THE INTERACTION OF
(Stuttgart, 29 March 1923)
Before we essay the second part of
our programme, I shall permit myself to point briefly to the
genesis of poetry – in man’s inner nature. For what
ought to lie at the foundation of a knowledge of man is the
following perception: in the first instance, the world, the
universe, the cosmos is artistically active in man; but man then
brings forth from himself again what the aesthetic activity of the
cosmos has inlaid in him, as art.
Two elements must collaborate in a
man, working through the powers of his spirit and soul, in order
for poetry (in the general way of things) to be engendered and
given form. It is not thought – even in the most intellectual
poetry it is not thought as such – that is shaped by the
artist. It is the collaboration, the wonderful interaction between
breathing and blood-circulation. In breathing, the human being is
entirely conjoined with the cosmos. The air which I have just
breathed in was formerly an ingredient in the cosmos, and it will
afterwards become an ingredient in the cosmos once more. In
breathing I absorb into myself the substantiality of the cosmos,
and then release to the cosmos once more what was briefly within
me. Anyone who experiences this – anyone with a real feeling
for this breathing-process – will find in it one of the most
marvellous mysteries of the whole formation of the world. And this
interchange between man and the world finds its inner formation in
something closely bound up with the breathing-rhythm: the rhythm of
blood-circulation. In a mature man the ratio expressed in the
relation between respiration and pulse beat is an average one to
four: eighteen breaths (or thereabouts) and seventy-two pulse-beats
per minute. Between the two is generated that inner harmony
which constitutes man’s entire inner life of plastic and
The following remarks are not advanced as exact
knowledge, but by way of a picture. We see engendered before us a
spirit of light who, on the waves of the air, plays into man
through his breathing. The breath takes hold of the
blood-circulation, as of the occult workings of the human organism.
We see Apollo, the god of light, carried on the billows of air in
the breathing-process, and in his lyre the actual functioning of
the blood-circulation. Every poetic act, every forming act of
poetry ultimately rests on this ratio between breathing, as
inwardly experienced, and the inner experience of the circulation
of the blood. Subconsciously our breath counts the pulse-beats; and
subconsciously the pulse-beats count the breaths dividing and
combining, combining and dividing to mark
out the metre and the syllable-quantities. It is not that the
manifestations of poetry in speech adapt themselves so as to
conform either to respiration or to the circulation of the blood:
but rather the ratio between the two. The configuration of
syllables may be quite irregular, but in poetry they stand in a
certain ratio to one another, essentially similar to that between
breathing and circulation.
We can see this in the case where poetry first
comes before us, in what is perhaps the most congenial and readily
comprehensible form – the hexameter. Here we can see how the
first three verse-feet and the caesura stand in a mutual ratio of
four to one. The hexameter repeats this ratio of
blood‑circulation to breathing a second time. Man receives
the spiritual into his own inner processes and inner activities
when he creates poetry out of what he is at every moment of his
earthly life: a product of breathing and blood-circulation. He
articulates this artistically through the syllables in quantity and
metre. And we approach intensification and relaxation, tension and
release, in a properly artistic way when we allow fewer or more
syllables to the unit of breath. And these will then balance each
other out in accordance with their inherent natural proportions. In
other words, we must adjust the timing of the verse in the right
If we let the verse proceed according to the
proportion ordained by the cosmos itself, which subsists between
breathing and blood-circulation, we arrive at epic. If we ascend
towards an assertion of our own inner nature; i.e., let the
breathing recede, refrain from activating the life of the breath,
do not allow it to count up the pulse-beats on the
‘lyre’ of the blood-circulation – when we recede
with our breathing into ourselves and make the pulsation of the
blood the essential thing, reckoning up the notches (so to speak)
scored onto the blood-stream, we arrive at an alternative form of
metrical verse. If we are concerned with the breathing, which
calculates, as it were, the blood-circulation, we have recitation:
recitation flows in conformity with the breathing-process. If the
pulsation of the blood is our criterion, so that the blood engraves
its strength, weakness, passion, emotion, tension and relaxation
onto the flux of the breath – then declamation arises:
declamation pays more attention to the force or lightness, strength
or weakness of emphasis given to the syllables, with a high or low
intonation. Recitation, in accordance with the quietly flowing
breath-stream, reckons only the blood-circulation, and this is
communication in poetry – whereas declamation is
poetry as description. And in fact everyone who practises
speech-formation must ask himself when confronted with a poem: Have
I to recite here or declaim? They are two fundamentally different
nuances of this art-form. We realise this when we see how the poet
himself differentiates in a wonderful way between declamation and
Compare in this respect the Iphigeneia
Goethe composed in Weimar, before he became
acquainted in Italy with the Greek style. Observe the Iphigeneia he
wrote at that time: it is entirely declamatory. Then he comes
to Italy and
grows absorbed in his own way in what he terms Greek art (it was
not really still Greek art, but he does feel in it an after-effect
of Greek art): he rewrites his Iphigeneia in the recitative
mode. And while declamation, as stemming from the blood, passes
over into recitation, which stems from the breathing, here that
inwardly more Nordic, that Germanic disposition of feeling comes to
adopt an outward artistic form that works through quantities and
metre in this play which Hermann Grimm has aptly christened the
“Roman Iphigeneia”. For someone with artistic
sensibility there is the greatest conceivable difference between
Goethe's German and his Roman Iphigeneia. We do not wish
today to manifest a special sympathy or antipathy for one version
or the other, but to indicate the tremendous difference, which
should be apparent upon hearing a passage from the
Iphigeneia either in recitation or declamation. Examples
from both versions are now to be presented.
As for the hexameter, we shall encounter this in
Schiller’s “Der Tanz”. A correct, regular metre
– not necessarily the hexameter – we will come upon
this in some poems by Mörike, a
lyricist who inclines toward the ballad-form.
If we survey the aesthetic evolution of mankind,
we may experience decisively how in ancient Greece everything became
recitative and man lived altogether more in his natural
surroundings. The life of recitation lies in the breathing-process,
in quantitative metres. The declamatory emerges out of the northern
sense of inwardness, the depths of feeling we find in the soul and
spiritual life of Central
Europe. It relies more upon weight and
metre. And if, in his process of creation, the Divinity holds sway
over the world through quantity, weight and proportion,
then the poet is seeking through his declamatory and recitative art
to hearken to the regency of the Divine – to do so in a
poetic intimacy, through observing the laws of quantity and metre
in recitation, and through an intimate feeling for metre and weight
in the high and low tones of declamation.
In this context we will now present
Schiller’s “Tanz” to exemplify the hexameter;
then Mörike’s “Schön – Rohtraut”
and “Geister am Mummelsee”, which are in a
ballad-style; and lastly a short passage from Goethe’s German
and Roman Iphigeneia.
Siehe, wie schwebenden Schritts im Wellenschwung
sich die Paare
Drehen! Den Boden berührt kaum der
Seh ich flüchtige Schatten, befreit von der
Schwere des Leibes?
Schlingen im Mondlicht dort Elfen den luftigen
Wie, vom Zephyr gewiegt, der leichte Rauch in die
Wie sich leise der Kahn schaukelt auf silberner
Hüpft der gelehrige Fuss auf des Takts
Säuselndes Saitengetön hebt den
Jetzt als wollt es mit Macht durchreissen die Kette
Schwingt sich ein mutiges Paar dort in den
Schnell vor ihm her entsteht ihm die Bahn, die
hinter ihm schwindet,
Wie durch magische Hand öffnet und schliesst
sich der Weg.
Sieh! jetzt schwand es dem Blick; in wildem Gewirr
Stürzt der zierliche Bau dieser beweglichen
Nein, dort schwebt es frohlockend herauf; der
Knoten entwirrt sich;
Nur mit verändertem Reiz stellet die Regel
zerstört, es erzeugt sich ewig die drehende
stilles Gesetz lenkt der Verwandlungen Spiel.
wie geschiehts, dass rastlos erneut die Bildungen
Ruhe besteht in der bewegten Gestalt?
Herrscher, frei, nur dem eigenen Herzen gehorchet
eilenden Lauf findet die einzige Bahn?
es wissen? Es ist des Wohllauts mächtige Gottheit,
Die zum geselligen Tanz ordnet den
Die, der Nemesis gleich, an des
Rhythmus goldenem Zügel
Lenkt die brausende Lust und die
Und dir rauschen umsonst die
Harmonien des Weltalls?
Dich ergreift nicht der Strom
dieses erhabnen Gesangs?
Nicht der begeisternde Takt, den
alle Wesen dir schlagen?
Nicht der wirbelnde Tanz, der durch
den ewigen Raum
Leuchtende Sonnen schwingt in
Kühn gewundenen Bahnen?
Das du im Spiele doch ehrst,
fliehst du im Handeln, das Mass.
[Though by different means, Sir John Davies also
managed to devise a highly-polished, regular metre to reproduce in
English the classical .stateliness of a courtly dance.
The following section treats of “The Antiquitte of
Dancing,” and is taken from his “Orchestra, or A Poeme
Dauncing (bright Lady) then began to be,
When the first seedes whereof the world did
The Fire, Ayre, Earth and Water did
By Loves perswasion, Natures mighty
To leave their first
And in a daunce such measure to observe,
As all the world their motion should preserve.
Since when they still are carried in a
And changing come one in anothers
Yet doe they neyther mingle nor
But every one doth keepe the bounded
Wherein the daunce doth bid it
turne or trace:
This wondrous myracle did Love devise,
For Dauncing is Loves proper exercise.
Like this, he fram’d the Gods eternall
And of a shapelesse and confused
By his through-piercing and
The turning vault of heaven formed
Whose starrie wheeles he hath so made to
As that their movings doe a musick frame,
And they themselves, still daunce unto the same.
Or if this (All) which round about
(As idle Morpheus some sicke braines hath
Of undevided Motes compacted
How was this goodly Architecture
Or by what meanes were they
They erre that say they did concur by chaunce,
Love made them meete in a well-ordered daunce.
As when Amphion with his
Begot so sweet a Syren of
That with her Rethorike made the stones
The ruines of a Citty to repayre,
(A worke of wit and reasons wise
So Loves smooth tongue, the motes such measure
That they joyn’d hands, and so the world was
Sir John Davies (1569-1626).]
Wie heisst König Ringangs
Was tut sie denn
den ganzen Tag,
Da sie wohl nicht spinnen und nähen
Tut fischen und jagen.
O dass ich doch ihr Jäger
Fischen und Jagen
freute mich sehr. –
– Schweig stille, mein Herze!
Und über eine kleine Weil’,
So dient der
Knab’ auf Ringangs Schloss
In Jägertracht und hat ein Ross,
Mit Rohtraut zu jagen.
O dass ich doch
ein Königssohn wär’!
Schön-Rohtraut lieb’ ich so sehr.
– Schweig stille, mein Herze!
Einstmals sie ruhten am Eichenbaum,
Da lacht Schön-Rohtraut:
‘Was siehst mich an so wunniglich?
Wenn du das Herz hast, küsse
Ach erschrak der Knabe!
Doch denket er:
mir ist’s vergunnt,
Schön-Rohtraut auf den Mund.
– Schweig stille, mein Herze!
Darauf sie ritten schweigend heim,
Es jauchzt der Knab’ in seinem
Und würdst du heute Kaiserin,
Mich sollt’s nicht kränken:
Ihr tausend Blätter im Walde wisst,
Ich hab’ Schön-Rohtrauts Mund
– Schweig stille, mein Herze!
DIE GEISTER AM MUMMELSEE
Vom Berge was kommt dort um Mitternacht
Mit Fackeln so prächtig herunter?
Ob das wohl zum Tanze, zum Feste noch
Mir klingen die Lieder so munter.
So sage, was mag
es wohl sein?
Das, was du da siehest, ist Totengeleit,
Und was du da hörest, sind Klagen.
Dem König, dem Zauberer, gilt es
Sie bringen ihn wieder getragen.
So sind es die
Geister vom See!
Sie schweben herunter ins Mummelseetal,
Sie haben den See
und netzen den Fuss nicht einmal,
Sie schwirren in
leisen Gebeten –
Am Sarge die glänzende Frau!
Jetzt öffnet der See das grünspiegelnde
Gib acht, nun tauchen sie nieder!
Es schwankt eine lebende Treppe hervor,
Und – drunten schon summen die
Sie singen ihn
unten zur Ruh.
Die Wasser, wie lieblich sie brennen und
Sie spielen in grünendem Feuer;
Es geisten die
Nebel am Ufer dahin,
Zum Meere verzieht
sich der Weiher. –
Ob dort sich
nichts rühren will?
Es zuckt in der Mitten – O Himmel ach
Nun kommen sie wieder, sie kommen!
Es orgelt im Rohr und es klirret im
Nur hurtig, die Flucht nur genommen!
Sie wittern, sie haschen mich schon!
[For something similar in English we need look
no further than the authors of the celebrated Lyrical
had heard of Lucy Gray:
when I crossed the wild,
chanced to see at break of day
mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
dwelt on a wide moor,
The sweetest thing that ever grew
a human door!
You yet may spy
the fawn at play,
The bare upon the
But the sweet face
of Lucy Gray
Will never more be
‘To-night will be a stormy night –
the town must go;
take a lantern, Child, to light
mother through the snow.’
‘That, Father! will I gladly do:
’Tis scarcely afternoon –
minster-clock has just struck two,
yonder is the moon!’
the Father raised his hook,
snapped a faggot-band;
plied his work; – and Lucy took
lantern in her hand.
blither is the mountain roe:
many a wanton stroke
feet disperse the powdery snow,
rises up like smoke.
storm came on before its time:
wandered up and down;
many a hill did Lucy climb:
never reached the town.
wretched parents all that night
shouting far and wide;
there was neither sound nor sight
serve them for a guide.
day-break on a hill they stood
overlooked the moor;
thence they saw the bridge of wood,
furlong from their door.
wept – and, turning homeward, cried,
‘In heaven we all shall meet;’
When in the snow the mother spied
print of Lucy’s feet.
downwards from the steep hill’s edge
tracked the footmarks small;
through the broken hawthorn hedge,
the long stone-wall;
then an open field they crossed:
marks were still the same;
tracked them on, nor ever lost;
the bridge they came.
followed from the snowy bank
footmarks, one by one,
the middle of the plank;
further there were none!
Yet some maintain that to this day
a living child;
you may see sweet Lucy Gray
the lonesome wild.
O’er rough and smooth she traps along,
never looks behind;
sings a solitary song
whistles in the wind.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850).
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, Part V:
And soon I heard a roaring wind:
lt did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the
That were so thin and sere.
The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.
And the coming wind did roar more
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black
The Moon was at its edge.
The thick black cloud was cleft, and
The Moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.
The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.
They groaned, they stirred, they all
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.
The helmsman steered, the ship
Yet never a breeze
The mariners all ’gan work
Where they were wont to
They raised their limbs like
lifeless tools –
We were a ghastly
The body of my brother’s
Stood by me, knee to
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.
‘I fear thee, ancient
Be calm, thou
’Twas not those souls that fled in
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits
For when it dawned – they dropped their
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through
And from their bodies
Around, around, flew each sweet
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.
Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the sky-lark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and
With their sweet jargoning!
And now ’twas like all
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song,
That makes the heavens be mute.
It ceased; yet
still the sails made on
A pleasant noise
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the
sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).
In a further attempt to make clear the distinction between
a recitative and declamatory treatment of the same subject matter
in English, we present an additional example of a Psalm in the
Authorized Version and the Countess of Pembroke’s
translation – in this instance the ninety-eighth
O Sing unto the LORD a New song,
for hee hath done marvellous things:
his right hand, and his holy arme hath gotten
him the victorie.
The LORD hath made knowen his
his righteousnesse hath hee openly shewed in the
sight of the heathen.
Hee hath remembred his mercie and
toward the house of Israel:
all the ends of the earth have seene
the salvation of our God.
Make a joyfull noise unto the LORD, all the
make a lowd noise, and rejoyce, and sing
Sing unto the LORD with the
with the harpe, and the voice of a
With trumpets and sound of
make a joyfull noise before the
LORD, the King.
Let the sea roare, and the fulnesse
the world, and they that dwell
Let the floods clap their handes:
let the hills be joyfull together
Before the LORD, for he commeth to judge the
with righteousnesse shall hee judge the
and the people with equitie.
Jehova, he hath wonders wrought,
A song of praise that newnesse may
hand, his holy arme alone hath brought
Conquest on all that durst with him
He that salvation doth his ellect
Long hid, at length hath sett in open
the unbeleeving Nations taught
His heavinly justice, yelding each their
bounty and his truth the motives were,
Promis’d of yore to Jacob and his
ev’ry Margine of this earthy spheare
Now sees performed in his saving
Then earth, and all possessing earthy
O sing, O shout, O triumph, O
lute a part with vocall musique beare,
And entertaine this king with trumpet’s
Sea, all that trace the bryny sands:
Thou totall globe and all that thee
streamy rivers clapp your swymming hands: You
Mountaines echo each at others joy, See on
Lord this service you imploy, Who comes
earth the crowne and rule to take:
shall with upright justice judg the lands,
And equall lawes among the dwellers
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.]
It was once remarked by someone who
had listened very superficially to what we have tried to
demonstrate here – of how the art of poetry must be traced
back to an interplay, exalted and interfused with super-sensible
forces, between the spirit of breathing and the spirit of
blood-circulation – it was once remarked: Well, the art of
poetry will be mechanised! will be reduced to a purely mechanical
system: A materialistically-minded verdict typical of our age! The
only conceivable possibility is that the psychic and spiritual
stand as abstract as can be in well-worn conceptual forms over
against the solid material facts (to adopt an expression from the
German classical period) – and those include the human organs
and their functions in the human being. A
true understanding of the close collaboration between the
spiritual-super-sensible and the physical-perceptible is
reached, however, only by one who everywhere sees spiritual
events still vibrating on in material events. Anyone who follows
the example of that critic who spoke against our intimations of the
truly musical and imaginative qualities of poetry is really saying
something – and very paradoxical it sounds – like this:
There are theologians who affirm that God’s creative power is
there to create the solid material world. But God’s creative
power is materialised, if one says that God does not refrain from
creating the solid material world. It is quite as clever to say
that we materialise the art of poetry if we represent the
super-sensible spirit as sufficiently powerful, not only to
penetrate into materiality, but even into a rhythmical-artistic
moulding of the breathing-process and circulatory-process –
like Apollo playing on his lyre. The bodily-corporeal nature of man
is again made one with the psychic-spiritual. This does not
generate super-sensible abstractions in a Cloudcuckooland, but
rather a genuine Anthroposophy, and an anthroposophical art
sustained by Anthroposophy. We see how the spiritual holds sway and
weaves within corporeal man, and how artistic creation means making
rhythmical, harmonious and plastic that which is spiritual in the
bodily-physical functions. The age-old, intuitive saying is once
more seen to be true: the heart is more than this physiological
organ situated in the breast, as known to external sight; the heart
is connected with man’s entire soul-life, as being the centre
of the blood-circulation. It must be felt anew that just as the
heart is connected with the soul, so the essence of breathing is
connected with the spiritual. There was a time when man felt this
and still saw in the last departing breath the soul abandoning the
body. For a clever, enlightened age which disregards such matters,
a science of abstractions that is cut off from reality and inwardly
dead may have a certain validity. But for a knowledge that is at
the same time (in the sense of a Goethean perception) the
foundation of true art – it must be said that this knowledge
not only has to win through to the unity of the psychic-spiritual
and physical corporeality in man, but has also to bring it to life
artistically. A dead, abstract science can indeed be grounded on
the dichotomy of matter and spirit. On this path it is not possible
to create life-giving art. Hence our science, however appropriate
it may be in all technical matters, however well-qualified to form
the groundwork for everything technological, is eminently
inartistic. Hence it is so alien to man; for Nature herself becomes
an artist at the point where she produces man.
This, however, underlies
particularly the art of poetry.