JAMESK. LYON Harvard University Words and images dealing with silence recur with higher frequency in Trakl's poetry than almost any others. Their usage bespeaks a near obsession with the phenomenon of silence. This fixation becomes increasingly evident following Trakl's encounter with Rimbaud's poetry. He uses metaphors of silence in various combinations to characterize four basic conditions. They are 1) the innocence of childhood; 2) the holy, detached state of the "unborn" called Abgeschiedenheit; 3) the state of fallen man; and 4) the muteness accompanying the dead. Following a pattern found throughout the lyrics, "Kindheit" and "Jahr" juxtapose the present silence of man's desolate state with the blissful quiet of past innocence or of the Abgeschiedenheit of the unborn. Elsewhere communion with the muted dead seems to represent the poetic ego's attempt to evoke his former innocent sell. Metaphors of silence also represent the dread which man senses when he realizes God has withdrawn and his childhood faith is gone. The poem "Psalm" bitterly indicts a silent God, while "De profundis" uses the central image of "drinking God's silence" to express man's despair. Finally, Trakl's war poems, especially "Die Schwermut" and "Grodek," employ the image of "muted" or "broken" mouths to represent the unredeemed silent state of the damned. (JKL)

I. Trakl's uses of silence When Mallarm6described a certain type of modern poetry as a "musicienne silence" ("Sainte"), he touched on an essentialsimilarity de between much modernmusical and poetic composition.Just as rests and pauses are a basic stuff for composers,so, too, many modern poets find that rests, silence, and the inexpressibleare as essentialto poetic creation as wordsare. have repeatedlycalled attentionto his Georg Trakl's commentators efforts to express the inexpressibleby shaping silence and working with what lies near or beyond the limits of speech. Rilke's descriptionof the poem "Helian"will suffice to summarizewhat many consider to be an essentialtrait in Trakl'spoetry:1"JedesAnhebenund Hingehenin diesem ward schinen Gedichtist von einer unsaiglichen SiiMigkeit, ganz ergreifend es mir durch seine inneren Abstlinde,es ist gleichsamauf seine Pausen MfdU, Vol. 62, No. 4, 1970

Georg Trakl


Wortlose:so stehen aufgebaut, paarEinfriedigungen das grenzenlos ein um die Zeilen da. Wie Z~une in einem flachen Land, tiber die hin das Eingeziunte fortwlihrendzu einer unbesitzbarengrolSenEbene zusammenWhile Rilke's descriptionof a poem "built on its pauses," of schligt.'"2 the "infinite wordless"which is stakedoff with a few words, and of "inner a spaces" separatingparts of the poem is highly impressionistic, routine word count in Trakl'sother poems would confirmRilke's impressionthat of Trakl'spoetryoften dealswith the phenomenon silenceand the inexpressible. Nouns such as Schweigenor Stille, verbs such as schweigen and and related adjectives,adverbs,and gerundssuch as namenverstummen, los, schweigend,sprachlos, still, stumm, unsdiglich, etc., occur with such frequencythat they demandmore than fleetingattention. While word counts and cataloging of images are low in order of critical importance,they do help establish a writer's preoccupationor obsession.3Curiously,no one has investigated Trakl'snear obsessionwith words and imagesof stillness,silence,quiet, and muteness,thoughscarcely a critic fails to mention them. Nor has anyone investigatedhow he uses them or what role they play in his poetry. Leitgeb'sword count of Trakl's occurrencesof the noun Stille and twenty-six poetry does list thirty-three of Schweigenfrom the 108 poems and three prose works representing Trakl's maturewriting.4But he fails to record all the other occurrences of wordsrelatingto this imagecluster,e.g. twentyoccurrences schweigen of in some form (schweigend,schweigsam,etc.), nine of stumm,nine of still, seven of sprachlos,plus such peripheral words as verstummen, namenlos, and unsiiglich.Taken together,they representa formidableword group (second only to images of darknessand night) and underscorewhat can safely be taken as a preoccupation.5 The density of such words increases in the last half of the volume known as Dichtungen.Though this is not arranged exact chronological in order, it does reflect the general progressionfrom early to late poems. In the last sixty-threepoems, more than a quarterof them have two or more occurrencesof words from this image cluster (many have four or five such words), and nearly all reflect the motif of silence or muteness by using otherimagesnot directlywithinthis word cluster.For this reason, later poems providethe best examplesof imagesand metaphorsof silence in Trakl'spoetry. When such words and metaphorsof silence occur in the volume of early poems entitled Aus goldenem Kelch (which Trakl rejected as imone mature) or in the earlypoemsof Dichtungen, is struckby theirunimagsonnen,"(II,85); "IhrSchweigenbreitendie Wolkenam Hiigel" (II,109); "Rund schweigenWilder wunderbar" (1,34). The conventionalusage of
inative, derivative usage: "....Girten,/ Die sich in Paradiesesschweigen



in "Schweigen" an early poem by that title (II,88) is only one example of an apparentlyindifferentusage of both the term and the metaphor. had Traklat this point apparently no obsessiveconcernwith silence, muteness, and relatedmetaphorsand motifs. This observationis confirmedby comparingthe relativelylow frequencyof this word cluster in the early poems with the higher frequencyin later poems.6 Sometimeduringthe last two years or so of Trakl'slife, this pattern of usage changes.One now encounterstropes such as "GottesSchweigen/ Anblick Trank ich aus dem Brunnendes Hains" (1,67); "schweigender Menschder Sonne"(1,147); "Aberstilleblutetin dunklerHihle stummere heit" (1,131); "Sonjas Leben, blaue Stille" (1,119). It is tempting to relate this increasedoccurrenceand sovereignusage to Trakl's encounter with Rimbaudin the Karl Klammer (K.L. Ammer) translation.Grimm dates this encounteraround1911-1912, just when this word clusterbegins to appearwith increasingfrequencyand to assumeincreasingimportance.' But in Grimm'sexhaustivedocumentationof everythingTrakl seems to have borrowed, there is virtually no evidence that Trakl appropriated anythingfrom Rimbaudrelatingto the motif of silence. Rather it appears since there are almostno words, to have been an independent development, or motifs in the Klammertranslationwhich might have provided images, the necessaryimpulses.It seems that the encounterwith Rimbaudhelped Trakl find his own style, but that Trakl developed this word cluster and its metaphoricsignificanceautonomously. This does not imply that Trakl createdin a vacuum and was totally out of touch with the thought and temper of his times. The contraryis probablytrue. The skeptical attitudetoward language in the writingsof Fritz Mauthnerand GustavLandauerduringthe first two decades of this the century,the varioustestimonialsof Sprachnotby Hofmannsthal, long periods of silence in Rilke and Val6ry, and general distrusttoward conventional poetic languagefound in many writers from Mallarm6to T.S. Eliot are all symptomaticfor a prevailinghabit of mind.8While Trakl's to cannot be clearly established,his preindebtedness his contemporaries is occupationwith silence and the inexpressible only a highlyindividualistic of manifestation the prevailingclimate of opinion, regardlessof whether or one calls it Sprachnot,Sprachskepsis, awarenessof the limitationsof poetic language. In his poetic struggleto articulate, Trakl'susage fromthe word cluster of silencerangesover a scale from accepted,traditional syntaxand imagery ("die schweigendenWiilder"1,183; "Stille der Diirfer" 1,167) through constructions("blaue Stille" 1,119; "die milde Stille" 1,121) catachrestic on to the most jolting,unconventional symbolic and syntacticalstructures ("seine stillereKindheit"1,133; "iiberder griinenStille des Teichs"1,137; "Stilleleuchtet die Kerze"1,166).



Silence is a dominant feature in Trakl's world, though one might more accuratelyspeak of "muteness," since there often are sounds such as the singingof birds or the activitiesof workmen.But human speech is almost totally lackingin the poetic landscape.When a figure does speak, his speech is usuallyqualifiedby a restrictive adjectiveor adverbimplying or near muteness,e.g. "LeisesagendvergesseneLegende des Walds" quiet (I,111) or "Die dunkle Klage seines Munds" (I,113). Metaphorsof silence play an essential role in nearly every phase of human existence. They range over a spectrum from childhood and innocence through man's fallen state of wickedness on to the state of death. One might classify "conditionsof silence" accordingto their uses in recurrentsituations. First, the innocenceof childhoodis nearly always attendedby metaphors of silence ("Dunkle Stille der Kindheit"1,168; "Jenerging . .. In seine stillereKindheit" der I,143; 1,133; "Geduldund Schweigen Kindheit" "Der Platz vor der Kirche ist finsterund schweigsam,wie in den Tagen der Kindheit"1,63). Usually this state is blissful and serene. In a second categoryclosely connectedwith childhood,silence often attends the Ungeborenen, unborn innocents nearly always portrayed the as youths who have not yet incurredguilt through"birth"into the sinful adultworld. Trakl usually gives specific names to these innocents, e.g. Kaspar Hauser, Elis, Helian, and Sonja, though certain generic designationsalso seem to apply, e.g. "Der Schauende,""Der Novize," etc. But whatever the designation,they are either partiallyor completely silent. Elis lives in "vollkommeneStille" (1,96); in "Helian" one reads "Schin ist die Stille der Nacht" (1,84); in "Afra"one hears of quiet evening coolness and of "des HolundersSchweigen" (I,123); and Sonja'slife itself is "blaue Stille" (1,119). Martin Heideggercalls the pure, innocent state in which they exist Abgeschiedenheit.9 This term, derivingfrom Germanmystics (notably of denoteda state of spiritualdisinterMeisterEckhart'sschool),1ooriginally estedness or self-denial,the detachmentand withdrawalfrom the world necessaryto allow God to enter the subject. In the course of time the meaning of spiritual separation from the world was graduallyreduced to mean separationfrom the world by death. Trakl'spoem "Gesangdes (1,174), which seems to extend the term again to comAbgeschiedenen" prehendmany aspects of its originalmeaningof separationand isolation for from the world, providedHeideggerwith his formulation what he sees as the prevailing mood, the innercondition,and the state of mindin Trakl's entirepoetic world." to Accordingto Heidegger,silence and mutenessare fundamental this
state of A bgeschiedenheit. He asks, "Ist die Abgeschiedenheit nicht ein



einziges Schweigender Stille? Wie kann die Abgeschiedenheit Sagen ein He und Singen auf den Weg bringen?"'12 answersby pointingout that in Trakl'sworld silence in the unborninnocentsis somethingholy and transcendent, a more profoundaspect of speech in which the true essence of when one considers languageand music is found. This is not incongruous how often Trakl structureshis poetic world in antithesescomprehended in such terms as Gut-BWise; Paradies-Hblle; Schuld-Gerechtigkeit; Oftenand Traum-Umnachtung.13 Silence is not only the barung-Untergang; antithesisof speech; it is also quintessentialspeech, for as he puts it, "das Wesen der Sprache"is nothing more than "das Geliut der Stille," a silentsoundingwhichremainsunarticulated, whichthe unbornfigures but This would explain the frequencyof the verbs liiuten, tinen, perceive.14 and klingenin these poems. Elis, for example,hears the soundingof bells withinhim: "Ein sanftesGlockenspiel t6nt in Elis' Brust"(1,96). It would also explainwhy anotherunborninnocent called "Der Einsame"in "Der
Herbst des Einsamen" (1,121) listens in silence and hears ". .. die milde

Stille/ Erfiilltvon leiser Antwort dunklerFragen."The inner harmonyof these unborn innocents enables them to perceive the ineffable.They are mute, but silence here is by definitiona higherform of communication. This is no longerthe case in a thirdcategoryof silent existence.Here man has incurred i.e. unspeakable guiltby being "born," comingin contact with sin and evil ("Grol ist die Schulddes Geborenen" 1,132; "Weh,der Schuld, die jenes [Grab]kundtut"1,158). The characteristic unsiiglichen harmonioussilence of unborn innocents has been supplantedby overwhelmingmutenessin the face of enigmatichuman existence ("Unsiiglich ist derVi5gel dread 1,123), inexpressible Flug,Begegnung/Mit Sterbenden" of the ineffable("Uber Stoppelfeldund Pfad/ Banget schon ein schwarzes to Schweigen" 1,122), and silentresignation man'sfallenstate ("Aber stille blutetin dunklerHihle stummereMenschheit" 1,131; "Ein Herz/ Erstarrt in schneeigerStille"1,173). Existence has lost all meaning, and man has been left helpless and inarticulate.A letter Traki wrote to Ludwig von Ficker sometime during November, 1913, laments the loss of coherent existence in his personallife. His anguishedtone intimateshow ineffable he consideredsuch sufferingto be: "Es ist so ein namenloses Ungliick, wenn einem die Welt entzweibricht. mein Gott, welch ein Gericht ist O iiber mich hereingebrochen" (III,170). One might say Trakl'sworld begins and ends in innocence,the innocence characterized two large groups--children;and those whom Trakl by would call "the unborn" (die Ungeborenen). This silent condition of primevalinnocence("ruhigwohntedie Kindheit/ In blauerHShle"1,102), i.e. not having incurredthe guilt inherentin adult existence by entrance into the world of sin, does not necessarilysymbolizea privateexperience.



Rather it standsas a metaphorfor all mankindbefore falling from grace. Trakl'swish expressed In light of this interpretation, can comprehend one that he who is born into the world might in an earlierversionof "Passion" die before tastingthe bitterfruit of guilt-ridden existence: Weh, des Geborenen, er stiirbe dab Eh er die gliihende Frucht, Die bittereder Schuldgenossen. Physical birth alone does not bring guilt. Guilt comes throughexposure to and immersionin human sinfulness."Birth"into life and loss of innocence come with this increased awareness ("GroB ist die Schuld des Geborenen" termswould correspond 1,132), a situationwhichin Christian to man after the fall of Adam. In a fourth and final use of metaphorsof silence, the dead, too, are almostalwaysdescribedin such terms.One recallsthe meaningof the word Abgeschiedenheit denotingdeath. In some cases the dead actuallyreturn to the beatificstate of silent innocenceupon dying: "Jeneraber ging .../ In seine stillereKindheitund starb"(1,133). Just as often, however,death means ultimate loss of articulation("Stille bliiht die Myrthe iiber den Lidern des Toten" 1,147; "O [weh] der Verwesten, da sie mit weiBl3en silbernen Zungendie H511e schwiegen," 1,161; "VomHiigel .../ Stiirztdas
lachende Blut [der Soldaten] / Unter Eichen/ Sprachlos . . ." 1,181).

II. Blissful Silence: Past Innocence and Present Recall Among the charactersin Trakl'spoetic landscape,the child and der Ungeboreneappear most often. Both seem to be counters for the poet himself, the poet's "anti-self"as Yeats would call it. Both have not yet enteredlife, have not been "born,"i.e. initiatedinto sinfulness.Trakl once confessed to Hans Limbach, "Ich bin ja erst halb geboren" (II1,115). Accordingto Limbach,he claimedto be totallyunawareof the worldabout him until age twenty. The connection between this personal aspect of Trakl's life and those Ungeborenenliving detached from the world is obvious. The poem "Kindheit"(1,102) illustratesthe blissful, serene state of silencewhich obtainedduringchildhood: Voll Friichten Holunder; der ruhigwohntedie Kindheit In blauerHdhle.tOber Pfad, vergangenen Wo nun briunlichdas wildeGrassaust, des Sinntdas stilleGelist;das Rauschen Laubs Ein gleiches,wenn das blaueWasserim Felsentint. Sanftist derAmselKlage.Ein Hirt der Folgtsprachlos Sonne,die vom herbstlichen Hiigelrollt.



Ein blauer Augenblickist nur mehr Seele. Am Waldsaumzeigt sich ein scheues Wild und friedlich Ruhn im Grund die alten Glocken und finsterenWeiler. Frammerkennst du den Sinn der dunklen Jahre, Kiihle und Herbst in einsamen Zimmern; Und in heiliger Bliue liuten leuchtende Schritte fort. Leise klirrt ein offenes Fenster; zu Trinen Riihrt der Anblick des verfallenenFriedhofs am Hiigel, Erinnerungan erzihlte Legenden;doch manchmalerhellt sich die Seele Wenn sie frohe Menschen denkt, dunkelgoldeneFriihlingstage. Here images of a sheltered, peaceful world intermingle with images of silence and darkness. Ruhig, sanft, scheu, friedlich, leise, dunkelgolden in lines one, six, fourteen, and seventeen describe the mood, while still and sprachlos in lines four and seven refer to the silence of childhood. Closer examination shows that adjectives in the first group (with the possible exception of the last one) also either imply or denote the silent condition. The basic situation is peaceful (ruhig); the sound of the black bird is barely audible (sanft); the animal, often a counter for the poetic ego ("Du, ein blaues Tier" 1,128; "er, ein wildes Tier" 1,157), has the same qualities a silent child has (scheu, friedlich); the window rattles quietly (leise). Trakl's ambiguous use of adjectives subtly reinforces the basic condition. The shepherd, the "blue cave" of childhood security, the deer, and the "holy blue" connected with childhood here are standard components wherever Trakl sketches this silent landscape of innocence. Even the sounds made by the swaying grass, the rustling leaves, the water striking the rocks, and the blackbird's cry underscore the muteness of this landscape where no human voice is heard. The entire poem to this point might be viewed as an extended metaphor for the silent tranquillity of childhood. Not until the final line where the transitive usage of denkt describes the soul thinking of or recalling joyful days does one realize that the poem is actually reflecting on the past. This may refer to the childhood of the

poetic ego; more likely it is a metaphorfor the childhoodof the race. The past tense (wohnte) used in the first line to describe how peaceful and quiet childhoodonce was confirmsthat this state no longer obtains. The season is autumn,as the ripenedelderberry bushes and the brown grass in stanza one and the "autumnhill" in stanza two testify. While the speaker walks along a path familiarfrom childhood,the "quiet"branches,the soft of rustlingof leaves, and the "sound" the blue waterscombineto evoke the of this innocent Abgeschiedenheit. memory Everythingin this landscape familiarto the speakerfrom youth combinesto producethe "bluemoment

Georg Trald


of recall"mentionedin stanza three. Blue in this poem apparentlyrefers to that lost age of innocence (cf. the opening lines), though critics have establishedhow difficultit is to assign one meaningto colors (and most other images) in Trakl. The last line suggeststhat the color gold also has some connectionwith childhood. Trakl sometimesequates the time of childhoodtranquillitywith the spring season. This is explicit in "Jahr"(1,168) with the lines "Dunkle Stille der Kindheit.Unter griinendenEschen/ Weidet die Sanftmutbliulichen Blickes,"and is impliedin many other poems. Such usage contrasts sharplywith the subject'spresentlocation in the symbolicautumnseason where he knows the darkness,coldness, and lonelinessof the intervening kennst du den Sinn der dunklen Jahre,/ Kiihle und years ("Friammer Herbst in einsamen Zimmern"). These "darkeryears" imply the inexpressiblenature of sin which the subject (or mankind) experiencedafter leaving the primeval state. Thus the recall of the spring of childhood, which momentarilydispels the darkness of the soul ("doch manchmal erhellt sich die Seele,/ Wenn sie frohe Menschen denkt, dunkelgoldene stays withina consistentframeof reference,since the verb Frtihlingstage"), erhellenmeansboth visionaryrecalland relieffromthe oppressive darkness If often associatedwith sinful silence.15 the view of a cemeteryin the final stanza is read as a symbolicreminderof dead childhoodor youth (either how it can help evoke of the individualor of mankind) one understands the vision of guiltlesssilencewhichis the focal point of this poem. The poem "Jahr"(1,168) contraststhe "quiet"of man in his fallen with the bliss of virtuousAbgeschiedenheit. This juxtastate of "autumn" positionprevailsin many poems. Whilethe twelvelines here might suggest a symbolic "Jahr der Seele," the poem actually begins in the spring of childhood and ends in autumn (or, one might conclude, at the onset of winter): Eschen DunkleStilleder Kindheit. Untergriinenden Weidetdie Sanftmut Blickes; goldeneRuh. bliiulichen Ahren Ein Dunklesentziicktder Duft der Veilchen;schwankende der Schatten Schwermut. Im Abend,Sonnenund die goldenen im Grund Balkenbehautder Zimmermann; diimmernden wdlbtsich ein purpurner Mund, Mahltdie Miihle;im Hasellaub Wassergeneigt. rot Miinnliches tiberschweigende der Wolke Leiseist derHerbst, GeistdesWaldes; goldene dem Einsamen, schwarze der Schatten Enkels. des Folgt unteraltenZypressen Zimmer; Neige in steinernem Bilderzum Quellversammelt; Sind der Triinenniichtige dunkleGedulddes Endes. (1,168) GoldenesAuge des Anbeginns, Again Trakl sketchesa mute landscape.No humanvoice is heard,though



soundsof humanindustryare present.The quiet of childhoodpervadesthe first four lines. The next four lines portrayinghuman activity allude to humanguilt (lines six and seven probablyrefer to erotic experience). The autumnalseason is quiet ("Leise ist der Herbst"), but now mutenessno longer seems to be blissful. In the poem "Kindheit"(1,102) man spent autumnalone "in einsamenZimmern"; here man is "Der Einsame,"the embodiment humandesolation. of The golden cloud followingman, which is simultaneously vision of a an "unborn"grandchild,shows affinitiesto the cemetery in "Kindheit." Just as the restingplace of the dead there evoked a vision of innocence to which one longed to return,so the shades of an unborngenerationhere (or perhapsof a dead child?) allude to the conditionof innocenceto be found in non-life.Again the implication prevailingsilence is overwhelmof ing. The connectionbetweenthe innocent state of the Enkel who has not whom Trakl refers to in several poems, yet been born, and the "unborn" nearly compels one to equate the silence of the unbornwith the state of those who have not yet entered "life." In this poem one glimpsesan eschatologicalvision structured of out silence. It is as though death were a new beginningof innocence,a return to the startingpoint. While the cypress tree, an ancient symbol of death, announces the end of suffering,the "Goldenes Auge des Anbeginns" means a new beginning. simultaneously WhereverTrakl treats this apparentcyclical movement from innocence into adult culpability (and sometimes back again--cf. "AbendliindischesLied" 1,137; "Ruh und Schweigen"1,108; and "Traumund Umnachtung" 1,161), he does it in terms of silence. This implies varying mankind("Aberstille blutet types of silence,since the mutenessof suffering in dunklerHihle stummereMenschheit" 1,131) is radicallydifferentfrom the seeminglyserene and joyful silence of the dead in such poems as "'An einen Friihverstorbenen" (1,133), which describes how a young person died and returnedto his "quieterchildhood": Jeneraberging die steinernen Stufendes Mainchbergs hinab, im Ein blauesLiicheln Antlitzund seltsamverpuppt In seine stillereKindheit und starb. Und im Gartenbliebdas silberne Antlitzdes Freundes zuriick,
Lauschend im Laub oder im alten Gestein . . .

(Lines6-11) The mutenessof deathand of childhoodAbgeschiedenheit equated are here. It is as thoughdeathhad restoredman to pristineunity and redeemed him from presentguilt. In effect, the silence of death representsa return to man's startingpoint. The speaker's communionwith the quiet dead

Georg Trakl


person ("da .. ./ Der Geist des Friihverstorbenen stille im Zimmer erschien")who was once the speaker'sintimateplaymate("Da wir sanfte Gespielenam Abend waren") duringtheir age of innocence,implieswhat one often suspects in other poems-that the dead being representsthe speaker'salter ego, his lost innocentself whomhe seeks to recognizeagain, and to whomhe flees to findreleasefrom his presentguilt-ridden condition. In effect, this is but anotherevocation or vision of former bliss. In this with the dead in theirsilentA bgeschiedenheit poem, communion represents a partialfulfillment longingfor a lost state of peacefulinarticulation. of III. God's Silence-The State of Fallen Man The type of Trakl interpretation Eduard Lachmann'sKreuz und in Abend and similarlyorientedstudies16 givenrise to such oversimplificahas tion and Procrustianstretchingthat it is now consideredalmost disreputable to view Trakl'spoetry in light of the Christianreligion.Yet if one considers questions of good and evil, sin and suffering,corruptionand to innocence,or guilt and redemption be religiousmatters,Trakl'spoetry has indisputable religiouscontent,howeverdevoidit mightbe of confessionally oriented matters.7 This is important,because it is precisely man's torturedrelationship a God whose very existenceis questionable to which underliesmuch of the bitternessand suffering Traklexpresses.An apparent invocation addressedto God alludes to this inexpressibility shattered of existence: "Unstiglich das alles, O Gott, da3 man erschtittert Knie ist ins bricht" (I,101). In severalpoems Trakl employs metaphorsof silence to equate loss of the primevalAbgeschiedenheit with loss of what seems to be religious faith. In "Abendlied"(1,81), for example, the city, Trakl's symbol for man's total exposureto evil,18blots out the memoryof the spiritualpast: steigen tiber die finstreStadt,/ Die der M6nche edlere "FriihlingsgewiSlke Zeiten schweigt."And one passage in "AbendlindischesLied" (1,137) utters a wish for a returnof innocent childhood stillness where personal communionwith God was possible: O, ihr Zeitender Stille und goldenerHerbste, Da wir friedlicheMdnchedie purpurne Traubegekeltert; Und ringsergliinzten Hiigelund Wald. und Ruhdes Abends, O, ihr Jagden Schlisser; Da in seinerKammer MenschGerechtes der sann, In stummem Gebetum Gotteslebendiges Hauptrang. (Stanzathree) But the days of stillness when righteousbeings communedwith God in silent prayerare lost. They have been transformed a silence of desolainto tion and despairat man's fallen state.



The poem "Psalm"(1,61) is an anguishedportraitof man'ssenseless suffering. Despite its title, it is no sacredsong of praiseor worshipdirected to God, but ratherthe opposite.The firstsection depictsthe loss of original harmonyand closes with the lamentation"O unser verlorenesParadies." The second section catalogs human weaknesses and desolation before closing with an image of man'stotal exposureto elementalsuffering:"Ein Dampferam KanaltriigtblutigeSeuchenherauf."The thirdsection weil3er ends with the image of a blind girl which evokes a bittersense of lost innocence andpresentgrief.Imagesof death,decay,anddamnation the fourth in section convergein a traditional image of the evil which pervadeslife and exercises almost magical control over men: "In seinem Grab spielt der weile Magiermit seinen Schlangen." The underlying tone of accusationwould be enoughif Trakl stopped here. But he adds a singletellingline which summarizes indictmentand his names the cause of man's condition: "Schweigsam iiber der Schlidelstlitte iiffnen sich Gottes goldene Augen." Above this symbolic Golgotha, the place of sufferingand death which is man'sdwellingplace, is a silent God whose promiseof beauty and redemptionis intimatedby golden eyes, but who is otherwiseunconcernedwith man. Underlyingthe metaphorof a silent God is an awarenessof the terrorand brutalityof a worldabandoned by God. Trakl's poems contain several intimationsthat it is impossible to communewith God throughprayeror any otherform,for God has deserted man and withdrawninto silence. The plaintive cry "Gottes Schweigen/ Trank ich aus dem Brunnendes Hains" (1,67) is one such intimation. Anotheris the use of the cry "O," which in Trakl'spoetrylies somewhere between an apostropheand invocation.The statement"Unstiglich das ist ins alles, o Gott, daB man erschiittert Knie bricht" (I,101) is representative of the many cases whereit is uncertainwhetherthe poet uses it as an invocationto God, an apostropheto God, or an interjectionof complete despair ("O, die bittereStundedes Untergangs" 1,137; "O des Menschen verweste Gestalt" 1,138; "O dunkle Angst" 1,176; "O Herz" 1,177; "O Schweigen";"O Schmerz"1,179). But in the dozens of poems where Trakl uses it--often three or four times in the same poem--this "o" clearlybespeaksa dual problem:the lack of anyone or anythingto whom to addressthe lament or complaint,and the incapacityof the speaker to what he feels. From Trakl'susage of this rhetoricaldevice alone articulate one could make a persuasiveargumentfor his fear of total mutenessand his frustrationin finding someone or somethingto address. Such highly forms as "O Herz" (1,177) or "O Schweigen"(I,179), which fragmented in no way furtherdescribe or expand on the object of invocation, also testify that much remainsunsaid.'9 Another hint that an inaccessibleGod, a deus absconditus,cannot be



reached by man is found in a frequentimage Trakl uses in connection with God--the wind. There is an obviousrelationship betweenthis image, the Greek pneuma, and such New Testament passages as "The wind blowethwhere it listeth and thou hearestthe sound thereof, but canst not tell whenceit cometh, and whitherit goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit"(John 3,8). But Trakl reversesthis traditional Christianusage and makesthe wind a symbolof desolation,emptiness,and silence.20 Again adjectivesplay the decisive role in mappingout Trakl'sworld. One hears their determiningforce in "Gottes einsamerWind" (I,97) and "Gottes eisigerOdem" (1,130).21 In anotherpassage"God'swind"can be read as a synonymfor silence: "Ein umnachteter Seher sang jener an verfallenen Mauernund seine Stimmeverschlang GottesWind"(1,160). The foregoing a evidenceilluminates passagewherethe poet portraysman'sdesolateconditionwith the term "Windesstille Seele" (I,138), whichmust be interder preted to symbolize God's absence. Or the passages "Immer tint/ An schwarzenMauern Gottes einsamer Wind" (1,97) and "Gottes eisiger Odem" (1,130) seem to be recombinedin the passage "Tant ein eisiger Wind an den Mauern des Dorfs" (1,132). But without stretchingthe concept to comprehendevery image of wind, there is enough evidence to bolster the argumentthat Trakl's awarenessof God is primarilyof his absenceor loss. This awarenesspermeatesthe poem "De profundis"(1,67). In contrastto the 130th Psalm,this cry fromthe depthsof despairnever achieves the hope and trust in a loving God's forgivenessfound in its Biblical counterpart: Es ist ein Stoppelfeld, das ein schwarzer in Regen fidllt.
Es ist ein braunerBau, der einsam dasteht. Es ist ein Zischelwind,der leere Hiitten umkreistWie traurigdieser Abend.

Am Weiler vorbei Sammeltdie sanfte Waise noch spirliche Ahren ein. Ihre Augen weiden rund und goldig in der Diimmerung Und ihr SchoB harrt des himmlischenBrliutigams. Bei der Heimkehr Fanden die Hirten den siil3enLeib Verwest im Dornenbusch. Ein Schattenbin ich ferne finsterenDarfern. Gottes Schweigen Trank ich aus dem Brunnendes Hains. tritt Auf meine Stimrne kaltes Metall. suchen mein Herz. Spinnen Es ist ein Licht, das in meinem Mund erlischt.



Nachtsfand ich mich auf einerHeide, Starrend Unratund Staubder Sterne. von Im Haselgebiisch wiederkristallne Klangen Engel. Familiarelementsseen earliermake most aspects of this poem accessible. The waste land in stanza one representsthe barrennessof man's desolate condition in the autumnseason. Stanza two portraysa child who would in normallyevoke the memory of Abgeschiedenheit the viewer, but the effect is quicklynullifiedwhen the child's decomposingbody is discovered in stanzathree. The entire poem turns on stanza four, since what follows is only a of furthermodification man'sbleak state. Here unrelieved despairis repreGod's silence."An earlierversionhad the sentedin the image of "drinking speaker drinking "Hal3 und Bitternis" instead of "Gottes Schweigen." "GottesSchweigen,"however, is more than a synonym;it unlocks other levels of meaning.Besides hatredand bitterness,this image expressesthe terrorand agony man senses at God's absence, God's inaccessibility,and His silence. Man has no one to whom he can addressprayersfor aid or forgiveness. The metaphors silenceTrakluses in relationto God have an affinity of to the traditionof Christianmysticismwhere the languageof God can be heardonly in a mutedstate on a sub-auditory level.22 One poem apparently deals with this type of silent orison ("Ruh des Abends/ Da in seiner Kammer der Mensch Gerechtes sann,/ In stummem Gebet um Gottes lebendigesHaupt rang" 1,137); in general, however, the most frequent metaphorsof silence are those of alienation, suffering,and despair at a godless world where no answerto man's silent prayeris forthcoming.23 IV. Conclusion: The Silenceof the Unredeemed Dead An increasingnumberof Trakl'slater poems depict the silent dead (cf. "Abendland"1,170; "Vorhlle" 1,172; "Schwermut" 1,181; "Der Abend" 1,183; "Im Osten" 1,195; "Grodek"1,197). While the use of silence in the context of death is hardly peculiar to Trakl, some of his metaphorsare. In several late poems he seems to equate death with the In inabilityof the dead to articulate. "De profundis"(1,67) one reads "Es ist ein Licht, das in meinemMund erl6scht."By comparingthis with the opening lines of "Die Schwermut"(1,181), it becomes evident that the and "lightin one's mouth"which is extinguished, the "darkmouthwithin" are imagesof mutenessor inabilityto articulate: Gewaltigbist du dunklerMund Im Innern,aus Herbstgew6lk
Geformte Gestalt, Goldner Abendstille



In fact the text states that the dark mouth within is formed from the that silence and the image "goldenstillness of evening,"a corroboration of the mouth are somehowinterrelated. ApparentlyTrakl uses the synecdochial image of the mouth to representthe entire human,because he attaches such significanceto man's only means of articulation. Articulation is indeeda "matter life or death"here. of "Grodek" vision of deathandultimatesilence, (1,197), an apocalyptic uses the image of "dying mouths"to symbolize death. A few lines will illustrate: Am Abend . . . . . umfingtdie Nacht Sterbende die Krieger, wildeKlage Ihrerzerbrochenen Miinder. Doch stille sammelt Weidengrund im RotesGewilk, darinein ziirnender Gott wohnt, Das vergolneBlutsich,mondne Kiihle; miindenin schwarze Verwesung. Alle Stral3en Untergoldnem Gezweigder Nachtund Sternen der Schatten durchden schweigenden Es schwankt Schwester Hain,
Zu grii8en die Geister der Helden, die blutenden Hiiupter . . .

The images of blood collecting on the battlefield ("stille sammelt im Rotes Gewdlk")and the shadeof the sistermovingthrough Weidengrund/ the the silentgrove ("durchden schweigenden Hain") strengthen impression of total silence in death. The key image, however,is that of "zerbrochene
Minder" of the dead and dying. In normal German usage this expression

is meaningless.Trakl apparentlycoined the term as an analogue to the commonexpressionfor death, "das Auge brach,"an image for the loss of the life fromthe eye. Hereit servesto emphasize mutenessinducedby death, it and though the dying raise a "wild lamentation," is clear that they are about to become totally mute. In fact, one wonders whether their "wild are lamentations" even audible,for in several other poems Trakl chooses to repeat images of scarcely audible sound set up by the souls of the muted dead. The second stanza of "Im Osten" (1,195) speaks of those who have died in battle and whose souls can only utter half-audible sighs: Mit zerbrochnen Brauen,silbernenArmen Winktsterbenden Soldaten Nacht. die Im Schatten herbstlichen Esche der Seufzendie Geisterder Erschlagenen. "Der Abend" (1,183), which begins: Mit toten Heldengestalten
Erfiillst du Mond Die schweigenden Wilder ..



describesthese dead warriorsin its final lines as utteringthe same quiet moansportrayedabove:
Ihr mondverschlungenenSchatten Aufseufzend im leeren Kristall Des Bergsees.

The scarcelyaudiblesighs and the mutenesssuggestedby the hardnessof crystalagain emphasizethat death in these war poems is not a redeeming force, but the avenueto absolutenegativesilence. Trakl himself explained this type of deathin a conversation with TheodorDiiublerwhen he claimed the way we die is immaterial,since it transcendsanythingpreceding or following: "Wir fallen in ein Unfal3bar-Schwarzes" (111,13). Had Trakl on writing,he might have added "into total silence." gone Thereis probably singleadequate no reasonto explainwhy Traklinterlaced his poetry with various images and metaphorsof silence, nor is an answernecessary.The fact is that he does, and what begins as a conventional device becomes an obsession. One wonders to what degree this was as preoccupation a reflectionof Trakl'sconcernwith poetic articulation a meaningfulform of existence. Whateverthe case, his work often corresponds to that descriptionof poetry cited at the beginningas the "musicienne de silence"--in this case a musicianconsciouslyworkingwith those rests and pauses represented muteness,quiet, and inarticulation. by
1 For two other examples, cf. Walther Killy, "Er notierte das Unausdriickbare. Zum fiinfzigsten Todestag von Georg Trakl," Die Zeit, Nov. 6, 1964, p. 23, and Martin Heidegger, "Die Sprache im Gedicht. Eine Erbrterung von Georg Trakls Gedicht," Unterwegs zur Sprache (Pfullingen, 1959), pp. 37-82. 2 Letter from Rilke to Ludwig von Ficker, February, 1915, published in Erinnerung an Georg Trakl. Zeugnisse und Briefe (Salzburg, 1959), p. 10. All citations from this and other volumes containing Trakl's works will follow the procedure used in Trakl studies of designating the volume with a Roman numeral and the page number with an Arabic numeral. Die Dichtungen, 10. Auflage (Salzburg, n.d.) is vol. I; Aus goldenem Kelch, 4. Auflage (Salzburg, n.d.) is vol. II; and Erinnerung an Georg Trakl. Zeugnisse and Briefe, 2. Auflage (Salzburg, 1959) is vol. III. 8Cf. Joseph Warren Beach's study Obsessive Images. Symbolism in the Poetry of the 30's and 40's (Minneapolis, 1960), p. 12, for a study which charts the preoccupations of American poets during the 30's and 40's on the basis of recurrence and frequency of images. 4 Joseph Leitgeb, "Die Trakl Welt. Zum Sprachbestandder Dichtungen Georg Trakls," Wort im Gebirge, Folge III (1951), 7-39. 5 This group of "silent words" could be expanded to include such words as leise, sanft, seufzen, wehen, and other images which at first seem unrelated. Later interpretation will clarify why the group listed initially represents only the basic outline of a larger word and image cluster. 6 For early examples, cf. the early prose works "Traumland" (11,11-16) and "Verlassenheit"(11,27-30). Cf. also 11,52,58, and 62. 7 Reinhold Grimm, "Georg Trakls Verhiiltnis zu Rimbaud," GRM IX (1959), 308-309. Cf. also Bernhard Boeschenstein, "Wirkungen des franzisischen Symbolismus auf die deutsche Lyrik der Jahrhundertwende," Euphorion 58 (1964), 393,

Georg Trakld


who tends to play down the importance of Trakl's borrowing from Rimbaud, but who seems to agree with Grimm's dates for the Rimbaud encounter. 8 Cf. Alfred Liede, Dichtung als Spiel. Studien zur Unsinnspoesie an den Grenzen der Sprache I (Berlin, 1963), pp. 273-349, for an interpretation of Morgenstern's nonsense verse as an effort to escape the bankruptcy of traditional poetic language. Cf. also the chapter entitled "Sprachskepsisund Mystik," Dichtung als Spiel I, pp. 254-272, where Liede treats Mauthner and Landauer and their attitudes in relation to their times. o Cf. Heidegger, p. 52: "Weil die Dichtungen dieses Dichters in das Lied des Abgeschiedenen versammelt sind, nennen wir den Ort seines Gedichtes die Abgeschiedenheit";p. 58: "Zur Abgeschiedenheit gehbrt die Friihe der stilleren Kindheit, gehirt die blaue Nacht, geharen die nichtigen Pfade des Fremdlings, geh6rt der n~ichtlicheFltigelschlag der Seele, gehort schon die Dimmerung als das Tor zum Untergang"; . . . p. 67: "Ist die Abgeschiedenheit nicht ein einziges Schweigen der Stille?" 10Cf. Meister Eckhart's tracts Von abgescheidenheitand Von der abgescheidenheit unde von haben gotes for two prominent examples which delineate the meaning the word had in medieval Catholic mysticism. This word appears repeatedly in Catholic mystics from Suso and Tauler up to Angelus Silesius in the seventeenth century and even continues in Protestant mysticism as late as the eighteenth century in the verses of Gerhard Tersteegen. 11Trakl apparently became aware of the significance of Abgeschiedenheit through a series of articles his friend Karl Borromiius Heinrich published in Der Brenner of 1913 entitled "Briefe aus der Abgeschiedenheit,"in which the frame of reference is to a state or condition similar to what Trakl portrays in his poems. Trakl even dedicated the poem "Gesang des Abgeschiedenen" (1,174) to Heinrich. 12 Heidegger, p. 67. 13Clemens Heselhaus, "Die Elis-Gedichte von Georg Trakl," D VLG XXVIII (1954), 396-397; 409, demonstrates how helpful these categories can be in interpreting many poems. Cf. also Reinhold Grimm, "Georg Trakls Sonne," Strukturen. Essays zur deutschen Literatur (Gittingen, 1963), p. 155; 157; 166, where Grimm discusses this structuringin antitheses. 14Heidegger, p. 30. For a further interpretation of Heidegger's somewhat abstruse thoughts in his Trakl essay and other essays where he refers to Trakl, cf. Walter Falk, "Heidegger und Trakl," Literaturwissenschaftliches Jahrbuch der Gijrresgesellschaft,n.F. IV (1963), 200. 1 Trakl uses more images of darkness and night than any other type. It is tempting to relate them to muteness or inarticulation, and Trakl himself does this on several occasions, e.g. "dunkle Stille der Kindheit" (I,168) or "Es ist ein Licht, das in meinem Mund erlischt" (1,67). 16 Eduard Lachmann, Kreuz und Abend. Eine Interpretation der Dichtungen Georg Trakls (Salzburg, 1954), and Alfred Focke, Georg Trakl. Liebe und Tod (Vienna, 1955) are the chief interpretersof Trakl's poetry in a purely religious, i.e. Christian context. 17 Many of Trakl's personal statements confirm his struggle with Christianity. One which appeared posthumously as the motto of the 1915 Brenner Jahrbuch (p. 15) underscores his own intense guilt feelings and his imperfect attempts at expiation through his poetry. It can hardly be considered other than religious in tone and intent: "Gefiihl in den Augenblicken toteniihnlichen Seins: Alle Menschen sind der Liebe wert. Erwachend fuhlst du die Bitternis der Welt; darin ist alle deine ungelaste Schuld; dein Gedicht eine unvollkommene Siihne." 18According to Erwin Mahrholdt, III,54, who claims to have heard this view from Trakl during associations with the poet. Trakl also decries the evils of the city in conversations reported by Hans Limbach, III,116-117. In a letter to Erhard Buschbeck written in April, 1912, Trakl again expresses his view of the wicked



world embodied in the city; "Ich hfitte mir nie gedacht, daB ich diese fiir sich schon schwere Zeit in der brutalsten und gemeinsten Stadt wiirde verleben miissen, die auf dieser beladenen und verfluchten Welt existiert" (III,141). 19If Trakl's letters have any bearing on his poetry, use of the word "Gott" or the interjective "o" in the letters tends to be an exclamatory figure of speech similar to the colloquial "mein Gott!" or "Ach, Gott!" Cf. "Gott, nur einen kleinen Funken reiner Freude und man wiire gerettet" (Letter to Ludwig von Ficker, June 26, 1913, III,164); "O mein Gott, welch ein Gericht ist iiber mich hereingebrochen" (Letter to Ludwig von Ficker, November, 1913, no date, III,170). Even if this is a simple colloquial usage, it reinforces the argument that God is not really invoked, since such colloquialisms use a secularized form devoid of religious significance. 2o Heinrich Goldmann, Katabasis, oder der Abstieg zur Unterwelt. Zur Symbolik der Farben, Gestalten und Vorgiinge in den Dichtungen Georg Trakls (Salzburg, n.d.), p. 63: "Der Wind erscheint mehrmals als Gottes Odem . . . Gott wird iiberhauptmit Wind verbunden,wie in der Symbolik im allgemeinen. Aber es handelt sich hier nicht um befruchtendes Pneuma, sondern etwas Leeres, Zehrendes." 21 ".... fast jedes Hauptwort enthiilt ein Epitheton, eine Stiitze: sanftes Glockenspiel, schwarzes Kissen, blaues Wild ... Der Eindruck geht nicht allein von ihrem Sinn aus, sondern von dem was hinzukommt." Walther Killy, "Die Entstehung von Georg Trakls Gedicht 'Melancholie'," Text und Kritik. Zeitschrift fiir Literatur 4 (1964), 202. 22 In fact, silence is so basic to mystical communication that it has been called a "Zwiegesprlich mit Gott" by Ismail Djavid, Das philosophische Problem des Schweigens (Berlin, 1938), p. 18. 23 In a letter to Ludwig Ficker on July 26, 1913, Trakl speaks of his overwhelming sense of sinfulness in the "godless age" in which he lives; it is evident that God has completely gone out of his world: "Ich sehne den Tag herbei, an dem die Seele in diesem armseligen von Schwermut verpesteten Kdrper nicht mehr wird wohnen wollen und k6nnen, an dem sie diese Spottgestalt aus Kot und Fiiulnis verlassen wird, die ein nur allzugetreues Spiegelbild eines gottlosen, verfluchten Jahrhunderts ist" (III,163-164).

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