chapter  Chapter Twelve
18 Pages

Rilke

WithS. S. Prawer

George, in poems like Der Herr der Insel, showed one way of dealing with the machine-age and its problems of mass-production, standardization and human misery: the way of keeping one’s distance, shunning the market-place, creating and living a myth, producing highly-wrought poetry written only for a few ‘friends of song’. George also showed one way of dealing with ‘things’, with the world in which the poet finds himself. He carefully selected certain aspects of that world and made them symbolize something within man. To clasps, birds, islands, shepherds, George says in effect: be I, be myself.