Sonntag, 25. April 2021


Der englische Schriftsteller Walter de la Mare, der am 25. April 1873 geboren wurde, ist schwer einzuordnen. Er hat Kinderbücher geschrieben, Gedichte, Nonsense Verse und Gespenstergeschichten. Seine Welt sieht ungefähr so aus wie auf dem Umschlagbild dieses Buchs. Sie hat immer etwas Geheimnisvolles an sich, hat wenig mit dem literarischen Realismus zu tun, poetry, good or bad, depends for its very life in the hospitable reader, as tinder awaits the spark, hat er einmal gesagt.

Die beste Einführung in seine Welt hat wahrscheinlich sein Kollege T.S. Eliot mit dem Gedicht To Walter de la Mare gegeben:

The children who explored the brook and found
A desert island with a sandy cove
(A hiding place, but very dangerous ground,

For here the water buffalo may rove,
The kinkajou, the mungabey, abound
In the dark jungle of a mango grove,

And shadowy lemurs glide from tree to tree -
The guardians of some long-lost treasure-trove)
Recount their exploits at the nursery tea

And when the lamps are lit and curtains drawn
Demand some poetry, please. Whose shall it be,
At not quite time for bed?…

Or when the lawn
Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn,
The sad intangible who grieve and yearn;

When the familiar is suddenly strange
Or the well known is what we yet have to learn,
And two worlds meet, and intersect, and change;

When cats are maddened in the moonlight dance,
Dogs cower, flitter bats, and owls range
At witches' sabbath of the maiden aunts;

When the nocturnal traveller can arouse
No sleeper by his call; or when by chance
An empty face peers from an empty house;

By whom, and by what means, was this designed?
The whispered incantation which allows
Free passage to the phantoms of the mind?

By you; by those deceptive cadences
Wherewith the common measure is refined;
By conscious art practised with natural ease;

By the delicate, invisible web you wove -
The inexplicable mystery of sound.
Das ist es, dieses delicate, invisible web und dieses inexplicable mystery of sound, das die dichterische Sprache de la Mares ausmacht. Robert Frost hat ihn one of the best of the best genannt, und der todkranke Thomas Hardy sagte possibly the finest poem of this century, als man ihm The Listeners vorlas. Virginia Woolf war völlig überrascht, als sie de la Mares Lyrik entdeckte: The voice which sounded so fine and distinct in that obscure gathering of the commonplace now speaks not only to a large audience, but to a great number of listeners it is a voice which has no fellow. The surprise, the sense of finding an unseized emotion reduced to its unmistakable form of words, possesses us when we read his latest volume, as it possessed us then. Of the many proofs of the value of poetry, the conviction that the poet has said what was hitherto unsaid is among the most conclusive. In future for that emotion or mood, which he seems half to create and half to reveal, there is no other poet who serves instead of him.

Wir müssen die Realität hinter uns lassen, wenn wir den Autor verstehen wollen. Sagt uns der Dichter Leonard Clark in seinem Buch über de la Mare, das 1960 bei The Bodley Head erschien. Und er schreibt: Jesus was compelled to present the Kingdom of Heaven in the likeness of a grain of mustard-seed. And so, when de la Mare speaks of Arabia and its music; of Martha's hazel-glen in the hush of an age gone by; of the quiet steeps of dreamland or the lonely dreams of a child; of the unchangeable that contrasts with earth's transiency; of the dark château and the house that was named Alas; of the sunken garden and the listening house, the tranquil hills and the coloured country of the Traveller; of the house of shadows and the kingdom of the Mad Prince and the steep of time whence the Knight of Finis charged with his challenge into space; of Nothing with its changeless vague of peace; of two gardens for two children in one mind; of the bird which taps at a window: when such themes as these fill up the lovely line of de la Mare we know he is remembering and trying to tell us about that deeper reality, incredibly strange and strangely momentous, of his experience; then we must lean our ear and hearken for the rhythm that is to lift us into the mental state in which alone we too can enter upon that experience

Wir lassen die Stimmen der Kritiker jetzt einmal beiseite. Lesen Sie einfach einmal das Gedicht The Sunken Garden, dann wissen Sie, was gemeint ist:

Speak not — whisper not;
Here bloweth thyme and bergamot;
Softly on the evening hour,
Secret herbs their spices shower,
Dark-spiked rosemary and myrrh,
Lean-stalked, purple lavender;
Hides within her bosom, too,
All her sorrows, bitter rue.

Breathe not — trespass not;
Of this green and darkling spot,
Latticed from the moon's beams,
Perchance a distant dreamer dreams;
Perchance upon its darkening air,
The unseen ghosts of children fare,
Faintly swinging, sway and sweep,
Like lovely sea-flowers in its deep;
While, unmoved, to watch and ward,
'Mid its gloomed and daisied sward,
Stands with bowed and dewy head
That one little leaden Lad.

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