In making a comparative studs? of 'Mir zur Feier” and its
second edition, which appeared under the title of "Pie Frühen
Gedichte", it lias been my endeavour to trace the development of
Bainer Marla Rilke’s style. Between the publication of the 1st
and 2nd editions a period of ten years elapsed - namely from
1899-1909, during which the poet’s literary theory and practice
underwent an almost complete change.
In accordance with "that much worn hut not untrue saying
that the style is the man"i a comparison of "Mir zur Feier”
and "Die Frühen Gedichte" should yield abundant evidence of
Rilke’s progressive development during this decade, for he is
one of the great artists, who has ever before him a higher ideal,
than that to which he has attained in the past.
"Die Siege laden ihn nicht ein.
Sein Wachstum ist: Der Tiafbesiegte
von immer Gröszerem zu sein."
Even in 1899 he writes in the Stunden=buch:
"Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,
die sich über den Bingen ziehn."-'
while in one of his most recent productions, the "Buineser
Elegien", we find poetic expression given to this attitude towards the past.
"Wie er auf
dem letzten Hügel, der ihm ganz sein Tal
noch einmal zeigt, sich wendet, anhält, weilt -,
so leben wir und nehmen immer Abschied."
It is therefore characteristic of Rilke that he should
review his early work in the light of higher ideals.
The first part of the memoir deals principally with the
general qualities of Rilke’s style as evidenced in "Mir zur
Feier", especially in those poems, which have been republished
unchanged or practically unchanged in "Ble Frühen Gedichte",
while Part II consists of a more detailed comparison of the 1st
and 2nd editions. The comparative table of contents overleaf
indicates the extent of the various changes.