather than dark, waters. As in ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’ , recognition and acceptance of guilt are the prerequisites for redemption, and lead them to seek divine grace. This is a painful process, carried out with the tears of true repentence, but it leads to cleansing from sin. In the final section of the poem, it is Helian’s soul which undergoes a similar process: Die Stufen des Wahnsinns in schwarzen Zimmern, Die Schatten der Alten unter der offenen Tiir, 99 Da Helians Seele sich im rosigen Spiegel beschaut Und Schnee und Aussatz von seiner Stirne sinken. Helian overcomes his madness only by recognition of the sinful state of his soul and acceptance of divine grace, as the signs of leprosy are taken from him. In the complex, apocalyptic imagery of the poem’s conclusion, one thing is certain: left to himself, Helian’s fate would be a “dunkleres Ende” of death and madness; salvation comes from God’s grace alone: “Der stille Gott die blauen Lider iiber ihn senkt . ” ‘Herbst- seele’ gives clearer confirmation of the power of s i mp1e faith: Rechten Lebens Brot und Wein, Gott in deine milden Hande Legt der Mensch das dunkle Ende, Alle Schuld und rote Pein. An unpublished, untitled poem, written at the same time as, or shortly after, ‘Helian’, depicts an apparently more negative picture of the “rosiger Sp i ege1”: Rosiger Spiegel; ein hafiliches Bild, Das im schwarzen Riicken erscheint, Blut aus brochenen Augen weint Lasternd mit toten Schlangen spielt. Schnee rinnt durch das starrende Hemd Purpurn iiber das schwarze Gesicht, Das in schwere Stiicken zerbricht Von Planeten, verstorben und fremd. What we have here is not a negation or parody of ‘Helian’ but a depiction of the image which Helian saw “im rosigen Spiegel”, a description of the sinful self which must be recognised as a prerequisite for salvation.!34 One is reminded of Trakl’s description of his own body as an “unseeligeCr] von Schwermut verpesteten Korper . diese Spottgestalt aus Kot und Faulnis.”l35 The reflection “im rosigen Spiegel” is, like Dorian Gray’s portrait, a mirror of the soul, revealing all the ugliness of sin. Such is the horror of recognition that it destroys his own power of vision: “Blut aus brochenen Augen weint.” As in the image of a blind mirror in ‘Psalm’, there seems here to 100 be no release through recognition. Yet the connotations of blood as an agent of redemption are here, too; in recognition of sin, however painful that recognition may be, and whatever consequences it may have, lies the way to repentence, redemption and restoration of sight. The snakes, symbols of sin and sexual guilt are dead, and must be left behind if purification is to be comp 1e te. Redemption through recognition and renunciation of sin is found also in the imagery of * Siebengesang des Todes’. In a dream-like state, the protagonist (“der Schlafer”) descends to a confrontation with his own sinful self in the dark realm of nature. Here the image of ‘Das Grauen’ has come full circle, with Abel returning to triumph over Cain. In a “blauer Quell” , a source of spirituality, he recognises his own leprous sin, “sein schneeiges Antlitz” . The expurgation of sinful sexuality ) leads to purification and peace. In Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of the books which Trakl owned and which may have influenced his writing, the emphasis is on the conscious choice to live a life of sin, rather than the involuntary powers of sexual awareness, and the contrast between the apparent innocence of the protagonist and the reality of his soul, mirrored here in the changing portrait. Unlike Trakl’s protagonists, who are blighted by leprous signs of their own sin and guilt, Dorian Gray is able to preserve the outer signs of youth and innocence by casting the physical degeneration of his wanton life-style onto his portrait, which becomes the true depiction of his soul. At first Dorian truly possesses “all youth’s passionate purity”,!36 but like Trakl’s figures, his corruption comes from within him, for, despite the apparent influence of Lord Henry Wotton, the latter 101 only reveals to Dorian the criminal possibilities which he carries within himself: “Why had it been left for a stranger to reveal him to himself?”137 When he discovers that his wish “to be always young”,138 and for the picture to grow old is true, he abandons himself to the fatal promise which he made: “I would give my soul for that!”1313 He gives himself over to excessive hedonisip, and delights in watching the secret progress of his own sinful soul: “Eternal youth, infinite passion, pleasures subtle and secret, wild joy and wilder sins – he was to have all these things. The portrait was to bear the burden of his shame . it would reveal to him his own soul.”1*8 While Dorian becomes a figure of wickedness inside an untainted body, the physically marred portrait becomes an agent of Dorian’s conscience, of his former innocence, calling him to retribution: “His own soul was looking out at him from the canvas and calling him to judgement.”1*1 In a cowardly gesture of self preservation, he destroys the only piece of evidence against him, the portrait, fully believing that he can live without the mirror of his conscience: “[The knife] would kill the past, and when that was dead he would be free. It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and, without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace.”142 In his final act of violence, Dorian learns the impossibility of existing without one’s conscience in his gruesome self-murder. Surely Trakl saw the significance of Dorian’s glimpse at the path of redemption: “Yet it was his duty to confess to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin.”1*3 102 ’’Die Fieberlinnen des Jiing 1 ings ” : Blaubart’s Heirs The association of sinful sexuality and male guilt is one which has already been seen in much of the poetry. Two basic types emerge: Blaubart and Don Juan on the one hand, Herbert, the protagonists of ‘Sabbath’ and ‘Andacht’ on the other. Yet the relationship between these two types is not a straightforward one of evil and good; all the poetry so far has pointed to the closer relationship of the two, not as separate types, but as different stages in sexual development. The innocent youth, who carries within him the possibility of a Blaubart, is central to Trakl’s poetry; it is this fall from innocence into sin which forms one of the major themes of the entire oeuvre, from Traumland of 1906 to the Dramenfragment of 1914. An examination of two of the male protagonists in Trakl’s mature lyric, Helian and Elis, their relation to the concept of the male as Lustmorder and Lustse1bstmorder, the Gedicht- komplex, ‘Lange lauscht der Monch. ‘, and cross reference within Trakl’s oeuvre, will show that their unnamed crimes also fall within this category. One of the main problems in the somewhat obscure sequence of ‘Lange lauscht der Monch. ‘ is one of identity, the difficulty of defining the relationships between the shifting images and various protagonists, and trying to establish whether we are dealing with one or more figures. This is far from clear in the poem itself, and the obliquity with which Trakl refers to “der Monch . der Wanderer . Helian . der Blinde” is confusing, yet it is possible to establish a relationship between all of these figures which suggests that they are facets of the one poetic persona. This insight into the identity of Helian will in turn throw light upon Trakl’s poem of that title. ‘Lange lauscht der Monch. ‘ depicts the process of a soul becoming diseased as a result of sexual 103 guilt. The first stanza presents a picture of “der Mooch”, one who feels the presence of death, who lives alone, cast out of society in an existence characterized by fear and melancholy: Lange lauscht der Monch dem sterbenden Vogel am Wa1dsaum O die Nahe des Todes, verfal lender Kreuze am Hiige 1 Der Angstschweifi der auf die wachserne Stirne t r i 11 . O das Wohnen in b1auen Hohlen der Schwermut. O blutbef1eckte Erscheinung, die den Hohlweg herabste igt Dafi der Besessene leblos in die silbernen Kniee br i cht. The cause of this fearful existence is not yet apparent, yet it is clear from cross-reference, that the protagonist is suffering from the guilt of a sexual crime. The “Angstschweifi der auf die wachserne Stirne tritt” is a familiar motif: the murderer in ‘De profundis’ (“Auf meine Stirne tritt kaltes Metall” ), the “kalte Stirne des Morders . SchweiB, der auf die eisige Stirne tritt” in Verwand!ung des Bosen, the brother in Traum und Umnachtung (“Nachtlang wohnte er in kristallener Hohle und der Aussatz wuchs silbern auf seiner Stirne” ), and in the Dramenfragment both “der Wanderer” (“heilige Mutter trockne den SchweiB auf meiner Stirne” ) and Peter (“SchweiB und Schuld” ). Like Blaubart and the protagonist in Verwandlung des Bosen, he falls to his knees in a gesture of despair when he is forced to confront the blood-splattered vision of his victim; one is reminded here of the Dramenf ragment, where an apparition of Maria, bearing the wounds of her violation, speaks of the crime committed against her. As a result of this recognition, the soul of the murderer becomes diseased with “Schnee und Aussatz”, the outer signs of sin; he is forced to listen to the madness and watch the process of decay which his crime has caused: Mit Schnee und Aussatz fiillt sich die kranke Seele Da sie am Abend dem Wahnsinn der Nymphe lauscht, Den dunklen Floten des im diirren Rohr; 104 Finster ihr Bild im Sternenweiher beschaut; Stille verwest die Magd im Dornenbusch Grammatically, “ihr Bild” could be either that of the “kranke Seele” Qr the “Nymphe”; but the pool as the location of the violated female has already been established. This is not qualified by thS apparent contradiction of the following line, where the decomposing body is placed in a thorn bush, familiar from ‘De profundis’ as another location of the female victim; both are loci of the sex crime. One thinks of the Dramenfragment, where Johanna’s face is glimpsed “im Sternenweiher” , yet she is also “Die Schwester singend im Dornenbusch” , which is the place of her physical death: “Sie sttirzt bes i nnungs 1 os in den Dornenbusch, der sich iiber ihr schliefit” . The figure of the monk, then, is a sexual criminal, a Lustmorder; the perverse nature of religious figures appears elsewhere in the poetry, and will be examined in more detail in a later chapter. Now arises the question of identity: to what extent can the figure of the monk be identified with the figures in the following stanza: Wo an schwarzen Mauern Besessene stehn Steigt der bleiche Wanderer im Herbst hinab Wo vordem ein Baum war, ein blaues Wild im Busch Offnen sich, zu lauschen, die weichen Augen He 1i ans. Wo in finsteren Zimmern einst die Liebenden schlief en Spielt der Blinde mit silbernen Schlangen, Der herbstlichen Wehmut des Mondes. Certainly, there would appear to be a connection between the descending f igure of the Wanderer and the isolated Monch of stanza 1; the verb “lauschen” also forms a connection between this monk and Helian, while the fact that Helian’s “weiche Augen” are opened, not to see, but to listen, associate him in turn with der Blinde. This inter-relationship is confirmed by a look at the variants, where the figures of der Verruchte, der Monch, der Tote and der Blinde are interchangeable. 105 It would appear, then, that Helian is a blind monk, and a Lustmorder. Further examination of Trakl’s oeuvre shows that the connection between sexual guilt and blindness is not infrequent; like leprosy, this is one of the physical signs of inner sin. Der Blinde, like der Aussatzige, carries the physical burden of his sin. The connection between blindness and sexual guilt is more explicit elsewhere. Don Juan’s vision of his guilt confronts him as a “Tiergesicht” with “toderstarrte Augenhohlen” ; in ‘Nachts’, the protagonist’s fall is accompanied by the loss of sight: “Die Blaue meiner Augen ist erloschen in dieser Nacht” ; “die blinde Magd” in ‘Im Dorf’ is involved in the depiction of descent into sin; the protagonist of Traum und Umnachtung mirrors the cold moon “in seinen zerbrochenen Augen” , while the eyes of the sister are “steinern” ; finally, in the Dramenfragment, the sexual guilt of the various protagonists is reflected in the imagery of sightlessness. The theme of sight and blindness is one which is also found in ‘Helian’. It is not the aim of this chapter to provide a full interpretation of this poem; as has been often pointed out, this huge and complex piece operates on many different levels; here, we shall trace an aspect in the depiction of the fall of Helian which has been largely ignored by critics, that is, the unnamed sin as one of sexual guilt.1*4 Certainly, the He 1ian-figures in the unpublished poems, ‘Lange lauscht der Monch. ‘, ‘Finster blutet. ‘ and ‘Rosiger Spiegel. ‘, are al1 tainted by this sin. The scope and obscurity of Trakl’s published version of ‘Helian’, which he himself called “das teuerste und schmerz— lichste, was ich je geschrieben”,145 present many problems of interpretation. The protagonist appears, as he has done in the unpublished poems, in several guises: der junge Novize, der Fremdling, der Jungling, der Knabe, der Verweste and der Enke1 are certainly all 106 aspects of the one character. The Sohn and the Schlafer may also be Helian, or they may represent a second, parallel protagonist. The first part of the poem presents an idyllic, timeless paradise, where life and death are in harmony; this gives way, however, to images of decline and sin. The Garden of Eden has been desecrated: “Gewaltig ist das Schweigen des verwiisteten Gartens” . The crime is not named, yet there is the suggestion of the criminal possibilities within the young novice;H6 there is no icy sweat, but he decks his “Stirne” with “braunem Laub” and drinks “eisiges Gold” ; there is even the hint of forbidden, perhaps incestuous, sexual desire: Die Hande riihren das Alter blaulicher Wasser Oder in kalter Nacht die weifien Wangen der Schwestern. This is the depiction of the struggle between good and evil, between the beauty and harmony of man’s spiritual innocence and his inevitable decline into darkness and sin;H7 the section ends with Helian’s fall: Zur Vesper verliert sich der Fremdling in schwarzer Novemberzerstdrung, Unter morschem Geast, an Mauern vo11 Aussatz hin, Wo vordem der heilige Bruder gegangen, Versunken in das sanfte Saitenspiel seines Wahns inns, O wie einsam endet der Abendwind. Ersterbend neigt sich das Haupt im Dunke1 des Olbaums. As with Trakl’s other protagonists, this process of self-alienation is mirrored in nature, as Helian becomes a “Fremdling” to his previous self. This may be the identity of the “heilige Bruder”, the innocent Abel—self; now he desecrates the ground which he walked on in his days of spiritual harmony with his present state of madness and isolation. Here, then, may be an oblique reference to the theme of the Lustse7bstmord. Helian’s sight, too, is affected by his fall; on one of the many levels at which the complexity of this poem’s symbolism operates, it is possible to interpret 107 the following lines as a glimpse of recognition, of insight before his demise: Schon ist der Mensch und erscheinend im Dunke1, Wenn er staunend Arme und Seine bewegt, Und in purpurnen Hohlen stille die Augen rollen. Grimm has interpreted this as an image of birth,1*8 yet I would agree with Sharp that the wording here points more towards “the onset of death or insanity. Facing the impending end of consciousness, man becomes manifest or evident . This then is a variation of the horrific insight gained at the moment of se1f-recognition, as Cain sees Abel in the mirror, or “die junge Magd” the reflection of her pure self. In the Ge di chtkomp1 ex ‘Lange 1auscht. . . ‘ , blindness comes as a result of this recognition: “Purpurne Hohlen darin verblichene Augen rollen” . The colour purple and the silence in ‘Helian’ symbolize too the suffering and sexual guilt. The imagery of sight continues in the third section of the poem: Erschiitternd ist der Untergang des Geschlechts. In dieser Stunde fiillen sich die Augen des Schauenden Mit dem Gold seiner Sterne. The stars, which still contain the gold of their spiritual source, fall from the heavens to the human sphere, accompanying the “Untergang des Geschlechts”. Their gold must inevitably decay, as is later confirmed: “An den Wanden sind die Sterne erloschen” . Further signs of sexual guilt come in the form of “Fiebertraume” , the “feuriger Mitternachtsregen” , and the moon; “Knechte”, themselves represent atives of male sexuality, add to his torment by stinging his eyes with nettles (a variant stresses that 108 they are “BrennesseIn” , thus seeking to secure the transformation of his “sanfte Augen” to the “ent- zundene Lider” of sinful desire. There is a profound spiritual level to this poem, with undeniable reference to Christ as the way of salvation. On this deeper, Christian level, it would appear that Helian, too, finds salvation. This poem is far removed from the sinful sexuality of decadence. As in earlier poems, Helian’s fall leads to his death, yet there is the suggestion that this death, like that of Herbert, is of one who has not given in to his “Fieber- traume”, who has preserved his purity at the cost of his sanity and his life: Lasset das Lied auch des Knaben gedenken, Seines Wahnsinns, und weiBer Brauen und seines Hi ngangs Des Verwesten, der blaulich die Augen aufschlagt. This Helian, then, has not given way to his criminality, as is the fate of the protagonists of the Gedichtkamplex ‘Lange lauscht. 1, which depicts the consequences of a sexual murder, and ends in Helian’s spiritual deniise: Wo an Mauern die Schatten der Ahnen stehn, Vordem ein einsamer Baum war, ein blaues Wild im Busch Steigt der weiBe Mensch auf goldenen Stiegen, Helian ins seufzende Dunke1 hinab. There are various motifs which we have so far identified with sexual guilt which are apparent in the poems dealing with Trakl’s other enigmatic protagonist, Elis. In ‘An den Knaben Elis’ and ‘Elis’, we find: “Untergang . deine Stirne . blutet . Nacht . Dornenbusch . deine mondenen Augen . ein Monch . Schweigen . verfal1ene Sterne . Blutet . Dornenges t riipp . Zeichen und Sterne/ Versinken leise im Abendweiher . den eisigen SchweiB,/ Der von Elis’ kristallener Stirne rinnt. ” .These motifs set the poems clearly in a context of sinful sexuality, and a close look at the poems suggests that this is the 109 cause of the contrast between the idyll of part one and the decline of part two of ‘Elis’. As with ‘Helian’, it would be a mistake to try to limit the interpretation of this poem to one sphere of reference; it is a complex piece of work which draws on many various and shifting resources, each equally valid and essential for a full understanding of the poem.150 Here, however, I will concentrate on that area of interpretation which has largely been ignored by those who tend to see Elis as a figure of innocence and purity.151 Drawing on the associations which we have established elsewhere, we find that the cause for the spiritual decline of part two of ‘Elis’ is sexual guilt. The poem opens with a depiction of righteousness, peace and spiritual harmony within a distinctly Christian framework: Am Abend zog der Fischer die schweren Netze ein. Ein guter Hirt Fiihrt seine Herde am Waldsaum hin. O! wie gerecht sind, Elis, alle deine Tage. Elis appears as a Christ-like figure, whose presence alleviates suffering and brings peace to those who worship in love: An deinem Mund Verstummten ihre rosigen Seufzer. Yet the signs of decline are already apparent within this i dy11 : Leise sinkt An kahlen Mauern des Olbaums blaue Stille, Erstirbt eines Greisen dunkler Gesang. Ein goldener Kahn Schauke1t, Elis, dein Herz am einsamen Himmel. The cause of this sudden juxtaposition is not named; yet the second part of the poem shows clearly that it is a crime of a sexual nature. What we have here, then, is the depiction of paradise lost, the “Schweigen des verwiisteten Gartens” , as humankind is banished to the realm of sin and death, leaving Elis isolated in his purity. Yet even Elis’ pure existence is not stable; the verb “schaukeln” suggests the precarious 110 ness of his position, a pendulum between the possibil ities of good and evil. In the second part of the poem, Elis is a figure of spirituality in decline, located in the world of darkness:152 “Da sein Haupt ins schwarze Kissen sinkt” . The obliquity of this poem does not name Elis’ crime, yet his decline is accompanied by -images which have clear associations with sexual violation. The passive female victim is represented by a “Wild”, and the location of the dying body provides further evidence of the sexual nature of the crime: Ein blaues Wild Blutet leise im Dornengestrupp. In his state of sin, mankind is no longer able to receive divine blessing; the flock of line 9 have gone astray, no longer benefitting from the blue fruit of spiritual kharismaz Ein brauner Baum steht abgeschieden da; Seine blauen Friichte fielen von ihm. The stars which control man’s fate also mirror his fall; again, the locus is that of sexual crime, indicating the cause of the fall, and the passive acceptance of fate: Zeichen und Sterne Versinken leise im Abendweiher. When the focus of the poem returns to the figure of Elis, it is with further evidence of his sexual guilt: Blaue Tauben Trinken nachts den eisigen SchweiB, Der von Elis’ kristallener Stirne rinnt. This is a specifically sexual guilt, whose temporal location is the night. Elis’ fall is one from innocence into sinful sexuality. The final image of the poem is of paradise in utter desolation; Elis, too, is banished outside the walls of righteous existence, with the wind as a constant and futile reminder of what has been lost: Immer tont An schwarzen Mauern Gottes einsamer Wind. 111 That Elis is a figure of decline is quite clear also from ‘An den Knaben Elis’, which opens with the words: Elis, wenn die Amsel im schwarzen Wald ruft, Dieses ist dein Untergang. Here, the poet addresses his protagonist with the advice to endure, to withstand the sexual desire awakening within him, symbolized by the mystical secrets and legends of man’s fall which bleed from his forehead: LaB, wenn deine Stirne leise blutet Uralte Legenden Und dunkle Deutung des Vogelflugs. This is the advice which the poet also gave Blaubart: “Gedulde, dich, bis du wieder erstehst,/ Und gewandeIt auf sittsameren Wege gehst” . Here, as there, it is advice which is ignored, as Elis chooses to follow his own desires, to enter the sinful, Dionysian realm of the night: Du aber gehst mit weichen Schritten in die Nacht, Die vo11 purpurner Trauben hangt, Und du regst die Atme schoner im Blau. This is an existence of greater intensity and apparent freedom, yet the associations which follow are of sexual crime and inevitable death: Ein Dornenbusch tont, Wo deine mondenen Augen sind. O, wie 1ange bist, Elis, du verstorben. The thorn bush is the locus of sexual violation – here an admittedly oblique reference to the nature of Elis’ crime.153 The image of his eyes as moon-like links him again to Blaubart (“Sieh nur, wie der Mond dich briinstig anschaut” ). Yet there is the suggestion that Elis is not only the violator, but also the victim, like the protagonist of Verwandlung des Bosen (“Du, ein blaues Tier, das leise zittert; du, der bleiche Priester, der es hinsch1achtet am schwarzen Altar” ). The thorn—bush marks his grave, a reminder of his death. And in the following image, Elis plays a passive role within the context of sexual vio1 at ion: 112 Dein Leib ist eine Hyazinthe, In die ein Monch die wachsernen Finger taucht. Here, Elis is victim of the lustful monk, one of “der Wollust bleiche Priester” .154 The final image, like that of ‘Elis’, is of the bitter reminder of his fall. The gold of the heavens falls in the form of stars which mirror his fate, turning into black dew as they touch his skin: Auf deine Schlafe tropft schwarzer Tau, Das letzte Gold verfallener Sterne. Far from being a figure of innocence, then, Elis is clearly one who has fallen from grace into a state of sin and guilt which are essentially sexual, an aspect which has been largely ignored by critics. There is not the divine forgiveness of ‘Helian* here, with both Elis-poems closing with the emphasis on his state of sin. This is also true of ‘Abendland’, where Elis features as a figure of sorrow and dark criminality: O des Knaben Gestalt Geformt aus kristallenen Tranen, Nachtigen Schatten. 1 1 3 CHAPTER THREE: WOMEN AND SEXUALITY Alle Erotik ist vo11 von Schu1dbewuBtsein.1 ”O rasende Manade”: The Masochistic Vision As literary decadence is characterized by its tendency towards perversion, so too is its treatment of the theme of sexuality. ‘A rebours’ is once more the rallying cry, as a penchant for sadism, masochism, necrophilia, homosexuality, and incest flourishes in the literature of the European fin de siecle. Within the context of Trakl scholarship is, of course, the question of incest, both as a literary motif and as a reality of Trakl’s life; this will be examined towards the end of this chapter. Sadistic Lustmord has already been uncovered as a theme throughout Trakl’s poetry, from Don Juans Tod to the Dramenf ragmen t and later prose poems. What we are concerned with now is the question of sexuality; motifs of masochism, the femme fatale, sinful lust, sexual guilt, as well as incest, and androgyny. ‘Sabbath’ is one of the most obviously decadent poems of Sammlung J909. In this febrile hot-house vision, the poet’s masochistic desires are given free rein, as he is depicted as the passive victim of lascivious plants, a motif which is by no means uncommon in the decadent literature of the turn of the century. Here are images which we have already established as associated with sexuality: the moon, feverish dreams, and the passive contemplation of one’s own sexual violation in a mirror. 1 1 4 The sultry, threatening atmosphere of the hot house is a familiar motif within the literature of decadence; Maeterlinck’s ‘Serres Chaudes’ depicts a series of stifling Symboliste projections of the soul trapped within the confines of a hot-house, longing for an escape which it has not the strength to effect: O serre au milieu des forets! Et vos portes a jamais closes! Et tout ce qu’i1 y a sous votre coupole! Et sous mon ame en vos analogies! Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! quand aurons-nous la pluie, Et la neige et le vent dans la serre!2 Within the Austrian fin de siecJe, too, we find the motif; in Hofmannsthal’s Marchen der 672. Nacht, where the Kaufmannssohn’s fascination with the hot-house turns into terror after his encounter with a four-year- old girl. Here, the Maeter1inckian world of artificial ity reveals more than the listlessness of the soul; the Kaufmannssohn has left the narcissistic self contemplation of his isolated existence and is drawn into a world of harsh reality, where his terror in the hot-house is part of a dream—like sequence of events which exposes his deepest fears and leads away from his artificial and beautiful life towards an ugly death: “Jetzt war es in dem Glashause schon nicht mehr ganz hell, und die Formen der Pflanzen fingen an, sonderbar zu werden. In einiger Entfernung traten aus dem Halbdunkel schwarze, sinnlos drohende Zweige unangenehm hervor, und dahinter schimmerte es weifi, als wenn das Kind dort stunde.”3 One thinks too of the sterile, ominous orchids in ‘Die Tochter der Gartnerin’, with their ” 1 auernden , verf vihrer i schen Kelchen,/ Die toten wo 1 1en. . .”4 Like the flowers of Hofmannsthal 1s poem, and those of ‘Das Grauen’, the plants here are “giftig”, evil and poisonous in their threat to his innocence. It is their perfume which evokes his vision of the witches’ sabbath; here, too, the fever of the protagonist’s awakening sexuality is transposed on to nature, as we 1 15 have seen in Blaubart and ‘Das Grauen*. One is reminded here of Der Tod in Venedig, where the protagonist’s sexual uncertainty and desire to escape the constraints of his surroundings find expression in a vision of exotic and threatening flora: “er sah, sah eine Landschaft, ein tropisches Sumpfgebiet unter dick- dunstigem Himmel, f eucht , iippig und ungeheuer . sah aus geilem Farrengewucher, aus Griinden von fettem, gequollenero und abenteuer 1 ich bliihendem Pflanzenwerk haarige Pa 1menschafte nah und feme emporstreben . und fiihlte sein Herz pochen vor Entsetzen und ratsel- haftem Verlangen.”® As Trakl’s “Gewachsen” are “fiebernd giftig”, so there are also “Blutfarbne Bluten . pestfarbne Blumen” . The association of flowers with blood and death is found in the description of des Esseintes’ “sickly blooms”: “Les jardiniers apportent encore de nouvelles varietes; e11es affectaient, cette fois, une apparence de peau factice sillonde de fausses veines; et la plupart, comme rongees par des syphilis et des lepres, tendaient des chairs livides, marbrees de ros^oles, damassdes de dartres.”6 Diseased plants are found, too, in one of the depraved visions of Przybyszewski * s Androgyne-. “Aus dem syphi 1 i t i schen Rachen ung1aub1icher Orchideen streckten sich Zungen empor, mit purpurroten Fieberf1ecken besprenkelte Ungeheuer, die he r auskr i e chen und das Gift iiber das umgebende Bliitenmeer zu verschleppen schienen.”7 Under the narcotic influence of these deadly plants, comes a vision of a black mass, with the protagonist as the helpless victim; as in ‘Das Grauen’, he is the passive spectator of his own sexual fall, at the power both of the plants’ perfume which causes his dreams, and of the plant-witches which entangle him within the masochistic vision. Here we have a more detailed description of the dreams of ‘Drei Traume’, entering with the poet the “seltsam belebte, schimmernde Garten,/ Die dampften von schwiilen, 1 16 todlichen Wonnen” . The tortuous imagery of lines 4-6 reflects both the entangled tendrils of the plants which twine themselves around him, and the disordered confusion of his feverish dreams. At the same time, the word order places emphasis on the image of the witches’ sabbath, and, along with the title of the poem, gives substantiality to the vision; the imagined witches appear on the same level of reality as the hot-house flowers as the reader shares the poet’s subjective f antasy. The association of exotic flora and sexual desire has already been seen in Hofmannsthal, Mann and Pryzybeszewski. This decadent theme is, of course, a perversion of Romanticism; Novalis’ Mathilde as a “blaue Blume” in Heinrich von Ofterdingen is given the twist of a decadent femme fatale. In “Die Erfullung”, the unfinished second part of the novel, the sexual fusion of human and flower was to have culminated in an initiation ceremony for Heinrich: “Heinrich mufi erst von Blumen fiir die blaue Blume empfanglich gemacht werden. Geheimnisvo11e Verwand1tung.3 Ubergang in die hohere Natur.”8 This fusion of plant and female is found also in Wagner’s Parsifal, within the “tropische Vegetation, uppigste B1umenpracht” of Klingsor’s magic garden, where Parsifal, beleaguered by maidens who have dressed as plants in order to seduce him, asks: “Seid ihr denn Blumen?”8 The vision of des Esseintes in A Rebours must surely stand as the ultimate perversion of Heinrich von Of terdingen’s dream: Sur le sol quelque chose remua qui devint une femme tres pS1e, nue, les jambes moulees dans des bas de soie verts. . Une soudaine intuition lui vint: ‘C’est la Fleur’, se dit-il; . d’une geste irresistible, elle le retint, le saisit et, hagard, il vit s’epanouir, sous les cuisses a l’air, le farouche Nidularium qui baillait, en saignant, dans les lames de sabre.10 The protagonist of ‘Sabbath’, unlike des 1 17 Esseintes, does not awaken from his dream; he is trapped within his masochistic delight. The flames which the plant-witches press from his breast symbolize virility, as they did in Blaubart, but it is a virility which also causes pain. He is the victim of female violence, but even this violence brings a drunken ecstasy of agony: Und ihre Lippen kundig aller Kunste An meiner trunknen Kehle wiitend schwellen. The harsh ‘k’-sounds emphasize the fury of these maenads; the sexual skill with which their lips attack the protagonist’s throat again brings Stoker’s Vampire Brides to mind: In the moonlight opposite me were three young women . There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips . I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense. but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.11 Sexual fantasies involving plants are the ultimate interpretation of Dormann‘s famous line: *’ I ch liebe die hektischen, schlanken/ Narcissen mit blutrotem Mund” (‘Was ich liebe’).12 Maeterlinck’s poetry, too, bears evidence of his floral fetish: O les glauques tentations Au milieu des ombres mentales, Avec 1eurs flammes v6getales Et 1eurs ejaculations Obscures Dans 1e Ep1oyant De 1eurs de tiges obscures, clair de June du ma 1 1’ombrage automnal luxurieux augures! Sous les tendbres de 1eur deui1, Je vois s’emmSler les blessures Des glaives bleus de mes luxures Dans les chairs rouges de 1’orgueilJ3 The hot-house or garden is the realm of female vice, where the male is cast in an essentially passive role as victim. This is true also of Mirbeau’s Le 1 18 Jar-din des Supplices, which describes in vivid detail a Chinese torture garden, and the sexual pleasure which the female protagonist derives from its atmosphere: elle huma 1 ‘a i r autour d’e1 1e. Un fremissement, que je connaissais pour 6tre 1’avant-coureur du spasme, parcourut tout son corps. Ses levres devinrent instantenement plus rouges et gonflees . En effet, une odeur puissante, phosphatee, une odeur de semence humaine moutait de cette plante. H There is little split between the octet and the sestet of ‘Sabbath’; the vision which leads towards the climax of the poem is merely a continuation of the opening lines, with the protagonist being invited to join the witches’ sabbath, as he is offered a parody of the Communion cup in the form of the plants’ calyxes: Pestfarbne Blumen tropischer Gestade, Die reichen meinen Lippen ihre Scha1en, Die triiben Ge i f erbronnen ekler Qualen. It is hard to find any real sense of menace in the hyperbole here. The orgiastic climax of the poem is accompanied by an interpolation of delight . The shrill ‘ii’ throughout these last lines echoes the intensity of his emotions. The masochism depicted here has much in common with the decadent poetry of Dormann, such as is found in ‘Ein Souvenir’: O grabe der herrlichen Zahne B1auschimmernde Perlenreihn In raubt i erwi 1 d-rasenden Kiissen Tief in die Schulter mir ein! Der brennenden fiebernden Wunde Wo 11 ustdurchfo1terte Qual, Sie sei unsrer sterbenden Liebe Blutiges Totenmal.15 Another contemporary poem more effectively evokes the carnal desire and sexual dreams aroused by a hot house atmosphere. In Stadler’s ‘Im Treibhaus’, quiet 1 1 9 understatement proves more effective than the crass, explicit description of ‘Sabbath’: Und kranke Triebe ziingeln auf und leuchten aus jah gespaltner Ke1che wirrem Meer und langsam tragt die 1aue Luft den feuchten traumsch 1 affen Duft der Palmen driiberher. Und schattenhaft beglanzt im weichen gedampften Feuer strahlt der Raum und ahnend dammern Bild und Zeichen fur seltne Wollust frevlen Traum.I6 “Die herrlichste Hetare”: The Allure of the Femme Fatale The figure of the femme fatale is not one which is readily associated with Trakl’s poetry. Woman appears in many guises – sister, redeemer, penitent – but there is little in the mature lyric to suggest the power held by woman over man. Where there is sinful indulgence in sexuality, where there is the hint of incest, it is a crime which is shared; likewise, where there is redemption, there is redemption for both, even to the extent of fusion of the two sexes into “ein Geschlecht”, an androgynous union. These are themes which will concern us later. What is at issue here are the few examples of decadent femmes fatales which are to be found in Trakl’s earliest poetry. The femme fatale is a figure which fascinated the late Romantic and decadent generations of artists and writers. Chapter IV of Fraz ‘ The Romantic Agony is devoted to a study of “La Belle Dame sans Merci”, such femmes fatales as Mdrimee’s Carmen, the eponymous heroine in Gautier’s Une Nuit de Cldopatre, and the cruel beauties which abound in Swinburne’s poetry. This association of woman with sexuality was not confined to the literature of decadence, however. 1 20 Within Habsburg society, woman’s dual role was that of mother or prostitute, the ancient dichotomy which denied women any right to sexual feelings. Krafft-Ebing writes of “das Weib, welches dem Gesch1echtsgenuss nachgeht” as an “abnorme Erscheinung”.17 Freud was the first to question this view; the popular philosophy of Weininger’s Geschlecht und Charakted5 takes the discovery of female sexuality in both Mutter and Dime to an extreme conclusion, stating the belief that woman is amoral, without soul or will, that her purpose is to serve male desire, and that she herself is sexuality incarnate: “Der Zustand der sexuellen Erregtheit bedeutet fiir die Frau nur die hochste Steigerung ihres Gesapjtdaseins. Dieses ist immer und durchaus sexuell.”19 While the male principle . The description of the dance is the only instance in Marcellus’ speech of direct involvement in what he is describing; it is only when relating this memory that he finds the vitality to complete sentences; his description betrays his rapture: “Es ging vor sich in einer gluhenden Sommernacht, da in der Luft das Fieber lauert und Mond die Sinne verwirrt” . The description of the dance shows that aspect of decadent style which stressed the appeal to the nerves: Trakl here attempts to create what Bahr defined as “eine Kunst, . die nur aus den Nerven kommt und nur auf den Nerven geht, die alien Erwerb aller bisherigen Kunst verwendet, um Nervoses auszudrucken und Nervoses mitzutei1en.”:28 “. in einer gluhenden Sommernacht, da in der Luft das Fieber lauert und Mond die Sinne verwirrt . der Rhythmus ihres Korpers lieJB mich seltsam dunkle Traumbilder schauen, daB heifie Fieberschauer meinen Korper durch— bebten” . The dance in Maria Magdalena can be seen as a parallel to the Dionysian celebrations in Barrabas, the other piece in j4us goldnem Keich; Maria takes on the characteristics of a decadent Salome figure; in the description of her hair one finds a typical fascination of the decadents – found in Baudelaire’s ‘La Chevelure’, for example, or Felix Dormann’s ‘Neurotica’: “Ich will meine Zahne vergraben/ In deinem knirschenden Haar”.28 Maria Magdalena is portrayed as an erotic, exotic femme fatale; she gives her body to those who desire it, she enchants all men, whatever their background, thus making all men equal: “Ich sah sie Bettler und Gemeine, sah sie Fursten und Konige lieben” . She lives for physical joy alone, 1 23 symbolized by the showering of her body with roses. Her worship of Dionysus’ statue is passionate and alive, more ecstatic than the cold marble of the statue, thus more Dionysian than Dionysus himself. Such is the force of her passion that she attempts to seduce the lifeless marble: “Und ich sah sie die Statue des Dionysos mit Blumen kranzen, sah sie den kalten Marmor umarmen, wie sie ihre Geliebten umarmte, sie erstickte mit ihren brennenden, fiebernden Kussen” . In her dance she achieves the heightened sense of rapture that was sought by the followers of Dionysus, the mythical entourage of satyrs and maenads who worshipped the god, and achieved communion with him, in orgiastic revels and drunken celebration. Trakl’s piece is in the tradition of literary depictions of Salome as a femme fatale which were abundant in Britain, France and Germany at the turn of the century. Oscar Wilde’s Salome, first published in French in 1893, is perhaps the best known of these. Wilde’s play shares certain motifs with Trakl’s Dialog, in particular, those of the naked feet and the deranging effects of the moon. Herod’s words, “the moon has a strange look tonight . she is like a mad woman, a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers . she reels through the clouds like a drunken woman”38 are echoed in Trakl’s “und Mond die Sinne verwirrt” , but there is no description of the dance in Wilde’s text. His Salome, too, charms all with her beauty, with the exception of Jokanaan, a figure which has a parallel in Christ in Maria Magdalena. Salome’s desire to possess the one man who rejected her is a monstrous, vampiric passion, which culminates in her necrophilic seduction of his severed head: “Ah! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit.”31 The theme of Salome’s passion for John the Baptist was first dealt with by Heine in ‘Atta Troll’ . The pale maid, too, is a figure whom we encounter elsewhere; Elisabeth, Blaubart’s victim, springs to mind (“Deine Wangen sind bleich” ) and the “junge Magd” of the 1910 poem (“Wachsern ihre Wangen bleichen” ), although where these two figures are victims, the maid here has power over the fool. She appears mysteriously; there is no mention of her approach, and there is something fatalistic in the way in which she 1 29 suddenly stands before him. The background to this meeting is the impervious roar of the ocean: “Laut sang, o sang das Meer” , the rush and rhythm of the waves on the shore echoing the implicit sexual tension between the two protagonists. The image of the “Becher” as a symbol of erotic passion is a familiar one. Within the context of German literature, one thinks of Goethe’s ‘Konig in Thule’, or Torquato Tasso, where the image is used by Tasso to express his own sexual desire: Beschrankt der Rand des Bechers einen Wein, Der schaumend wa 1 11 und brausend iiberschwi 1 11?* 2 The most obvious comparison here is with Hofmannsthal’s ‘Die Beiden’. In this poem, too, it is the woman who carries the goblet, symbol of the virginity which she has preserved: Sie trug den Becher in der Hand ~ Ihr Kinn und Mund glich seinem Rand -, So leicht und sicher war ihr Gang, Kein Tropfen aus dem Becher sprang.*3 The male protagonist here, however, is characterized by a strength and purpose which Trakl‘s passive fool 1acks: So leicht und fest war seine Hand: Er ritt auf einem jungen Pferde, Und mit nachlassiger Gebarde Erzwang er, daB es zitternd stand.*4 In Trakl’s poem it is also the maid who holds the goblet, her sexuality: Sie hielt einen Becher in der Hand, Der schimmerte bis auf zum Rand, Wie Blut so rot und schwer. Yet there is here, too, a passivity which suggests little of the femme fatale; she holds, but does not actively offer, the goblet, unlike the plants in ’Sabbath’ or, as we shall see, the woman in ‘Andacht’. She makes no attempt to conceal the cup; her temptation is her very being. Woman exists as sexuality alone, as in Weininger’s philosophy, and as such does not have to seduce in any active way. 130 The sexual act is accompanied by elements which occur elsewhere in Trakl’s poetry: silence and darkness. The idiot is the active one, responding to the sexuality which is woman’s existence by taking the goblet. As in poetry and legend of all times, back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, woman is depicted as responsible for man’s fall. It is this subversive act which gives the woman power over the fool, and she appears in the final stanza with some characteristics of the femme fatale, extinguishing the light of his previous innocence: Da loschte sein Licht in ihrer Hand, Der Wind verwehte drei Zeichen im Sand – Laut sang, o sang das Meer. With this loss, he also loses whatever mysterious powers he once had. The female element of the sea dominates the scene, and woman here has the upper hand. Hofmannsthal’s poem ends, in contrast, with the suggestion of mutual guilt and mutual fall, as neither are able to control the physical passion which they have awakened: Jedoch, wenn er aus ihrer Hand Den leichten Becher nehmen sollte, So war es beiden allzu schwer: Denn beide bebten sie so sehr, DaB keine Hand die andre fand Und dunkler Wein am Boden rollte. In ‘Andacht* we again find the familiar image of the goblet; here, with the woman as femme fatale, actively forcing the protagonist to drink: Da schimmert aus verworrenen Gestalten Ein Frauenbild, umflort von finstrer Trauer, Und gieBt in mich den Keich verruchter Schauer. This poem contrasts the protagonists’s present state of sin with his childhood innocence. He is distanced from the time when he was close to the spiritual, at harmony with God, yet this is not forgotten: “Das Unverlorne meiner jungen Jahre. ” Such is the distance, however, that he no longer understands his previous piety, and his prayers are “langst vergessen”. 131 It is only at the end of the poem that we discover the reason for this melancholic se1f-a 1ienation: sexual corruption- This one memory crystallizes out of his hazy recollection of the past. The unnamed woman, too, bears the signs of sexual fall, sorrow and guilt in a perverted dark halo: “umflort von finstrer Trauer,” She is undeniably responsible for the boy’s sexual sin; yet there is some responsibility, too, in his passivity, and his sense of sexual thrill despite the heinous nature of their crime. One wonders if there is a hint of some greater sin here; the adjective “verrucht” is used elsewhere in connection with incest: “Noch bebend von verrucher Wollust Sufie” . The “Andacht” of the title, then, which at first appears to be the memory of religious sentiment takes on a new twist; while the prayers of his youth are forgotten, one woman stands out as a clear memory from his past, and the emphasis of the poem lies on the last three lines. The cup of communion has been left for the “Keich verruchter Schauer”; the femme fatale, and the sexual sin into which she has initiated him, have replaced his faith with an emotion which is both loathsome and exciting. There is little evidence of the femme fatale in the mature lyric. The woman as victim, redeemer, reformed prostitute, and the sister figure are all more important themes, and will be examined below. One poem, however, is worth looking at in this context. ‘Nachts’, written after 5 May 1913, was regarded by Trakl as “uber alles teuer”,*5 There is no direct evidence that incest is the subject of this poem, although one wonders if the “Du” addressed is Trakl’s sister. Beyond the realm of speculation, however, one can state with certainty that this is one poem in the mature lyric where the protagonist is passive and the woman is the active figure within a sexual context. 132 The colour symbolism of blue and red dominates in this scene of sexuality and madness. The colours associated with the protagonist pale, are enveloped and overcome by those of the woman. “Die Blaue meiner Augen” , associated with spirituality, is extinguished, like the light of the idiot in ‘Ballade I’. Again, the woman seems to be responsible; yet we are not surprised to find a hint of the protagonist’s own sexual guilt in the image of “Das rote Gold meines Herzens” ; the purity of his heart has become tainted with red, the colour of sinful desire. The use of the past tense, unusual in Trakl’s poetry, seems to suggest that, despite the generic title of the poem, it is referring to a specific event: “in dieser Nacht”. Might this be the memory of ‘Andacht’? Certainly the woman is dominant here. It is hard to reconcile the contention that blue in Trakl’s poetry is always associated with the spiritual^ with the image of “dein blauer Mantel” ; there seems to be little in the way of a move towards redemption here, particularly in light of the last line: “Dein roter Mund besiegelte des Freundes Umnachtung” . Her coat does not stop his fall, but rather envelops him as he falls, symbolic of her power over him, enticing him into sin. She does not save, but rather seals his madness with her own sexuality. As the idiot’s signs are “verweht” in ‘Ballade I’, so the protagonist here falls from a spiritual existence into madness. He is entirely at her mercy; the structural stress of the poem shifts from the protagonist to the femme fatale, who, like the “bleiche Magd” and the “Frauenbild” of the earlier poems, holds illimitable sway over the victim of her sexual desire. 133 ‘Verruchter Wollust Sufie”: Incest as a Decadent Motif The sexual transgression of incest is one which takes its place in the literature of decadence amongst other deviations from what was accepted as the social norm. Mario Praz has indicated its function as a literary motif in the works of the Romantics, in particular Chateaubriand’s Atala.*? in his thorough study of decadence in European literature, Koppen points to it in Mann’s Wa Jsungenblu£ as “ein tabuisiertes sexuelles Phanomen, . dem man uberhaupt in der Decadence-Literatur verg1eichsweise selten begegnet”.48 Fischer concurs with his view: “Bedenkt man aber, dafi der Inzest keineswegs (wie man vermuten konnte) zu den standigen Motiven der Fin de siecle- Erotik gehorte. . . ” . 49 In his vast study of the incest motif in literature and legend, however, Otto Rank also acknowledges its blatant appearance in modern, if not specifically decadent literature.58 Furness also claims that this sin was one which “captivated the imagination of the decadents”, from Swinburne’s Lesbia Brandon, D’Annunzio’s La citta morta, Mendds’s Zohar, Barres’ Un amateur d’3mes, to, of course, Wagner’s Die Wa i kiire and Mann’s Wa ]sungenblnt.5 1 It is true that incest as a literary motif is not confined to the works of decadence; following Chateaubriand and more obviously Wagner, however, decadent fascination with incest focuses on the love between brother and sister, rather than on the Classical Oedipus motif of mother and son. It is in the relationship between brother and sister that incest enters Trakl’s poetry. As Basil has pointed out, Trakl was fascinated by Wagner, in particular his treatment of incest in Die Wa J kiire .52 1 34 Thomas Mann was, like Nietzsche, very aware of his literary origins in decadence, and his attempts to overcome its influence: Ich gehore geistig jenem iiber ganz Europa verbreiteten Geschlecht von Sehriftste11ern an, die, aus der decadence komroend, zu Chronisten und Analytikern der decadence bestellt, gleichzeitig den emanzipatorischen Willen zur Absage an sie, ~ sagen wir pessimistisch: die Velleitat dieser Absage im Herzen tragen und mit der Uberwindung von Dekadenz und Nihilismus wenigstens experiment i eren.53 His most blatantly decadent works are the Novellen Tristan and Wa 1sungenblut, the latter of which focuses on the Wagnerian motif of incest.54 Here, the forbidden love between Siegmund and Sieglind Aarenhold is a symptom of degeneracy and inherited weakness,55 and the narcissistic quality of their desire is emphasized throughout the Novella. When a performance of Wagner’s Die Walkiire acts as a catalyst for their passion, it is a hasty and awkward affair; Mann shows nothing of the decadent penchant for erotic indulgence in his writing: “Sie atmeten diesen Duf t mit einer wolliistigen und fahrlassigen Hingabe, pflegten sich damit wie egoistische Kranke, berauschten sich wie Hoffnungs1ose, verloren sich in Liebkosungen, die iibergriffen und ein hastiges Geturomel wurden und zuletzt nur ein Schluchzen waren – -’’.56 Koppen has shown that this incestuous desire is to be set quite clearly within the context of decadence, over and above its association with the mythical: “Gleichzeitig aber mufi dieser Inzest auch als Manifestation dekadenten Verhaltens gedeutet werden, als vorerst latentes Symptom des dekadenten Syndroms, das durch die verf iihrer i sche und morbide Wirkung der Wagnerischen Kunst offenbar wird.”57 The similarity between Mann’s Wove 11e and E16mir Bourges’ Le Crepuscule des Dleux (1884) has not gone unnoticed- As Koppen has indicated, there can be no certainty of any influence of the French author on Mann; rather there is clear evidence of their mutual 1 35 re-working of decadent Wagnerism: “Es darf . angenoramen werden, dafi beiden Autoren unabhangig voneinander der Gedanke kam, dafi sich Wagners IFaJkure vorzuglich dazu eigne, dekadenten Eros und dekadente Wagner-Schwarmerei auf einen Nenner zu bringen.”58 Rank’s detailed study of incest in literature and legend, focuses in the final chapter on contemporary German literature, claiming that “modern literature tends most strongly to the undisguised depiction of sexual, especially incestuous themes”.59 Although not limiting his examination to specifically decadent works, he shows how widespread this motif was at the beginning of the twentieth century, referring to such works as Heinrich Mann’s Die SchauspieJerin, Kurt Miinzer’s Der Weg nach Zion, Christian Kraus’s Gechwister and a story written by Trakl’s acquaintance Karl Borromaus Heinrich, Menschen von Gottes Gnaden. Incest is a theme, too, of Musi 1 ‘s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, which has been examined by Webber in his joint study of Trakl and Musi 1.6° One author of German decadence to focus on the motif of incest as degenerate sexuality is Przybyszewski, whose De profundis depicts the growing and violent realization of latent passion between brother and sister as the ultimate social taboo. The opening pages depict the protagonist in a state of fever, a motif familiar in Trakl’s oeuvre: Bald trat ihm kalter SchweiB auf die Stirne, eine unangenehme feuchte Hitze kroch schwiil iiber seinen Korper, und die Stiche im Halse wurden noch haufiger und schmerzhafter. . Eine kranke Sehnsucht nach ihren Handen, eine qua 1ende Gier, ihren Leib an sich zu pressen, sein Gesicht auf ihre Brust zu 1 egen . . . Und die Sehnsucht fing an zu spriefien und schwoll und schoB wild hinauf. 51 Yet this state of fever is linked not only to thoughts of his wife, but more significantly to his sudden insight into his sister’s incestuous desire for him, 1 36 forcing him to confront his own violent and painful desire: “Aber Agaj ist ja meine Schwester! schrie er entsetzt in sich hinein. . Ein schmerzhafter Wollust- krampf fraB saugend an seinem Hirn, er wehrte sich nicht: die Schauer einer gierigen Lust krochen wie Gift in jeden Nerv seines Korpers. . Das war das grafiliche Fi eber!”6 2 This recognition of his incestuous desire culminates in “Fiebertraume” of a blasphemous, apoca1yptica1 and violently sado-masochistic vision, a “Fieberorgie dieser b1utschanderischen Wollust”.63 The question of incest and its implications both as a literary motif and a physical reality in Trakl’s life is one that is impossible to ignore. From what biographical evidence is available, and clearly from the poetry itself, the only female figure with any significance in Trakl*s life appears to be “die Schwester”. Spoerri, in his “psychiatrisch- anthropo1ogische Untersuchung” of 1954, claims to have found indisputable proof that an incestuous relationship existed between Georg and Gretl Trakl, which he refused to publish out of consideration for the family members who were still alive.64 The reports that Trakl considered his sister “das schonste Madchen, die grofite Kiinstlerin, das seltenste Weib” are well known.65 Spoerri speculates about the possibilty of sexual violation: “Nach den Dichtungen ist – jedoch ohne Beweiskraft – zu schlieBen, daB sich eine Art Gewaltakt ereignet hat, freilich kaum eine richtige Vergewa1tigung, da eine versteckte Aufforderung durch die Schwester spiirbar ist. Vermutlich begannen die Beziehungen in der Pubertat Oder Spatpubertat . ” .66 The treatment of the theme of incest develops in Trakl’s poetry from a decadent flout of the social norm to a deep struggle with a profound sense of guilt. In a letter to Werner Meyknecht, Trakl’s close friend Picker stressed this aspect of his poetry: 1 37 Die tragische Beziehung Trakls zu seiner Schwester . ist fiir das Bild des Menschen bei Trakl wichtig, fiir das Inferno, durch das er gegangen ist, um seine Erlosungs- hoffnung, die ganze Passion, durch die er gegangen ist, zu verstehen. Das Seherische . kommt bei Trakl aus diesem Fegefeuer, diesem brennenden Dornbusch seines Wahnsinnsvermogens im BewuJBtsein seiner Schuld, begangen am Ebenbild seiner Verzweiflung im Fleisch und Blut. Daruber war Trakl personlich die Verstummtheit selbst, doch hat sich mir seine Schwester, die nach seinem Tode nur mehr ein Schatten seiner und ihrer selbst war, in einem verweifelten Se 1 bs tverwerf ungsbediirf ni s – sie hat ja dann spater Hand an sich gelegt – daruber einmal anvertraut.67 Despite the reservations of some critics,68 it seems clear, not only from the poetry itself, but also from Spoerri’s unpublished evidence and Ficker’a indirect admission of Gretl’s confession, that incest did take place. Sauermann even speculates about the possibilities that the child of Gretl’s miscarriage was fathered by Georg.68 Incest and jealousy were the central themes of Trakl’s one-act drama, Totentag, first performed in the Salzburg Stadttheater on 31st March 1906, when the poet was just nineteen years old: “Peter, ein Blinder, verliebt sich in die junge, frische Grete, glaubt an ihre Ergebenheit und Treue, wird aber von ihr mit dem Studenten Fritz betrogen. Peter wird wahnwitzig und totet sich zuletzt auf der Buhne.”?0 Thematically, Totentag shows links with Trakl’s later poetry: it deals with the love of a blind man, Peter, for Grete. Whether Grete is the sister of Peter within the play is uncertain; the dramatis personae does not provide this information, yet the critic of the Salzburger Chronik, writing two days after the performance, believes this to be the case, referring to Grete as the “jugendliche Schwester”.7 l The choice of name clearly indicates the real figure behind the character – Trakl’s own sister. Whether Trakl was already involved in an incestuous 1 38 relationship cannot be stated with certainty (in 1906 Gret1 was only 14); here, however, we have evidence of the incestuous nature of Trakl’s fantasies. The most blatant treatment of incest as a decadent motif in Sammlung 1909 is found in ‘Blutschuld’, originally excluded from the first Gesamtausgabe because of its sensitive subject matter. The title itself does not refer directly to incest,72 but rather .to blood-guilt, thus drawing on the theme which we have already seen as central to the poetry, namely the association of Lustmord, blood-letting and sexual violation as an expression of the guilt which Trakl associated with sexuality; here, the similarity to the word “Blutschande”, and the obvious reference to the incestuous desire of brother and sister, put this guilt in a clear context. In ‘Blutschuld’, however, is little of the anguish of the later poetry; what we have here is the decadent pose of the poete maudit, a delight in sinful indulgence which is all the greater for the awareness that it is sinful.73 it is night, the time associated with sinful sexuality; their guilt is mutual, for this is a shared crime, and not one of violation. The first stanza sets the tone of the poem, which contrasts their perverse pleasure, the sweetness of their crime, with the voice of conscience which prompts them to seek forgiveness. This contrast of the worldly and the spiritual is echoed in the rhyme scheme of the poem: “Kusse” and “SiiBe” in opposition to “Schuld” and “Huld”. A further decadent motif is found in the assumption of Catholicism; although a Protestant, Trakl calls on Maria for mercy, as is the case in another early poem, ‘Metamorphose’. One must remember, too, that Maria was also the name of Trakl’s mother; indeed, a variant, “Mutter Maria”, may still be a reference to the Mother of Christ, but may also indicate a more personal reason for seeking forgiveness. 139 The prayer is unanswered; as in ‘Andacht’, the poet is no longer in a state of spiritual harmony, and the sultry atmosphere is one not of forgiveness, but of sin. The flowers’ perfume, as in ‘Sabbath*, is a stimulus to sexual desire: “Aus B1umenscha1en steigen gierige Dufte” . The protagonists are at one with the sensuous side of nature, which reflects and stimulates their passion, and seeks to obliterate the spiritual awareness of guilt: “Urnschmeiche1n unsere Stirnen bleich von Schuld” . This sultry, redolent atmosphere is associated throughout the poetry with sinful sexual indulgence. In its extremest form it is found in ‘Sabbath’, but is found also in several of the later impressionistic poems, such as ‘In einem verlassenen Zimmer’, ‘Traum des Bosen’, ‘Die Bauern’ and ‘Heiterer Fruhling’. Often there is specific mention of “Resedenduft”, which in In der Heimat’ dominates a scene of incestuous sexual activity; it is clearly part of an atmosphere of sinful sexuality in ‘Heimkehr’, ‘Die junge Magd’, ‘Verwandlung’, ‘Ent1ang’, ’In einem alten Garten’, and particularly ‘Die Verf1uchten’: Im Dunke1 der Kastanien schwebt ein Blau, Der sufie Mantel einer fremden Frau. Resedenduft; und ein gluhendes Gefiihl Des Bosen. This sinful passion within a sultry decadent atmosphere leads, as in ‘Sabbath’, to exhaustion; Maria is no longer sought in prayer, rather their invocation becomes a part of their dreams, thus entering the realm of their sinful desire, becoming itself perverted and i nef f e c tua1 : Ermattend unterm Hauch der schwiilen Lufte Wir traumen: Verzeih uns, Maria, in deiner Huld! As a result, any hope of redemption is denied; their guilt is intensified because of their blasphemy: “lauter . dunkler . sundiger”. The sirens and the sphinx suggest that the protagonists are not responsible for their sin, that they, like Blaubart and 1 40 others, are controlled by some sexual power which is greater than their will to resist, which lures them with the sweetness of their sin, and at the same time confronts them with the inscrutability of their guilt. The “Sphinxges i cht ” is found also in Przybyszewski 1 s De profundis to symbolize the paradox of the guilt and love, revulsion and desire of an incestuous relationship: “Er horte kaum hin. Seine Augen f1ogen suchend umher. Endlich entdeckte er sie. Sie safi da regungslos mit einem kalten Sphinxgesicht und sah ihn ruhig an.”7 4 As they plunge once more into sin, their cry for forgiveness becomes desperate: “Wir schluchzen: Verzeih uns, Maria, in deiner Huld!” . The futility of this cry expresses the paradox of their irresistible sexual desire and their certainty of damnation. There is no humility or sense of true repentence, for the protagonists are unwilling, perhaps even unable, to turn from their sin. The inefficacy of their prayer is emphasized in the repeated rhyme of “Schuld” and “Huld”; the intimate association of these two words echoes their fate: the more they seek forgiveness, the greater is their sin, and the greater their sin, the more their need of forgiveness. Although the poem ends with “Huld”, it seems unlikely that any form of divine grace will release them from their sexual guilt.75 And yet, behind Trakl’s decadent pose may lie a real sense of guilt, which the poet is trying to hide behind the mask of decadence. In a much later work, Traum und Umnachtung, there is also mention of the masks used to hide the chaotic emotions of reality: “. aus purpurnen Masken sahen schweigend sich die leidenden Menschen an” . One thinks, too, of Nietzsche’s aphorism: “Alles, was tief ist, liebt die Maske”.76 Despite the decadent pose, one may trace behind this poem the very real sense of sexual guilt which is the one central motif of Trakl’s poetry. 141 A scene in Przybyszewski’s De profundis bas a similar juxtaposition of incestuous desire and blasphemous prayer; the protagonist reminds his sister of “die furchtbare Nacht” when, in their childhood fear of a thunderstorm, they first became aware of their mutual sexual attraction: Es regnete Blitze und Feuer vom Himmel. Und jedesmal, wenn der Himmel barst und unser Schlafzimmer in griinem Licht stand, bekreuzigten wir uns und beteten: Und das Wort ist Fleisch geworden . So ging es die ganze Nacht iiber. Und da plotzlich: dies furchtbare, minutenlange Krachen und Bersten, als der Blitz dicht neben unserem Hause in die Fappel einschlug! Da warfst Du Dich zitternd auf meine Brust und prefitest Dich so fest an mich. noch fiihl ich Deine mageren Handchen um meinen Korper geschlungen und Deine zarten Beine sich mit kranker Hitze in mich hi nei ng 1 iihen . Dama 1 s hattest Du auch Fieber.H The incestuous relationship is the subject of two other poems in Sammlung J 909, although less obviously so. ’Ballade II’ and ‘Ballade III’ follow the depiction of sinful sexuality and the femme fatale in ‘Ballade I1. In both of these poems, the woman, too, seems to be the one in control, and here the suggestion is that it i s the sister. In ‘Ballade II’, we f i nd the f ami liar mot i f s of the night and the doorway in the repeated line: “Es weint die Nacht an einer Tur!” . Here, it is the male protagonist who is being lured over the threshold. The sultry atmosphere of sin betrays the presence of death, a warning of the consequences of sexual fall, and an expression of the protagonist’s inability to withstand the Lustse1bstmord which he knows is inevitable: “O dumpf, o dumpf! Es stirbt wer hier!” . Like the sinning protagonists of ‘Blutschuld’, he becomes desperate in his longing for a release from his own desire: “Ein Schluchzen noch: O sah’ er das Licht!” . Instead of the light of grace, however, he is plunged into the darkness of sin. The whispered 1 42 voice of the sister, which had lured him into the room, now too expresses something of fear: “Ein Schluchzen: Bruder, o betest du nicht?” . Her question suggests that she, too, longs for redemption, hoping to find release through her brother’s prayers (one must assume that her state of sin is so great that, like the protagonist of ‘Andacht’, she is no longer able to pray), yet at the same time adds the blasphemous atmosphere of ‘Blutschuld’ to their sin. The mysterious atmosphere of this poem seeks to distance it from any direct reference to the poet himself. There is a nebulous quality to the location of the sin, an impersonality to the protagonists, betrayed only by the telling line: “Bruder, o betest du nicht?” Thi s atmosphere is repeated in the third ‘Ballade’. Again it is night; the location, like that of ‘Sabbath’, is the domain of oppressive nature: “Ein schwiiler Garten stand die Nacht” . The garden as a locus of sexual sin has already been examined as a motif of decadent literature; it is, of course, also a Biblical image; the fall here is an echo of the sin of Adam and Eve, which led to their banishment from Paradise.? ® Again, sin is characterized by silence. Here, the suggestion is of the inability to express the horror of their crime: “Wir verschwiegen uns, was uns grauend erfafit” . This futile hope that they will lessen the horror of their sin if they deny it expression only serves to worsen their predicament, for expression of guilt can have a liberating effect: “Davon sind unsre Herzen erwacht/ Und erlagen unter des Schweigens Last” . The silence which accompanies sexual damnation is a recurrent theme throughout the poetry; one thinks for example of the traumatic climax of Traum und Umnachtung, the cursed family meet in a travesty of the Last Supper: “O der Verwesten, da sie mit silbernen Zungen die Hoile schwiegen” . 1 43 There is a sense of damnation in the second stanza as the horror of their sin is realized. The night is characterized by the intensity of its darkness; the stars, often associated with sexual guilt, as we have seen, are absent from the heavens, a sign that their fall has already taken place. There is no sign of divine grace, nor is there anyone to pray for them. Here, they are deeper in their guilt than in ‘Blut— schuld’, where both can pray, or ‘Ballade 31’, where the brother can — but perhaps does not – pray. Neither of them are capable of expressing their guilt; they are under “des Schweigens Last”, incapable of forming the words of a prayer, thus entangled in the snare of their own sin. The nature of their crime, which is surely the taboo of incest, has so isolated them from the society of others, that there is no-one else who can bear the burden of their guilt in prayer. As in ‘Blutschuld’, with its sirens and sphinx, there is the suggestion that they are mocked by forces of sexuality which control their fate: “Ein Damon nur hat im Dunkel gelacht./ Seid alle verflucht!” . The satanic powers which were responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve are at work here, taunting them within their own “schwiiler Garten”, reminding them that in committing this sin they are participating in the original sin which has been the curse of humankind since the Fall. One remembers, too, that Trakl called Gretl his “Damon”: “Meinem geliebten kleinen Damon, der entstiegen ist dem siiBesten und tiefsten Marchen aus 1001 Nacht” was the dedication which he wrote on a copy of Madame Bovary.7^ With the suggestion of blasphemy in ‘Ballade II’, this may also be the portrayal of the sister as femme fatale, luring the brother to his doom. The poet accepts his place in the general damnation of humankind. This poem ends, not with a prayer for forgiveness, nor with a sense of desperate sorrow, as we have seen in the previous poems, but with a simple statement: “Da ward die Tat” . This 144 concise and straightforward sentence may be the poet’s own admission that incest did take place. Within the mature lyric, the theme of incest is treated with less blatant flagrancy, yet it, and the figure of the sister, are undeniably central to Trakl’s poetic world. The title of the poem Traum des Bosen immediately evokes the “Fiebertraume” which have accompanied the awareness of sexuality in many of Trakl’s protagonists and poetic personae. Here, visions of a feverish dream mingle with reality to produce an impressionistic vision of a world seen through the eyes of “Ein Liebender” who awakes “in schwarzen Zimmern” . The heat of fever on his cheeks betrays the erotic nature of his dreams, as the black rooms indicate the darkness of his sin. The series of images of decline and evil form a general scene of sinful sexuality, into which all are drawn; music and dancing express lustful desire and prelude sexual indulgence, which, through their intimate contact with the crowd, taints those normally associated with the spiritual: Ein Monch, ein schwangres Weib dort im Gedrange Guitarren klimpern, rote Kittel schimmern. Kastanien schwiil in go 1 dnem Glanz verkummern; Schwarz ragt der Kirchen trauriges Geprange. The sultry atmosphere of the chestnut blossom in the golden light of evening is the scent of sinfulness bathed in the fading light of the heavens. Humankind’s damnation is watched over by the sorrowful splendour of the church, which stands like a reminder of divine judgement. The faces of those who indulge their sinful nature are pale; in giving themselves over to evil, they have lost their indivuality: “Aus bleichen Masken schaut der Geist des Bosen” . There is a sense of horror at their sin, but the progress towards evening and night is unstoppable. Only those who are already marked as outcasts, who bear the sign of their guilt in their 1 45 leprosy, unlike the hypocritical masses, who hide their guilt behind their pale masks, are able to understand the nature of this confusion. Their guilt is accompanied also by recognition, lacked by the crowds, who refuse to acknowledge their sin: Des Vogelfluges wirre Zeichen 1 esen Aussatzige, die zur Nacht vielleicht verwesen. Im Park erblicken zitternd sich Geschwister. It is this recognition which strikes the “Geschwister” at the end of the poem; although the verb is “erblicken” rather than “erkennen”, “zitternd” suggests a sense of mutual guilt at the acceptance of their part in the sexual fall. They no longer hide behind their masks, and their eyes meet in a simple but powerful depiction of their incestuous desire. The sister is central to the three poems which form the RosenkranzJieder; a variant of the first poem has the title ‘An meine Schwester’, suggesting further a reference to Trakl’s own sister, and any incestuous relationship which may have taken place. The depiction of the relationship here is much more complex than that of the Sammlung J 909 poems, far from the decadent pose of ‘Blutschuld’. There is no doubt, however, that the relationship described here is a sexual one: In dieser Nacht losen auf lauen Kissen Vergilbt von Weihrauch sich der Liebenden schmachtige Glieder The sorrowful mood of evening unites all three poems. In ‘An die Schwester’, the “Weiher”, elsewhere the locus of sexual violation, is a place of melancholy, where the sister is a “blaues Wild”, an oblique suggestion that she is the victim of sexual crime.so This solitary sorrow at the pool’s edge is transferred to the brother in ‘Nahe des Todes’, the poems together depicting acceptance and complicity in their love. There is a hint, too, that the sister is beginning to assume a redemptive quality in the eyes of the poet; where in the decadent ‘Blutschuld’, brother and sister had called on Maria, here the brother addresses his 1 46 sister as “Karfreitagskind”, one who will carry and thus atone for the burden of his shame. Their awareness of sin brings the knowledge of the proximity of death: ”O die Nahe des Todes. Lafi uns beten.” The hollowness of this call to prayer strikes a deeper note of despair than the blasphemous pose of ‘Blutschuld’ and ‘Ballade II’; the need for release from sin is still with them as they lie together, but there seems little sign that this need wi11 be met. In ‘Amen’ their death is complete. Here is a scene of decay as an indication of sinful sexuality, where the shadows remind of the darkness of their crime: Verwestes gleitend durch die morsche Stube; Schatten an gelben Tapeten; in dunklen Spiegeln wo 1 bt Sich unserer Hande e1fenbeinerne Traurigkeit. Recognition of their dark nature comes in the mirror’s reflection. Their sin, which they cannot renounce, leads to their death, but not to redemption.81 Even in death, their hands remain intertwined. Here, too, it is hard to agree that blue is a predominantly spiritual, positive colour; there is no sign of forgiveness in the eyes of Azrael, the angel of death. Their sin leads to damnation; as in ‘Ballade III’, it is a fall from divine grace which echoes the Fall of Adam and Eve: Blau ist auch der Abend; Die Stunde unseres Absterbens, Azrael’s Schatten, Der ein braunes Gartchen verdunkelt. If blue here is a characteristic of the spiritual realm, then its function here can only be a reminder of what they have lost, a contrast to their dark realm of sin and death. The most obvious treatment of incest in the later poetry is ‘In der Heimat’, a poem whose dark and disturbing imagery describes a sultry atmosphere of sin and decay, dominated by the sweet scent of reseda.82 There is the familiar contrast of the spiritual and the sinful in gold and dark: 1 47 Resedenduft durchs kranke Fenster irrt; Ein alter Platz, Kastanien schwarz und wiist . Das Dach durchbricht ein goldener Strahl und f 1 ieJSt Auf die Geschwister traumhaft und verwirrt. The atmosphere is heavy with sin; the golden light may offer momentary insight into the nature of their guilt, but it appears to have the function more of a cruel juxtapostition, emphasizing the darkness of their fallen world, for they remain “traumhaft und verwirrt”. Indeed, this golden light is not the elucidating light of the heavens, but, as is clear from the sestet, it is the moonlight; here then, is the motif of Blaubart and ‘Im Dorf’, the lustful and voyeuristic moon watching the scene of sinful sexuality through the window. Erotic dreams and confusion, as we have seen, are accompanying signs of sexual guilt.83 The sense of menace is intensified in the second stanza; the evil of their sin is symbolized by the murky decay, a reference surely to the sexual act which has just occurred and the quiet but unstoppable force of the Fohn in the garden, the locus of sexual fall. Nature mirrors their decline as the gold of the sunflower fades. The “Ruf der Wache” serves as a reminder of the order and discipline which control society, in contrast to their dream-like confusion, the result of their transgression of one of society’s strongest taboos. The focus in the sestet moves from “die Geschwister” and the general impressions both inside and outside the room on to the sister, emphasizing the fact that the scene is viewed through the brother’s eyes : Der Schwester Schlaf ist schwer. Der Nachtwind wiih 1 t In ihrem Haar, das mondner Glanz umspiilt. The brother’s forbidden desire is here transposed to nature, in the wind and moon, symbols of male sexuality. The golden light of the first stanza is echoed in the moonlight, which now forms the perversion 1 48 of a halo around the sister’s head. Her animal quality is expressed in the image of the cat in the final stanza, where the quiet menace hints at greater disaster to follow: Der Katze Schatten gleitet blau und schmal Vom morschen Dach, das nahes Unhei1 saumt, Die Kerzenf1amme, die sich purpurn baumt. The shadow of the cat is cast by the “goldner Strahl” of the moonlight: male sexuality violating the female, who yet remains elusive. The poet is aware of the consequences of their sin, of the divine judgement and damnation which must follow, yet he is incapable of controlling his sexual desire; the phallic symbolism of the “Kerzenf1amme” closes the poem with no sense of release or redemption.8^ ‘Unterwegs’ also focuses, although less obviously so, on the theme of incest. The poem opens with a series of images which are associated throughout the poetic oeuvre with sexual desire and the sister: evening, decline, the piano, the garden, autumn, the park, sunflowers. Although the sister is not mentioned, it is clearly she who is with the poet in the park, as in ’Traum des Bosen’ and the RosenkranzJiederk There is a sense of timelessness in the way that this evening is constantly replayed in the poet’s mind: “immer wieder kehrt dieser vergangene Abend” . The evening encounter in the park is a sexual one, the woman reminiscent of the femme fatale of ‘Nachts’: “geheimnisvol1 die rote Stille deines Munds” . A variant line here has a direct confession of love, unique in Trakl’s poetry: “O, ich liebe dich” . A further indication that the sister is the unnamed “Du” is the reference to their shared consumption of drugs: “Deine Lider sind schwer von Mohn und traumen leise auf meiner Stirne” . Again we see something of the androgynous fusion between brother and sister in the closeness of their association: “Deine Lider . auf meiner Stirne . dein Antlitz auf mich gesunken”. 1 49 There is evidence, too, of “Fiebertraume”, which cause her to tremble: “Sanfte Glocken durchzittern die Brust” . The variants contain more overtly sexual imagery, with the poet cast in the role of violator: “Eine finstere Wolke ist mein Antlitz iiber dir. Gewaltig drdhnen die Hammer auf rotes Metal 1” . Like the moonlight of ‘In der Heimat’, his shadow forms a dark halo over the sister, transposing his crime on to her sleeping form. The rhythm of the hammers and the red of the metal are blatant symbols of sexual desire. Insight into the depth of his sin, and his inability to return to a state of innocence cause the poet to fall in submission: “Unsaglich ist das alles, o Gott, dafi man erschiittert ins Knie bricht” . This guilt is both personal and universal, again an indication that the sin of incest is to be seen as part of humankind’s fallen state. Nor is there any sense of release through poetic expression, for his insight is “unsaglich”. This spiritual submission is momentary, and his recognition is replaced once again by darkness: “O, wie dunkel ist diese Nacht” . Any hopes of redemption through poetry are eradicated and he is left wi th si1ence: , . Eine purpurne F1amme Erlosch an meinem Mund. In der Stille Erstirbt der bangen Seele einsames Saitenspiel. The final line closes the poem with a bleak, drunken submission which replaces any hope of lasting divine grace. Like Elis, his fate is not to overcome, but to endure: “LaB, wenn trunken von Wein das Haupt in die Gosse sinkt” . 1 50 “Ein Geschlecht”: The Androgynous Ideal Critics have attempted to see the androgynous fusion of the “Liebende” in ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’ and the reconci1iation of brother and sister in Offenbarung und Untergang as evidence of a positive balance to the despair of the later poetry.85 This chapter will now focus on some of the poems which explore a mutual acceptance of guilt to see to what extent, if any, redemption can be found through union of male and female, ultimately in the figure of the androgyne. The concept of the androgyne was a decadent fascination, especially in the painting of the time, from the Pre-Raphaelites Rossetti and Burne-Jones, to the decadents Moreau and Beardsley. The best known example in literature is Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin, an androgynous female who loves and is loved by both men and women, and who feels herself to be of neither sex, but rather claims to belong to “un troisieme sexe . qui n’a pas encore de nom”.86 The Polish writer Przybyszewski was also drawn to this theme. The fantastic visions which constitute Androgyne range from sexual desire for plants to the megalomaniac blasphemy of his own “Himmelfahrt”; the piece ends with the fusion of male and female into one: Er und sie soil ten zum Urschoss zuruckkehren um zu einer heiligen Sonne zu werden. Eins und unteilbar sollten sie werden, und alle Geheimnisse nackt und gelost mit ihren Augen schauen und in gottewiger Klarheit alle Ursachen und Ziele durchdringen und sie leiten und alle Erden und jegliches Sein beherrschen in dem Gottgefuhl: Er-Sie! Androgyne!8 Yet there is nothing of this decadent frisson in Trakl’s poetry, not even in Sammtung 1909. Androgynous fusion only appears as a motif in the later lyric, at 151 the beginning of 1914. As Heckmann has pointed out, this is a further point of concurrence between Trakl and Weininger,8® whose philosophy sought an ideal beyond sexuality: “der Mann muB vom Geschlechte sich erlosen, und so, nur so, erlost er die Frau. Allein seine Keuschheit, nicht, wie sie wahnt, seine Unkeuschheit, ist ihre Rettung. Freilich geht sie, als Weib so unter: aber nur, um aus der Asche neu, verjiingt, als der reine Mensch, sich emporzuheben.”89 Trakl, unlike Weininger, believed sexual guilt to be a fundamental human condition, male as well as female, and it is in his later lyric that he explores the possible transfiguration of die Liebenden into “ein Gesch1echt”. The final version of ‘Passion’, which appears in Sebastian in Traum, contains oblique references to the incestuous relationship: Dunk 1e Li ebe Eines wi 1 den Geschlechts, Unter finsteren Tannen Mischten zwei Wolfe ihr Blut In steinerner Umarmung; This depiction of incest is far from the decadent atmosphere of ‘Blutschuld’; the confrontation of sexual guilt and the search for redemption which may have motivated the earlier poem here find a more profound expression. Many critics have pointed out the signific ance of the first version of ‘Passion’, published in the Brenner, for an understanding of the elliptical final version;88 this study, too, will turn to that version of the poem and examine its treatment of the theme of incest.91 The setting is a familiar one of sexual violation: the “Abendgarten . der blaue Teich” . Perhaps the “Totes” for whom Orpheus’ lament is sung is the innocent youth, whose death coincides with the sexual awareness of the protagonist, Abel slaughtered by Cain; there are links, too, with Elis in the image of a 1 52 “Ruhendes unter hoben Baumen” , another of Trakl’s protagonists who have fallen victim to their own sexuality- The suffering of the youth is described in the following stanza, as is the pain of the mother, who has brought her child into a world of sin:92 Weh, der schmalen Gestalt des Knaben, Die purpurn ergltiht, Schmerz1icher Mutter, in blauem Mantel Verhiillend ihre hei 1 ige Schmach. At the same time, the evocation of Mary and Christ here cannot be ignored; as in ‘Blutschuld’, poet sees in his own mother the Virgin Mary, The poet’s hope that the protagonist might die in childhood innocence is in vain; as one who is born, he is inevitably born into original sin, and cannot avoid tasting its fruit. Here again is a strong parallel to Adam, the first man, who brought guilt into the world by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge: Weh, des Geborenen, dafi er stiirbe, Eh er die gluhende Frucht, Die bittere der Schuld genossen. If the protagonist is Adam, then the sister is Eve, who also is to be mourned, for they are mutual participants in the sin of incest. Theirs is the realm of night and sin; the golden light of day departs from them, as did God’s blessing from Adam and Eve in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The prayer of ‘Blutschuld’ is echoed with genuine fervour here: O, daB frommer die Nacht kame, Kristus. As Christ had prayed to his Father in another garden, Gethsemane, to let his suffering pass from him, so the protagonist here prays to Christ to release him from the suffering of his own sexuality and sin. The subjunctive tense, however, betrays the futility of this hope. As Christ, the one sinless man, had to endure the suffering of the cross, so the protagonist must endure his suffering before he can be released from his guilt. 1 53 There is an echo of the imagery of Blaubart in the opening lines of the middle section of the poem: “Purpurn erbliiht im Herzen die Hollenblume” . This is the blossom of sexual desire, which opens in the proximity of darkness and death. Emphasizing the mutuality of their guilt, there is no indication if this stanza refers to male or female protagonist- The shared sin finds further expression in the androgynous fusion of male and female: Uber seufzende Wasser geneigt Sieh dein Gemahl: Antlitz starrend von Aussatz Und ihr Haar flattert wild in der Nacht. There is deliberate ambiguity here, giving the impression that both male and female are bending over the waters; that the leprous face and the voluptuous hair belong to them both; that they share one reflection in the water, a motif which is frequent in Trakl’s poetry. There is none of the sexual violation of the earlier poetry here; the depiction of the incestuous act is one of complicity in sin: Zwei Wolfe im finsteren Wald Mischten wir unser Blut in steinerner Umarmung Und die Sterne unseres Geschlechts fielen auf uns. Where the wolf is elsewhere a symbol of violent male sexuality, here male and female share the same intensity of desire. This is a far more powerful image of the sexual act than the excesses of decadence. What is also of great significance here is the sense of bearing the guilt of generations, like the protagonist in Traum und Umnachtung, who is under the “Fluch des entarteten Geschlechts” . Their sin is seen as the culmination of all sin since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; it rises above the level of personal guilt. The male and female here, whom we can take to be brother and sister, have become represent atives of humankind, a latter-day Adam and Eve “im verlorenen Garten” . The sin of incest is also 1 54 significant here, for as Eve was created from Adam’s side, so they were, in the truest sense, “one flesh”. Their sin is followed by an immediate awareness of death: “O, der Stachel des Todes” . The image of the thorn is both one of phallic aggression and penitence; here it occurs significantly at the “Kreuzweg”, not only the via dolorosa of Christ, but also the place where they must choose which path to follow. At this point, they are still clearly in the reaIm of sin: Verblichene schauen wir uns am Kreuzweg Und in silbernen Augen Spiegeln sich die schwarzen Schatten unserer Wi1dni s, GraJBliches Lachen, das unsere Miinder zerbrach. This common guilt, however, is contrasted by the separate fates which follow. Like Johanna, the “finstere Schlaferin” , the sister’s path is through a “dornige Wildnis”, which causes blood to flow from her feet; this atoning power cleanses her sin and she is able to rise above the blood, like Christ walking on water: Auf purpurner Flut Schaukelt wachend die silberne Schlaferin. The brother’s fate is a transformation reminiscent of that of Heinrich von Ofterdingen;93 like Elis, he experiences an existence both as violator (the phallic tree, bearing the snowy leprosy of sexual guilt) and victim (the “Wild”, bleeding from a sexual wound). Yet this is not sufficient to atone for his sin; he returns to his previous existence: “Wieder ein schweigender Stein” . Stoniness as a sign of sexual guilt was the result of his incestuous desire (“in steinerner Umarmung”), which was also characterized by silence: “das unsere Miinder zerbrach” . The male protagonist is unable to overcome his own sin; yet he is cleansed by divine graced Da in dorniger Kammer Das aussatzige Antlitz von dir fiel. Like Helian, he must realize that any atonement which 1 55 he himself can provide is imperfect; but where the figure of Christ features in ‘Helian’ as a mediator between man and God, here the figure who emerges from the “Kreuzweg” to atone through.her blood is the sister. It is the power of her penitence which brings release for the protagonist, and the gift of song is returned. Yet there still seems to be an incestuous undercurrent to their redeemed state, in the dark rapture with which he now worships her: Nachtlich tont der Seele einsames Saitenspiel Dunkler Verzuckung Voll zu den silbernen FuJBen der Biifierin Im verlorenen Garten; Und an dorniger Hecke knospet der blaue Friihling. This, then, is the Fall of Adam and Eve redeemed; they have returned to the lost garden; there are signs of a new spiritual covenant in the blossoming thorn. Finally, the poem closes with an image of night overcome: Unter dunklen O1ivenbaumen Tritt der rosige Engel Des Morgens aus dem Grab der Liebenden. Here is restoration and forgiveness through penitence. One may also interpret this return to Eden as the dawning of a new age, where humankind is no longer male and female, but “ein Geschlecht”, an androgynous fusion of the “Liebende” into one “rosiger Engel”, without sexuality and therefore without sin.95 The colour “rosig” is the red of sexual lust transformed into a purer condition. This is the first hint of ah androgynous solution to the problem of sexuality. ‘Abend 1andisches Lied’ is the only poem where androgynous fusion of male and female is presented as a realizable solution to sinful sexuality. The poem opens with a sense of timelessness and impersonality, which suggests the poet’s soul, as a representative of the entire human race, hovering before God: “O der Seele nachtlicher F 1 iige 1 sch 1 ag” . Thus he is involved in the re—enactment of human history, a complete picture 1 56 of the positive and the negative, from times of peace and piety to times of decline and war. Sexuality (“das rote Wild”; “Fallen purpurner Friichte” ) has always been present, but in idyllic times was held in control; blood has always been shed, but previously was accepted as a sacrifice or a zealous act of religious f ervour. This sense of harmony is broken by the “bittere Stunde des Untergangs”. Reflection brings recognition of mutual sin and guilt: “Da wir ein steinernes Antlitz in schwarzen Wassern beschaun” . There is already a hint of the fusion to come in the stress on the mutual recognition and acceptance of guilt, as two faces become one. This is the key; as in ‘Passion’, it is only through coming to terms with their guilt together that male and female protagonists can seek redemption. Here, from the downward movement of “Untergang”, and the bowing of the head over dark waters, the poem turns around the conjunction “Aber” to conclude with a movement upwards, out of sin:96 Aber strahlend heben die silbernen Lider die Li ebenden: Ein Geschlecht. Weihrauch stromt von rosigen Ki ssen Und der siifie Gesang der Auf erst andenen. The race which is “verflucht” because of its disparateness in Traum und Umnachtung, here finds salvation in unity. The implication here is undeniably of an androgynous union of “die Liebende”, male and female, implicitly brother and sister.97 It was this release from the torment of sexual desire which Trakl believed to be one of the essential doctrines of Christ: “Es ist unerhort . wie Christus mit jedero einfachen Wort die tiefsten Fragen der Menscheit lost! Kann man die Frage der Gemeinschaft zwischen Mann und Weib restloser losen, als durch das Gebot: Sie sollen Ein Fleisch sein?”98 Trakl may have had in mind a passage from Geschlecht und Charakter which claims on the basis of an Apocryphal gospel that the resurrected body would be an androgynous being: 1 57 In diesem Sinne bat Christus, nach dem Zeugnis des Kirchenvaters K1 emens, zur Salome gesprochen . so lang werde der Tod wahren, als die Weiber gebaren, und nicht eher die Wahrheit geschaut werden, als bis aus zweien eins, aus Mann und Weib ein drittes Selbes, weder Mann noch Weib, werde geworden sein.99 Without the burden of sexuality, sin and guilt are overcome; incense replaces the stench of decay, there are rosy cushions in the place of “blutige Linnen” and a “schmutzig Bette” – one thinks too of the connotations of rosy as the red of lust transfigured — and there is sweet song where once was silence. Resurrection, the greatest triumph of all, has replaced the “bittere Stunde des Untergangs”.100 Traura und Umnachtung portrays a drama of Lustmord and damnation. Guilt is again both personal and universal; the opening sentence sets the family within the context of the whole race: the father is old and ineffectual, the mother is uncaring and unloving, and the boy alone bears the burden of the guilt of generations.101 This is far from the decadent concept of inherent degeneracy, such as is found in Ver ] assenheit; there is throughout a very real and anguished sense of sin. The cause of the guilt is traced in the following passage, which returns to the boy’s childhood, characterized by disease, isolation, and an obsession with death and decay. Perhaps, too, there are hints at the incestuous relationship which will develop from the “verschwiegene Spiele im Sternengarten” ; this theme is expanded in the following sentence: “Aus blauem Spiegel trat die schmale Gestalt der Schwester und er stiirzte wie tot ins Dunke!” . Seeing her reflection, he recognizes the nature of his desire, the cause of his illness and suffering: “Fiebertraume”, while not specifically mentioned, are obviously symptoms of his “Krank- heit”.102 Like Herbert, he tries to flee from his sinful sexuality in vain; he is already “wie tot”, and 1 58 his very attempt to flee takes him deeper into the realm of darkness and night. His sinful desire is visible around his mouth: “Nachts brach sein Mund gleich einer roten Frucht auf und die Sterne erglanzten iiber seiner sprachlosen Trauer” . With the awakening of sexuality comes the loss of innocence and the loss of the poetic voice; he is unable to give relief to his suffering through expression. His childhood now becomes a time of transition, Herbert becomes Blaubart; he alternates between a state of arrogant, isolated piety, where creativity is possible, and growing sexuality, characterized by violent desires. The latter takes over, culminating in the crime in a garden: “HaJ3 verbrannte sein Herz, Wollust, da er im griinenden Sommergarten dem schweigenden Kind Gewa1t tat, in dem strahlenden sein umnachtetes Antlitz erkannte” . This has been interpreted as rape of the sister, in whom the protagonist recognizes his own visage, as he had seen her in his own reflection in the opening passage; while this is certainly a possibility, one must not forget the motif of the murder of the innocent self as sexual awareness grows. The violation of the sister is also the death of his own innocent, passive self.103 The protagonist falls fully into the darkness of night at the end of the first section of the poem: “und die Schatten der Nacht fielen steinern auf ihn” . The second section focuses on his guilt and sin. Images of violation of a female victim (“eine wilde Katze . eine Taube . ein Judenmadchen” ) and of a blasphemous, hedonistic religiosity which mocks his former “feuerige Frommigkeit” with its masochistic delight CSuBe Martern verzehrten sein Fleisch” ) reach a climax in the encounter with the sister and their mutual sin. The fact that she appears in a hair-shirt adds further blasphemy here, for she shows no signs of the penitence which is elsewhere associated with her. She appears rather in 1 59 the guise of femme fatale: “ein flammender Damon” . The final image of this section is of mutual fall: “Beim Erwachen erloschen zu ihren Hauptern die Sterne” . As in ’Passion’ and elsewhere, the personal guilt of the brother and sister is universalized; following Adam and Eve, they become representatives of human sinfulness: “O des verfluchten Geschlechts” . The body in the thorn-bush is a further reminder of his guilt; as in ‘De profundis’, this is the innocent victim of sexual crime, the child that was raped “im grunenden Sommergarten” and, as such, a reminder of the violation to his own innocent self. This sight causes him the pain of recognition, but he is still incapable of overcoming this through poetic expression: “Er aber stand vergraben in sein stahlernes Haar stumm und leidend vor ihr” . Like the monk—Helian, his life becomes one of isolation and sexual guilt: “Nachtlang wohnte er in kristallener Hohle und der Aussatz wuchs silbern auf seiner Stirne” . Towards the end of this section, however, the poet finds his song through his madness: “Ein umnachteter Seher sang jener an verfallenen Mauern und seine Stimme verschlang Gottes Wind” . His song at the walls of Eden, the garden from which humankind has been banished, is as yet an ineffectual atonement, for the poet is still caught up in the evil of the human race. This section closes with bleak images of universal guilt; the fate of the family is characterized by fear, horror, futility, violence, madness and evil. The “Wollust des Todes” holds sway over the degenerate race, who dwell in the dark and sinful realm of the night: “O ihr Kinder eines dunklen Geschlechts. Silbern schimmern die bosen Blumen des Bluts an jenes Schlafe, der kalte Mond in seinen zerbrochenen Augen. O, der Nachtlichen; o, der Verfluchten” . The final section of the poem opens with the temporary escape afforded by intoxication; this is, 1 60 however an ineffectual release, for death is the inevitable result of sin: “Bitter ist der Tod, die Kost der Schu1dbe1adenen” . The conjunction “aber”, however, seems to signify a different fate for the protagonist, who has now found his voice and is able to overcome his suffering through Orphic song: “Aber leise sang jener im griinen Schatten des Hollunders, da er aus bosen Traumen erwachte; siiBe Gespiele nahte ihm ein rosiger Engel, dafi er, ein sanftes Wild, zur Nacht hinsch1ummerte; und er sah das Sternenant1itz der Reinheit” . Where he was previously “ein f1ammender Wo If . ein wildes Tier”, he is now “ein sanftes Wild” who has survived the “bosen Traume” of the night, and the rosy angel which had fled from his presence now returns as a sign of spiritual harmony. A variant emphasizes divine grace as the source of his peace: “dafi er versuhnter in Gott hinschlummerte” . This idyllic passage is separated from the general fate of humankind by the double use of the conjunction “aber”; yet there is also the suggestion that the harmony found by the mad seer is not so much based on reconci1iation, but that it, too, might be simply the product of a narcotic vision: “Silbern bliihte der Mohn auch, trug in griiner Kapse1 unsere nachtigen Sternentraume” . Whether real or imaginary, this reconci1iation is not the fate of humankind: “Aber stille trat am Abend der Schatten des Toten in den trauernden Kreis des Seinen. ” . The seer, now dead and purified through grace, returns to those he has left behind; but while his song was able to overcome his own guilt, it is powerless to atone for the guilt of the race. Incest is singled out as the crime in this travesty of the Last Supper: “Schweigende versammelten sich jene am Tisch; Sterbende brachen sie mit wachsernen Handen das Brot, das blutende. Weh der steinernen Augen der Schwester, da beim Mahle ihr Wahnsinn auf die nachtige Stirne des Bruders trat, der Mutter unter leidenden 161 Handen das Brot zu Stein ward” . The sister again appears as the more active; here, too, is the motif of the suffering of the mother who must witness the sin of her children. She appears as a travesty of Christ, offering her son a stone when he asks for bread. Religion has lost all meaning, there is no hope of redemption either through grace or poetic expression; neither Christ nor Orpheus are effectual here. The brother in his state of sin seeks peace in nature, but seeking this alone, without the help of the sister as in ‘Passion’, is futile. He cannot act as redeemer; unlike Christ, who is triumphant over sin in the desert and who is at home in his father’s house, the brother cannot follow the path of redemption: Steinige Ode fand er am Abend, Geleite eines Toten in das dunkle Haus des Vaters. Purpurne Wolke umwolkte sein Haupt, dafi er schweigend uber sein eigenes Blut und Bildnis herfiel, ein mondenes Antlitz; steinern ins Leere hinsank, da in zerbrochenem Spiegel, ein sterbender Jungling, die Schwester erschien; die Nacht das verfluchte Gechlecht verschlang. He is granted neither the vision of recognition nor the voice of poetic expression. The purple cloud of his suffering descends as a travestied halo around his head. The final image is again one of fusion; but here is not the redemption of “Ein Geschlecht” in ‘Abend 1andisches Lied’, but rather mutual damnation. In attacking his own reflection, he recognizes the face of his sister as a dying youth. He is unable to destroy or overcome his incestuous, narcissistic desire; guilt leads here to eternal damnation. 1 04 Within the profound and complex resonance of Offenbarung und Untergang, the theme of incest and the movement towards redemption are central. Here, the narrator is again a universal voice, representative of sinful humankind. The following examination of this prose poem will concentrate on these issues, showing 162 that the positive interpretation favoured by many critics is essentially £ 1 awed.1 05 The poem opens with the protagonist receiving a travesty of Christ’s Revelation to St John. The protagonist, sleep-walking, passes stony rooms. One thinks here of the monk Helian in ‘Lange lauscht der Monch . . . ‘ , returning to the monastic cel Is after his period of isolation in the “blaue Hohle der Schwermut” . The protagonist lies down in this cell in his attempt to find release from his sins (“und da ich frierend aufs Lager hinsank” ), but rather than a vision of Christ, he is haunted by the memory of the sister as a reminder of his sin: “stand zu Haupten wieder der schwarze Schatten der Fremdlingin” . He bows his head to hide from this recognition, and to seek release in silent prayer; like the brother in Traum und Umnachtung, he does not have the freedom to give expression to his suffering: “und schweigend verbarg ich das Antlitz in den langsamen Handen” . Although he is aware of the spiritual harmony of his surroundings — the blue hyacinth, the prayer, the tears of compassion wept for the sins of the world – he is equally aware of his own past and his own guilt — the death of his father, the lament of his mother, the “schwarze Hoile in meinem Herzen” . This recognition is accompanied by a deep sense of timelessness, of universal and eternal guilt: “Minute schimmernder Stille” . If we are to accept the interpretation of his environment as a monastery, then it follows that the “unsag 1iches Antlitz” whih protrudes from the wall is a statue of Christ, the one perfect man who died so that humankind might return to a relationship with God: “ein strahlender Jungling – die Schdnheit eines heim- kehrenden Geschlechts” . The second section looks in more detail at the nature of his guilt. He appears as a dark, silent 163 figure of sin, one who is in desperate need of redemption, yet one for whom Biblical atonement seems inadequate: neither the “strahlender Leichnam” of Christ above him,106 nor the “totes Lamm”, perhaps his own innocence which he has slaughtered and which lies as a sacrifice at his feet has the power to release him from his dark isolation- Both the covenants of the Old and New Testaments seem inadequate here. It is against th is background that the figure of the sister appears: “Aus verwesender Blaue trat die bleiche Gestalt der Schwester und also sprach ihr blutender Mund: Stich schwarzer Dorn” . The fact that her mouth is bloody indicates the violation which has taken place; her cry is both masochistic and demanding of retribution. She appears then as both Maria and Johanna of the Dramenfragment. Blood flows from her feet; we think of Christ’s feet nailed to the cross, but also, as we know from the Dramenfragment, of the stony path of the “dornige Wildnis”- As in Traum und Umnachtung and ‘Passion*, this is the path where penitence is sought- Here the blood is “bluhend”, a sign that the sister’s repentance is genuine. Her vision ends with the memory of the one who violated her, provoked no doubt by the confrontation with the brother: “Einbrach ein roter Schatten mit f1ammendem Schwert in das Haus, f1 oh mit schneeiger Stirne. O bitterer Tod” . This final admission of the pain of death suggests that her penitence is not yet complete, for she has not yet found peace and spiritual harmony. The brother’s dark reply shows his affiliation with Kermor, the brother-violator, in a speech sated with images of violence and violation: “Meinem Happen brach ich im nachtigen Wald das Genick, da aus seinen purpurnen Augen der Wahnsinn sprang; die Schatten der Ulmen fie1en auf mich, das blaue Lachen des Quells und die schwarze Kiihle der Nacht, da ich ein wilder Jager aufjagte ein schneeiges Wild; in steinerner Hoile mein Antlitz erstarb” . 164 The blood which falls into his glass is that of the sister, who now replaces the radiant corpse of Christ above the brother, her blood replacing Christ’s blood shed on the cross. Although the protagonist drinks this as a personal form of Communion, he finds no release. Its bitter taste has a quality of death, bitter because he is responsible for the sister’s wounds, as humankind is responsible for Christ’s shed blood. The universal resonance of the apparently subjective experience is obvious here. Rather than provoking contrition, the blood from the sister’s wound arouses the protagonist’s sexual desire: “und fiel ein feuriger Regen auf mich” . The variants (“Drache” and “Wurm” > emphasize the phallic nature of his reaction. There is an echo of Blaubart’s song here, which contains the variant line: “Ein Drach hat ein lustig Kindlein gefreit” , and of Kermor’s anguished cry in the Dramenfragment: “LaB ab – schwarzer Wurm” . Like Blaubart, the sight of blood fires the protagonist’s lust: Lust peitschen HaB, Verwesung und Tod Entsprungen dem Blute, ge1 1 end und rot Komm zitternde Braut! The protagonist becomes an outcast, silent in his guilt, seeking not forgiveness but isolation and peace in nature: “Am Saum des Wa1des will ich ein Schweigendes gehn . Zur Seite geleitet stille die griine Saat , begleitet auf moosigen Waldespfaden scheu das Reh” . This uneasy alliance with nature is broken, however, when, like the protagonist of Traum und Umnachtung, he too descends the path of penitence: “Aber da ich den Felsenpfad hinabstieg, ergriff mich der Wahnsinn und ich schrie laut in der Nacht” . In seeking the spiritual, he is forced to recognize his sin, a recognition which leads to madness. Here, there is no fusion of brother and sister in his reflection in the pond, but rather a complete loss of identity: “und da ich mit silbernen Fingern mich iiber die schweigenden Wasser bog, sah ich, daB mich mein Antlitz verlassen” 165 . The relationship between brother and sister throughout this piece is far from one of unity; the sister, his alter-ego and object of his incestuous, narcissistic desire, has abandoned him after his crime of violation. She is only present in the disembodied voice which again calls for retribution: “Und die weiBe Stimme sprach zu mir: Tote dich!” 9>. This is the cry of the abused Johanna in the Dramenf ragment z “Mein Blut uber dich – da du brachtest in meinen Schlaf!” . This split between sinful brother and assaulted sister is intensified by the apparent allegiance between the sister and the protagonist’s innocent self, the figure of Abel who also returns from death to accuse Cain: “Seufzend erhob sich eines Knaben Schatten in mir und sah mich strahlend aus kristallnen Augen an” . Where brother and sister had been one in guilt or one in redemption, they are now separated by the brother’s guilt. In ‘Passion’, this parting “am Kreuzweg” led eventually to reconciliation; here, as we shall see, is a less fortunate conclusion. Although the protagonist has been forced to confront his own guilt, he does not accept the truth of this “Offenbarung”, and still attempts to ignore this insight: “Friedlose Wanderschaft durch wildes Gestein feme den Abendwe i 1 ern , he imkehr enden Herden” . This cannot, however, bring peace, which only comes from recognition and renunciation of the violent, criminal nature of sexuality, and through poetic expression. He is visited for the third time by the sister (one remembers that Peter denied Christ three times, and was asked by his risen Lord three times to affirm his love); her appearance is at times quiet, but, more in keeping with her righteous anger, she appears “rasend im Friihl ingsgewi t ter ” , demanding retribution:108 “erschrecken schaurige Blitze die nachtige Seele, zerreifien deine Hande die atemlose Brust mir” . 1 66 In a variant paragraph the protagonist, like Kermor, is taken in by the Pachter, and given bread by the Johanna-sister figure: “Edler Mann, der freundlich mich aufnahm in sein abendlich Haus, daB nicht des Friedlosen Schritt die sanften Tauben scheuche von deiner Schwelle. Stille brennet nun im kiihlen Gemach das Licht und du teilst mit gebenden Handen das Brot ”. Here is the reconciliation which could not be found in the sexual anguish of the Dramenfragment; here is not “das versteinerte Brot” of damnation, but bread offered in love and forgiveness. Again, we see a parallel between the sister figure and Christ at the Last Supper. The penultimate paragraph has generally been interpreted in a positive light which is entirely out of keeping with the tone of the poemJOS Although a cursory reading might suggest this, closer analysis shows that this section irrevocably cuts the protagonist off from any hope of redemption. After the sister’s third visitation, the protagonist has accepted his guilt. He himself plays no part in his journey into the spiritual realm; the fact that he is still closely associated with the twilight garden, silence and night warns of the “Untergang” which is to come. There is no indication of any penitence on his part; the avenging figure of the sister has driven the “schwarze Gestalt des Bosen” from him, but his peace does not come from within, and is, therefore, only temporary: “und siiBer Frieden riihrte die versteinerte Stirne mir” . Significantly, peace touches, but does not rest on, his forehead which still bears the stoniness of his sexual guilt. While in contemplation of this divine realm, he comes close to true peace, a momentary turning from his evil nature as he savours the peace and beauty of the spiritual realm: “und da ich anschauend hinstarb, starben Angst und der Schmerzen tiefster in mir” .110 Yet he remains silent throughout. The spiritual ascent at the end of this 167 paragraph is marked by its obvious exclusion of the protagonist: “und es hob sich der blaue Schatten des Knaben strahlend im Dunke1, sanfter Gesang; hob sich auf mondenen Flugeln iiber die griinenden Wipfel, kristallene Klippen das weifie Antlitz der Schwester” . As previously, the innocent youth, who alone has the power of gentle song, and the sister are united, while the sinful protagonist is left outside. The sister is now released from the thorny paths of her penitential wandering and torment. In stark contrast to this dual ascension, the protagonist descends: “Mit silbernen Sohlen stieg ich die dornigen Stufen hinab und ich trat ins kalk- getiinchte Gemach” . His is the path of suffering and penitence until he reaches a state of genuine contrition, when his guilt will be transfigured and his suffering silence will become song. Only the silver soles of his feet are reminder of his brief sojourn in the spiritual realm. Again, he chooses to ignore what has been revealed to him, denying it the power of expression, returning to the realm of his sexual guilt: “und ich verbarg in purpurnen Linnen schweigend das Haupt” . A variant suggests that he has returned to the locus of his crime with its “blutigen Linnen” . The final image is a bleak, harsh depiction of stillbirth, even more so in the variants with their “stinkenden Leichnam” . Far from being the birth of the spiritual in him, this is the death of all hope.141 The broken arms remind of Christ on the cross, the soldiers in ‘3m Osten’, and the sister of the second paragraph: “Ach noch tonen von wilden Gewittern die silbernen Arme mir” . But the arms are “zerbrochen”, an imperfect atonement, which is rejected from the spiritual realm and descends amidst the snowy leprosy of sin: “und es warf die Erde einen kindlichen Leichnam aus, ein mondenes Gebilde, das langsam aus meinem Schatten trat, mit zerbrochenen Armen steinerne 168 Stiirze hinabsank, flockiger Schnee” . This is reminiscent of the negative imagery of bitterness and futi1i ty in ’Fohn’ : . . . Nacht e, Erfiillt von Tranen, feurigen Engeln. Silbern zerschellt an kahler Mauer ein kindlich Geri ppe. The dead child is in stark contrast to the figure of Christ in ‘Gesang einer gefangenen Amsel1, whose arms stretch out in forgiveness attained through the acceptance of suffering: So leise blutet Demut, Tau, der langsam tropft vom bliihenden Dorn. Strahlender Arme Erbarmen Urofangt ein brechendes Herz. The arms which might have opened in redemption are broken; there is no God to take away the snow of leprosy and sin, as betokened Helian’s release from madness. One remembers, too, that Dante, in his Inferno, compared the ashes of hell-fire to snow in his own revelation: Herd upon herd I saw of naked souls whose tears declared the depth of their distress Broad drifting flakes of fire rained slowly down across the whole expanse of sand, like snow in mountain places on a windless day112 The bleak ending of Offenbarung und Untergang is more reminiscent of the divine judgement in the unpublished poem ‘Gericht’: Tote Geburt; auf griinem Grund Blauer Blumen Geheimnis und Stille. Wahnsinn offnet den purpurnen Mund: Dies irae – Grab und Stille. In Offenbarung und Untergang the situation of ‘Passion’ and ‘Abend 1andisches Lied’ is reversed. There the lovers find unity in mutual recognition of guilt and genuine repentence. Here, there is no indication whatsoever of union between brother and sister; the relationship is one of violation and vengeance. Where there is no unity, no mutual acceptance of guilt (here denied by the protagonist), there is no androgynous birth into spiritual freedom. The dead child has 1 69 characteristics of both the sister (“ein mondenes Antlitz”) and the brother (“das langsam aus meinem Schatten trat”), but it is irredeemably doomed. “Schwester sturmischer Schwermut”: The Sister as Redeemer There is little hope of redemption for the male protagonist who is still dominated by his sexual desires. Increasingly in the later lyric, the poet looks towards the figure of the sister, and the hope of hermaphroditic union to release him from his guilt. To what extent this is a realizable hope will be examined in this final section. The sister appears at the end of ‘Ruh und Schweigen’ in the first of her hermaphroditic guises: Ein strahlender Jungling Erscheint die Schwester in Herbst und schwarzer Verwesung. Her radiance provides a direct contrast to the dark decay of the protagonist’s sinful world; it may be that she appears to rescue him – this certainly must be his hope – but the close of the poem leaves that hope unrealized. The preceding stanzas focus on the protagonist’s sinful sexuality and despair. His is a realm of darkness, where the light of the moon as male sexuality has replaced that of the female sun. Although he still maintains links with the spiritual, he is unable to pull himself out of his sin and the purple sleep of erotic dreams. As the death of the sun brought the birth of the moon from the pond, the locus of sexual violation, so the poem closes with the hope of a return of female light, this time in the guise of the sister as Sonnen jiing] j ng over the moon-like stone. Certainly, the implication is that her radiance is a 170 sign of guilt transfigured, her hermaphroditism a sign that she has overcome the strife of sexuality;l13 whether or not this can redeem the male protagonist is uncertain.114 In the last poems before his death, Trakl repeatedly calls on the sister, or a related androgynous figure, in his hour of suffering. Yet the solution of ’Passion’ remains unique; nowhere in the Brenner—pub1ications is the suggestion that she can overcome guilt on his behalf. His desire is no longer to be saved, but simply to be released from a suffering which he sees as endless; an overwhelming anguish which is found in the testimony of his letters. ‘Das Herz’ is a bleak poem expressing utter desolation and the bitter fear of death. As we have seen before, the time of crisis is prophetically centred round “Novemberabend”. There is no relief from suffering, no reconciliation with the spiritual; the hope in the opening line of the second stanza is crushed by the harsh statement of fact which follows: Des Abends blaue Taube Brachte nicht Versohnung. Yet through this darkness and decay comes the “goldne Gestalt/ Der Junglingin” . In the light of ‘Ruh und Schweigen’, we must assume that this is the transfigured sister, again, a hermaphroditic figure who has overcome sexuality, the cause of guilt. The sister, who was “ein sterbender Jungling” at the end of Traum und Umnachtung, has, by dying to guilty sexuality, transfigured her incestuous love. For we can assume that if the brother’s incestuous desire is narcissistic, then so too is that of the sister. Now the male and female elements of her desire have fused into one, removing the guilty passion for the brother as alter-ego. Her appearance is accompanied by the signs of her triumph over male sexuality and phallic aggress i on: 171 Umgeben von bleichen Monden, Herbstlicher Hofstaat, Zerknickten schwarze Tannen Ira Nachtsturm, The final ambiguity of the poem lies in the point of reference of the closing lines: O Herz Hinuberschiramernd in schneeige Kiihle. Is this the Jung]ingin making her final appearance in this world before fading into the realm of the shades and the spirits, where the protagonist will encounter her again in ‘Grodek’? Or is it the protagonist’s “wildes Herz” of the poem’s title and opening, reconciled now, through the vision of the sister, if not to salvation, then at least to death, which he had feared? Certainly, there is no implication of salvation or release from sin in the image of “schneeige Kiihle”, attributes of sexual guilt throughout the oeuvre;! 1 5 the suggestion here is rather of a release from suffering into oblivion, a wish which is expressed in the early cycle, Gesang zur Nacht: DaB sich die letzte Qua] an mir erfiille, Ich wehr* euch nicht, ihr feindlich dunklen Ma cht e. Ihr seid die StraBe hin zur groBen Stille, Darauf wir schreiten in die kiihlsten Nachte. A variant of ‘Das Herz’ ends with the drunken submission which we have seen in ‘Unterwegs’, again emphasizing release into oblivion rather than redemption: “Betrunken/Sank jener unter Sternen hin” . ‘Nachtergebung’ is another testimony to the fact that he has accepted his fate; his only desire now is to be engulfed in oblivion, in the female womb of the night: “Monchin! schlieB mich in dein Dunke1!” . Again, this is an echo of the Gesang zur Nacht of SammJung 1909: “O Nacht, ich bin bereit!” . For the poet, “die Monchin” is surely the hermaphroditic sister, the female who has overcome the male lust of the monk, replacing Christ, as dew falls like blood to wash him; the Christian cross, by way of contrast, 172 stands at a distance, like the dark, foreboding church of other poems, a harsh reminder of divine judgement. The poet accepts his state of sin; he has eaten from the forbidden fruit which leads to death. His only hope of escape into the oblivion of the night is through narcotic intoxication, with the hope that this might lead to the death which he knows is inevitable, a haunting premonition of his death some months later in a hospital in Cracow: Mondeswolke! Schwarz 1ich fallen Wilde Friichte nachts vom Baum Und zum Grabe wird der Raum Und zum Traum dies Erdenwallen. The most harrowing expression of his anguish, however, is surely ’Klage’, written in Galicia in September 1914. Out of the deepest, apocalyptic despair, he calls explicitly on his sister not to redeem, nor even to alleviate his suffering, but simply to witness his demise:116 Schwester sturmischer Schwermut Sieh ein angst 1icher Kahn versinkt Unter Sternen, Dem schweigenden Antlitz der Nacht. The poet, who has come to see himself as a represent ative of the human race, here experiences the entire anguish of the annihilation which, although not yet complete, is inevitable: Des Menschen goldnes Bildnis Verschlange die eisige Woge Der Ewigkeit. The horror which Trakl experienced on the Eastern Front has given his poetry the nihilism towards which it had been slowly gravitating. There is still the universal sense of guilt and damnation, but this is no longer purely sexual; rather, as in most of the poetry written at the Front, it expresses the utter futility of the carnage of war and a real sense of apocalyptic destruction: ’’Alle Strafien miinden in schwarze Ver wesung” . Had this line from ‘Grodek’ been the conclusion of his last poem then his despair would have been complete. Yet here, too, the sister is a source of 173 comfort, if somewhat ambiguous as a figure of rederapti on. The poem oscillates between the wrathful male God and the palliative realm of the night. The hope of redemption through poetry, which has been sought and denied throughout the oeuvre, seems finally and irrefutably rejected, as gunfire replaces song: “Am Abend tonen die herbstlichen Walder/ Von todlichen Waffen” . As the soldiers die, they are met, not by God, but by the female realm of the night: “Umfangt die Nacht/ Sterbende Krieger”. The male God, on the other hand, is gathering not the soldiers, but their b1ood: Doch stille sammelt im Weidengrund Rotes Gewolk, darin ein zurnender Gott wohnt Das vergofine Blut sich, mondne Kiihle Blood, since Old Testament times, has been regarded as a holy commodity, which has above all the power of atonement. Although the hope of redemption through this innocent bloodshed remains a tenuous one, it is there. Beyond the bleak view from the Kreuzweg, where all roads lead to black decay, is a release from suffering through death. Here it is the sister, already closely associated with the realm of the night, who is waiting to greet the dead heroes, a role which she has already performed in ‘Die Schwermut’: Herbstesnacht so kiihle kommt, Erglanzt mit Sternen Uber zerbrochenem MSnnergebein Die stille Monchin. Gretl, too, believed that she would be united with her brother in an afterlife, a wish which she expressed in a poem written shortly after his death: Einst wird ein Tag vo11 Freude sein Da schreiten wir durch den trunkenen Hain – Einst wird ein Tag vo11 Freude sein An so 1chem Tag will ich Dich frei’n Und ward uns Freude aus tiefstem Leid Dann feiern wir unsere hohe Zeit. ll7 As in ‘Das Herz’, the transfigured sister exists for Trakl in a realm where male sexuality has been overcome, where the guilt which arises out of the 1 74 tension between the sexes is no more. Here, she greets not the heroes, but their “Geister”, who have themselves been subjected to violation and bloodshed of a different kind. Where the androgynous union failed, here there is hope in the shadowy realm beyond death; the silent grove becomes a place of song, a sign of harmony restored, a return to the idyll of Eden. Yet it is a precarious peace, enjoyed only by shades and spirits. In death, the destruction of war can be overcome, but the poem closes with a reminder of the pain caused by the slaughter of innocence; the glorious justification of sacrifice as a spiritual victory is juxtaposed with the reality of death, not just of the young soldiers on the battlefield, but of untold generations who must remain unborn: O stolzere Trauer! ihr ehernen Atare Die heifie F1amme des Geistes nahrt heute ein gewaltiger Schmerz, Die ungeborenen Enkel. 175 CHAPTER FOUR: PERVERSE RELIGIOSITY AND BLASPHEMY Eintonig ist das Gute, schal und bleich, Allein die Siinde ist unendlich reich!1 “In der Hoile se 1 b’stgeschaffener Leiden”: The Suffering Sa i nt Trakl1s adolesence was characterized by his pose as a poete maudit; during this time, although he affected to despise most of his peers, he formed a close friendship with a few like-minded young men, with whom he would meet to discuss literature and to recite poetry, including his own early works. Even within this literary circle Trakl was exceptional: “Jeder las sein Geschaffenes vor. Unter den sieben Teilnehmern war Trakl der fruchtbarste und sonder1ichste.”2 Bruckbauer recalls only one poem which Trakl wrote whilst a member of this literary group: “ein Gedicht Der Monch . Es handelte von Brunst und Kasteiung. Eine etwas schwiile Ange1egenheit, jedoch vornehmst gestaltet. Es schloB: Exaudi me, o Maria.” 3 The title of the poem, the content and the final line make it clear that this was an early version of ‘Der HeiIige’, a poem which was included in the planned 1909 collection of early poetry. The “saint” of the title is ensnared by his moral impotence; he is aware of his sin, yet is unable to stop himself. As in ‘Blutschuld’, this recognition heightens the sense of wrong-doing; the poem itself becomes an aesthetic enjoyment of his own predicament. This poem betrays the obviously decadent mixture of eroticism and religiosity which can be traced back j- through the French decadents to Baudelaire and Sade, 176 and yet it is a theme which can be traced throughout Trakl’s poetry, as this chapter will showJ Here is also the influence of Wagner: his operas, in particular Parsifal and Tannhauser present a form of Christian mysticism with undeniably erotic tones, where there is both an awareness of sin and the hope of redemption. According to Basil, “Trakl hatte eine Vorliebe fur die Musikromantik . In den Pubertats— jahren schwarmte er, vielleicht angeregt durch das literarische Vorbild Baudelaire, fur Richard Wagner”.5 Furness has pointed out the decadent element in many of Wagner’s works, especially Parsifal: It is this work above all, with its highly questionable fusion of Christian mysticism and blatant sexuality, its holy grail and gaping wound, its imagery of spear and chalice, its incense, castration, flower- maidens and cult of blood, which led Nietzsche to damn Richard Wagner as a ‘decadent’, as ‘une n^vrose’.6 Baudelaire’s acute awareness of the juxtaposition of man’s attraction towards evil and his desire for salvation was one of the basic concepts of decadence: “Il y a dans tout homme, & toute heure, deux postulations simultanees, 1’une vers Dieu, 1’autre vers Satan. L’invocation a Dieu, ou spirituality, est un d6sir de monter en grade; celle de Satan, ou animality, est une joie de descendre.The fusion of the religious and the Satanic is most blatantly seen in the voluptuous monks and nuns of Sade’s Justine and Juliette, which had their influence on Baudelaire and the decadents. This motif is found in the novels of Huysmans, in particular L£-Bas, which portrays in vivid and blasphemous detail the celebration of Black Mass: “un vent de folie secoua la salle. L’aura de la grande hysterie suivit le sacrilege et courba les femmes; pendant que les enfants de choeur encensaient la nudite du pontife, des femmes se rudrent sur le Pain Eucharistique et, a plat ventre, au pied de l’autel, le grifferent, arrach&rent des parcelles humides, burent et mangerent cette divine ordure.”8 177 Within the context of German literature, we find this blasphemous religiosity in the works of Przybyszewski, who himself believed that humankind is inherently evil: “Nicht das Bose, sondern das Gute ist Negation -.. Das Gute ist die Negation des Lebens denn alles Leben ist bose. Satan ist das Positive, das Ewige an sich . Denn Satan ist das ewig Bose, und das ewig Bose ist das Leben.”9 The erotic visions of Androgyne are characterized by blasphemous, satanic sexuality: “. vielleicht war er in einer verfallenen Katakombe, wo der Satan mit der Bifurka seines Phallus seine Geliebte in unmensch1icher Brunst verbluten lieB, oder einer Krypta einer mi11e1 a 1ter1ichen Kapelle, wo gottesschanderische Priester auf dem nackten Leib der Sch1ossherrin die schwarze Messe feierten. “10 The figure of the lustful monk, then, is clearly part of the decadent tradition;!1 within Trakl’s oeuvre we have already encountered this figure in its association with lascivious desire. The title figure of ‘Lange lauscht der Monch . ‘ is guilty of the crime of violation, and in ‘Drei Blicke in einen Opal’ we find the description of a Black Mass: Aus,Schwarzem blast der Fohn. Mit Satyrn im Verein Sind schlanke Weiblein; Monche der Wollust bleiche Pri ester, Ihr Wahnsinn schmuckt mit Li lien sich schon und duster Und hebt die Hande auf zu Gottes goldenem Schrein. This connection between Christianity and perverse sexuality was not, however, exclusive to decadent literature. The German Romantic writer Novalis understood the relationship between religious zeal and eroticism: “Es ist sonderbar, dafi nicht langst die Assoziation von Wollust, Religion, und Grausamkeit die Leute aufmerksam auf ihre innige Verwandschaft und ihre gemeinschaft1iche Tendenz gemacht hat.”12 This is also the subject of Karl Hauer’s essay, ‘Erotik der Keuschheit’, which appeared in the Fackel of 5 January 178 1906, and with which Trakl may well have been familiar.13 Here he establishes the increased desire for the erotic which results from the fact that it is f orbi dden: Das Christentum hat die Sexualitat geknechtet und verstummelt, aber zugleich vergeistigt und so die Erotik – wenn auch nur im Hirne der Kranken und der Kunstler – verfeinert und kompliziert. Die Idee der Siinde hob das Sexuelle in die Sphare des Supranatura1en und verlieh ihm einen bisher ungekannten Glanz und Nimbus. In dem Worte ‘Siinde’ erklingt fiir den Menschen der christlichen Welt alles Verlockende und Verf iihrer i sche , alles, wonach sein geheimstes Wiinschen schreit. . Unter Siinde schlechthin versteht namlich der Christ die Siinde, die Siinde der Siinden, die Unkeuschhe i t Satanism, Hauer argues, following Huysmans and others, is a product of the Christian Church, which is the source of “ungeheure erotische Phantasien . neben denen alle sexuellen Tatsach1ichkeiten ver — blassen”.15 He believes that such perverse fantasy is most common among clerics who attempt to lead an ascetic, and therefore unnatural, life. Of importance to Trakl’s poetry is in particular his emphasis on Keuschheit as a source of torment, as sinful humankind falls ever short of the standard set by the Church: Es ist namlich auch die Keuschheit iro Grunde ein Apostolat der Siinde. Sie macht das Leben zu einem endlosen Zweikampf zwischen Gott und Satan. Sie fordert eine unablassige Achtsamkeit auf die Fallen und Schlingen des Bosen, die Phantasie des Keuschen ist fort- wahrend erfiillt von den Bildern der Siinde. Je strenger die Tugend geiibt wird, desto mehr wachsen die Begierden, und in dem zerqualten Hirn des Heiligen tauchen von Zeit zu Zeit erotische Visionen auf, die in ihrer ha 1 1uzinatorischen Kraft die Erotik Neros und Heliogabals beschamen. Der HeiIige nennt es ‘Versuchung’.16 Trakl ‘s “saint’’, then, is very much a product of its time. But the reference here is not merely to the 179 torment of ascetic monks, but to his own emotional state: Wenn in der Hoile se1bstgeschaffener Leiden Grausam-unzuchtige Bilder ihn bedrangen Although this poem is the obvious exception to the highly personal lyric of the Sammlung 1909, written in the first person singular, it must be remembered that this poem was possibly written as early as 1904 whilst Trakl was still at school; he doubtless felt the need to distance himself in order to avoid incrimination. In using the figure of the saint to express his own torment, Trakl attempts one of the main stylistic features of literary decadence: the “Nervensymbo1ik” which was, in Bahr’s opinion, perfected by Maeterlinck: “Die Gestalten, we 1che er formt, sind nur Zeichen seiner Sensationen, wie von seinen Stimmungen auf die Welt geworfene Schatten, und die Ereignisse, welche er hauft, sind nur Symbo1e vieler Geschichten in den Nerven.”17 So, too, the figure of Trakl’s saint is an albeit crude expression of a somewhat stylized sado masochism typical of the decadence. One wonders if Trakl in his youth considered himself a fallen saint; certainly later in his life, he was adamant that he neither could nor would lead an ascetic life, stating: “Ich habe kein Recht mich der Hoile zu entziehen”.l8 A comparison between Trakl and St George was made later by Karl Rock in a planned introduction to the third edition of Trakl’s Dichtungen The saint’s attempts to seek release from his sexual (and possibly incestuous) torment are likewise doubly denied: there is no “Erlosung” from heaven, nor is there any relief through the expression of prayer. Poetic creativity as a solution to his suffering fails as his prayers cannot express his feverish desires. The anguished saint, with emaciated hands stretched to the heavens, longing in vain for an answer to his prayers anticipates an image from a later, more successful poem: Gottes Schweigen Trank ich aus dem Brunnen des Hains ‘De profundis’, written in September/October 1912, is an example from Trakl’s mature lyric of a poem dealing with a related theme. The imagery is more concise; the depiction of the protagonist tortured by criminal 182 sexual urges is less obtrusive and self-indulgent than in ‘Der Heilige’, and, as such, is more effective: Auf meine Stirne tritt kaltes Metall Spinnen suchen mein Herz. Es ist ein Licht, das in meinem Mund erloscht. The motif of the tormented saint seeking relief and guidance from heaven forms the substance of Flaubert’s La Tentation de Saint Antoine. Again, it cannot be assumed that Trakl knew this work, although his familiarity with Flaubert has been established. Saint Antoine’s visions – a series of “grausam- unzuchtige Bilder” – are initiated by his realization that his religious ardour has faded: “A des heures regimes je quittais mon ouvrage; et priant les deux bras 6tendus je sentais comme une fontaine de misericorde qui s’epanchait du haut du ciel dans mon coeur. Elle est tarie, ma i nt enant. Pourquo i ? . . .“2 2 He is beset by visions of torment and sin, which culminate in the encounter between “La Mort” and “La Luxure”, which join in hideous union before his eyes: Une secousse, de temps a autre, lui fait entrouvrir les yeux; et il aper^oit au milieu des t6nebres une maniere de monstre devant lui. C’est une tete de mort, avec une couronne de roses. Elle domine un torse de femme d’une blancheur nacree. En dessous, un linceul etoile de points d’or fait comme une queue; – et tout le corps ondule, a la maniere d’un ver gigantesque qui se tiendrait debout.23 Flaubert’s saint, however, unlike that of Trakl’s poem, survives the torment of his temptation; his visions of evil give way to a vision of creation, and the face of Christ in the sun. Saint Antony is released from his suffering, and returns to the devotions of his life of prayer. In ‘Der Heilige’ the desire for salvation is linked with mysticism and Dionysian ecstasy; the religiosity of the “saint” is far removed from orthodox Christianity. The connection between the Dionysian 183 dithyramb and Christian prayer had already been made by Novalis: “Die christliche Religion ist die eigentliche Religion der Wollust. Die Siinde ist der groBe Reiz fiir die Liebe der Gottheit. Je sundiger man sich fiihlt, desto christlicher ist man. Unbedingte Vereinigung mit der Gottheit ist der Zweck der Siinde und Liebe. Dithy- ramben sind ein echt christliches Produkt.”2* The reference to the cult of Dionysus also shows the influence of Nietzsche, although the allusion is vague. It is probable that Trakl knew Nietzsche’s ‘Klage der Ariadne’ from the Dionysos-Dithyramben which deals with a similar theme – that of a vassal of the gods subjected to suffering on the earth, but who, like Trakl’s saint finds pleasure in her pain: All meine Thranen 1aufen zu dir den Lauf und meine letzte Herzensf1amme dir gliiht sie auf. Oh komm zuruck, mein unbekannter Gott! mein Schmerz1. mein letztes Gluck. 25 In ‘Der Heilige’, the cry of the Dionysian worshippers – “stioi ooePoi” – is used to heighten the sensation of pleasure and pain of the protagonist’s dilemma. The inebriated, ecstatic celebrations of Dionysian worship sought to reach beyond the purely personal and to achieve mystic union with all things: “Unter dem Zauber des Dionysischen schliefit sich nicht nur der Bund zwischen Mensch und Mensch wieder zusammen; auch die entfremdete, feindliche oder unter- jochte Natur feiert wieder ihr Versohnungsfest mit ihrem verlorenen Sohne, dem Menschen.”26 It is possible to see in this early poem then the central problem of sexuality within Trakl’s oeuvre: the split between the self as Abel and Cain. Here, the poet seeks not so much to reunite himself with his fellow men or with nature, but with his own alienated self. Such is the saint’s capacity for sensations that the climax of his prayer is more ecstatic than Dionysian worship: 1 84 Und nicht so trunken tont das Evoe Des Dionys, als wenn in todlicher, Wutgeifernder Ekstase Erfullung sich Erzwingt sein Qualschrei: Exaudi me, o Maria! His desire is both animalistic and deadly, for it will cause his fall and damnation. Here is the decadent desire to encompass the extremest of sensations, to combine ecstasy with agony, culminating in a cry to the mother of Christ. Despite the cry to be heard (a cry which goes unanswered), the protagonist relishes his pain; his perverse ecstasy is all the greater because of his awareness that it is sinful and that his call for release is not answered. That he calls on Maria simply to hear him, and not to release him from his suffering, shows further his own recognition of his sexual desire; he realizes that his innocence has been lost and that his fall is inevitable. Like Blaubart and others, his fate is to bear the suffering of his sexually violent nature. Since Trakl was a Protestant by faith, it is possible to see in this call to Maria the influence of the decadent penchant for the aestheticism of Catholicism rather than any genuine religious sentiment. The decadents often presented a fusion of Sadism and Catholicism in their writings – one thinks particularly of the French writers Villiers de I’lsle— Adam, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Baudelaire, Huysmans, Verlaine, Barres. In his study of The Romantic Agony, Praz suggests that the decadents used religion “merely [as! a disguised form of morbid satisfaction: repentence may be nothing more than a mask for a 1 go 1agnia.”27 This certainly seems an appropriate comment on Trakl’s ‘Der Heilige’. As an example of this Praz quotes a passage from Huysmans’ Trois Primitifs, written in 1905, where Huysmans addresses the Virgin in terms reminiscent of Trakl’s poem: “Cette Madone, si tendrement dolente, on peut lui prater toutes les angoisses, toutes les trances, & c.”28 185 In the decadents’ attraction towards Catholicism is also an appreciation of the aesthetic qualities offered by this religion. This, too, may have appealed to the young Trakl growing up in Salzburg more than the less splendid atmosphere of Protestantism. In his Homan aus der Decadence, Kurt Martens expresses this aesthetic appeal: Die hohen asthetischen Werte, die den katholischen Glauben vor a 11em auszeichnen, hatten mich von jeher fur ihn eingenommen, aber nicht sowohl die Sufleren Formen und Gebrauche mit ihren Effekten fur Auge und Ohr als vielmehr diejenige Schonheit, die wir jetzt liberal 1 vergeblich suchen, die huldvolle Wiirde und das stolze GleichmaJB der Macht gewordenen Ideen.29 This is an atmosphere which is found, for example, in the early poems of Stadler: In Kape1 1en mit schragen Gewo1 ben’ zerfallnen Ver1i efien uiid Scheiben flammrot wie Mohn und wie Perlen griin und Marmora 1taren iiber verwitterten Fliesen sah ich die Nacht wie goldne Gewasser verbliihn: In dammrigen Nischen die alten siiJBen Madonnen 1 ache 1 ten mud und wonnig aus goldrundem Schein. Rieselnde Traume hielten mich rankend umsponnen* sauselnde Lieder sangen mich selig ein.3° One must also recognize that a strong Catholic influence on Trakl came from his governess, Marie Boring, “eine strengg1aubige, beinah fanatische Katho1i kin.”31 It should be noted that whilst Trakl’s “saint” appears to blame God for his suffering, he calls to Maria to hear his prayer. As a sinner, he believes that a woman will understand his predicament, rather than a distant male God; one thinks again of Weininger’s association of woman and sexuality. It is also within this context that we should see the figure of the sister in the later poetry, a female figure who has transcended her inherent guilt to act as a redeemer, a mediator between the poet and a distant, wrathful God, as in ‘Grodek’. Thus, the “saint” asks the human mother of God the Son to atone for the cruelty of God the 1 86 Father. The blasphemous parallel of “Gott”/”Gei1heit” is intensified, not only by the further parallel of Maria and Dionysus, but by the association of his prayer with the sexual climax of his ecstasy.32 The cry to Maria is strongly reminiscent of Baudelaire’s ‘La Priere d’ un Pai’en1 from Les F/eurs du Mai. This poem does not, however, make the pretence of praying for relief from suffering; it is the unashamed expression of the protagonist’s hope that the goddess Desire will torture his soul with sensuality, without which his heart is numb. It is possible that Trakl was directly influenced by Baudelaire’s cry to the goddess: “Diva! supplicem exaudi”.33 Many of the decadent themes which we have traced in ‘Der Heilige’ can be found in one work: Wagner’s Tannhauser. It was with this opera that Wagner caused a scandal in Paris, and which brought him the notoriety which linked him with decadence. Baudelaire’s essay ‘Richard Wagner et Tannhauser d Paris’ captures some of the ecstatic, rapturous passion of the performance: Langueurs, del ices melees de fi&vre et coupees d’angoisses, retours incessants vers une volupt£ qui promet d’^teindre, mais n’eteint jamais la soif; palpitations furieuses du coeur et des sens, ordres imperieux de la chair, tout dictionnaire des onomatopees de 1’amour se fait entendre i c i . . . 3 * As Furness has pointed out, it is the fusion of sadism and love, “as well as the prurient dallying with thoughts of religious salvation during sexual abandonment” in Wagner’s music which fascinated and excited the generation of decadents.35 In this opera, the contrasting worlds of pagan sensuality and Christian self-denial are embodied in the two women who seek Tannhauser’s love, Venus and Elisabeth, the familiar dualism of whore and madonna. Like Trakl’s “saint”, Tannhauser sees the only way out of his sexual torment by calling on the Madonna: 1 87 Gottin der Worm’ und Lust! Nein! ach, nicht in dir find* ich Frieden und Ruh ‘ ! Mein Heil liegt in Maria!36 Tannhauser’s salvation lies, not in the hands of Maria, but in his former love, Elisabeth, who devotes her life to prayer for him, and, in her death, procures his salvation. It is Elisabeth’s virtue alone which can save the sinful male, a theme which surely fascinated Trakl. In seelenlosem Spiel mit Brot und Wein”: Catholicism In Trakl’s early lyric, the aesthetic appeal of Catholicism, which so fascinated the decadents, is present, yet always in a rather negative light. This is not so much the blasphemy of decadence which is directed against God, as a blasphemy against the church, exposing the meaninglessness that has crept into religious worship. This is true of the poem which closes Sammlung 1909, ‘Die tote Kirche’, which was probably written around the same time as ‘Der Heilige’. Human sinfulness is characterized here, as elsewhere, by darkness and blindness: Auf dunklen Banken sitzen sie gedrangt Und heben die erloschnen Blicke auf Zum Kreuz. The costly trappings of Catholicism mock the simple suffering of Christs’s sacrifice, expressing a genuine realization that aestheticism cannot replace humiliation. The church is no longer a place of piety, but is governed by the worldly values of Mammon; religious practice without an obedient, repentant soul becomes a meaningless game: . Der Priester schreitet Vor den Altar; doch iibt mit mtidem Geist er Die frommen Brauche – ein jammerlicher Spieler, 1 88 Vor schlechten Betern mit erstarrten Herzen, In seelenlosem Spiel mit Brot und Wein. The poem turns around the sounding of a bell, a reminder of truth, an attempt to awake the lifeless sinners from their ennui. The stylistically crude evocation of an atmosphere of stifling threat emphasizes the lack of any real contrition; the reaction of the sinful church—goers is one of panic and desperation at the sudden certainty of their damnation. That Christ’s head appears paler is an indication that their sin is in fact greater: they are as responsible for his death in the falseness of their worship as are those who crucified him. In the final, despairing cry is the undeniably decadent frisson at the knowledge of sin and the wrath of God:37 Und eine, die wie aller Stimmen klang, Schluchzt auf – indes das Grauen wuchs im Raum, Das Todesgrauen wuchs: Erbarme dich unser – Herr* There is much here of the atmosphere of Rimbaud’s ‘Les Pauvres a 1’Eglise’. Although this poem contains an element of social criticism which is not found in Trakl, there is a similarity in the criticism of worship without piety and the wealthy facade of the Catholic Church. The poem opens with the evocation of the stifling atmosphere of the crowded church, where Christ is mocked by the hollowness of worship, a faith which is “mendiante et stupide”; it closes with a critique of the equally soul-less game of their worshi p: Loin des senteurs de viande et d’etoffes moisies, Farce prostree et sombre aux gestes repoussants; ~ Et 1‘oraison fleurit d’expressions choisies, Et les mysticit£s prennent des tons pressants, Quand, des nefs oil perifc le soleil, plis de soie Bana1s, sourires verts, les Dames des quartiers Distingues, – 6 J£sus! — les ma 1ades du foie Font baiser 1eurs longs doigts jaunes aux ben i tiers.3 8 In the poetry of Sammlung 1909, we again find the association of a sultry, sinful atmosphere with 1 89 religion in the decadent Ave Maria of ‘Metamorphose’. As in ‘Der Heilige’, the protagonist contemplates Maria in his state of sin, transposing his own desire on to this figure of piety, thus tainting her with his sin. The poem opens with an expression of decadent delight in his state of sinful sexuality: “Ein Herz so rot, in Siindennot!” .39 The image of Maria which is pale and lifeless only comes to life as he contemplates her as a sexual being, penetrating behind the cloak of pious other-wor1d1iness: Dein bleiches Bildnis ist erbliiht Und dein verhiillter Leib ergliiht, O Fraue du, Maria! The final stanza focuses on Maria as a mother; there is the familiar association of joy and pain, which reflects the fate of a mother who must bring her child into a world of sin and death, although here, too, is a hint that great things will come from this particular bi rth :4o In siiBen Qua 1 en brennt dein SchoB, Da lachelt dein Auge schmerzlich und groB, O Mutter du, Maria! Again, we can see in this poem an implicit attack on Roman Catholicism; by focussing on Maria’s true nature as a woman and mother, the poet is stripping her of the veneration given her by the Catholic church, yet at the same time his sexual contemplation of her image is somewhat blasphemous, denying her any sense of integrity as a woman. Yet this is not the blasphemy against Maria found elsewhere in decadent art and literature. One thinks of Edvard Munch’s Madonna . In ‘Die Kirche’, an unpublished poem from 1911/1912, we also find Catholicism intermingled with decadent sexuality. As in ‘Die tote Kirche’, although here more successfully evoked, there is the atmosphere of the artifice of a religion that lacks real sentiment: “Gemalte Engel hiiten die Altare . Gestalten schwanken jammervoll ins Leere. . Ein Schein von weichen Sau1en und Gerippen. . diese Dammerung vo11 Masken, Fahnen” . There is again more to this poem than a decadent fusion of religion and sexuality; in a church where there is no real sense of truth, where all sexuality is regarded as sin, then repressed lust gives way to perversion and blasphemous desire; a whore is thus seen to be representative of the Madonna, the penitent Magdalena is seen as a sensual being: Im schwarzen Betstuhl gleichet der Madonne Ein kleines Hiirlein mit verblichenen Wangen. Ein stromend Rot von Magdalenens Lippen. Here is the influence of Weininger, whose attack on the morality of the day included the double standards of regarding women as either madonna or whore; Weininger’s 1 92 argument that all women are essentially sexual beings means that the idea of woman as a pure, asexual being is false, that prostitution is, therefore, true to woman’s nature: “Feme ist mir, die heroische GroJBe zu verkennen, we 1che in dieser hochsten Erotik, im Madonnenku1te liegt. . Die Madonna ist eine Schopfung des Mannes, nichts entspricht ihr in der Wirklichkeit. Der Madonnenkult kann nicht moralisch sein, weil er die Augen vor der Wirklichkeit verschliefit. “47 Trakl is clearly against the hypocrisy which he saw in Catholicism. There is a further aspect to his comparison of the whore as Madonna, which goes beyond Weininger’s misogynistic argument. Trakl felt genuine sympathy for prostitutes, whom he saw as social outcasts.48 As in ‘Metamorphose’, the Madonna is here identified with a real woman rather than an idol. The implicit criticism of the Catholic Church is again that in their veneration of Maria they have denied her humanity and thus denied her very being: Maria is not so much the victim of sexual as spiritual violation. The overall impression is that Trakl’s sympathy, like that of Christ, lies with the women who are the victims of male exploitation. Thus the pregnant woman is constantly portrayed as one both oppressed and blessed, in her confusion here seeking a truth which she will not find in the hollow conventionality of the church. The poem closes with an indication of truth in simple piety and saintly martyrdom which is far from the decadent blasphemy which a cursory reading of this poem might suggest: Ein schwangeres Weib geht irr in schweren Traumen Durch diese Daromerung vo11 Masken, Fahnen. Ihr Schatten kreuzt der Heiligen stille Bahnen, Der Engel Ruh in ka1kgetunchten Raumen. In these early poems, then, although there is often an atmosphere of decadent sultriness associated with religion, which at times verges on blasphemy, this tends to go beyond the decadent frisson evoked by the 1 93 knowledge of sinfulness and the certainty of damnation. Even here, there is a deep awareness of sin that calls fpr a search for truth, beyond the aestheticism of Catholicism, and beyond the fascination with sin. This can be seen in the two pieces that appear under the title Aus goldenem Keich, published in 1906; both deal with specifically religious themes, set in Jerusalem around the time of Christ’s crucifixion. The first, Barrabas, is subtitled “Eine Phantasie”, and decribes a fictitious meeting between the murderer Barrabas, whose freedom was exchanged for Christ’s, and an unnamed “Jungling”, a wealthy, hedonistic He]iogabalus figure. Features of Christ’s last days are parodied in this work: where Christ had previously ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey as the people scattered palm leaves before him, now Barrabas enters and the same crowd scatters roses; where Christ was crowned with thorns, Barrabas, like Herod in Wilde’s Salome, is crowned with roses; where Christ’s path led to mockery, torture and the suffering of the cross, Barrabas is offered wine, comfort and luxurious worldly pleasures; Barrabas is given women who sing to him and bathe him in oils and perfumes, whilst Christ had previously redeemed the prostitute who annointed his feet with oil. Where Christ will eventually be welcomed by His Father into heaven in triumph over death, Barrabas is welcomed by the “Jungling” and invited to indulge in the sexual desires of temporal, worldy pleasure. The final contrast is of the wine which the “Jungling” offers Barrabas, for it is “wie gluhendes Blut” , thus parodying the Last Supper, where Christ offered his disciples wine with the words: “Das ist mein Blut des neuen Testaments, welches vergossen wird fur viele, zur Vergebung der Sunden” (Matthaus 26.28). There is nothing in Trakl’s piece, however, which suggests the blasphemy which features in many of the works of literary decadence. 194 The roses, the wine, the jewels and pearls, the crystal and gold, the exotic perfumes, the women with painted faces and the drunken men are all stock features of the artificial and sensuous world of decadence that was rife in the literature of the late nineteenth century. One thinks in particular of Huysmans’ des Esseintes and of the He 1iogaba1 us/ Algabal figure of the Roman boy-emperor (“der Jungling”) who lived in an artificial world of jewels and palaces and is extolled by various writers of the fin-de-siec1e, including Huysmans and Stefan George. Like Baudelaire, however, Trakl is aware of the dangers of a totally aesthetic life-style and over emphasis of the cult of beauty; sexual excesses are presented in a negative light: “Und um ihn waren aufgeputzte Dirnen mit rotgemalten Lippen und geschminkten Gesichtern und haschten nach ihm. Und um ihn waren Manner, deren Augen trunken blickten von Wein und Lastern. In aller Reden aber lauerte die Siinde ihres Fleisches, und die Unzucht ihrer Geberden war der Ausdruck ihrer Gedanken” . This is the same crowd that had praised Christ a few days before (their awareness of their sin and guilt is apparent when they attack the person in the crowd who cries “Hosiannah”), it is the same crowd that had called for Barrabas to be set free and for Christ to be crucified; so great is their sin that it is apparent in their speech and their gestures (one thinks of the later poetry where leprosy becomes an outer sign of man’s inner guilt). Barrabas, then, appears to extol Christ’s triumph over the sensualists, at the same time as indulging in decadence which uses even religion for aesthetic effect. The passage is undeniably crude and immature in its means of expression, and the final lines have little effect as a simple statement of Christian truth. Rather, their, hyperbole betrays the decadent frisson at the knowledge of sinfulness and damnation for those who reject Christ’s salvation, which we will find also in 195 ‘Die tote Kirche’. Yet some praise for “das Werk der Erlosung” is there. Although Trakl was drawn towards hedonistic pleasures of life, one cannot deny that he realized that the abandonment and excess of decadence were not the ultimate goal of existence; in Barrabas we see the start of a development towards the contemplation of Christianity as an alternative to wor1d1i ness. The decadent preoccupation with the Sa 1 om& theme, which we have examined in Maria Magdalena is balanced by a similar awareness of a greater spiritual value. Trakl’s Mary Magdalene, desired by all men, encounters the one man who is not tempted by her sexual charms. But this man is not John the Baptist, as is the case with Salome, and the power which he has to turn people from their sins is greater; such is the force of his authority, that his look is enough to command obediance from Maria. She subjects herself totally to his will; where she had once charmed men with her body, she now humbles herself at Christ’s feet. There is thus a strong distinction between Trakl’s Maria and the Salome figure of most fin-de-sieele literature. Like the entranced Elisabeth, her existence as a femme fatale is short-lived. Wilde’s Salome, like Maria, becomes besotted with a simple figure of truth, but where Maria’s love is purified, Salome’s is perverted. Unlike Maria, who humbles herself before Christ, Salome takes no heed of Jokanaan1s warning: “Daughter of adultery, there is but one who can save thee, it is He of whom I spake. Go seek Him . Kneel down on the shore of the sea, and cal 1 unto Him by His name. When He cometh to thee . bow thyself at His feet and ask of Him the remission of thy sins.”49 As a result of her evil, Salome is put to death by her own father, whereas Maria follows Christ and gains redemption. Despite the decadent indulgence of Maria’s dance, this passage is ultimately unambivalent in its 1 96 rejection of hedonism, Dionysian worship and perverse 1 us t . ” Der f1aromende Sturz des Engels”: The Struggle with Sin Whether Trakl can be regarded as a Christian poet or not is an issue which has long occupied critics, for it is one to which there is no straightforward answer. The two poles of Trakl criticism find their extremes in the work of Lachmann and Killy. Where Lachroann forces an obviously contrived and simplistic Christian interpretation of the poetry,50 Killy denies that the poems have any meaning whatsoever, least of all a Christian one.51 Since then, most critics have agreed that there are Christian elements within the oeuvre, and one should not forget Trakl’s own profession of faith, although this in itself cannot be the ground for a purely Christian interpretation of the lyric.52 it is not the aim of this thesis to examine the question of Christian faith in Trakl’s poetry; certainly, there is an undeniable religious element to his poetry in his awareness of sin and the fallen state of humankind. What we shall attempt to establish here is the extent to which the influence of decadent religiosity and blasphemy is to be found in the later poetry; doing, we will find that any claim that Trakl Christian poet is questionable. His awareness of his own sinfulness and his belief in humankind’s fall show not only the influence of Christianity, but also a deep psycho 1ogica1 struggle to come to terms with his own sexual guilt, caused by his incestuous desires. In the final analysis, his hope for redemption or release from m so i s a 1 1 197 his suffering is far from that of orthodox Christ i ani ty. Certainly, the atmosphere of perverse religiosity is not lacking from the later poetry, especially in the figure of the monk, who is often associated with evil lusts. In ‘Traum des Bosen’, the monk is implicitly involved in the scenario of evil, a subconscious perpatrator of sexual violation against the pregnant woman: Ein Monch, ein schwangeres Weib dort im Gedrange. Guitarren klimpern, rote Kittel schimmern. In ‘Drei Blicke in einen Opal’ we again find the fusion of Christianity and sensuous Dionysian worship of ‘Der Heilige’. Here, the true representative of faith is the isolated outcast: Des Einsamen Gestalt kehrt also sich nach innen Und geht, ein bleicher Engel, durch den leeren Ha in. Religious worship has degenerated into sensuous ecstasy: Aus Schwarzein blast der Fohn. Mit Satyrn im Verein Sind schlanke Weiblein; Monche der Wollust bleiche Pr i ester Ihr Wahnsinn schmuckt mit Li lien sich schon und duster Und hebt die Hande auf zu Gottes goldenem Schrein. The variants set this scene more firmly in the context of Satanism: “Satanas der Wollust Priester” . The images of spirituality in decline, and the association with putrefaction and sin continue in the second section of the poem, and reach a climax with the depiction of a Black Mass at the opening of the third sec t i on:5 3 Die Blinden streuen in eiternde Wunden Weiherauch. Rotgoldene Gewander; Fackeln; Psa1 mensingen; Und Madchen, die wie Gift den Leib des Herrn umsch1 ingen. Gestalten schreiten wachsernstarr durch Glut und Rauch. As in ‘Die tote Kirche’, the worshippers are blind, lifeless. The suggestion of sexual violation in the opening line is more blatant in the variant: “Dolche 1 98 und schwarende Wunden gaukeln im Weiherauch” . In their desperate attempt to procure their own salvation, they have created an atmosphere of false, obsessive religiosity. The deliberate ambiguity of the third line increases the element of satanism; not only do the girls desecrate the host which is the body of Christ, but there is also the suggestion that, as the “Heiliger” desired Maria, so they lust after the physical body of Christ, perhaps in the form of a statue. One thinks of Maria Magdalena here: “Und ich sah sie die Statue des Dionysos mit Blumen kranzen, sah sie den kalten Marmor umarmen, wie sie ihre Geliebten umarmte, sie erstickte mit ihren brennenden, fiebernden Kussen” . It is an image which we also find in ‘Romanze zur Nacht’: Die Nonne betet wund und nackt Vor des Heilands Kreuzespein. This verges, although less blatantly so, on the blasphemous description of the Black Mass in LA-Bas: Et Durtal, 6pouvant£, vit, dans la fum&e, ainsi qu’au travers d’un brouillard, les cornes rouges de Docre qui, maintenant assis, ecumait de rage, mSchait des pains azymes, les recrachait, se torchait avec, en distribuait aux femmes; et elles les enfouissaient en bramant, ou se culbutaient, les unes sur les autres, pour les violer.54 Detsch has pointed out that this intermingling of the sacred and the sexual was a feature of the writers involved in Der Brenner** ; he cites Ficker’s ‘Sacrileg’, where a girl addresses her lover while wearing a wreath of roses which she has taken from the Crucifix, as an example: Ich hab’ ihn zagend auf das Mai gekiiBt , Aus dessen Tiefe blut’ge Tropfen rannen, Und schlich geduckt mit meinem Raub von dannen Nun hangt er nackt, der uns ‘ re Schuld gebtiJBt.56 In ‘Drei Blicke in einen Opal’, the midnight dance of the leprous is like some bizarre satanic ritual, and even nature seems to reflect the perversion of the human sphere: “Verzerrtes; B1umenfratzen; Lachen; Ungeheuer”. The sudden juxtaposition of the final 1 99 stanza is a reminder of the piety of the past, but the image of the grey heavens suggests that this exhortation to return to an existence of truth and simplicity will remain unheeded. Such demonic visions are, however, balanced by depictions of pious idylls and spiritual harmony. These reflect the two extremes of the poet’s nature, symbolic of the deep, personal struggle between his overwhelming sense of guilt and sin on one hand, and his faith and hope of redemption on the other. This inner struggle is the subject of much of the later poetry, most obviously in Verwandlung des Bosen, which, despite its optimistic title, shows little evidence that the evil of the poet’s guilt has been transfigured. The variant title, Verdammnis, which reflects the pessimistic side of the inner struggle, seems more appropriate here. The opening paragraph depicts images of decline, silence, darkness, violent sexuality, which are summed up in the final word: “Bose” . This is a bleak depiction of the protagonist’s emotional state; his forehead and leprosy show the signs of his sexual guiIt; like the monk of ‘Lange 1auscht der Monch . ‘, he is listening for the sound of redemption. But where this was once found (“Im Hase1gebusch/ Klangen wieder kristallne Engel” ),57 now the village bells mock his state of sin. Again, the poet is a representative of sinful man; as in Offenbarung und Untergang, a sense of timelessness raises the poem above the level of the purely personal: “Minute stummer Zerstorung” reduces the centuries of evil since the Fall to one eternal minute. In ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’, a similar identification with history leads to transfiguration; here, however, the necessary piety and humility are lacking, the blood does not blossom as does that of a sacrifice accepted by the divine, there is no sense of harmonious control over nature. As the forces of male sexuality take over, the spiritual disappears: “leise 200 lost sich eine goldene Wolke auf. Bei der Miihle ziinden Knaben ein Feuer an” . The “Sternenweiher” is familiar as a locus of sexual violation. Here, it appears as the “Schwelle” which the protagonist (“jener”) must cross in his journey towards sexuality and evil, significantly in a “rotem Kahn” and to the accompaniment of male voices. As such, it is a place of terror, where innocence must die; “Angst, griines Dunke 1 , das Gurgeln eines Ertrinkenden” . His initiation into evil is at the same time a reliving of the fate of fallen man since Adam, which the protagonist accepts with stony impassivity; “1 ebend in dunklen Sagen seines Geschlechts und die Augen steinern iiber Nachte und jungfrau1iche Schrecken aufgetan. Bose” . The first version of this prose poem, Erinnerung, focuses on a more personal aspect of sexual guilt, where the protagonist is less a representative of male sexuality as one involved in incestuous desires in a family scenario reminiscent of Traum und Umnachtung: “Stille begegnet in feuchter Blaue das schlummernde Antlitz der Schwester, vergraben in ihr scharlach- farbenes Haar. Schwarzlich folgte jenem die Nacht” . Here it is incestuous guilt which causes the protagonist to stand still in the house of his fathers This is a scene which can be traced to ‘In der Heimat’ and ‘Ballade II’; “Was zwingt so still zu stehen auf verfallener Wendeltreppe im Haus der Vater . Stunde einsamer Finsternis, stummes Erwachen im Hausflur im fahlen Gespinst des Mondes. O das Lacheln des Bosen traurig und ka1t, daB der Schlaferin rosige Wangen erbleicht. In Schauern verhiillte ein schwarzes Linnen das Fenster” . In this moonlit scene, evil takes over, the sleeping woman is confronted with the forces of male sexuality, and the window is covered with the funereal cloth which symbolizes the death of their i nnocence. 201 Thus we see further evidence of the incestuous nature of the protagonist’s guilt, which in Verwandlung des Bosen is portrayed as generic male sexuality. Unlike Christ, who entered his Father’s house in righteousness and harmony, the protagonist is in a state of guilt, which has destroyed any relationship with figures of parental authority or religion. Again, there is the suggestion that he is controlled by forces outwith his control: “Aber durch die Mauer von Stein siehst du den Sternenhimme1, die MilchstraBe, den Saturn; rot” . The metamorphosis of ‘Passion* is here: “Du auf verfallenen Stufen: Baum, Stern, Stein!” . But while this process is associated with expiation in ‘Passion’, here it is one of recognition of guilt: the tree is “kahl”, devoid of its spirituality, as in ‘Elis’; the star, Saturn, symbolizes the forces of sexuality; and the stone is the lifeless, sinful face of ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’ . The protagonist is both satanic priest and sacrificial lamb, a dualism which we have already identified in Cain and Abel, Blaubart and Herbert. The priest here is pale, a sign of his sinful sexuality, and the sacrifice is not the righteous offering of ‘Abend 1 andisches Lied’ , but a demonic Black Mass, where the innocent self is slaughtered in the name not of spirituality but of sexuality: “Du, ein blaues Tier, das leise zittert; du, der bleiche Priester, der es hinschlachtet am schwarzen Altar” . This is an obvious echo of Baudelaire’s ‘L’H£autontimoroumenos’ from Les Fleurs du Mai: Je suis la plaie et le couteau! Je suis le soufflet et la joue! Je suis les membres et la roue, Et la victime et le bourreau’.58 The smile which is “traurig und bdse” is the protagonist’s acceptance of his sexuality; like Blaubart, he will endure his evil fate. The child who pales is the sleeping woman of Erinnerung and the child 202 of Traum und Umnachtung, both of whom represent the sister, here the victim of male sexuality, with the image of the flame as murderous phallus. The figure of the angel may be one of spiritual ity, seeking to turn him from his evil fate; in the image of the “krista11enem Finger” is an echo of “Kristus”. Yet this is also a figure of evil, Azrael, the angel of death, who confronts the incestuous brother and sister in ‘Amen’. Towards the end of the poem, a further identity of this angel becomes clear: Lucifer, the fallen angel. The crystal finger is at once a blasphemous reminder of Christ and an echo of the locus of sexual guilt elsewhere in the oeuvre: “In blauem Kristall/ Wohnt der bleiche Mensch” .59 The protagonist is firmly in the realm of his evil dreams: “O die Hoile des Schlafs” ; the pale child is now dead, identified in variants as Sonja, the archetypal female victim. Here is not the mutual guilt of Traum und Umnachtung; that the female was violated in innocence is emphasized by the spiritual condition of her death: “Leise lautet im blauen Abend der Toten Gestalt” . As in ‘Die Verfluchten’, the protagonist is visited by a vision of the one he has assaulted, which only serves to increase his sexual desire: “Anbetung, purpurne F1amme der Wollust” . As he has not gone through the expiation of death, his male lust has not been purified. That the woman’s face has left her may be a sign that she has been purified of her worldliness; yet it is significant also inasmuch as it denies the protagonist the recognition of the narcissistic and incestuous nature of his desire, such as he was afforded in Traum und Umnachtung: “Wollust, da er im griinenden Sommergarten dem schweigenden Kind Gewa1t tat, in dem strahlenden sein umnachtetes Antlitz erkannte” . Although this recognition in Traum und Umnachtung does not lead to redemption, here, even that hope is denied. The mirror of the truth of his desire 203 which is elsewhere seen in the sister’s face, in water or in a broken mirror, is withheld; without this possibility of confronting his own guilt, he is forced further into the deathly realm of his own evil desire: “hinsterbend stiirzte iiber schwarze Stufen der Schlafer ins Dunkel” . This retreat into sinful sexuality denies all hope of redemption: “Jemand verliefi dich am Kreuzweg und du schaust 1 ange zuriick” . The identity of this “jemand” is threefold. There is the obvious association of Christ on his via dolorosa, whose path is one of suffering and atonement which the protagonist cannot follow. Yet there is also the association of ‘Passion’, where it is the sister who leaves him to pursue her way of purification. Finally, remembering the identific ation of the innocent self with the violated child in Traum und Umnachtung, we can see here the irrevocable division of the self into Cain and Abel; as the “bleicher Priester” follows the path into darkness, the “blaues Tier” takes the way of Christ and the female victim, like the shadowy “Knabe” of Offenbarung und Untergang, into the realm of the spiritual. Again, the protagonist is depicted as a man standing in the shadow of Adam: “Purpurn leuchtet die Frucht im schwarzen Geast und im Gras hautet sich die Schlange” . He is left alone in darkness and sexual guilt; the locus of the solitary figure is now that of Offenbarung und Untergang, where the brother ruminates on his act of incestuous violation: “O! das Dunkel; der SchweiB, der auf die eisige Stirne tritt und die traurigen Traume im Wein, in der Dorfschenke unter schwarzverrauchtem Gebalk” . He knows his state of sin, realizes that he has lost all hope of redemption – whether through Christ, the female victim or his innocent self -, and is overcome by a desire to seek his own salvation through song, to justify his guilt with poetic expression: “Du, ein griines Metall und innen ein feuriges Gesicht, das hingehen will und 204 singen vom Beinerhiigel finstere Zeiten und den flammenden Sturz des Engels” . This song, then, is to express every aspect of his guilt, which is the entire guilt of mankind, from the Fall of Lucifer, the beloved angel who challenged God, to the sins of the world which necessitated Christ’s death on the cross. The protagonist also sees in these two extremes of perfect innocence and defiant evil a reflection of his own dual nature, Abel and Cain, the innocent child and the fallen saint. This recognition of his own situation as a helpless representative of sinful man throughout the ages, and that his own inner struggle is merely part of the eternal struggle between evil and innocence causes him to collapse in despair: “O! Verzweif1ung, die mit sturomem Schrei ins Knie bricht” .6O This is the recognition which caused Blaubart to collapse at the foot of the cross; like Blaubart, the protagonist’s response is neither to recognize Christ’s sovereignty nor to hope for redemption, but simply one of utter despondency. There is no hope now even of overcoming his crime through song, for this revelation of the magnitude of his guilt is inexpressible. The final meeting with the “Toter” has again the threefold significance of “jemand”. There is an obvious reference to Christ here, whose blood was spilt for the sins of the world, and is “seIbstvergossen” in that he willingly sacrificed himself. His appearance under the olive tree has Biblical echoes; yet here is no salvation, no perfect atonement to replace his own imperfect silence. The final paragraph merely confirms what the poet has already recognized: this is a “dunkle Begegnung”, taking place, in a variant, at the “Kreuzweg” . Yet at the same time, this is also a meeting with the murdered child, the dead woman who has, like the sister as “sterbender Jungling”, been released from sexuality and achieved androgyny in death. In the violated child is also the innocent self, the victim of LustseJbstmord, the third aspect of the 205 dead visitor, the ghost of Abel come to haunt Cain. This then is the full significance of the “unsag 1icher Augenblick”, the entire sum of human evil, particularly male sexuality. In his despair come this final recognition and confrontation with his own guilt, but there is no reconciliation here; the protagonist cannot turn from his nature as “purpurner Mond”.6 * As in Offenbarung und Untergang, the protagonist’s unredeemed sinfulness has repercussions for his innocent self. The ’’Knabe” of the later prose poem is rejected from the spiritual realm as “einen kindlichen Leichnam” ; here, too, the dead one is condemned to an existence of eternal darkness: “Dem folgt unvergangliche Nacht” . This poem, then, like the other prose poems, is far from positive;62 evil is not transformed, there is no hope in Christian redemption. The protagonist’s inner struggle between faith and despair, between hope in Christ’s salvation and identification with Lucifer’s fall, can be summed up in the one word variant of the title: “Verdammnis”. In the later lyric, any hope of salvation through Christian love is increasingly denied. If there is to be any hope of release from suffering, then it is towards the sister-figure that Trakl turns. In his final poems, God is no longer called upon. Instead, it is an attitude of “Harte, Hochmut und allerlei Verbrechertum”63 which characterizes his last ‘religious’ poem, ‘Die Nacht’. This is a projection of the poet’s own emotional state on to the night and the storm of his environment. The rock fissure which he addresses in the opening line is symbolic of the gulf between God and man, with the mountainous terrain reflecting the human condition since the Fall as one of arrogance and defiance: Dich sing ich wilde Zerkliiftung, Im Nachtsturm Aufgeturmtes Gebirge Yet this state of sinfulness is also one of horror, 206 torment and violent sexuality; the phallic landscape of ‘Das Herz’ is here untamed: Ihr grauen Tiirme Uberf1ieBend von hollischen Fratzen, Feurigem Getier, Rauhen Farnen, Fichten, Kristallnen Blumen. The reason for this “Zerk 1 iif tung” and violent landscape is made clear at the end of the stanza: Unendliche Qual, Dafi du Gott erjagtest Sanfter Geist, Here is the spirit of humankind, in an eternal state of damnation for disobeying God. Yet the appellation “sanfter Geist” seems an odd one; Trakl recognizes that behind this violence is a deeper spiritual need. Certainly, there is a profound expression of sympathy for and an identification with the spirit. In the first stanza, the poet projects his male ego on to the phallic landscape; in the second stanza, the female is seen in the image of the tempest.64 She is the female victim, the bride assaulted by the sexually violent Fohn; her fall from the cliffs is reminiscent of that of Herbert in Blaubart, yet, like Herbert, she is also a victim of her own sexuality, which forces her into a fatal state of drunken ecstasy like that of Elisabeth in her trance: Uber schwarzliche Klippen Stiirzt todestrunken Die ergliihende Windsbraut, Bells ring out, as so often, to remind of the spiritual; yet here there is no sense of peace or harmony, but a violent, apocalyptic warning of humankind’s sinful state, aptly expressed in three concise 1ines: F 1 ammen , Fliiche Und die dunklen Spiele der Wollust, This warning, however, is not heeded; the poem does not end with recognition or transfiguration, but with further evidence of human defiance of God.65 The stony 207 face of ‘Abend 1andisches Lied’ does not bow down in humility, but rebels in anger: Stiirmt den Himmel Ein versteinertes Haupt. As Detsch has pointed out, there are similarities here with the views expressed by Hauer in his essay ‘Heilig ist die Leidenschaft’ . The irony of his situation is unmistak able: far from being in a postion of power, the count is more akin to a helpless prisoner, unable to assert himself over his destiny: “Auf alles, was ihn da sterbend umgibt, blickt der arme Graf, wie ein kleines, irres Kind, iiber dem ein Verhangnis steht, und das nicht mehr Kraft hat, zu leben, das dahinschwindet, gleich einem Vormittagsschatten” . Where the tower elsewhere in literature figures as a symbol of male power (one thinks, for example of Morder, Hoffnung der Frau), here the tower is old and crumbling, a further sign of the loss of vitality in the degenerate race. The count himself is a nameless figure, one who has lost his identity, and who does not exist in his own right. His is a timeless existence, whose monotony is emphasized by the repetition of “Tagein, tagaus”. As 21 1 the last member of an aristocratic race, he is the sum and the product of centuries of degeneration: “Auf seiner jahrhundert a 1 ten, miiden Seele lastet das Verhangnis” . Surrounded by dead and dying things, he finds spiritual harmony in the hour of decline: “Er sieht es gern, wenn die Sonne in den Wo 1 ken gliiht, am Abend, da sie untersinkt” . His isolation is further emphasized by his awareness of life outside the park, symbolized by the clouds which are “leuchtend und rein” . Utter passivity characterizes his life: “Er sieht . Er horcht . Er liest . ” He is incapable of any action; it is only in reading books about the past that he finds some kind of energy. Yet this aesthetic, vicarious participation in life only serves to emphasize his passivity, for it is not in the con templation of his own past that he finds life, but rather in reading of the life of his ancestors: “Er liest mit fieberndem, tonendem Herzen, bis die Gegen wart, der er nicht angehort, versinkt. Und die Schatten der Vergangenheit steigen herauf – riesengrofi. Und er lebt das Leben, das herrlich schone Leben seiner Vater” . It is significant that of all the objects which surround him, these books alone possess vitality: “er . liest in machtigen, vergilbten Biichern von der Vergangenheit Grofie und Herr 1 i chkei t ” . This vitality of the past is contrasted to an outer vitality in the present, in the form of the wind which threatens the tower and the count’s sheltered existence: “In Nachten, da der Sturm um den Turm jagt, daB die Mauern in ihren Grundfesten drdhnen und die Vogel angstvoll vor seinem Fenster kreischen, iiberkommt den Grafen eine namenlose Traurigkeit” . The count’s isolation is emphasized by the depiction of his face at the window, and his vision of reality as “riesengrofi traumhaft, gespenster1ich” ; for him, the ghosts of his ancestors have more substance than the storm outside. Yet this danger is not the reason 212 for the count’s “namenlose Traurigkeit”; the storm which threatens to destroy his existence, “als wollte er alles Tote hinausfegen und in Lufte zerstreuen” , would be a welcome release from the monotony of his isolation, yet it proves to be a “Trugbild”. The “Verhangnis” which torments the count’s soul is one of decadent ennui, rather than the apocalyptic vision of later works, such as Traum und Umnachtung. There is much in Veriassenheit which is reminiscent of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. 10 The count’s acceptance of his fate is not unlike that of Roderick Usher: “‘I shall perish,’ said he, ‘I must perish in this deplorable folly-’”!1 The sensitive descendant of a degenerate race, he, too, is surrounded by death and decay: “. an influence which some peculiarities in the mere form and substance of his family mansion had, by dint of long sufferance, he said, obtained over his spirit – an effect which the physique of the gray walls and turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all looked down, had, at length, brought about upon the morale of his existence.”12 The similarities end, however, at the conclusions of the two tales. In Poe, the violent storm, the blood- red moon, the appearance of the enshrouded sister, and the destruction of the house are, as Furness points out, more akin to Traum und Umnachtung. 1 3 Here one finds the relationship with the sister, the resulting sense of guilt, the terror, the corpses covered in mould, the fall of the degenerate race. There are, indeed, interesting parallels to be drawn between these two very different pieces of prose, written eight years apart. Although the vitality of the style and much of the imagery of Traum und Umnachtung bears no relation to VerJassenheit, here, too, we find the curse on the degenerate family being visited on the last male member of the race, the preoccupation with death, graveyards, dreams of the past, the deserted castle, evenings spent looking out the window, the silent woods, the bats, the 213 doves, the fountain, the feverish atmosphere of decay. In Traum und Umnachtung, however, the protagonist is active, unlike the passive count, and the passage has the dynamism of Expressionism rather than the fln-de- si&cle weariness of decadence. The isolation of the artist, and the retreat into a private realm of aesthetic contemplation forms the substance of two of Hofmannsthal’s early dramas: Der Tod des Tizian and Der Tor und der Tod. For Claudio in Der Tor und der Tod, reflective thinking replaces active participation in life; he is aware of his isolation and his inability to understand the world around him; he is aware, too, that art is only a replacement for life and not life itself. This recognition, however, only comes in the hour of his death: Ich hab mich so an Kiinstliches verloren, DaJB ich die Sonne sah aus toten Augen Und nicht mehr horte als durch tote Ohren: Stets schleppte ich den ratselhaften Fluch, Nie ganz bewuBt , nie vollig unbewuJBt, Mit kleinem Leid und schaler Lust Mein Leben zu erleben wie ein Buch, Das roan zur Ha 1ft noch nicht und ha lb nicht mehr begrei f t, Und hinter dem der Sinn erst nach Lebendgem schwe i f t — 14 The poet as a figure of isolation occurs again in the poetry of SammJung 1909. ‘An einem Fenster’ contrasts a positive view of the world as a place of harmony in both the natural and spiritual realms with the poet’s sense of alienation. As in Ver1assenheit, the poet’s relationship to the outside world is one of passive and incomprehending contemplation; he cannot partake in the joy and vitality which he sees outside his window: Das Leben da draufien — irgendwo Mir fern durch ein Meer von Einsamkeit! Es fuhlt’s ein Herz und wird nicht froh! As the count in Veriassenheit comes alive in the contemplation of his ancestral past, so the poet here 214 escapes the ennui of reality in dreams: “Ich traume und traum* und das Leben flieht” . This is the criticism levelled by Bahr against the dilettantism of the decadents in his essay of 1894: “Das Leben fliehen, durch Laune, Wahn und Traum verdrangen, in sich vergessen – das ist der Sinn dieser Decadence.”i5 The poet as a figure isolated from the rest of society is frequently encountered in the literature of decadence. Hofmannsthal’s ‘Allein’ expresses the poet’s sense of relish at his own sorrow: Wie riihrend ists allein zu sein Vor dem Auf-immer-Scheiden Mit all der sii£ vertraumten Pein Mit all dem jungen Leiden.16 This sense of decadent pleasure in solitary pain is found to an even greater extent in the poetry of Dormann: Wie ferner Brandung Schiitterndes Tosen Verklang Der Larm des Lebens, Einsam bin ich geworden, Kostlich einsam . ..1? Although apparently denied in the poet’s lament, “Es fiihlt’s ein Herz und wird nicht froh”, this sentiment is clearly evident in ‘An einem Fenster’. This early poem, which was published in the Salzburger Volksblatt on 1st April 1909, depicts a rather banal pose; the crude contrast of harmony and isolation, the over-use of exclamation marks, the trite imagery of “ein Meer von Einsamkeit” give a somewhat stylized image of the suffering, misunderstood poet. Yet beyond this pose we may trace something of a very real sense of alienation, which plagued Trakl throughout his life. This is the sentiment which he expressed to Buschbeck in 1912: “Wozu die Plage. Ich werde endlich doch immer ein armer Kaspar Hauser bleiben.”18 A similar sense of isolation is expressed by Poe in his poem, ‘Alone’, which examines the reason for this feeling which has plagued him since childhood, and which is the source of his art: 215 From childhood’s hour I have not been As others were – I have not seen As others saw ..- . . . in my chi 1dhood – in the dawn Of a most stormy life was drawn From ev1ry depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still – From the thunder, and the storm – And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view.19 In ‘Nachtlied’, the poet seeks to break out of his isolation by using the poetic expression of his suffering not only as a means of release fhorn pain, but as a means of communication. By crafting this suffering into poetry, he finds a way to ease his anguish, as a wound lets blood flow, yet this in itself is not enough. The poem also expresses a need for the songs to be heard, such as we have already encountered in Herbert’s desire to ring the “Sturmg1ocken” in Blaubart. No such companionship in suffering is found, however: Doch kein Herz tragt sie mir wieder Durch das Dunkel her. The poet’s situation is one of utter isolation, without solace or comfort; the only reply is the echo of his own sorrow, which serves to increase his pain, as his songs, rather than acting as wounds to release his pain, become themselves tainted with that pain: “Lieder, die von Wunden bluten” . Beer-Hofmann’s poem ‘Der einsame Weg’, dedicated to Schnitzler, and inspired by his play of the same title, with its depiction of life as one of spiritual isolation for the artist balanced against an affirmation of bourgeois stability and affection, also depicts the poet as one whose fate is isolation: Alle Wege, die wir treten, Munden in die Einsamkeit -y Nimmermiide Stunden jaten Aus, was wuchs an Lust und Leid.20 216 The pain of isolation was for Trakl, however, more profound than the decadent pose of the early prose and poetry. In his later lyric, the figure of “der Einsame” can be seen as the development of the early decadent pose, one who is isolated from the rest of society, unable to understand or be understood, yet who seeks to express his suffering through poetry: Stille in nachtigem Zimmer. Silbern flackert der Leuchter Vor dem singenden Odem Des Einsamen “Und dich zermalmt des All tags grauer Gram”: Ennui The decadent love of the artificial is typified in the pose of the dandy. The role of the refined aristocrat, elegant in dress and manners, seems to have little in common with Trakl, who felt ill at ease with the superficial, fashionable aesthetes of the Viennese coffee-houses.2l Yet the elegant exterior of the dandy was merely a sign of an inner arrogance, a sense of superiority to the mundane world of bourgeons society. In his essay on ‘Le Peintre de la Vie moderne1, Baudelaire writes: “Ces choses ne sont pour le parfait dandy qu’un symbole de la superiority aristocratique de son esprit.”22 This was indeed a pose which the young Trakl assumed, if not in Vienna, then in the earlier days of the “Apollo” group, as Schneditz reports: Er liebte in jenen Tagen namlich, sein Haar als ‘Dichtermahne’, wohlgescheite1t und geschniege1t, in den Nacken hangen zu lassen . Die Anzuge waren nach der neuesten Mode geschnitten, die Manschetten mufiten ein betracht1iches Stuck aus den Armeln hervoi— gucken. . GroBen Wert soil der jugendliche Dichter zu jener Zeit seinen wirklich schon geformten Handen zugemessen haben.23 217 This outer pose was a sigh of his inner attitude: “Mit einem Mai aber trat die erschrankende Zasur ein. Sein Gemut wurde umdustert, briitend geradezu. Eine unglaubliche Verachtung alien Daseins stieg ihm empor.”24 This change in personality is reflected in two poems, ‘Confiteor’ and ‘Ermatten’, which testify to Bruckbauer’s description of Trakl’s character at the time as “murrisch, zanckisch, arrogant, selbstbewufit und 1 ebensiiberdrussig” .2 5 ‘Confiteor’ is centred on the suffering of the poet whose vision penetrates beyond the superficiality of life. As in ‘An einem Fenster’, the positive opening is contrasted to the poet’s own vision, stressing the gulf which separates him from the rest of humankind. In the poet’s view of the world, colour is turned into darkness, harmonious image into disorder, life into death. His awareness of the transience of all things plagues his existence: Die bunten Bilder, die das Leben malt Seh’ ich umdiistert nur von Dammerungen, Wie kraus verzerrte Schatten, triib und ka 1 t , Die kaum geboren schon der Tod bezwungen. This view of beauty as a facade behind which the decadent soul can penetrate is frequent; one thinks of Erwin, in Andrian’s “Narcissenbuch”, Der Garten der Erkenntnis, whose vision oscillates between wonder at the rich beauty of Vienna’s churches, palaces and gardens, and an awareness of desolation and futility: Zwischen diesen Stunden des Reichtums kamen andere der Ode, die so unertraglich fur seine Seele waren, wie furs Auge ist, ins Leere zu schauen. Einmal in Schonbrunn uberkam ihn diese Ode besonders stark, indem ihm nicht blofi die Dinge nichtssagend erschienen, sondern auch seine Gedanken von sonst an ihm abglitten, auseinander1iefen und ihn allein lieBen.26 The hyperbole of the second stanza is more comic in its effect than indicative of any genuine sensitivity to the transience of life. This is the decadent view of the world; as Rasch points out: “Alles Naturliche, das heifit alles Gegebene, Vorhandene, 218 Seiende ist niedertrachtig, wertlos, hassenswert: Das ist entscheidend fur das We 1tverha1tnis der Decadence.”27 In the utterly nihilistic view of ‘Confiteor’, there is no hope of respite from death and decay: Und da von jedem Ding die Maske fiel, Seh’ ich nur Angst, Verzweif1ung, Schmach und Seuchen, Der Menschheit heldenloses Trauerspiel, Ein schlechtes Stuck, gespielt auf Grabern, Leichen. As Blass and Sharp have pointed out, this is a poetic motif which goes back to the Baroque.28 The notion of life as a play is here given a further ironic twist: it is a tragedy without a hero; human life is futile, with nothing of any value to redeem it, ending only in meaningless death. Trakl’s image expresses little other than introversion and self-pity, a decadent pose of the tortured soul. It is a motif found also in Hofmanns thal’s Der Tor und der Tod; Claudio, gaining recogni tion finally at the point of death, characterizes his former life thus: Wie auf der Biihn ein schlechter Komodiant — Aufs Stichwort kommt er, redt sein Teil und geht Gleichgiiltig gegen alles andre, stumpf, Vom Kiang der eignen Stimme ungeruhrt Und hohlen Tones andre riihrend nicht: So iiber diese Lebensbiihne hin Bin ich gegangen ohne Kraft und Wert.29 This view of life as futile, worthless and deserving only of disdain, and the idea of world- weariness expressed in the word ennui are fundamental to the concept of decadence. In the poem which introduces Les Fleurs du Ma J, ‘Au Lecteur’ , Baudelaire writes of ennui as the root of all evil, a monster which drains humankind of all vitality and threatens to swallow up creation in a yawn: Mais parmis les chacals, les pantheres, les lices, Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents, Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants, Dans la menagerie infSme de nos vices, 219 I 1 en est Quoi qu’i1 un plus laid, plus mechant ne pousse ni grands gestes I 1 Et ferait volontiers de la terre un debris dans un b^i11ement avalerait le monde; p 1 us immonde! ni grands cr i s , C’est 1’Ennui! — l’oeil charge d’un pleur invo1ont a i re, Il r£ve d’echafauds en fumant son houka. Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre d^licat, – Hypocrite lecteur, — mon sembable, – mon f r & r e 13 o ‘Confiteor’ culminates in the utter self-pity and introversion of the decadent pose: Mich ekelt dieses wiiste Tr aumges i ch t . Doch will ein Machtgebot, daB ich verweile, Ein Komodiant, der seine Rolle spricht, Gezwungen, vo11 Verzweiflung — Langeweile Like Blaubart, Don Juan, and the “saint”, the poet is forced by some unknown power to play his part in the universal drama of life. He must spend his time, like Hofmannsthal’s Claudio, an actor mechanically speaking his lines, without any involvement in the life around him. Typical of the decadent pose is the climax of this poem; this insight brings no genuine sense of pain or despair, but rather the Baudelairean motif of “Langewei1e!” ‘Ermatten’ shows the poet suffering from such a state of ennui that he is unable to find escape even in intoxication. Baudelaire’s paradis artificieis are in a state of decay, and the poet languishes in moral torpor: Verwesung traumgeschaffner Paradiese Umweht dies trauervolle, miide Herz, Das Eke 1 nur sich trank aus aller SiiBe, Und das verblutet in gemeihem Schmerz. One is reminded here of the aesthetes who frequented the Viennese coffee-houses at the turn of the century, satirized by Kraus in Die demolirte Literatur, and aptly depicted in Hofmannsthal’s prologue to Anatoi as “Friihgereift und zart und traurig”.30 The motif of ennui is, of course, found in the poetry of the 220 quintessential Austrian decadent, Dormann: “Auch meine Seele wurde krank geboren:/ Ihr fehlt die Lust, die Kraft, der Mut zum Leben.”32 In the early poetry of Schnitzler we also find the depiction “eines Nervdsen”, one whose apathy is such that he can feel neither intoxication, nor happiness, nor love: Vom suJBen Wein trank ich Gias um Gias – Die triiben Sinne konnt ich nicht berauschen; Ein holdes Kind an meiner Seite ^afi, — Doch ihren Worten wufit ich nicht zu lauschen. um mich her, – Gewirr von Tonen Li chtermeer, gewohnen. lustig Singen schalIte war es nichts als ein Auge, tauchend in ein allzumiid sich daran zu Ein Mi r Me i n War Und alles lebte, alles freute sich, Manch Herzenskranken sah ich neu gesunden, Das Kind an meiner Seite kiiBte mich, Ich schaute auf und hatte nichts empfunden.33 In ‘Ermatten’, the poet seeks to escape from what Hofmannsthal refers to as “diesem Sumpf von dden, leeren Tagen”34 through narcotic intoxication as a means of stimulating tired nerves. The poet must realize, however, that even this is no solution; the sweetness of narcotic visions leaves behind only a feeling of disgust and pain, as hope turns to despair, and ecstasy turns to shame. Rather than providing a release from his me 1ancho1ic torpor, this has only served to intensify his awareness of the universal pain of existence. As Weinhold has pointed out, this oscillation between ecstatic escape and the despair of rea1i ty is a fundamental aspect of the decadent menta 1i ty: Weil der Zusammenhang zwischen Welt und Ich nur als Illusion existiert, die dem Dekadenten nicht verborgen bleiben kann, wird er (immer wieder) mit der Bestand 1 osig- keit dieser Illusion und der Sinn- und Wert1 osigkeit der Realitat, d.h. mit dem Nichts konfrontiert. . die Erkenntnis der Lebensi11 usion Ctreibtl den Dekadenten vom Rausch in die Erniicht erung, die Erniichterung mit ihrer nihi 1istischen Erfahrung ihn jedoch wieder in den Rausch zuriick.33 221 The poet’s ennui is intensified by an awareness of sin and guilt, a consequence perhaps not merely of his intoxication, but also of his incestuous desires; one thinks of the associations of “ermatten” in ’Blutschuld’ (“Ermattend unterm Hauch der schwiilen Liifte/ Wir traumen: Verzeih uns, Maria, in deiner Huld’’’) and in ’Sabbath’ (“Und eine schlingt – o rasende Manade —/ Mein Fleisch, ermattet von den schwiilen Diinsten) . As in these two poems, ‘Ermatten’ shows none of the profound distress of the later poetry; guilt here is simply a frisson which heightens the poet’s sense of ennui: Vom Rausch der Wohlgeriiche und der Weine B1 i eb dir ein iiberwach Gefiihl der Scham — Das Gestern in verzerrtem Widerscheine – Und dich zermalmt des Alltags grauer Gram. The decadent pose of the arrogant, suffering soul, however immature and superficial it may be in contrast with the later poetry, is a guise which is clearly assumed in the Sammlung 1909; there is little to differentiate between the poet’s view of the world in ‘Confiteor’ and ‘Ermatten* and the attitude of a decadent ’hero’ such as the young painter in Bahr’s Pie gute Schule”, “. jedesmal, sobald er sich nur besann, nahm er eilig die Absicht, sich zu bessern, des Grubelns zu entwohnen und glucklich zu werden, mit Reue zuriick und verharrte in der Gewohnheit. Schmerz , Ekel, Verzweiflung – was lag daran, wenn es fur seine Kunst war?”36 In meiner Seele dunk 1em Spiegel”: See 1enstande That Trakl himself adhered to the decadent precept of poetry as an expression of the poet’s soul can be seen from the letters in which he writes about his own 222 creativity. In 1906, he described his writing as a means of expressing an emotional state which he could not otherwise put into words. Two years later, he wrote to his sister Minna of his poetry as an alternative to the harshness of the world around him, which afforded him a means of escape from reality. Following in the footsteps of his early mentor, Streicher, and such literary forebears as Maeterlinck, Trakl’s first attempts to express the suffering of his soul took the form of dramas as we 1 1 as short prose pieces. Tatentag, subtitled ’’Dr ama t i s ches Stimmungs- bild”, was written clearly in the style of decadent drama, with the intent to create the melancholic atmosphere of a “Spatherbsttag” to the detriment of the content and action of the play, as reviews of the play confirm: “Neben den Mangeln, die sein dramatisches Stimmungsbi1d enthalt, wie das Fehlen jedweder Handlung, die teilweise nicht sehr gliickliche Charak- teristik der handelnden Personen, Unklarheiten in der logischen Entwicklung des Stoffes, besitzt es doch einen Vorzug, und das ist die Sprache, die Trakl fuhrt.”37 Trakl’s second drama, Fata Morgana. Tragische Szene enjoyed less success: “Es ware zu wiinschen, daB Georg Trakl aus dem symbolischen Reich den Weg in das Leben fande . seine Stimmungsbi1der sind zu zart und blutarm, um das gre11e Licht der Lampen oder den Geschmack der breiten Offent1ichkeit zu vertragen.”38 Trakl took this advice to heart, and abandoned all attempts at drama until 1914. Yet he still sought to express the state of his soul in prose and poetry. The highly subjective piece Traumland concerns the protagonist’s memories of a childhood stay in a small village. In this “Episode”, Trakl attempts to assimilate himself to the new style of art as proclaimed by Bahr: “Die Natur des Kiinstlers sollte nicht langer ein Werkzeug der Wirklichkeit sein, um ihr Ebenbild zu vollbringen; sondern umgekehrt, die 223 Wirklichkeit wurde jetzt wieder der Stoff des Kunst lers, um seine Natur zu verkiinden, in deut lichen und wirksamen Symbo1en.”39 Trakl clearly moves in the direction of this new art. The ’’Episode” is an expression, not merely of an event from the protagonist’s past, but rather it is the expression of a yearning for a past idyl 1 , an attempt to convey the innocence of childhood which is contrasted with the ennui and meaninglessness of the present. Like the count in Verlassenheit, the protagonist only finds vitality in his memories of the past: “Aber die Erinnerung an jene stillen Tage voll Sonnenschein sind in mir lebendig geblieben, lebendiger vielleicht als die gerauschvo11e Gegenwart” . The preoccupation with a childhood idyll as an expression of the restlessness of the poet’s soul, and his inability to find happiness in the present is found in Dormann’s ‘Verlorene Spuren’: Und wenn ich frage, was mich dann und wann Ganz lind und leise noch bewegen kann, Was meiner Seele stillen Gleichmut stort, Scheinbares Leben aus dem Nichts beschwort — Erinnerung ist’s – ein Duft, ein Bild, ein Kiang, Der unvermutet an die Seele drang Und mich an jene feme Zeit gemahnt , In der ich alles Leben scheu geahnt,40 What Trakl depicts is a Traumland; for the decadents, dream often took precedence over reality as an aesthetic realm which offered a way of escape from mundane life. In 1891, Bahr hailed the new art thus: “und wieder wurde die Kunst . der ‘Tempel des Traumes'”Jl This tendency is found throughout fin—de- siecle literature: one thinks of Rilke’s Traumgekront, Beer-Hofmann’s Jaakobs Traum, Schnitzler’s Traum- novelle, the “Traumreich” of Kubin’s Die andere Seite, and the unity of “Leben, Traum und Tod” in Hofmanns thal’s poetry. In Trakl’s early piece, the dream world is clearly given greater substantiality than the narrator’s present situation in the “GroBstadt”. 224 The poem which opens Sammlung 1909, ‘Drei Traume’, again presents the decadent fascination for the world of dreams. In the poet’s vision of the world, dreams have greater significance than empirical reality, for it is within these visions that the poet glimpses a higher universal order, a poetic truth open to the artist and the genius alone. The first poem presents the poet’s reality as a world of dreams and impressions where there is neither certainty nor clear understanding of their signif i cance: Mich daucht’, ich traumte von Blatterfall, Von weiten Waldern und dunklen Seen, Von trauriger Worte Widerhall – Doch konnt’ ich ihren Sinn nicht verstehn. The symbolism of falling leaves and stars reminds of the essentially downward movement that is implied by the word ‘decadence’ In the second poem, the poet seeks an escape from the ennui of this futile and incomprehensible existence in the creation of fantastic visions intended to reflect the depth of his soul. These visions are, as one would expect in the poetry of decadence, characterized by a propensity towards extremes: “Bilder niegeseh’ner Meere,/ Verlass’ner, tragisch phantastischer Lander . gigantischel1, prasselndeCI Sonnen . seltsam belebte, schimmernde Garten” . One is reminded here of Andrian’s ‘Noch liebt’ ich nie . . . ‘ , whi ch also expresses the poet’s lethargic desire to overcome the ennui of life: Oft sehnt’ ich mich nach Dingen, die ich nie gekannt, 225 Um ihnen meine Zartlichkeit zu geben, Nach fernen Landern langst erstorbnen Zeiten, Nach Siinden, Leiden, Qua 1 en – nach dem Leben.*2 Trakl’s poem is far from an effective depiction of the poet’s soul, which is regarded as dark and mysterious, for it is so nebulous and fantastic as to lose all meaning. The hint of mystery and threat which underlies his existence is in no way transformed into appropriate imagery, and thus the attempt to convey the enormity of the poet’s soul, its transcendence of human limits, achieves little successs. We are reminded here of the third poem in Dormann’s Sensatjonen: In grauer Flut ist mir die Welt versunken, Ein nebeltriibes, odes Traurogebi Id, Und f arben j auchzend , schwere Diifte trunken Die neue Welt aus meiner Seele qui11t. -* 3 Elsewhere in the literature of decadence we find a more successful evocation of the profundity of the poet’s soul. In Hofmannsthal’s ‘Psyche’ the sensuous description of the world of dreams achieves a poignancy far beyond the immature hyperbole of ‘Drei Traume’, despite the use of decadent topoi: Mit wunderbar nie vernommenen Worten ReiJB ich dir auf der Traume Pforten: Mit go 1 deng 1 iihenden , siiBen 1 auen Wie fiebernde Blumenkelche bebenden, Mit vielerlei solchen verzauberten Worten Werf ich dir auf der Traume Pforten: Den goldenen Garten mit duftenden Auen Im Abendrot schwimmend, mit lachenden Frauen, Das rauschende violette Dunkel Mit weiBleuchtenden Baumen und Sterngefunke1, Den flusternden, braunen, vergessenen Teich Mit kreisenden Schwanen und Nebe1 bleich,** One thinks, of course, too, of Rimbaud’s ‘Le bateau ivre’, which may have been a direct influence on Trakl’s poem; in Ammer’s translation, the parallels suggest themselves, although Trakl’s poem remains at best a weak echo of the original: Nun sah ich Himmel in Blitzen zerreifien, sah Stromungen, Wasserhosen, tote Seen, sah Morgendammern, in Aufruhr wie das Kreisen erschreckter Tauben, sah, was noch keiner gesehn. 226 Ich war in Sternenwe1ten und Inse1 reichen, sah offene Himmel, fiebernd und riesenhaft — schlafst du in diesen Nachten ohneg1eichen, Mutter des Lebens, kunftige Kraft?*5 The final poetic vision of ‘Drei Traume’ is apocalyptic and nihilistic. Again, the poet’s vision is emphasized: “Ich sah. “. Isolated from humankind by his acute awareness of the futility of the endless cycle of life and death, he sees beyond reality, and his vision encompasses the cosmic scale of suffering which has existed from the beginning of creation: Ich sah viel Stadte als Flammenraub Und Greuel auf Greuel haufen die Zeiten, Und sah viel Volker verwesen zu Staub, Und alles in Vergessenheit gleiten. Such is the power of his visionary nature that he sees not only the meaningless and endlessly repetitive existence of humankind, but also that divine powers, too, are powerless elements in this futile existence: Ich sah die Gotter stiirzen zur Nacht, Die heiligsten Harfen ohnmachtig zerschellen, Und aus Verwesung neu entfacht, Ein neues Leben zum Tage schwellen. The nebulous, symbolist landscape of the soul is found in the short poem ‘Schweigen’: Uber den Waldern schimmert bleich Der Mond, der uns traumen macht, Die Weide am dunklen Teich Weint lautlos in die Nacht. Ein Herz erlischt — und sacht Die Nebe1 fluten und steigen – Schweigen, Schweigen? The silence of the night, the mist, the willow, and the dark pool stand as symbols of the souls of the poet and his unnamed companion, an expression of their sorrow, of their alienation from society, and of the darkness of their sin. The motif of “Schweigen”, and the moon as a symbol of sexuality lead to the speculation that the companion here, as in ‘Ballade III’, is the sister; the unspeakable, and therefore unatonable, crime being that of incest. 227 This poem uses with little originality the standard topoi of fin-de-si&cJe poetry, as is found even in the poetry of Richard Dehme1: Weich kiifit die Zweige der weifie Mond. Ein Fliistern wohnt im Laub, als neige, als schweige sich der Hain zur Ruh: Ge 1i ebt e du — Der Weiher ruht, und die Weide schimmert. Ihr Schatten f1immert in seiner Flut, und der Wind weint in den Baumen: wir traumen — traumen —4 6 One thinks too of Rilke’s early poetry: Eine alte Weide trauert diirr und fiihllos in den Mai, – eine alte Hiitte kauert grau und einsam hart dabei.47 One of Heym’s earliest poems depicts a mood of nebulous melancholic emotion: Letztes Herbstestrauern In rotem Abendscheine. Und tot die alten Mauern. Ich weine, weine, weine. Leise Nebe1 schleichen Wohl um den finstern Tann Und weifi verhiillte Leichen Schweben zu mir heran*8 The first version of ‘Die drei Teiche in Hell — brunn’, published in the Salzburger Volksblatt in April 1909, presents three visions of the poet’s soul. The first, and most blatantly decadent, is shrouded in an atmosphere of stagnation and prurience: Um die Blumen taumelt das F1iegengeschmei£, Um die bleichen Blumen auf dumpfer Flut, Geh fort! Geh fort! Es brennt die Luft! In der Tiefe gliiht der Verwesung Glut! Die Weide weint, das Schweigen starrt, Auf den Wassern braut ein schwiiler Dunst . Geh fort! Geh fort! Es ist der Ort Fiir schwarzer Kroten ekle Brunst. This is the dark side of the poet’s soul; any beauty of nature is in a state of decay; the flowers are pale and 228 ridden with flies, the pool is stagnant. Although the poet hints of an unknown danger from the depths of the pool, this is not realized in any effective or concrete imagery. The second stanza emphasizes the brighter, more vivacious side to his nature. The stark contrast between these two stanzas verges on the ridiculous: Bi Ider von Wolken, Blumen und Menschen ~ Singe, singe, freudige Welt! There is a strong sense of the superficiality of this side of the poet’s soul, with the emphasis on “Bi Ider”. This is a reflection on the surface of the water, which fails to penetrate or adequately symbolize the poet’ soul. There is no substantiality to the reflection of childish innocence; indeed, the poet is aware of the contrast of his own dark nature and the brightness of his reflection: “Dunkles wandelt sie freundlich in Helle” . The appellation with which he addresses himself is filled with a sense of irony and self-alienation. He sees his own reflection in the pond mingled with the reflection of the sun and the clouds; any sense of spiritual peace, then, is insubstantial and temporary, a mere reflection which lacks any reality. The first two stanzas may be an attempt by the poet to express the extremes of his nature (one remembers that Trakl was diagnosed as a schizophrenic), yet they fail to go beyond the superficiality of appearance. The third stanza more successfully evokes the depths of the poet’s soul. The pool here is mysterious and unfathomable; it contains neither the grotesque putrefaction nor the simplistic harmony of the natural and the spiritual, but rather a profundity which is immeasurable, a symbol of the puzzle of existence which still plagues the poet, but which he contemplates in peace. This pool is a mixture of the green of decay and the blue of the spiritual: “Die Wasser schimmern griin 1 i ch-b 1 au” . The poet’s existence consists of 229 a fusion of both extremes. This is a world of night, governed by the moon, in Trakl’s early poetry almost invariably the symbol of male sexuality. Yet this moon is placed firmly within the blue night sky, surely symbolic of the female realm. Seen within this context, the poet’s inability to understand his own nature (his reflection is ”Ein ratselvolles Sphinxgesicht” ) is caused by his incomprehension of sexuality. Here again is the sense of se1f-a 1ienation which accompanies sexual maturation, such as we have found in ‘Das Grauen’ and elsewhere. While an obsession with decay and death is not confined to the literature of decadence, the depiction of prurient scenes as an expression of the poet’s morbid nature, such as we have seen in ‘Die Drei Teiche in Hellbrunn’, is very much part of the fin de siecle. Maeterlinck’s ‘Serres Chaudes’ is the prime example of poetry satiated with depictions of putrefying nature as a symbol of the poet’s etat d’Smez Sous 1’eau du songe qui s’e1eve, Mon ame a peur, mon ame a peur! Et la 1une luit dans mon coeur, FlongS dans les sources du rgve. Sous 1’ennui morne des roseaux, Seuls les reflets profonds des choses, Des 1ys, des palmes et des roses, Pleurent encore au fond des eaux. Les f1eurs s’effeui1 lent une a une Sur le reflet du firmament, Pour descendre eterne 11ement Dans 1’eau du songe et dans la lune.O 230 “So spielt um kranke Blumen noch die Sonne”: The Aestheticism of Death and Decay “Tu m’as donne ta boue et j’en ai fait de 1 ‘ or . “50 Baudelaire’s words underlie one of the major principles of decadent aestheticism: that the act of poetic creation is in some way able to transfigure the transience which the poet depicts. Although he cannot halt the process of decay, by creating beauty out of this awareness, the poet creates something which is permanent and free from the physical process of dissolution. Baudelaire’s ‘Une Charogne’ is one of the earliest and best example of this aestheticism of decay: Les mouches bourdonnaient sur ce ventre putride, D’ oil sortaient de noirs bataillons De larves, qui coulaient comme un 6pais liquide Le long de ces vivants hail Ions.51 Out of this putrefaction, however, there sounds “une strange musique” which purifies and cleanses, for by describing the most vivid details of the rotting carcass, the poet can conquer its horror. Memory and poetic expression can transfigure decay into something of beauty: “. j’ai garde la forme et 1’essence divine/ De mes amours decomposes!”. In their attempt to aestheticize death, the writers of decadence often focused on the beauty of the femme fragile. While this theme is far from exclusive to the decadent movement – one thinks of Poe’s admission in ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ that “the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world”52 -f it is, nonetheless, an essential aspect of decadence, and one which the young Trakl, although briefly, touched on. Trakl’s femme fragile is Maria in Traumland. Suffering is obviously the important theme of this piece: “Deine Seele geht nach dem Leiden, mein Junge” . The protagonist is not only aware of the girl’s suffering, 231 he is sexually attracted by it; suffering and death are associated with beauty. Indeed, Maria gains her true beauty in death: during her illness she is “leidend” and “krank”, but in death she is lit by sunbeams and her golden hair is loosened by the wind: “Sonnen- strahlen huschten liber ihre lichte, zarte Gestalt hin; ihr gelostes Goldhaar flatterte im Wind” . There is no sense of pain or loss at the death, for it is seen in the context of a heightened, transfigured reality, typical of the decadents’ affirmation of decline; one is reminded of Verlaine’s statement that the essence of decadence was “. 1 1 art de mourir en beauts ‘5 3 Trakl’s attempts to aestheticize death and decay within Sammlung 1909 are varied in their effect. The hyperbole of poems such as ‘Die drei Teiche in He 1 1 – brunn’ has already been examined; yet three poems rise above the mediocrity of this volume in their attempt to objectify and thus transfigure the process of dissolution. Of the poems in this volume, Trakl only considered two — ‘Herbst’ and ‘Farbiger Herbst’ – worthy of redemption; one other poem, however, also overcomes the limitations of the early poetry. ‘Von den stillen Tagen’ is an expression of a fin- de-siecle wor1d—weariness through the symbolism of disease, decay and death: So geisterhaft sind diese spaten Tage Gleichwie der Blick von Kranken, hergesendet Ins Licht. Doch ihrer Augen stumme Klage Beschattet Nacht, der sie schon zugewendet. These are autumnal days, possibly the final days of humankind; vitality has departed and all that remains is an unreal reminder of the past. We who live at this time (who are implicit in the first line) are like ill people looking towards the light in search of health, as we seek meaning in our lives. The image connects the days in which we live and the look of ill people, for the look of the ill has a similar ghost-like quality, 232 as their life has lost its purpose and vitality. There is an interesting shift of perspective in lines 3 and 4; the ill people, who had existed only in the context of a simile, now become a reality within the poem. That the ill are beyond recovery is clear from two images; firstly, in the tension of light and dark: although they look towards the light, their eyes are covered by the darkness of the night, a traditional symbol of death, to which they have already turned. Transferring this image back to the original simile, the implication is that for those who are alive in the end-days implies that the poet and his reader are alive at this time) it is also too late; we may cast a look back to the times when life had meaning but we, too, are turned towards death. The second image is a synaesthetic union of sight and speech: “ihrer Augen stumme Klage”. In their weakness they have lost the power of speech and can only articulate with their eyes; human faculties have lost their meaning: the lament is dumb and the eyes, covered by the shadow of the night, will soon fall prey to blindness. So, too, will the faculties of those who live in the end—days inevitably lose the ability to articulate and thus overcome their state of disease, fallenness, decline. This is an image which is developed in the mature lyric; one thinks of ‘De profundis’, which describes the protagonist in such a state of sin that he loses the power of poetic expresssion in an image which similarly fuses sight and speech: “Es ist ein Licht, das in meinem Mund erloscht” . The second stanza appears to add little to the poem other than making explicit that which has already been implied in the imagery of the first stanza. On closer examination, however, one realizes that a further, more subtle shift in perspective has taken place: Sie lacheln wohl und denken ihre Feste, Wie man nach Liedern bebt, die halb vergessen, 233 Und Worte sucht fiir eine traurige Geste, Die schon verblaBt in Schweigen ungeroessfin. The experience of ill people remembering a past of health and joy is likened to a common experience with which everyone can identify: “Wie man nach Liedern bebt , die ha 1 b vergessen,/ Und Worte sucht fiir eine traurige Geste”. Thus the specific situation is universalized: we relate directly to the ill people because of our own, similar experience. The imagery of the poem has come full circle: the end-days Flowers that were once things of beauty and health have fallen victim to decay, Baudelairean fleurs du ma], mocked by the same life-giving sun which shone on them when they were healthy. Yet even this sun which appears impervious to their fate is prey to the transience of nature, for it is no longer a sun of warmth and health, but one which brings coolness and death. Paradoxically, it is only in death that there is an escape from the meaninglessness of life; there is a long poetic tradition here, yet it is also typical of the perversity of the decadence that death, the ultimate sensation, should be associated with bliss, causing the flowers to shudder in anticipation. Through the series of associations already set up in the poem, the 234 implication is that we who are alive in the end-days can only gain meaning through death. The description of the signs of the decay of the end-days within the natural sphere continues in the final tercet. Again, the theme is of the transience of vitality. Nature’s power of articulation is silenced, and that which is vibrant fades: Die roten Walder fliistern und verdammern, Und todesnachtiger ha 11t der Spechte Hammern Gleichwie ein Widerhall aus dumpfen Gruften. Birds, traditional harbingers of death in folklore, also feature as such in Trakl’s poetry intensify the warning of their hammering; Trakl effectively varies the iambic pentameter with an anapest as an onomata- poetic recreation of the sound of the birds. The final simile of the poem draws us back to the human sphere, but this time firmly in the realm of the dead: the sound of the birds which harbingers death is like a menacing echo from the tombs, suggestive of corpses trying to escape from the grave. This is a perversely decadent and Poe-esque treatment of the theme of the cycle of life and death: a grotesque image of the new life found in death. The desire to escape from the grave is inextricably linked with decay and nature’s call to the grave. This image takes us full cirlce to the opening line of the poem, as the corpses echoing from the grave may be the ghosts who haunt the end- days . The first stanza of ‘Farbiger Herbst’ presents a series of positive images: the well, both a source of life and a symbol of human control over the chaotic realm of nature, reflects the joy of humankind, as the clouds form an aesthetically pleasing contrast with the clear blue sky, symbolic of the harmony between the spiritual realm, nature and human civilization: Der Brunnen singt, die Wolken stehn Im klaren Blau, die weiBen, zarten; Bedachtig, stille Menschen gehn Da drunten im abendblauen Garten. 235 The implication is, however, that the poet is not part of this harmony, separated from the majority of people by his awareness of the transience inherent in all spheres: Der Ahnen Marmor ist ergraut Ein Vogelflug streift in die Weiten Ein Faun mit toten Schatten schaut Nach Schatten, die ins Dunkel gleiten. Das Laub fallt rot vom alten Baum Und kreist herein durch offne Fenster, In dunklen Feuern gliiht der Raum, Darin die Schatten, wie Gespenster. The greyness of decay on statues reminds of the inevitable collapse of all civilizations, for even their works of art, with which they hope to preserve their immortality, will decompose; the flight of the birds signifies the departure of spiritual values; the leaves falling from the trees are an indication of the inevitability of decay in nature, and, as the dead foliage enters the sphere of the poet through the open window, so it serves as a reminder that transience in nature encroaches upon the human world. In the final stanza of the poem, the images of the first stanza are presented in a more negative, threatening way: Opal iger Dunst webt iiber das Gras, Eine Wolke von welken, gebleichten Diiften, Im Brunnen leuchtet wie griines Gias Die Mondessichel in frierenden Liiften. The we 1 1 is no longer seen as part of the human sphere, but has come under the control of the cold, threatening force of nature: “Im Brunnen leuchtet wie griines Gias/ Die Mondessichel in frierenden Liiften.” The moon is the symbol of male sexuality, the darker force behind nature; its sickle shape serves as a mocking reminder of the inevitable presence of death, the grim reaper. Without doubt the most successful poem of the volume is ‘Herbst’, which is included almost unchanged in the 1913 volume of Gedichte. Here, our senses of sight, sound and smell are united with those of the 236 poet and we are invited to share his vision of transience. The presence of the poet is not intrusive, however: his vision of decay is conveyed simply, through objective, concrete images. Here, we are far from the ovei—refinement of decadence, but are reminded of another aspect of decadent and Symbolist writing: the stress on the appeal to the nerves of the reader, described by Bahr in his essay on ‘Symbo1ismus*: •’Sondern er will die Nerven in jene Stimmungen zwingen, wo sie von selber nach dem Unsinnlichen greifen, und will das durch sinnliche Mittel.”5* The poem creates an awareness of disharmony from the outset, through the use of sound and structure: Am Abend, wenn die Glocken Frieden lauten, Folg’ ich der Vogel wundervollen Flugen, Die lang geschart , gleich frommen Pilgerziigen Entschwinden in den herbstlich klaren Weiten. Partial rhyme As he contemplates their happier fate, he is struck by a sense of timelessness: the piety which they symbolize is eternal, far greater than human mortality. It is as he glimpses this truth and momentarily shares in the freedom of the birds that he is reminded harshly of death: the physical world of decomposition breaks into his spiritual contemplation with the stench of decay: Da macht ein Hauch mich von Verfal1 erzittern, Ein Vogel klagt in den entlaubten Zweigen Es schwankt der rote Wein an rostigen Gittern As the imagery of the quatrains depicts beauty which hints at transience, so in the tercets we find images of decay linked with the memory of a once healthy time, forming the perfect relationship between the two parts of the poem. The lone bird reminds of the birds which have departed; unable to share their freedom, this bird is left, like the poet, to lament its fate. Neither the realm of nature nor the world of human civilization can escape decay: the leaves fall from the trees, the verdant vine turns red and barren, and the gate formed by man as a sign of his control 238 over nature is prey to rust. The final image is a somewhat complex simile which uses anticipation to heighten its effect: Indess’ wie blasser Kinder Todesreigen, Um dunkle Brunnenrander, die verwittern Im Wind sich frostelnd fahle Astern neigen. The image of pale asters bent in the wind like the death-rounds of pallid children around dark, weather beaten wells is a powerful symbol of transience. Asters traditionally symbolize death, as in Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaf ten and Keller’s Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe.5* One may also detect the influence of Verlaine and Mahler, whose Kindertoten1ieder were composed in 1902; but the complete image is original and effective. It is in three parts, all inextricably linked by a state of death and decay, and by the tension of light and dark which connects the signifier and the signified and contrasts them to the darkness of the wells, symbolic of the threat of fate. This is a potent picture of the death of innocence at the hands of impervious powers and of the passivity with which that death is accepted. As the asters are victims of the harsh wind of autumn, so, too, children will inevitably die. That life and death are all part of the same endless cycle is expressed through the association of youth and death, through the symbol of the well, which is normally considered a source of life, but is here connected with death, and through the seasonal imagery, for although autumn and winter bring death and decay, spring and summer, the seasons of vitality, are part of the same cycle. The weathering process which affects even the impassive wells emphasizes the passing of time and the endless recurrence of this circle of trans i ence. Unlike most of the poems in Sammlung 1909, this deals with concrete objects; the poet’s immediate experience is presented with a universal appeal, rather than the vague, abstract notions of eternity and infinity which form the subject of much of the volume. 239 It is in this simple, immediately recognizable and identifiable approach that the effect of the poem lies. This is not to say, howeVer, that the poem is outwith the scope of decadence; it escapes its over-refinement, but with its theme of decay and death and its appeal to the nerves, it is rooted firmly in the tradition of decadence. Trakl’s use of the autumnal landscape to evoke a melancholic mood is reminiscent of Verlaine, whose autumn poems, such as the ‘Chanson d’Automne’, achieved their effect through an emotional, rather than intellectual appeal: Et je m’en vai s Au vent mauvais Qui m’emporte De