Words and imagery in Binding’s poetry

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Words and imagery in Binding’s poetry

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By Margaret Sydnor Moseley



ProQuest Number: 10295118

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Introduction Biographical Material




IV • Imagery V.








CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Since the turn of the century German literature has "been passing through an exceedingly volatile per­ iod in its development.

The increasing tempo of world

events and rapidly changing conditions of living have caused poets, too, to become impatient with "outmoded” standards and techniques*

The resultant search for

new standards has been the predominant poetic theme for several decades, and has given rise to a veritable plethora of literary "cults”, each in Its own way proclaiming the ”new order” which would reconcile the conflict between spiritual and material values in modern industrial civilization.

It has been an era of

subjectivity and violent revolt, of feverish striving for ”individuality", and frequently one man alone has been a "cult” in himself*

The results have been

varied and startling, to say the least. It is small wonder, then, that onlookers have been entranced and preoccupied with this colorful spectacle of a literature in flux - perhaps with justice, since it is inevitable that such manifold experimentation should produce sane "new order” which will survive to affect the future development of


German literature.

Like spectators at the races,

most students of literature have enough of the gam­ b l e r s instinct to enjoy hazarding a guess as to the "winner.11 Faced with this challenge to their prophetic powers, scholars of the day have been prone to pass over lightly a smaller group of poets who have been protagonists of none of the more venturesome cults and who have had no sensational innovations to proclaim.

Yet if their work is not sensational,

it has nevertheless had its points of originality and excellence, and it Is well within the realm of possibility that in the final analysis of this period these apparent by-standers will be found to have had an appreciable, if smaller, share in shaping the course of German literature. It Is in this category that Rudolf Binding must be placed.

To be sure, his excellence has been

recognized and attested.

And he has been perhaps a

more popular writer than many of his more radical colleagues.

His Hovellen in particular have been

publishers* boons.

But a glance through the more

scholarly literary periodicals brings to light the fact that only on four occasions has Binding had any


appreciable number of "notices" at all in keeping with his popular reputation*

In 1927, on his

sixtieth birthday, he was hailed in glowing terms as one of the foremost poets of Germany; when in 1933 he published his Antwort eines Deutschen an die Welt he was feted by a gratified National Socialist press; his seventieth birthday was fittingly acclaimed; and in 1938 his death was duly mourned.

However, as

might be expected, on each of these occasions the tone was one of appreciation rather than of appraisal.


in the intervening years, when Binding found his way into scholarly discussions at all, he was usually relegated to the "lists." Much the same fate is reserved for him in con­ temporary literary histories.

He is often mentioned,

highly praised, and yet characterized usually in the most general terms in a paragraph or a page at the most, then dismissed.

1 Or, as in the case of Soergel,

he is merely quoted. His life and works have been discussed in several


Albert Soergel, Dichtung und Dichter der Zeit (3rd ed., 1931), pp. S3-42.

short pamphlets "by Paul Alverdes, Georg Stecher, W. E. Sdsskind, L. F. Bar the 1, Paul Wittko, and Hugo Martti, and In a hook by Traude Stenner* Anton Mayer with Binding*



has written a history of his friendship But all of these were intended primarily

as appreciative or memorial volumes, and while they do much to increase knowledge of the man and his works, their tone is literary rather than scholarly. There have, of course, been a few dissertations


which have touched on one phase or another of Binding1s works.

But of these only one - Heinz Millotatfs g Rudolf G. Bindings erz&hlerisches Werk - has been devoted entirely to Binding. On the whole, then, Binding research may be said

Budolf G. Binding. Leben und Werk (1938). Further data on""the pamphlets" wilTTie found in the general bibli ography. 3*

Per GBttergleiche (1939).


W* Beissenhirtz. Th. Storms Theorie der reinen lyrikilire Forderungen, ihr Sinn, und ihre gesclhichtlicHe Bedeutung . John R. Prey, Hew Evaluations of Life in Contemporary German Literature. A Study “of"Character in Binding. Grimm. Par ossa.' and Kolbenheyer(i957). Ursula Hartmann, Typen diohterischer Selbstbiographie in den letzten Jahrzehnten (1940).


to "be still in its infancy*

Much remains to he

done before any just evaluation of Binding’s position in the panorama of German literature or of his full contribution to its development may be made. The problem of Binding - or of any writer, for that matter - is basically that of obtaining satis­ factorily complete answers to the three questions: Who?



In other words, the man must be

fully understood (if that is possiblel), his work must be interpreted and evaluated, and the manner In which he puts himself into his works must be traced. Discussions of Binding so far written, if con­ sidered as a whole, have dealt largely with the questions of “Who?” and "What?” - and such a thing is natural in appreciative discussions.

Taken as a

group, they have presented a clear-cut composite picture of the principal characteristics of the man himself and of the salient features of his work, and have indicated an equation of cause and effect - of creator and product.

But still largely unaccounted

for is the middle term of the equation, the active factor which links cause and effect and which might be defined as “method” - the means by which Binding gave to his thoughts, opinions, and emotions their poetic form and, in short, stamped them with his

individual seal, made them uniquely his own. Thus the greatest gap in knowledge of Binding is found at present in the realm of "method” - of the question ”How?”

There have been, of course,

occasional references to Binding’s methods of achieving his effects, but these references have been for the most part casual remarks made in passing, pointing out some aspect of these methods but making no attempt to analyze or explain more fully.

In fact, the only

effort to analyze the ”How?” of the Binding equation has been made by Heinz Millotat in connection with his study of Binding’s fictional works.

And even in his

case, it seems to have been a matter rather secondary to his main purpose. There seems to be room, then, for a closer analysis of Binding’s method, particularly In connection with his poetry.

But since an examination of all the phases

of his method in all its almost endless ramifications would be a mammoth undertaking, it seems permissible and more discreet - to isolate for full discussion only two of Its aspects: Binding’s use of words and his choice of imagery. In choosing the first of these topics I have been guided first by the fact that Binding himself often expressed his interest in the German language and held

0 strong * and often controversial - opinions regarding it, and secondly by the unanimity of opinion among his critics regarding his superb mastery of the language and the beauty he attained in his use of it# The second topic, imagery, was chosen primarily since it seemed in a certain sense the logical sequence to the study of Binding’s use of words.

But at the

same time it appeared to afford one avenue of approach to the understanding of the lfformM which Binding found in all life and attempted to reproduce in his poetry, and which is referred to in virtually every discussion of Binding as one of the most important hall-marks of his verse. It was, of course, also believed that through a study of these two aspects of his poetic method - of the manner in which his mind functioned In producing his works - that it would be possible to proceed from the central term of the Binding equation to include both end terms within the field of vision, and thus to gain some additional insight into the character of the man himself and also further understanding of his works*


See Arthur Httbner, "Die Dichter und die Gelehrten#" Zeitschrif t fflr deutsche Bildung. IX (1933), #93-601• Exception is taken to Binding’s Von der Kraft deutschen Yifortes als Ausdruck der Nation*


The procedure adopted in treating Binding1s words and imagery was to some extent evolved as the work progressed, in accordance with the character of the material and the aims of the study, and with the advice of Professor Robert Ittner of Indiana University* But it has, of course, many points of similarity and is indebted in some degree to various similar discussions dealing with other writers, as well as to several books treating the problem of style in general* The bibliography will indicate those books which I have consulted, but a few of the more important deserve a more extensive mention. Of the books on the style of individual authors, Vojtech Jirat*s dissertation7 on Platen1s style although its point of departure is somewhat different has been of immeasurable value to me in suggesting methods of approach, particularly to the word study. 8 Miss Spurgeons Shakespeare studies first suggested to me the possibilities of the study of imagery and

Platens Stil (1933)*


Shakespeare1s Imagery and What It Tells Us (1936) *


determined in some way the methods used in that section of the discussion.

Arthur Burkhard's analysis 9

of C. F. Meyer* s character

through the medium of his

style has been of service and has, incidentally, served as a unattainable model of what such a study should be.

Leo Spitzer*s Stilstudien^ Hans

11 Koch*s work on Stefan George,

and Georg Minde-Fouet*s

study of Klelst12 have also been consulted and have suggested means of handling certain aspects of the material. Of the more general works, Miss Lucille Palmer*s dissertation on the language of German Expressionism


has furnished a convenient standard by which Binding’s language originality in relationship to his period could be ascertained.


deutsche Wortkunst,


And Arno Holz* Die befreite


Oskar Walzel's Das Wortkunstwerk.

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1932)




Die lyrische Gestaltung und die Sprachform Stefan Georges (1929)


Heinrich von Kleist. XT89Y)

13 •

The Language of German Expressionism (1938)





Seine Sprache und sein Stil


and F. J. Schneider's Der expressive Mensch und die 16 deutsche Lyrik der Gegenwart have also provided material on contemporary thought and standards of German poetry. 17 Finally, Fritz Strichfs Deutsche Klassik und Komantik has furnished the basis for the summation of Bindingfs characteristics in the concluding chapter. Edith Rickert's New Methods for the Study of 18 Literature. outlining purely statistical procedures, was helpful in establishing the mechanical basis of the study, but since the body of material handled was sufficiently small to obviate the necessity for sampling, her technique was not strictly followed.

And since I

felt that a purely quantitative analysis did not take into account the fact that the importance of any single appearance of a given phenomenon of style is dependent on the forcefulness and effectiveness with which it is used in that particular instance, I have also departed somewhat from a purely objective point of view in order to weight the material to take into account the sub-







jective factor.

This is, of course, toying with

imponderables, but seems to me to be necessary in a study of literature, which is, after all, not a science but an art, appealing to the emotions as well as to the mind.




There is, of course, a causal relationship between the life of the author and all phases of his work*

And this is especially true of the lyric

poet, whose ‘’relative vision11 binds him closely to himself* Binding, the lyric poet, consciously and un­ consciously, brought to bear on his writing every­ thing which he was, as the product of his own peculiar heredity and environment*

Hence any study

of his writing - even a limited study of some aspects of his methods - must take this background into account.

To be sure, there can be no arbitrary

alignment of cause and effect*

The factors which

conditioned the man’s thinking processes are too inter­ related to be extricated singly from the general


With the Intent of avoiding the necessity for digressing from the main line of thought, I have prefaced the discussion proper with a few pages devoted to biographical material which has a special bearing on the aspects of Binding’s poetry to be treated*



And. In addition, there is at hand

pitifully insufficient information regarding his life*

However, it seems worthwhile to survey so far

as possible the aspects of Binding’s life which may explain why his thinking processes developed as they did to produce the Binding vocabulary and imagery. In view of the tendency of critics to compare him with Goethe, it is interesting that Binding him2 self, in his amusing essay Ahnengeplauder, does this same thing in discussing his heredity*

There seems

to have been a common ancestor, and from that point on there is an interesting correspondence in the history of the two familiesr

the successive generations on

both family trees seem to have engaged in similar, and often identical, occupations, until they ultimately found themselves domiciled In the same city, Frankfurt am Main, where they produced in both cases poets. And having this much in common, Binding and Goethe produced autobiographies very similar in scope, style, and even in some of the incidents described, but above


Die neue Literatur, XXXII (1931), 113-117.

all in aims

to present the events and conditions

which determined the spiritual identity of the writer* Binding’s ERLEBTES LEBER is as yet the chief source of clues to his character as it affected his writing.

But it must he h o m e in mind that Binding

describes only those events in his life which he him­ self regarded as significant*

One must take into

account the fact that there were undoubtedly other incidents which conditioned his responses, but left no specific imprint on his memory*

However, on the

whole, there is very little in his poetry which cannot be adequately explained by reference to his auto­ biography. Binding was born in 1867 in Basel, where his father was just beginning his brilliant career as a professor of law. memory:

And from Basel stems his first

that of being carried outdoors and of wonder­

ing whether the woman carrying him would turn to the fountain or in the other direction.

Binding recalls

that he felt a distinct preference for the fountain, whose playing attracted and interested him.

In view

of his later imagery, in which water played such an important part, the incident is interesting and perhaps significant, expecially since Binding felt it worth mentioning.


Not much more of his Basel years seems to have impressed the hoy himself, hut Binding relates what his mother had told him of another early deed indicative of things to come*

During a visit to

the mountains, the child would try every evening to hlow out the sunset - evidencing an already active interest in a scene he was to reproduce often in his later poems* In 1870 the Binding family moved to Freihurg i/Br., and once again his surroundings furnished the hoy with a new series of impressions* distinctive sound of Freihurg:

He was conscious of the the rushing of the

swift mountain streams through the streets in their confining channels and of the Dreisam down its regular steps.

But above all he was conscious of the landscape

about the city - the mountains, the river, the meadows, the flowers.

The mountains he saw on long, strenuous

walks with his father, the meadows and flowers he learned to know on more leisurely rambles with his young aunt.

It was perhaps the only time in his child­

hood when the hoy Binding lived close to nature; his early life was passed for the most part in cities, where his contact with the countryside was that of a visitor or a spectator, not that of an intimate and continuous observer of its particulars.


It was in Freiburg, too, that the boy first began, under his father*s tutelage, his education in self-reliance - what he later called his "Ehrenkodext"^ to seek his own answers to his questions, to seek no help if he could avoid it, to hide his feelings*

And this early steeling of his character

was furthered also by the fact that then, as later, he was surrounded by adults, and found in them his ideals*

This circumstance had, however, a double-

edged effect upon his development:

it accelerated

his acquisition of “adult" traits of self-control and self-reliance, but on the other hand it delayed his release from worship of these ideals - especially in his father and mother, whom he long regarded respectively as infallible and insurpassably beautiful* Thus were laid the foundations for his later need for clarity and exactness and for his slowness in finding his vocation and in establishing his independence as an individual. The Binding family*s short stay in Strassburg was memorable for Binding only because there he saw and appreciated for the first time the river Rhine,


Erlebtes Leben.



G-esammeltes Werk (1937), Vol. IV,


it was no plashing fountain of Basel, no well-regulated Dreisam dancing down its steps.

Instead, this was a

mighty river. ffUngeheure Wassermengen schossen dunkel und fahl im Abend gl&nzend hin....TJnaufhBrlich zogen die Wasser....beziehungslos, ziellos, in unermesslicher Breite, einsam und unbefahren, und rissen an den Weidenbiischen der Ufer, dass sie Not zu haben schienen nicht mitgegriffen zu werden.

Ich vermochte diesem ewigen Pliessen

in meinem Innern nichts entgegenzusetzen.


war st&rker als ich, st&rker als mir lieb war und ich ertrug....Ich brauchte einen Halt und griff nach meines Vaters Hand.11^ Once again the impression was of water in still another phase of its ceaseless motion. The stay in Strassburg was short. was awarded a post at Leipzig.

Binding’s father

However, while arrange­

ments for the transfer were being made, Binding and his brother stayed with their paternal grandparents in


Ibid., p. S9f.



Here Binding found a mentor second only

to his father in influence - his grandmother.

And she,

like his father, stressed in her teaching self-reliance. At any misdeed or mistake her impatient ttKinder wie Rinder11 brought the culprit to a sharp realization that nothing was so base as lack of clear thinking.


wonder that one speaks of clarity in Binding*s works. His grandmother had no scruples in letting him bear the brunt of his own ignorance: the fishing-without5 bait episode taught young Binding that it was best to depend on his own observations and to make sure that they were accurate and complete. After Frankfurt, Leipzig was a dreary place - all city with none of the trees, fields, mountains, and rivers which had graced the former city, as well as Basel, Freiburg, and Strassburg. it to be his home.

Binding never felt

The Frankfurt of his grandparents*

house remained the hub of his uni verse - his true Heimat. The surroundings in which Binding spent the latter part of his childhood made no deep impression on him. But there were other things which were to determine his later thinking. The education by his father continued (there were


Ibid., p. 49f•


the lessons in skating^ and the hiking incident, for example) and was supplemented by his schooling* There, in his best subject, German, he laid the foundations for his later mastery of the German language• But above all he learned the meaning of what he called "Tun-als-ob*1, a habit of thinking and conduct which he later felt was the key-note of the entire era*

Prom his first day in school, when his father

told him to pray with the others - ,fMach du das nur mits

das kann dir gar nichts schaden1*® - he was

conscious of the falsity of the accepted standards of society, of the lack of mental honesty which they signified*

As time passed Binding1s attention was

drawn to the necessity for penetrating behind these pretensions to understand the fundamentals of living, to determine the essentials in a maze of non-essentials* Again a case for clear thinking, the results of which Binding attempts to express in the poems. Presaging his position as a "non-cultist" poet


Ibid*, p. 86f.


Ibid*, p. 92f♦


Ibid., p. 67.


were still other aspects of Binding’s boyhood. His pursuits, so far as one can judge by his autobiography, were those of a normal schoolboy# He was not an outstanding scholar, but he did like sports#

However, he departed from the noimal in

that he apparently had none of the clan spirit usually found in small boys#

He himself mentions

that, to the consternation of his grandmother, he had during his boyhood no real friends, in the full meaning of the word#

He seems to have been too

reticent, too self-sufficient for normal give-andtake# However, in his teens, Binding found the friend which he eulogized later in many of his works, and which he regarded as his strictest and best teacher - the horse#

In acquiring, at his father’s

suggestion, the accomplishments of a ’'gentleman*1 he learned to ride#

The sensations he experienced In

riding and the lessons he learned are reflected again and again in his later writing#

He describes his

reactions thus: "Hier auf dem Rticken von tausend Pferden lernte ich die Oeduld, die mir


sonst niemand beigebracht hiitte*


lernte ich das Nie-sich-aufgeben, das Hie-sich-gehen-lassen*

Hier lernte ich

mich zu sammeln, gerecht zu sein, nie in Zorn zu geraten.

Hier lernte ich alle

meine Rftcksicht, meine Anerkennung jeder natttrliehen Hegung.

Hier lernte ich die

Liehe fttr alles Elementare, IJngebEndigte* ••• Hier gewann ich als letztes die Herrschaft tiber mich selbst, die Zucht meines Leibes und meiner Seele* “••♦•ich liebte den Schwung eines Plugs, den gewBlbten Hiicken eines schnellenden Leibs der sich zu einem fliegenden Pfeile unter mich streckte*

Aber auch der

langausgreifende Viertakt des Schritts, der schwingende Zweitakt des Trabs hatten die Anmut ihres Rhythmus*

Das war nicht mehr

Ritt, es war nicht mehr Sport* KBrperliche verschwand.


Es war das HochgeftJhl

einer jungen Seele das ich erlebte* fand ich mich selbst: vom Leben erzogen.n^


Ibid., p. I07f.


dem Leben untertan

So high did he feel the requirements of riding to he that it aroused in him, as nothing else in his life at that time did, the desire to excel, to do his utmost*

This became for him the meaning of

happiness* On his graduation from the secondary school, Binding was still uncertain which profession he preferred to enter.

Perhaps, far back in his mind

lurked the idea of writing, but as he saw it, “Schreiben und Dichten waren doch keine Berufei1' ^ Conscious as well of what he called “diese laue, dflnne und magere Universitalit&t meiner Bildung*11^ Binding could only choose the obvious course - to follow in his father^ footsteps# With this in mind, Binding embarked on his university career, first at Tttbingen, then at Leipzig*

In due time he received his degree and

began to practice law.

While a student he had

chafed under the limitations imposed on him by a specialized field of study; and he was later galled by a practice which dealt in small details of the law.


His interest was in the broad fundamentals,

Ibid., p. 99.


not in the particulars.

In the end, he gave up his

practice. Binding then turned to medicine, but again there was the same progression from exhilaration with the broad fundamentals to impatience with details. Although he passed the first examination, Binding abandoned the course. Nevertheless, that he did try his hand at two such professions as medicine and law, in which precision and exactness are so important, seems to indicate Binding*s desire for these same things in his thinking then and in his writing later. Binding was still far from finding himself.


once during these years had he found something which could hold him spellbound.

This was Clausewitz*

VOM KRIEGE, which he later designated as the book most important to his ideas, the source for his con­ cepts of ,fdas Xusserste'*^* and of the simplicity on the grand scale which is so difficult.

Binding had

never read much, but now he searched his father*s


Ibid., p. 148


library in the hope of finding other books which could move him as Clausewitz1 had*

But they seemed

to have no vitality; and the opera (even Wagner) was unsatisfactory*

Only Beethoven’s Eroica could

kindle a spark, but that, too, did not last.


the precepts of his father and of Clausewitz had any enduring influence. Having discarded two professions and having found no enduring satisfaction in the arts, Binding began what he called ,feine Art Eochstapelei: eine 12 Hochstapelei gegen mich.” This was his period of uncertainty and searching, of growing dissatisfaction with himself and his age*

He had no profession;

occasionally he bought and sold blooded horses and in this pursuit travelled extensively through England and Ireland; periodically he took supplementary military training; he raced horses, even winning the Lincoln Mile; he passed through a series of flirtations un­ scathed; he met his first friend in Anton Mayer and with him attended lectures on art at Berlin university* He lived from day to day, conscious always that he was not making the most of himself.

Yet he was laying the

ground for future fulfillment, amassing experiences


Ibid., p. 156*

and knowledge, sifting out the chaff, storing up knowingly and unknowingly the material he would later use in writing* !,In die sen Jahren schien es mir wohl, als ob das Leben selbst, so wie es sich bot, mein Feld und Beruf sei*

Die Zukunft, so

meinte ich, werde sich schon einstellen wie sich der Augenblick einstellte.*'^ With this passive attitude Binding waited for the activity he craved.

His period of Hochstapelei lasted

until he was forty years old.

But then it came to

an abrupt end in what he refers to as his lfVerdunkelungM apparently a nervous breakdown, brought on by years of seeking for an outlet coupled with a growing sense of frustration.

For several months Binding lived in

a state of complete mental unawareness, and then 15 reached what he calls Mdas Erwacheni' The circumstances of this awakening had much to do with Binding*s later poetry.


Ibid., p. 167*


Ibid., p. 173.


Ibid., p. 179.

If he had returned to


awareness in the surroundings of his previous life, the refreshing effect of his illness might have been nullified, and he might never have begun to write. Instead, he found himself in a fresh and stimulating environment - Italy- with a type of beauty new to him# 1fIch war so weit getrennt von dera was war, obwohl ich das was vor meiner Krankheit lag sehr seharf und klar aus der Ferne erkannte.

Aber die Beziehungen zu jener

fernen Art des Lebens schienen gelBst* hatte keine Sehnsucht zurttckzukehren. war ja doch nur Halberfftlltheit.

Ich Dort

Hier war

junge Hoffnung, W&rme.tt^ At first Binding explored this new world with slow steps.

He saw, almost with the wide eyes of a

child, the colorful landscape with its flowers and trees, the blue sea, and the bare mountains to the North, all flooded by warm Southern sunlight.


in Florence, in a lively circle of artists, students,


Ibid., p. 181


and scientists, he reentered human society•


learned Italian, and at the behest of his teacher, did his first translation - one of d ’Annunzio’s poems.

And secretly, as an outlet for his new alive-

ness, he began to write his own poems.


immediately he realized that he had found his pro­ fession. Binding returned to Germany in a short time. The Southern experience went with him, but the change it had brought in him had come about too easily, and remembering Clausewitz, he did not feel that he had as yet faced the ultimate test of his new being. Therefore, Anton’s invitation to visit Greece seemed to him a possible opportunity for meeting this challenge.

His expectations were not disappointed:

he experienced there his second and greater "Erlebnis 17 des Lichts.” The whole journey furnished him with impressions and images which were to recur again and again in his works.


Ibid., p. 202.

There was first of all the sea,


then the glorious sunrise on the morning their ship approached the islands of Greece, and soon after the Acropolis looming up over the horizon, bathed in sunlight, - to Binding symbolic of his expectations.

Then there was Greece itself, with

its famous landmarks, climaxed by the Hermes of Praxiteles - and always the light, which permeated not only every aspect of physical life, but also the entire spiritual life of its civilization.


describes his reaction to this light; "Es 1st aber eigentlich kein Licht mit Eigenschaften des Lichts aber vielmehr eine ungeheure Helligkeit.

Kein Mensch

kBnnte ihre Farbe nennen und es ist ihr nicht urn T6ne zu tun.

Sie eigentlich ist die

Luft in der die Dinge atmen.

Sie blendet

nicht, sie ist nur unfassbar hell.


schmeichelt nicht, schSnigt nicht.


will nur Klarheit, Bestimmtheit, Unerbittlichkeit der Form.

Sie hasst

Geheimnisse...♦ Sie macht alles einfach, froh, selbstbewusst, eindeutig.”*^


Ibid., p. 202


Critics of Binding seem

merely to

echo these words

in describing his works. The importance of the Greek experience seems to lie primarily in the fact that it furnished him with a concrete example of the ideals he had long cherished but had been unable to find in actual existence.


short, the journey at once intensified his desire for spiritual clarity as nothing else had ever done and gave him a clearer insight into the means of attaining this state, not only in his poetry, but in his life as a whole. It might be said that the Greek journey rounded out Binding’s poetic apprenticeship.

It was the

culmination of forty years of living and experiencing which had shaped the man and not only afforded him much of the raw material for his works, but also had determined to a great extent in what form this material would appear.

The condensed product of this period

of apprenticeship was the thin volume called ERWACHEN. The Binding of ERWACHEN, however, was mainly concerned with developing to the fullest his new self as discovered in Italy and Greece.

He was still, as

he put it, a poet breathing the thin air of the mountain tops.

Another kind of Erlebnis des Lichts was necessary

before he could come down into the valley with the rest


of humanity to complete his poetic development and find the fulfillment he desired. The first World War brought about this change and put the finishing touch to Binding!s poetic development.

Harking back go Clausewitz, Binding

saw the war as an opportunity to face das Jtusserste, to prove his own mettle and adequacy.

As he lived

through the war, however, he became more and more aware of its broader significance.

It was the

means by which not only he but his whole generation could free itself of its fathers1 curse of Tun-als-ob and regain its essential humanity.

In identifying

himself with his generation in this aim, Binding made the descent from the mountain top to the human plain. His war poems, proceeding logically from Ich bln ein heillger Reiter to the Ruhspruch, are a history of his own change of viewpoint and of the purification of his generation as he saw it. Binding*s disillusionment with the early post­ war period, not only because of the harshness of the peace terms, but also because of the form taken by the German revolution (which he saw as a movement of professional politicians and in no way an outgrowth of


the national will), was great*

For a time he

feared that the lesson he had learned from the war would go unheeded by the rest of his countrymen * However, his natural optimism asserted itself, and his disillusionment was short-lived*


immediately the new attitude of responsibility to the community, which he had acquired during the war, caused him to convert his belief in the new order into action of a practical sort.

He took a part

in local politics as the mayor of Buchschlag, and soon after began to present in lectures and articles his hopes for the future.

In particular, he

exhibited much interest in the new youth movements such as the Wandervflgel and addressed many of his speeches to these groups. This new post-war attitude of participation rather than aloofness suggests a shift of viewpoint which is perhaps best expressed by Walther Rehm, who describes Binding1s new attitude as ,!ein neues Erwachen, wie ein neues mannhaftes Stehen in einer Welt und einem Leben, das durch das Erlebnis des Krieges geweiht und gereift ist und von ihm die neuen, die verpflichtenden Masse, erhalten hat."


"Rudolf G. Binding.”


Zeitwende, V (1929), 166.


It is natural that Binding1s experiences after he began to write should effect certain changes in his poetry.

But it is hardly possible to draw hard

and fast lines of demarcation to establish distinct periods in his poetry, despite the admittedly strong influence of the war on his manner of thinking.


like Goethe, who began to write in his early formative years and continued to do so through a ripe old age, Binding wrote his first poems only when he was well past his youth and when the general character of his thoughts had been long established; and he died before he had reached extreme old age, when his vitality might reasonably be expected to diminish and his poetry to take on a quieter tone.

He remained during his

productive years a man in his mature prime.


these conditions, even under the impact of such a stirring event as the war, no radical changes might be expected in his literary style.

Any changes which

this event or others less spectacular would cause in his writing should entail only certain shifts in relative emphasis.

And in the ensuing discussions

changes of this sort will be mentioned, but the existence of any distinct periods in his poetry cannot be established on the basis of his words and imagery alone.


CHAPTER III WORDS The smallest unit of Binding*s poetry is, of course, the word.

On the surface, it would seem

that the essence of his poems could be found only when those words are used in combination, as they are joined to form coherent thoughts and mental images.

In a large measure this is true.

But the

fact cannot be overlooked that the character of the image is determined by the words of which it is composed, and that the study of Binding* s use of words is interesting in itself, and serves also as a background for the study of these larger thought units. The plausibility of such an argument seems con­ firmed when Binding* s own speech, Von der Kraft deutschen Wortes als Ausdruck der Nation, is recalled.^ Plainly evident is Binding*s belief that there is a certain mystic quality in words as symbols of human concepts, and that German is unusually rich


1933, published under same title 1936.


in this respect.

He makes much of the onomatopoeic

quality of most words, asserting that a primary relationship exists between the vowel and consonant sounds of a word and the object, thought, or emotion it denotes.

In his essay, Sprache und Wahrheit,

Binding carries the thought even further.


To the

words thus formed, there accrue through the centuries certain emotional overtones.

Yet while this change

infringes on the scientific accuracy of words, it nevertheless enriches them by endowing them with an emotional symbolism which is felt rather than under­ stood. Feeling strongly this quality of words, Binding naturally attached much importance to his choice of them.

That he was highly successful in conveying this

feeling for word meanings is amply evidenced by the fact that critics, almost without exception, mention his skill in that respect, and that on occasion he has 3 been called !fein Meister der Sprache'1, or more particularly "ein Meister des Wortes."^


Rufe und He den (1928), p. 182ff.


Gr. Pankalla, "Bin Meister der Sprache. Zum Tode Rudolf G. Bindings." Muttersprache, LIII (1938), 329.


L. F. Barthel, "Rudolf G. Binding." XXIX (1937), 291.

Die Tat,


The full meaning of these phrases is best determined by going back in history to the days of the Meistersinger, when the heads of the poetic hierarchy were the Meister*

The attainment of this

eminent rank was dependent not only on the aspiring poet!s mastery of the verses and tunes already current, but also on his ability to create new verses and tunes. In short, the title of Meister connoted not only skill but also originality, or creative talent* It is in this spirit that Binding has been called a master of words, and the aptness of the designation is apparent even to the casual reader of his works*

Indicative of his sure mastery of the

language as a medium of poetic expression of his thoughts and emotions is the precision with which he unerringly for the most part - chose the word conveying most precisely and forcefully his meaning, then placed it in its proper niche In the structure of the whole verse, stanza, or even poem, where it contributed its duly apportioned share in the establishment of the whole effect, and where every fine shade of its meaning as Binding understood it was displayed to full advantage *


But precision in the use of words is indicative only of thorough knowledge of language and skill in using it* master*

Originality is still needed to make the Words must he malleable in his hands, capable

of being molded to suit the master* s needs and will, so that they may convey his thoughts more vividly and expressively, and at the same time suggest even more of their own meaning than they usually reveal*

It is in

his exercise of this higher faculty of originality that Binding proves finally his right to be called 11ein Meister des Wortes*’1 However, before either Binding*s skill or originality in employing words can be fully discussed, it is necessary to determine (1) what factors in his environ­ ment and training enabled him to attain mastery of language, and (2) what his aims in word usage, as determined by these factors, were* The foundations for Binding*s language skill were laid during his early school years*

Then, almost with a

feeling of guilt and without admitting it to himself, he devoted his greatest - and only sincere - scholastic efforts to what was at that time a much belittled secondary subject - German. reasons for this:

He seems to have had two

he felt instinctively that the study

of the classics was not pertinent to himself, whereas


German would "be of immediate practical use to him all his life; then during the last two years of his secondary school career, as he confesses, he excelled merely because of his sympathy for an abused German teacher.

Binding1s methods of study for this

favorite subject are also interesting.


a procrastinator, he would get up at five in the morning, in order to finish by dint of intense concentration, in a race against time, with no hope of reprieve if a blot marred the perfection of a page or the meaning was not clear, his theme for the day*

One might wonder in passing, whether this early,

rather Spartan routine of writing could account for Binding1s later tendency to write only after his thought was fully formed and definitely phrased in his mind, with little, if any, revision necessary after it was committed to paper,

"What began as a

stern necessity might well have become a habit* Undoubtedly Binding* s reading then, but especially later, did much to sharpen his perception of language values, even though it did not satisfy his spiritual needs.


His essay, Erste Bileher, erste Gedichte,^

Die Literatur, XXXVIII (1935), 5-8.


outlining the growth of his literary knowledge and understanding, indicates plainly that he read widely with unusual critical awareness and discrimination. Binding* s final mastery of words must have been due largely to his translation activities, in which the demands on his vocabulary, his knowledge of the subtleties of meaning, and possibly his ingenuity in forming words to fit the occasion must have been at once broad and exacting. The circumstances of Binding*s life just mentioned seem to account directly for his technical mastery of the German language.

But it is necessary to consider

also other less direct influences on his use of words which determined in just what way he was to apply this mastery. For this purpose, it is necessary to add to the facts already mentioned certain aspects of his life discussed in the preceding chapter.

Mentioned there

were his education in clear and orderly thinking, his eagerness to experience life to the fullest, his Greek Erlebnis des Lichts, and finally the first World War. In this series of experiences seems to lie to a great extent the key to the dominant character of Binding*s poetry, and consequently even of the smallest unit into


which it can he divided - the words of which it is composed* The influences which his various experiences had on Binding1s word usage might be characterised as belonging to one of two groups which may at first glance seem to oppose each other, but which, as Binding combines them, are actually complementary* To recapitulate, there are (1) Binding’s early method of writing school themes, in which, if he expected to circumvent the element of time and satisfy his teachers, the utmost economy and accuracy were demanded; (2) his translation activity, requiring again exact and discerning evaluation of words; (3) his father’s insistence on clear, orderly thinking and selfcontrol, which are discouraging to the verbosity usually indicative of fuzziness of thought; and (4) his Greek experience, also fostering clarity of thought.


varying degrees all these experiences aroused in Binding a distaste for blurred outlines, for complex patterns which conceal basic simplicity, for the indefiniteness which hides uncertainty or ignorance.

He wanted to think

in clear-cut, definite, exact terms, and to express the results of his thought in the same manner.

Such a desire

seems to have given rise in Binding to what might be called


M s economy of words.

Seeking precision and clarity,

he tried to write concisely, directly, exactly - in short, economically. But such a method of writing may often result in rigid, stylized, sterile verses.

To counteract this

danger, there was a second set of influences in Binding*s life.

There was his burning desire to make the most of

every experience he could wring from lifer

his father

had taught him also to welcome every challenge life offered, and Clausewitz had aroused his eagerness to face and surmount das Jiusserste. Even the long, discouraging years of apparently aimless Hochstapelel served only to intensify this desire to live completely.

And when, first

in Italy, then in Greece, and finally in the Y/orld War, Binding found his wish fulfilled, it was natural for him to give vent to his feelings - to fill M s poems to the brim with the aliveness he found in and around himself. Xf this desire for aliveness and hence its corollary, motion, be coupled with Binding* s desire for economy in words, the result is wealth within the economy. Expressing as concisely as possible the utmost aliveness, Binding obtains in his poetry a synthesis of two opposing factors which Steinborn,


speaking of the same trait in his poetry

"Rudolf G. Binding. Dreigespr&ch tJber die Vollkommenheit." Die Literatur, XXXIX. (1957), 584.


as a whole, calls "fiusserst gespannte Lebendigkeit•*1 To accomplish this aim, Binding did not hesitate to mould the German language to suit his needs* A study of his methods of doing this, and the variations in these methods occurring from time to time as his needs changed, will make clear not only the extent of Binding*s mastery of the language but also what his needs were, and thus serve as a prelude to a later discussion of the larger aspects of his poetry* In order that the study be systematized as much as possible, a purely external division according to the parts of speech has been adopted* However, before entering into any particularized discussion, it is well to establish certain relationships in Binding’s vocabulary*

A list of the nouns, verbs,

adjectives, and adverbs used in Binding’s poems has been set up - approximately 3600 words used over 10,600 times in 236 poems.

The significant points of such a

vocabulary list are to be found primarily, however, not in numbers but in the relationships of the various parts of speech.

Interesting is the fact that the ratio of

different nouns to different verbs Is only 1.54:1. This may suggest two things:

that Binding’s range of

subject matter, which would be most immediately revealed


in the number of nouns, is restricted; and that he uses verbs more profusely than the n o mal poet. The latter point is confirmed when the total uses of words (counting repetitions) are considered.

In this

case the ratio of nouns to verbs is even less:


Both of these relationships mean that Binding*s sentence structure averages less than what might be considered the normal form of subject-verb-noun complement - a form which would mean at least a 2:1 ratio.

If the

percentages of words and word uses are compared, it is apparent that there are differences in repetitiveness, but these variations are not very much out of the ordinary. As is to be expected, Binding repeats adjectives least on the average he uses each adjective or adverb only 2.4 times, while each noun appears 3.1 times, each verb 3.3 times.

Perhaps the only point of interest on

this score lies in the fact that there should be, on the average, so much repetition in a relatively small number of poems. It Is indicative of Binding*s poetic technique that only a small percentage of his words are adjectives or adverbs.

If a comparison with nouns is made, it is found

that the ratio of nouns to adjectives is 1.34:1, and that


the ratio of their uses is 1.78;1, indicating, as the repetition figures suggest, an even more sparing use of adjectives and adverbs than their number would 7 indicate. This suggests first of all a certain rationalistic viewpoint, since by all poetic traditions adjectives are an important factor in poetry, above all emotional poetry.

And it also suggests a certain

conciseness and colorfulness of expression by means of nouns and verbs which makes the support of adjectives and adverbs unnecessary. On the whole, however, the principal point of interest in the vocabulary lists is the noun-verb ratio, which demonstrates most clearly the stress on the action element in the sentence.

Under these conditions

it is interesting, in inquiring into the manner in which Binding imposes his personality on his vocabulary, to look first at the verb, VERBS Reasonably enough, Binding*s desire to express his joy in life and action makes itself felt in his tendency


Cf. Traude Stenner, Rudolf G. Binding. und Werk (1938), p. l6l



to centre much of the vivid color of his poems in the primary vehicle of action - the verb.

His verbs

are usually forceful: the action is portrayed as strongly as circumstances permit.

The word sein. which

may be considered the most non-committal verb in the language, accounts for one verb use in seven.


this may seem at first glance a fairly large frequency, in view of normal poetic word economy, it is not so Significant when it is remembered that the predicate complement in a majority of the sein uses is a past participle.

This causes the attention to shift to

the participle where the action resides, and the mind to regard the form as a static passive of the parti­ cipial verb rather than a form of sein. Binding usually chooses tense forms which stress continuity and positiveness of action.

Weaker passive

forms constitute only 1 per cent of his verbs, partly due to the fact that he may avoid the form by dispensing with finite forms altogether and write in participial sentences.

Subjunctives and optatives account for only

another 3 per cent of his verbs.

If, in addition, the

proper deductions are made for imperatives and infinitives, over three-fourths of Binding*s verb uses are seen to be


active, indicative forais.

Within this last category

the distribution is interesting.

Only 4 per cent of

these verbs are in the perfect tenses, less than 2 per cent in the simple future, about 14 per cent in the simple past, and the overwhelming majority, 80 per cent in the present.

Binding*s preference is, then,

overwhelmingly for the more dynamic tenses - present and past - which stress continuity of action. There is also a slight but noticeable tendency to prefer transitive verbs, which carry the action farther and make for greater fluidity of style, and this trait may be carried so far that normally intransitive verbs are made transitive.

Evidence of this liking for

transitive verbs may be seen in the frequency of the be- prefix in the poems.

The effect of the prefix in

general seems to be to emphasize the subject as a purposeful actor and then to direct the thought on to the receiver of the act.

Admittedly this is to some

extent a weakening of the verb element in that the attention is not held on that element.

But at the

same time the use of such verbs enhances the general movement of the sentence, and it will be noted in later paragraphs that a certain part of Binding* s verbs are transitive because of the addition to that element

of prefixes normally existing as independent prepositions.

Hence the addition of meaning to

the verb offsets to some extent the weakening 8 caused by its transitization.> The strengthening of Binding*s verbs is accomplished by a number of means not unknown or even unusual in German, yet occurring in his poetry so often that they become significant by sheer weight of number.

This entails almost invariably the use

of the particle.

In fact, almost three-fifths of

Binding*s verbs are prefixed with any one of the 60 or so prefixes which are to be found in his poems.

The importance of these prefixes lies not

only in their number and character, but also In their context, as they are used in the sentence.

That is,

the total number of prefixed verbs includes a certain proportion of uses in which the prefix in question is

8 * Vojtech Jirat, In his Platens Stil (1933), p.4, states that Platen preferred transitive verbs and tended to further weaken them by reducing their thought content. This combination of traits he considers evidence of the classic "nominal” style of writing. However, the second of these traits - the weakening of meaning - does not occur in Binding*s case.


essential, even in the weakest possible statement of the thought.

But there are other cases in which

the presence of the prefix gives unusual and un­ expected strength to the expression, and adds, in a way, an extra fillip to the sentence.

These instances

cannot be analyzed statistically at all, since the unusual force of each depends primarily on the particular conditions and surroundings in which it is used a fact which makes any evaluation to a great extent subjective.

However, there are certain broad classifi­

cations into which these cases may be divided, de­ pending usually on the portion of the total meaning of the sentence which is delegated to the verb part. At the same time, consideration should be given to any changes in frequency in the appearance of the various types of prefixes at different times in Binding1s writing.

In general, prefixed verbs are slightly more

prevalent in the early poems, and progressively less in the war poems and the later period.

Variations within

the various classes are best pointed out in connection with the discussion of the particular class in question. A frequently used means of emphasizing the verb is that of attaching to the verb grammatical meaning usually assigned in more static styles of writing to other parts


of speech.

As a rule this means nothing more than

the attachment to the verb of a particle which has the double effect of making the meaning of the verb more definite and of centering a greater part of the meaning of the sentence in the verb.

For example, 9 in his Hochland im Neuschnee. Binding writes II, 29

Denn sie tragen die Wttrde der uralten zackigen Krone, welcher ein neuer blinkender Reif im GllXhrot des d&nraernden Morgens aufgeschweisst ward.

Here auf prefixed to the verb rather than in its normal position as a preposition with welcher intensifies the action of the verb and draws the attention to that sentence element.

Similar instances are to be found

in such phrases as the following: II, 68


die braunen Schlangen die mit scheuer Pracht von mir gelBst mich schmeichlerisch umspringen.

Quotations from the poems are identified by the volume (roman numerals) and page (arabic) of the collected works, the 1937 edition, published by Rfttten & Loening.


II, 73

Und ihre schlanken H&nde begannen die SchlBfen mir leis zu ums chme icheIn.

II, 93

Leuchtend durchschritt mit den sieben brans enden sBhnen und TBchtern Vater Rhein das Gefild seiner gesegneten Pfalz:

II, 121

bisweilen naht ein Gedanke dir, umtastet dich leise....

II, 138

Reiner Seele junges Gestirn fiberstrahlte die Welt*

II, 189

JDu. •«• l&sst den Kleinmut der die H&nde faltet am Wege sitzen todesfiberwaltet und fiberspringst das Grab.

II, 203

Ruhvoll umrauscht dich Pittich verzauberten ScEwans.

II, 238

Nacht umstand uns....

II, 256

Sterne umstanden reglos deln Haupt•

V , 197

Es fiberstrBint mi oh wie ein Katarakt...•

V , 214

Sternbilder umschwingen die Hfiften.

In each case a less vivid sentence with a prepositional use of the prefix has been avoided, replaced by the more colorful attachment of the element to the verb. This means of intensifying verb meaning is also an ex­ tremely economical measure, tightening the sentence noticeably.

It is interesting that this form is used even

more frequently in the post-war poems than in the early period*


Such a change is an indication of increasing economy of style, A second means of emphasizing the verb given full play in Binding1s poetry is exemplified in the lines XI, 14

Dass Natur nicht ungeb&ndigt frei entspringe in den Raum.,..

II, 15

Und weit hinilber ttber Sinn und Willen webt sich der Mensch ins Unverheissene ein#



Hoch wird die Birke aufgeweht...,



Rings von g8ttlichen Zeichen bin ich umschriftet.

In these cases the prefixes serve merely to intensify a thought expressed primarily elsewhere in the sentence.

Such doubling for emphasis is so typical

of German, however, that it would hardly warrant discussion as a hallmark of Binding, were it not for the fact that it is unusually frequent in his poetry. This doubling to enrich the meaning is somewhat more prevalent in the first period of Binding*s writing than in the later poems, as might be expected in view of the shift In the previous class. Without the transference of sentence meaning to the verb Binding also manages to give added vividness to that element.

This he may do by attaching a


prefix where none is usually expected or by strengthening a verb already compounded in normal usage by the substitution of a more emphatic prefix (or of a less emphatic one, with the element of surprise acting to produce the same results)* II, 51

Nun bin ich krank nach dir und muss zer quillen,

II, 96

Und du entschwandst wie die Wolke im olauen Ather sich iBset

II, 97

•••*und ohne den Blick zu verwenden ,,,,treibt sie von hinnen der Tag*

This type of prefixing is not very frequent, and examples of it appear almost exclusively in the early poems.

As a matter of fact, in the later

poems there are several instances of the reverse process of dispensing with a prefix where normal usage would demand one.

In the war poems, for

instance, there is the line II, 139

Horn und Trommel schwingten unseren Tritt.,,,

Binding, normally prone to add prefixes, has in this case actually disposed of one.

Despite Binding*s

apparent consideration of the exigencies of rhythm, beschwingten would have seemed a more normal selection


first as a transitive form and then as a variation on the adjective beschwingt.

Yet in choosing to

overlook the obvious and abandon his usual procedure of addition for that of subtraction, Binding has achieved the same result of emphasis on the verb movement in such a way as to accentuate the starkness of the militant mood which the line conveys. The same trait is present in at least two lines in Tage: II, 190

Es springen Tore♦...

II, 240

Von den Firnen Schwand das Licht.

In the schwingten line, and in such lines as II, 25

Es schrelten die Winde den Reigen...♦

are to be noticed examples of Binding*s tendency to use an intransitive foim in a transitive manner.


verbs have the effect of carrying the attention forward and thus giving to the lines in which they occur greater fluidity and swing. More often than he deducts, however, Binding adds to his verbs, to make their meaning as precise and full as possible.

It is interesting to see both the scope

and limitations of his efforts in this direction.



this purpose, the character of his prefixes in themselves is worthy of closer study. Binding's attempts to give direction figurative or literal - to his verbs are revealed In a strong tendency to use double prefixes. Over one-third of his prefixes are of this sort, but are used proportionately more frequently in the pre-war and war poems than in the later period: over seven-tenths are found in the first two periods, which comprise only a little more than half of Binding1s poetry.

Exemplary of this type of

prefixing are the following lines: II, 34

....da ich am Schrei unausgesprochner Binge erstickend fast darniederlag.♦♦.

II, 56

weil du aus warmen Gew&ndern ein WBlkehen des Atems dieses reinen Leibes dahinfflhrst? Oder den Hauch ihres Mundes hinwegkftssen durftest...♦?

II, 64

aber leise rinnen mit hernieder Stunden voll von sftssen Traurigkeiten.

II, 91

den du mit Frohsirm und Wein grllsst von den ITfern herab....

IX, 93

....wie oft wohl dein Schatten.... ....grollend hinubergeblickt t ... .aer JNleckar,

II, 115

Doch eure Herbe und Silsse, ihr vier unsterblichen Freunde, drxnget zu mir hinab,

II, 121

Bas Wild weidet heran.


II, 125

Bergeinsamkeit die du von blauen Thronen, die Stirn mit Eia bev/ehrt, herilberschaus t und in die T&ler wo die Menschen wohnen die Kiihle deiner Majest&t herniedertaust,♦.♦ .

II, 151

Rag ich hlnein schon?

II, 154

Yerwundete verkl&rt aus sp&ten Bahren schweben hinweg., ••

II, 164

Krieg ruft hinweg..♦♦ • **•

Wann zaubern wir von neuem sie herauf die MlrcEenerde und die Wunderhiramel.... ? V , 213

♦♦..ich wtlrfe selbst das Wort hinweg was dich besingt.

In some cases the double prefix is unusual, in others it might be expected in some circumstances, but in any case the use of these emphatic prefixes seems to intensify the verbal action and at the same time has the effect of relating that action to the reader, of drawing him Into a mood of participation, by depicting the action usually as approaching him or receding from him. This same direction - giving effect is created by the occasional use of the simple prefixes hin and her. II, 30

....nur das Schweigen lagerst um dich her,....

II, 31

Aber ein schimmernder Duft • • • •

schmiegt sich, ein Schleier von Weichheit bin iiber jegliche H&rte;.... II, 51

.,...wie ein fluchbeschwert Verfehlen dass Ich von ihnen zu dir hlngenas.


II, 75

....hab es halt fttr meine Mutter hingenommen.

II, 101

Tiber die tiefsten Grftnde der Seele wechselt sie leise tausendmal hin....

II, 148

Rauchterrassen w&lzen sich -fiber uns hin*

II, 200

Zum Bltihen geboren sterbt hin Ihr im Bltihen....

II, 242

was sich sucht und sich gemeidet zaubrischer sich hinzustreun.

II, 265

Wardst doch von heissen Nesseln suss hingepeitscht*

V , 187

Ein Rieselhauch strom&ber geht und kraust die Wasser dunkel hin -

In this manner the action is not only defined, but also directed.

It is interesting that the movement

away, expressed by hin, is more common than its converse, expressed by her.

This predominance of

retreating action seems to indicate a certain tendency on Binding’s part to hold the world about him at a certain distance, to maintain his position. If this language trait be considered in relation to Binding’s general attitude toward life it suggests in no way the desire of some of his contemporaries - Rilke, for example - to draw into themselves the universe.

Binding, on the other hand, resembles

George more closely In this respect:

he maintains


strongly, if not so intensely, his individual existence*

However, the trait is most strongly

felt in his early poems. In Binding’s later poems, there is an increasing tendency to allow the world to approach closer to him, even to immerse himself in it.

This is reflected in

his word use by a growing fondness for the prefix um. which is twice as frequent in the post-war poems as in the earlier periods. II, 34

*...als ob er dich umfinge wie eine Mutter, m&tterliche Hacht.

II, 68

die braunen Schlangen die...* ...*mich schmeichlerisch umspringen.

II, 151

Was uns umknistert uns ist’s bekarmt.

II, 155

Gefilhle umspillten uns wie ein BhBhen. Nacht umgab uns....

II, 203

Ruhvoll umrauscht dich Fittich verzauberten Schwans.

II, 226

Bleibe Jung! Umwach1, umnachte meinen Tag und Pftihl.

II, 231

Ein ermorderter Traum,.... ..♦.den du tot dir umpflegst noch....

V , 210

Schon wird was eng uns umzirkt....

V , 214

Die kBniglichen Tauben umgurren ihre Knie.


dass auch dich umwarme aller Glanz des Tags.

, 225


V, 236

Junger Frflhling, komm und hilf sie, die Junge, zu umlieben.

The increase in the use of this particular prefix seems connected with Binding1s war experience*

In one of his early war poems he

had stated II, 16

Das 1st des Dichters Los dass er von einem Berge herniederschaut auf ihm verheissenes Land und weithin fiber irdischem Gezwerge erobernd steht vor dem unendlich Unbegrenzten -

But in one of his war poems he wrote II, 150

Eingeflochten in ein vieltausendstr&hniges Schicksal traf uns alle einmal das gleiche Erschilttern,

And this identification of himself with the rest of mankind, as ERLEBTES LEBEH testifies, persisted and may account for the decrease in the hin and her prefixes and the corresponding increase in the use of urn*

There is also some evidence that the um

prefixes themselves vary in their use in context. During the pre-war period of Binding1s writing the um motion seems more active, suggesting the encircling or enclosing movement, while the later uses of um seem to describe more often the act of being en­

circled or enclosed, as seen from the poet’s view­ point . Binding’s endeavor to instil his poetry with movement is especially notable in what seems almost a compulsion to add to his verbs the prefix £r, to denote action in the process of development - in crescendo - thus drawing attention to the moment of tension preceding the culmination of the action. II, 28

Den Strahlen der Sonne, welche die HOhen erklimmt» •


mtlsstest du gleich sein, Gedanke. II, 29

Doch allmHhlich beginnst du dich zu erwehren. Und es erfasst dich die Kraft....

II, 41

....als ob ich sein Gesicht erschauen sollte....

II, 61

....Blicken die so rein ergltlhen wie aus dunklem Kelch geweihter WeinJ -

II, 92

....die gefltlgelte Seele da sie, dem Feuer verwandt, alles im Schwunge erfasst.

II, 93

fernhin erglflnzte in stahlerner sch£rfe die Linie des Wasgau wo du den Kampf hast gesucht und dich ereilt das Geschick.

II, 98

und euer Lachen erklingt leise dem Liehte voraus.

II, 106

- Im halbverscheuchten Gewblk der Tief soil ich dich erschauen..

II, 139

Kausch, o Rausch:

das letzte zu erraffen


II, 148

Donne r erwflrgt uns.

II, 160

Stumm reite ich und. erschaure

II, 190

Erschaffe, heilige * SchBpfer • deine Zeit.

II, 238

his der erste Vogelruf erscholl.♦..

II, 262

....die Wasser einer Grotte die die Hacht ertBtet.

V , 196

Wie soli die Blurne entbl&ttert im wilden Gekose anderer Sonne nun z&rter erbltihn? -...♦

V , 199

Er erschauert der mein Herz bewacht....

V , 202

bltthe ich In Tag und Mchten hin fiir ihn wie ihr erblttht.

V , 219

Als sie der Liebe erglfthte wie erweckt aus dem Grab....

V , 238

Dass tiefer uns ergreife des Lebens Glut vom Grund....

Such prefixes seem to sweep the reader up and along with the action, and urge his participation in the mood portrayed. The liking for upward movement is revealed in Binding*s frequent use of such prefixes as auf, empor. and hinauf and herauf, already mentioned.


enough, these prefixes as a group are almost twice as frequent in Binding* s war poems as in the other groups The reason for this would seem to lie in the fact that in that group of poems Binding portrayed the supreme


experience of his life, his own personal Husserstes. There his emotional intensity is at its peak and his efforts most inspired.

Such a mood is best

expressed as an upward surge.

So far as the in­

dividual prefixes are concerned, empor, the most emphatic, is used most often in the pre-war poems, and less often In the succeeding ones.

(The prefix

auf accounts for most of the increase of the ”upu movement In the war poems.)

A listing of these

empor prefixes also reveals a shift in their connotation in keeping with the change in mood. II, 16

Du lisst mich nicht allein, den du emporgezogen aus Niederungen und aus Wogen,....

II, 35

steigen straflos die Menschen die schwankenden Sprossen empor.

II, 54

so schwingst du dich empor.

II, 56

well ihres Haares ein LBckchen empor du gekrauselt?

II, 92

....die geflttgelte Seele, ♦ *

* *

....dem Peuer verwandt, lodert1 zum Himmel empor. II, 137

Eiskalt stieg es empor von bliitenden Sporen auf zu unseren Herzen: Lawinen von Leidl

II, 148

Schauerlich gross bl&hn grftnschwarze Kelclie Erdstaub und giftige G-ase allenthalben empor.


II, 150

eingehttllt in die letzten Schauer strahlend sprang er empor:....

II, 155

Es 1st, als hilbe das Sterben die Leiber sanft aus den Armen der Erde empor:...•

II, 181

Jauchzt empor in einer Hacht der Liebe und entrechtet ewig 1st der Tod.

II, 190

Irrgang und Enge tragen empor.

II, 237

Schreite selig In dein Licht empor.

II, 258

Einmal noch reckt sich’s empor wie in der Ferne ein Haupt.

V , 237

Taumel fasst dich an schaus t du hell empor.

In contrast to the unreserved optimism which the other poems show, the war uses of empor appear almost invariably in connection either with an unnaturally inspired manifestation of life in which there is an underlying hint of impassioned denial or death, or with the inspired state of mind on encountering das Jlusserste. The prefix auf has much the same history of connotations.

As is to be expected most of the

uses make by no means so strong an impression as the empor prefixes.

But three war uses seem worthy

of mention as unusually expressive:

II, 147

Wie von Blitzen erhellt im Dunkel leuchteten plBtzlich auf gleichgttltige Dinge

II, 163

An zehntausend Leichen hocken schlaflose Heere, werden aufgescheucht von irren Befehlen.*.*

II, 163

Totgeglaubte schreien auf und verenden.

An interesting variation of the desire for accel­ erative, or developing action is found in Binding1s use of the prefix ent.

As he uses it, this prefix,

instead of denoting merely recession, may accentuate the release from any restraint*

In view of Binding1s

early individualistic stand it is not surprising that the prefix appears somewhat more frequently in the poems written at that time* II, 16

Und ist doch einer von den Mohnbekr&nzten die still entffthrt des Lebens leiser Scherge

II, 44

**.*zum letzten Tanz der mich entfflhrt davon

II, 63

uns schon bin ich es der fdr dich entbrannte

II, 68

von Glut und Kuss und aufgegebenen Rechten die schon der graue Morgen mir entwand?

II, 93

Tausende bissiger KBpfe*..* aber den einen, den giftigsten, den sie voll Tucke entschnellte gegen deind-genes Herz****

II, 94

Bis ihn zu trBsten entstieg schimmernd die Mutter der Flut••«•

II, 97

**.*ihm ist als ob ihm die Wasser etwas entrissen.***

II, 108

Denn sie entfallen unsatt.♦••

II, 122

Unb&ndig, gleich dem sonnenfrohen Fferde, dem es entstammt, dr&ngt ewig es zum Licht

II, 138

Aber die Volker entweihten dies alles im Irren der Sinne,•♦•.

II, 142

Da entrollten die Dilrfer fiber das Land ihre zerfetzten, wehenden Flammenstandarten. **

II, 147

Errinnerung entsank wie Kinderspielzeug unseren HBnden.

II, 214

Ich kann*... ••••den Schwan (nicht) entzaubern,

II, 250

Polgest du mir nicht mehr wenn ich entschwunden? wenn Ich entfesselt schon bist du gebunden?

II, 266

Doch ich hab dich betrflbt da ich dich j&hlings entfachte*

V , 238

Entfliehe nicht dir selber.

The prefix ent undeniably borders on the negative. On the whole, Binding*s uses of truly negative prefixes are relatively few, particularly in the pre-war and war poems, where they account for about one-tenth of the prefixes.

However, they account for almost

one-fifth of his prefixes in the later poems.


group is not considered to include the prefixes of negative direction - hin and some of Its compounds and ent - but only the prefixes ab, ver, wider, and


zer, Also taken into account is the fact that ver has a double connotation, indicating both completion and negation.

And it should be mentioned that wider

is used only once in Binding*s poems.


deductions leave a residue of ab, part of the ver group, and the zer prefixes, which may be considered truly negative in force.

Such prefixes naturally

appear most often in moods of depression, used in the same manner as the positive prefixes, to give direction and force to negative action, II, 51

So muss an dir ich jenen andern Seelen ,, • « abbitten,.,•

II, 58

Und die brennende Hackel der Herzen, sollte sie eitel sein weil sie verlBscht?

II, 93

gegen dein eigenes Herz wehrte kein Heifer dir ab, -

II, 109

die Herzen aus lebendigen Busen frisst, in Hirne krallt und langsam sie zerfleischt.

II, 126

,,..und sie verblutet zuckend im donnernden Pulsschlag strBmender Glut,

II, 165

Dein Blick verflog in einen Stern:

II, 166

Wie bei einem Appel werden die Toten verlesen.

II, 202

Rausch der in sich selbst verrauscht,,,.,

II, 202

bis du ganz versonnt von Licht froh GewBlk im Licht zerstiebst.

11 ' , 205

Und durch meine Liebe verwandert ein Schakal.

II, 244

Schon verloht wie sie verlohten • ♦ • •

kttsstest du mich tief verschwommen. •*♦ II, 254

Falle, zerfalle, o Leib:

II, 262

Silsse Flammel

II, 262

Lass mich, Flammel in mir selbst ver^ltihen, mich versehnen und in mir verschwenden.

V , 205

In U&chten verweht nicht der Abschied des Lichts,

V , 217

Aber dem einen beschert sie in heimlicher Liebe was sie den andern verwehrt♦

V , 219

Fernab verrauschten die Wogen*

dass mich nichts zerw&hle

The avoidance of negative prefixes in general seems evidence of the optimistic, positive color of Bindingr thoughts as a whole.

It is interesting, however, to

speculate on the reason for the later increase in their use.

These uses of ab, ver, and zer, serving in

a certain sense as foils for the crescendo prefixes which are so pronounced a part of Binding*s verb usage and which might be termed the diminuendo prefixe may be said to be evidence of a general change of viewpoint on Binding*s part.

This change, consisting

of a greater willingness to portray the decelerating and recessive, even destructive, aspects of action, points to the fact that Binding*s zest for living was

less intense as he grew older, that the relatively more exhilarated and hopeful moods of the early years were succeeded by a more balanced and in­ tegrated, if still optimistic, attitude.

In other

words, Binding’s eagerness to enjoy and experience life to the fullest did not necessarily diminish, but it manifested itself in a different way.


might be said that zest became appreciation and appreciation on a wider scale.

No longer

feeling the urgency of his need to rise to his Xusserstes, to move always forward to that end, Binding after the war could see beauty not only in the process of growth and development, but also in the converse process of disintegration and reversion In other words he saw both sides of the mountain. It might be said that such a viewpoint is not in keeping with Binding’s general attitude of optimism, but suggests strongly a decadent attitude.


conclusion does not seem to me to be Inevitable or even justified.

The process of disintegration in

nature is often beautiful:

one need go no further

than the phenomenon of autumn to confirm this.


there is the enthusiasm for "ash-can” art, and the reverence for Europe’s historic buildings whose beauty is considered enhanced by the action of decay


A considerable part of the beauty of these negative processes in nature, however, is due to the action of new life.

And it is in Binding1s

realization of this cyclic nature of life that the best explanation for this aspect of his poetry lies.

Prom this point of view, which was developed

in Binding mainly by his war experience, the negative processes become preludes to the renewal of the growth cycle and as such freighted with the potentialities of beauty.

In such a case, the

ability to see beauty In this phase of nature is not out of keeping with the optimistic attitude and, in fact, indicates a greater sensitiveness to beauty, A few miscellaneous verb uses should perhaps be mentioned.

Although they are isolated cases having

little effect on the character of his poetry as a 7/hole, they do show still other phases of Binding's desire for economy and strength of expression.


are, for example, the lines V, 187

Ein Rieselhauch.*.• ..,.kraust die Wasser dunkel hin-

V, 198

mich zu befrieden gab er seine Lippen

and in one adjective use

V, 220

- wie ein Turn, •...von GBttlichkeit beschwichtet.

there is the tendency to use, instead of the normal diminutive form or a form with -ig, as the case may he, stronger, unweakened forms. Binding1s practice in the use of verbs in general may be said to consist of the selection of the strongest, most particularized verb to depict the action in question. common use.

He selects as well verbs in

According to the thought they may be

as delicate as possible, or they may be unexpectedly vigorous - even unpoetic, in the now somewhat out­ moded standards of beauty of expression.

In either

case they are evidence of a mastery of vocabulary in keeping with poetic demands: II, 25

Es schreiten die Winde den Reigen..••

II, 78

Kindleini Sehl&ferleini nippst du den Schlaf••••

V , 200

Wie stark ist dieses Herz dass es gebietet der Liebe und dem Tod und beide nietet in einem Leib -:•••*

(Compare also the adjective phrase "verschiittet im Glanz” (11,30) and the noun '’Spezerei’U H * ^ ) .)


On this foundation, Binding superimposes a richly varied series of prefixes, which serve to intensify and limit the action even further.


prefixes may also serve to duplicate and thus emphasize movement implied elsehwere in the sentence, usually in prepositional phrases.

Or they may even

take over some part of the sentence meaning which might "be expected in the normal course of events to exist as a separate entity, but which Binding prefers to attach to the verb element. The result of these practices is to concentrate in the verb an unusually large share of the total sentence meaning.

As a consequence, the apparent

paradox of wealth within economy arises:

because of

the wealth of meaning attached to the verb the other elements of the sentence are drawn in to tighten the whole economy of Binding1s style. ADJECTIVES The most striking characteristic of Binding’s adjectives is their verbal quality: are verbal in form or meaning.

over one-half

The reason for this

state of affairs is easily established and has already been discussed in connection with his verbs:

in his

writing he sought economy and at the same time life and movement*

Thus he seldom uses merely

descriptive adjectives which serve only to fill in the broad outlines of the scene sketched with fine shadings, and when he does use adjectives 10 lavishly, it is often to express deadness of mood. On the whole, then, Binding*s adjectives are functional rather than decorative, in the sense that they are used primarily not to develop a thought already present but to add some new meaning by endowing their nouns with some additional aspect of movement or change.

Adjectives such as this

may be expected to encroach on the realm of the verb This is the case in Binding* s poetry.



surprisingly large numbers of present and past participles, which add to the sentence a thought which less economical poets than Binding would often express in an entire clause and less consciously ”alive” poets probably not at all. Seen in their fullest application, Binding*s verbal adjectives produce such lines as


Cf. Heinz Millotat, Rudolf G. Bindings erzRhler isches Werk (1939), p. 82.


II, 55

hinten unm&chtig zerflatternde Rufe flehender WInde, zerrissene r Stille,***.

II, 94

Standest im Strome des Schattens den grtinende Starmne ergossen kuhlend ins glflhende ¥eer zitternden, wogenden Lichts;.♦••

II, 126

Grierig rtiit Sturmesgeheul w&lzen Wogen den Leib, schleifend die Wolken, auf die sich b&umende Erde, und sie verblutet zuckend im donnernden Pulsschlag strBmender



~ ------

StBhnend in lodernder Lust rafft der Dfirnon fallende St&dte und schlingt rauchende Ode» II, 205

Ich bringe dir hundert verklagende NM.eh.te, zerwartete Tage, verzitterte Wochen.

These are, of course, extreme examples*

In fact, the

quick succession of various movements gives an almost confused impression of seething activity; the mind Is called upon to grasp and reconcile in short space divers and sometimes contradictory movements*


Binding*s poems as a whole such pronounced heaping up of verbal adjectives is not typical.

But the

lines above serve to illustrate strikingly what seems to be the strongest tendency in Binding*s adjective use:

to make this part of speech contribute

far more than its usual share of the total movement in the sentence, and to cause the reader to see even the nominal elements of the sentence in a state of motion or change#


This desire, it seems to me, makes itself felt with unusual force in such lines as the followings II, 29

doch In den Beugen atmen hlauende Schatten*

II, 91

Sonnig im kl&renden Licht der Erinnrung * ruht das VoMber.

II, 95

Liebe die wechselnde Stunde..*. schBpf ihren grfinenden Wert.,*,

II, 100

...,und sie pflttgen duldig das kargende Feld;..*.

To be sure, in all but the last line, the adjectives are common enough German participles* in itself significant*

Tbat is not

What is noteworthy is the fact

that in each case Binding wished to present the object or quality he had in mind in that particular aspect of change.

It is safe to say that most observers,

even most poets, would be content with describing a static condition - blaue Schatten, klares Licht, grftner Wert, karges Feld* That Binding had the perception and took the trouble to seize on this changing phase seems confirmation of the same habit of mind which caused him to use, for example, erschaffen instead of schaffen, erzittern instead of zittern. Binding* s frugality in phrasing also plays an impor­ tant part in determining his adjective formations*


Rather than to precede his adjective by an often awkward prepositional phrase or adverb, Binding sometimes prefers the more economical procedure of attaching these elements to the adjective itself* In fact, he does this at times with an abandon which might almost be called Holzian* II, 26

Erdgeboren erdgebunden dennoch traue ich dass auch du ragst in haupterhobenen Stunden unnahbarem Glanze zu*

II, 30

ragen scharflinig sonnengeschliffene Spitzem

II, 37

Warst du der Rausch, du schBnheitsschwere Welt?

II, 46

Mich lockt sie schon mit zauberschwerer Pracht•••*

II, 52

So freudig du auf Erden und grtlckmftchtig

II, 98

,*.*schien er zu reden im Hauch abendbringender Kiihle****

II, 150

....ein vieltausendstrffhniges Schicksal*,

II, 155

Auf zartsch£umenden Traumdelphinen ritten wir selig langausgestreckt*.*.

II, 180

Blute Erdenkraft aus heiligen Millern morgenfroh und morgenuntertan*

II, 196 blutgestillt, nicht mehr zu stillen..*. V , 210 schon immortellendurchwirkt kftsst ihr die Wiese den Fuss* V , 223

Liebgefesselt tlberwinde ich die m&chtigate Gestalt*


V, 225

- um im liebelauschenden Innern deines Herzens selig zu ertrinken.

V, 236

Liebe ist aprilbest&ndig.

In these lines, too, the pervading influence of the participial construction is felt*


not only uses this form with unusual frequence, but gives it uncommon emphasis in his sentences. Fully half of his participial adjectives are used, not in the attributive position, but as post­ positives, predicate adjectives, or in any position widely separated from the noun they modify. On the whole, Binding1s past participles are interesting mainly for the precision and fullness of their meaning.

In the attributive position

one finds such participles as these: II, 14

Heer der unbesinnten Gelster....

II, 159

Verweinte W&lder kommen mir entgegen. Verweinte Pappel wartet mein am Weg.

II, 175

Die Morgen steigen aus zerqu<er Nacht.

II, 231

Ein ermordeter Traum ist der Freund.... ....den du tot dir umpflegst noch umdflsterten Augs und verschlossenen Lids.

Much more emphasis is given these forms when they are used in their undeclined forms:


II, 98

Da fasst ich beherzt ihn ins Auge..**

II, 138

alle betflrt von Hass, vergiftet von Habgier, alle verblendet In Dunkel und alle bet&ubt von der Luge*

II, 153

Hingelagert aber ins Abendblau l'eicht auf die Lttfte gestfltzt ruhten die grossen weissen Wolken niemandem untertan; stille erhabene Throne in das Ewige hinausgeschoben.

II, 205

**.*ich versinke verstBhnt an die Brust dir*

II, 216

Im allermftdesten Flug Falter von Sonne betaut»

II, 216

Tiere vom Tod tiberrascht» L&nderwom Schlaf ttbermalt.

Binding*s liking for present participles is more unusual, since, although a generous sprinkling of past participles ia expected as a matter of course in German, present participles are used more sparingly, and liberal use of them is often considered evidence of foreign influence on the writer.

But it cannot be

said that Binding’s use of present participles is unexpected in his case*

The present participle, which

give3 to its noun a positive, active character, is more forceful and dynamic - and hence more to Binding’s taste - than the static adjective of state or the past participle, which places its noun in a passive position


as the receiver of the action*

Binding uses these

forms abundantly in the normal attributive position, where they do much to establish the fluid movement one feels in his poetry* II, 15

von ruhlos schreitenden Horizonten bewacht, das Land.*,.

II, 97

....denn in den zerfliessenden Kreisen scheint der lebendige Strom eigenen Lebens zu fliehen.

II, 98

....freundlich schimmernder Frtthe vertraut sich der erwachende Blick.

II, 142

Und wir zogen den glUhenden Fahnen nach unter die lodernde Stirn des Horizonts.

II, 159

G-ehflfte winseln wie verendende Hunde....

II, 160

Langsam entweichende Ferne zieht mir^ schwerfilssig voran.

II, 214

Flimmernde S&ulen des Raums ruhn auf smaragdenen W&ldern, weit fiber k8mpfenden Feldern WBlbung versengenden Saums•

V , 203

darf ich....nun ruhn selig ein keimender ICern.

V , 230

Ivlit fliehendem Mast und verlangendem Segel im Hafen das Schiff schreit nach der Fahrt.

The primary impression gleaned from these lines is of life in movement. Binding uses non-attributively placed present participles in a manner which closely approaches that


in which they are used in English#

Whereas German

prose usage usually shuns the undeclined form* preferring instead a subordinate clause, and German poetic practice is to use the form somewhat sparingly, Binding has used it often#

Striving for compactness,

he has chosen the tighter, more economical form and has placed it in positions in the sentence which show it to best advantage# II, 19

#.##die dftrftigen Pfeiler der Brftcken ragend Ins Leere dunkeinder Meere##*#

II, 56

weil deines unerschrockenen Pittichs Saumfedern eine nahe der Erde streifend sie traf••.•

II, 159

Im Pluss versinkend klagt zerfleischter Steg.

II, 163

Aus Tr&umen auffahrend bellen Geschtitze ••#*

II, 209

Nur noch droben einsam versaramelt Gipfel und Gipfel weithin beruhend.

II, 214

Peuriger Kampfplatz des Lichts tanzend auf goldenen Meeren:#•••

II, 216

Aber wir selber begl&nzt schrelten den zaubrischen Tanz *#♦• lachend der Sflsse des Brots .lauchzend der Frftchte des Baums.

II, 220

uns fiberschweigend stehet die Nacht#

These participles are used not only in the post­ positive position; they may also be placed far from

their nouns in conspicuous positions at the beginning or end of the sentence so that, by virtue of their very isolation, they capture the attention*

One feels, in reading such lines, the

full force of the verbal quality of the adjectives - an understandable reaction when one observes how often Binding preserves their verbal integrity by incorporating them into phrases with complements which might accompany their use as finite verbs. There is still another aspect of Binding’s use of participial adjectives which warrants mention, although it has to do with external relationships rather than internal form.

Perhaps because contrast

creates additional emphasis and perhaps because symmetry is appealing to him, Binding often places past and present participles in parallel positions: II, 20

Einem WBlkchen, halb verwehend schon vorm Mond, nun schon zerflossen, hSngt ihr nach....

II, 142

ihre zerfetzten, wehenden Flammenstandarten..

II, 148

Aufgeschreckt rasend springen FontEnen aus trockenem G-rund.

II, 181

dfirftig Moos und Blumen in betrlibten Garten darbend freudlos und verschmSht

II, 182

Herz erglHhend, Siissestem erschlossen, hBchster Pflichtung nicht hinweggewendet

In general, Binding’s aims in adjective usage were the same as those for his verbs:

to cause

the reader to see the objects thus modified in a condition of change or movement. ADVERBS To devote more than a few words to Binding’s use of adverbs would be useless, since it so closely parallels that of the adjectives, and since Binding uses adverbs sparingly on the whole.

Only about

one-fourth of the combined adjective and adverb list is devoted to adverbs.

This may be because of Binding*

tendency to crowd so much meaning into his verbs: he probably felt that in most cases further adverbial amplification of the action was unnecessary.


too, the verbal adjectives, in particular the un­ declined present participles seem at times almost to usurp the adverbial function.

And finally, Binding’s

economy of words caused him to avoid more and more frequently as time passed the use of the convenient, but often meaningless, "form” adverbs, or in some cases to attach them to the verbs as particles. When he did use adverbs, then, Binding used them


economically and meaningfully.

In most cases Binding's

adverbs are identical in type with his adjectives: participles ** and usually present.

A few examples

of such adverbs will suffice. II, 15

Sollst nicht in dem All der Sonnen dich allftlhlend untergehen....

II, 44

Ich hBre keinen Ton von deiner Geige lockend um mich werben..

II, 148

Die Erde dr&ngt sich zitternd an uns heran.

II, 159

Zerqu<e, braehe Purchenleiber setzen sich hungernd &uf*«*«

II, 177

Die Erde, die Mutter, wendet sich schaudernd vom Wahnsinn-der binder..•.

V , 205

Ohne Trauer f&llt die Fontane zum Spiegel den sie aufjauchzend verliess....

As in the case of the adjectives, it Is the verbal force of these adverbs which is most strongly felt. In fact, they seem in some instances to have an almost independent existence, depicting an action which Is relatively distinct from the main action of the sentence or even of their companion adjectives. A second tendency found in Binding's adverb use is what seems to be his feeling that it is necessary to give his adverbs direction*

Thus such forms as

fernhin, fernher, ferhab, weithin, dorthin, hinterher.

obenhin, dahinten, leichthin, implying direction and movement appear frequently, while their static counterparts are little used.

mms Binding^ noun uses are in some respects analogous to his uses of the parts of speech already discussed.

And in view of these discussions, perhaps

the most interesting of his nouns are those which betray his interest in activating his words, in de­ picting whenever possible the act of attaining a state rather than the state itself. It is with this in mind that Binding so often uses nouns in -ung: II, 26

Wenn so stolz zum Licht der Sterne Tannenwaldung aufw&rts steigt....

II, 109

....und niemals die Erh&rung kein LM.ch.eln der Errettung, nur Betorung....

II, 138

dass er uns vorwMrts riss In die SM.le unbekannter Befreiung....

II, 139

Denken sie noch weihender BerMhrung?

II, 180

Brunstige Beschattung grosser Mchte, stille Zeugung koramt:....

II, 199

aus dem Herzen der Gebirge voll Beglflckung und in Myriaden Kerzen brennen W&lder in Verzuckung.

II, 199

Tiefe wBlbung wehrt der Helle....

II, 213

aus den Pesseln der Begrenzung wie erlBst in den beTreTUen Raum der zarteren Begl&nzung*

II, 214

Eng in die Waldung verbannt lagern die Heere der Schatten.

II, 247

Knospenden Mobnes gltthende Entfaltung darf dich entrficken -

V , 219

Alle die schBne Gewandung ibrer Unschuld zerriss,...

V , 229

Einst nach Erwarmungen sind wir wohl Sterne*


Zittert das Licht aus zu hoher wBlbung des Athers?


Such nouns have a two-fold effect on the reader*


suffix -ung, associated in most minds with the formation process - Gestaltung rather than the end product Gestalt, Begl&nzung rather than Glanz, Befreiung rather than Preiheit, Beschattung rather than Schatten, and so on - focusses the attention on the process of werden rather than on the state of sein, and once again movement and change are emphasized*

As a result, by

forcing the reader*s mental eye to movement, the -ung nouns make him aware of the three-dimensional aspect of the phenomenon or object described.

Such words are

dynamic rather than static. Much more frequent than the -ung nouns, but similar

in their effect on the reader, are Binding’s verbal nouns - infinitive or participial forms.11


of this type account for over one-sixth of his nouns• It is Interesting that the infinitives thus nominally used preserve their verbal character. Like the verb itself, they may be elaborately and strongly prefixed; or they may have attached to them an adverbial element, or in the case of reflexives, the pronoun.

The verbal effect is also strengthened

by the usual, If not invariable omission of endings on their unattached modifiers. II, 13

und will.... gehoben sein im wundervollen Schreiten....

II, 14

•••• - ein liebeskrank Erinnern -

II, 141 Nun plBtzlich mussten glauben wir an ihn den wir noch gestern im Vortiberziehn auf Strassen kaum geachtet noch gegrlisst *. •. II, 189 und kennst Unsterblichkeit und Nievergehen. II, 205 den Giirtel der Qualen, das Joch des Sichbieg II, 212


Was stockt ist stilles Sich-ermannen.•..

Cf* Traude Sterner, op. cit., p. 162.

II, 241

teil.st ihm seligen Atem Qual und Beben, Ferngenftgen, durstiges Erstreben... •

V , 201

•••♦und In eins zusammen st&rzt die Weihe, sturzt das NeugVer 1angen

V , 201

•••.ich brenne dehne mich zu endlosem Sich= ihm*Veraehwenden.

V , 202

dass mich nicht im Kaumergliihen erster Schrei des KelcHszersprengt• Ein ohnm&chtig Keuschbem&hen flammt dem Kusse beigemengt

V , 205

.♦••dass indem einen Sellg*Umarmen sei das Vergehen beschlossen

In addition, these nominal infinitives are sometimes used in combination with nouns: II, 190

Doch rings in Sonnenlicht und Nachtbehilten l&sst du Geheimnisse entgegen stehn. Du trittst sie an mit Kindesdbermfften..> .

II, 200

in Zartem verschleiert ein MorgenerrBten...•

II, 227

VBgel lallen letztes Vogellallen.

II, 242

Einsam Taubengurrn verirrt sich.,..

Such uses are economical in the highest degree. The participles betray much the same traits as the infinitives. II, 13

und will mit ewig Paradiesverbannten gehoben sein.•»•

II, 16

Und ist doch einer von den Mohribekr&nzten.

IX, 22

Denn ich tausche, Vielbeschwerte, nimmer mit euch Land und Stand*

II, 25

Hin zu Entfliehendem ftthrt letzter ScheIn den Blick ins Weite*

II, 51

Die Leichtgeliebten r&chen sich In dir

II, 59

wenn dein© Hand mich rilhrt, den Traumwandelnden«

II, 98

So alln&chtlich zeigt mir der Schlaf euch Kommende.•.•

II, 193

Dumpfer Schrei des nie ErlBsten aus der tierischen Gestaltung, hBchstes Lied des ganz Entwesten von der irdischen Gewaltung.♦.•

II, 196

Heiss Besonnter, kuhl Besternter, brBnstlg von dir selbsT~G-esuchter, so Begluckter so Verflucbter, Nahender und dir EntfernterV Premdling dir und tief Erschreckter*»»*

V , 205

Er der Niegekommene kam#

V , 229

MDort die Erbarmende das ist Kalypso“ Dort der Umarmende das ist UTyss#11

And in the participial nouns as well as in one other adjectival noun there are cases of hyphenation, similar to the infinitive forms already given, and constituting still another means by which Binding condenses and intensifies his meaning# II, 49

GanzsVerlorne, Trunken~Keusche, die du trugest meinen Kranz•*•.


V, 255

Doch. so lange du die Einzigghiebe bist will ich dich nicht mit Konfekt verhfihnen*

Binding* s participial nouns as a whole tend to centre attention not so much on the subject itself as on some action connected with it, with the subject either as actor or as receiver, depending on the type of participle*

Seen in this light, these nouns seem

to be in harmony with the trend of the verbs toward activation. Binding*s nouns have still another point of interest, which reveals still another side of his poetic character.

Having begun to write at a

fairly late age, he had become aware, as he pointed out in the essay of that name, of the Grflsse der Natur*

In other words, he saw the world about him

as a tremendous unit rather than a huge assortment of particular things.

And his attempt to express

broad truths was also best served by such a view of nature.

As a result, Binding holding hims3.f

in his thoughts away from the particulars of nature, demonstrates a liking for collective terms: II, 16

....weithin fiber irdischem G-ezwerge«...

II, 52

und wo du schreitest ist*s als ob der Morgen schritte durch die Gefilde.


XI, 122 Ge&der, rfltlich, fein das Weiss durchstrebt: II, 138 Keiner Seele junges Gestirn Welt, ------

ftberstrahlte die

II, 178 Leichtes Gewblk weinte sich nieder in Tau. II, 178 Da mischten sich ihre wohlt&tigen dunklen Gewtlrze erstmals wieder in den entweihten Strom meines Bluts. II, 189 und wenn du willst lustwandelt das Gestein, II, 212 Die blassen S&fte steigen im Baum der Sonne nach zu schlafenden Gezweigen. II, 217 Noch verftthrt ihr, selbst verftthrt noch vom Geblfih der sp&ten Nelke•*, • V , 210 Tiere im letzten Gebusch regten nicht Wimper noch lid,... V , 217 Ohriges Eselsgetier..•. Also indicative of this inclusive point of view is Binding*s liking for the word All and its compounds, nouns as well as other parts of speech. II, 15

Sollst nicht in dem All der Sonnen dich allfuhlend untergehen mus st“iri MenscKenle id und s Wonnen Menschtum gegen AllweIt stehn.

II, 163 ....die Erde, allunerschiittert.. ♦. II, 196 in die Allgewalt des Lichts. II, 227 dieses Auge ohne zu begreifen irrt dahin - das sonst so allentziickte.

II, 241

#,,.die Sehnsucht nach dem All des Glanzes•. *.

II, 241 .•..die Alhnacht, in gel&ster Worme darf der Liebe Seligkeit geniessen. And in a few cases in his poetry, particularly in the later period, the prefix Ur appears, suggesting a desire to penetrate to the fundamentals. As a rule, Binding is concerned primarily with simplicity and unity of impression in his nouns and does not compound them freely.

His Von der Kraft 12 deutschen fortes als Ausdruck der Nation explains

his conviction that the German language sometimes erred in forming compounds and derivatives which were often weak and colorless in comparison with the original root word.

Necessarily Binding does

form compounds; "but when he does, he seeks to pre­ serve the integrity of the component parts* Often he forms near-paradoxes or at least striking con­ trasts, perhaps reflecting his strong feeling for the "basic unity and compatibility of all things: II, 148

Rauchterrassen w&lzen sich,,,.

II, 180

Duftlawlnen reissen froh sich los.

V , 211 zwischen den schillernden fiiehenden Wellengewtndern feuchten Ge'stades,

Jugend baut ihr Lichtgewolbe auf. Doch die BlAue birgt die Wolkenschwere.... “ Rudolf Binding ¥um Geddchtnis, p.5. At the least he demands forcefulness in both parts of such a compound, so that they may keep their identity intact: II, 151

Tier» und Menschc und eisern Sebein.

II, 159

Brandwunden bluten wie zerrissene Scham.

II, 159

Ein KrjLhenschleier treibt wie tote Petzen...

II, 159 Zerqu<e, brache Furchenleiber.... II, 164

Sahn wir nicht wiederum die M&rchenerde, die Wunderhimmel und die Fabeltiere.... ?

II, 180

Waite Ather in Gewittertaten.

II, 182

Wald w&chst ruhvoll seine Hundert jahr.

II, 189

und blickst vergangene Jahrtausend ab*...

II, 193

Menschr und Gottgestalt entzweit sich....

II, 249

aus der Sonne heiligem Glutgetriebe....

II, 262

....nur gerBtet wie bei j&hem Faokelglanz die Wasser einer Grotte....

II, 263

Da: ein Augenblitz der sich verirrte j&h,...

V , 219

und ich spftrte tief innen Herzkraft nie endenden Schlags.

There are few complex nouns which are not of this type


combining two root syllables shortly and concisely. The long - and in Binding* s opinion weak and attenuated - nouns in heit, keit, and schaft, for example, are comparatively rare in his poems* It is worthy of note that most of these compounds of two strong roots are found in his war and post-war poems, a fact which suggests that he gave more attention to nouns at that time and that he was increasingly concerned with considerations of economy and exactness In this part of speech. Taken as a whole, however, Binding1s nouns are definite but starkly simple, standing out strongly in contrast to his colorful verbs.

7/hile ha has expressed

in the verbs and adjectives complex, or at least highly specialized actions, he has sought in his nouns unity of impression and broadness of idea, except in those cases where he uses verbal forms nominally.


last tendency toward nominalization of verbs is perhaps Binding* s most pronounced departure from ordinary usage in his use of nouns and possibly most immediately felt by the casual reader of his verse* PREPOSITIONS

Very little need be said of Binding*s use of


prepositions• In this one part of speech he now and then lapses into archaisms, or perhaps more properly, "poetic11 terms.

There are a few cases of this, such as

II, 189

und lfissest sie ob deinen Fluren regnen....

II, 265

Erschrakst in deinen Fesseln ob dem was dich heischt.

V , 200

....brach ich bin ffir Schmerz....

But more interesting are a few lines in which, seemingly for the sake of compactness of style, Binding uses an unusual form which combines in one word the functions of a preposition with object and a verb particle: II, 49

Und sie hfi.lt den nachtgebornen Kelch voll dunklen Taus empor wachen Trfiumern und verlornen Kindern....

II, 117

Walle der Schleier empor dir von dem Dunkel der £eit gleichwie die Sonne vom Meer furchtlos das Nebeltuch hebt.

Similar is another case in which the preposition is used with double direction, both preceded and followed by an object:

II, 57

Also fata.ich dahin, dem Ende entgegen, dem Falle - wer weiss est

However, such prepositional uses are rare, and cannot be said to have any bearing on the character of the whole of his poetry. Much more significant are the cases in which Binding puts prepositional objects.

In many cases

where a poet less concerned with the forward movement of his verse would without a second thought allow the object to fall into the dative case, Binding has used an accusative object.

Instances of this are

seen in the lines II, 163

Maschinengewehre, seltsamen Wahnsinns voll, hacken eintBnigen Takt in das Dunkel.

II, 189

Denn du bist ausgespannt in die Unendlichkeit..

II, 214

Eng in die Waldung verbannt lagern (lie He ere der Schatten.

II, 216

Doch die Blumen die so schweigsam sind reden blflhender in deinen Schlaf....

It Is to be remembered, however, that Binding*s practice of transferring meaning to the verb causes a reduction in the number of prepositional phrases which might exist in Binding*s poetry.


SENTENCE STRUCTURE To analyze Binding’s sentence structure thoroughly seems fruitless*

Binding was by no

means a pioneer in this respect and did not venture far from the beaten path*


there are a few traits worth mentioning as re­ flecting the same attitude of mind revealed in Binding’s word usage. On the whole, it may safely be said that Binding shows a marked tendency to shun complex sentences.

Se prefers, as a rule, simple sentences

or a series of simple clauses joined by coBrdinating conjunctions.

Subordinate thoughts, as has been

pointed out, are more often expressed in adjective or adverb phrases; and of the technically subordinating conjunctions, dass is most frequently found.


Binding reserves his poetic right to use in his subordinate clauses the normal word order.


sentence structure seems fully in line with Binding’s policy of preserving the fluidity and forcefulness of his v e r s e T h e


lack of interruptions and asides

Cf. Wilhelm Schneider, Kleine deutsche Stilkunde (1927), p. 46f.


(which often give to poems a crab-like movement of thought) keeps the attention undistracted and focussed on the main theme. However, in the course of his poems, certain differences in Binding*s sentence structure are apparent. His early poems are marked by few departures from normal traditional sentence construction as used since Goethe*s day.

Sentences are complete

and well-rounded, punctuation conventional except for a certain parsimoniousness with commas.

In the

later poems, on the other hand, Binding leaned toward unorthodoxy and discarded the fuller for a shorter, more concise style.

There are fewer

of what might be called ttform” words, which have small intrinsic meaning and are used merely as a means of furthering coherency.

Almost each word

used in these later poems Is meaningful, with advantage taken of the full strength of the word. For Instance, coordinate clauses are more likely to succeed each other without any connective con­ junction or may even be expressed as separate sentences.

Elisions are more common, particularly

of neuter -es endings and of verbal -