Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Ethereal Definition of Poetry

In re-reading Heinrich Heine's Reisebilder, I have just come across a nonchalant definition of Poetry I had never noticed before:

Die Poesie, [...], war mir immer nur heiliges Spielzeug oder geweihtes Mittel für himmlische Zwecke.
Poetry, for me, has always been only a holy toy or a hallowed tool for heavenly purposes.

In spite of its playful tone, I find it a profound definition of Poetry.

It is typical of Heine's ironic mood to defuse by means of light items (a toy) lofty ideas (holy, hallowed, heavenly).

Probably it is a way to overcome a too sharp emotional nature or to take oneself not too seriously.

Heine would have loathed to become a National Poet like Hugo or D'annunzio. He doesn't play the Sage nor the Seer. He is too conscious of his human frailty.

To make clear what I mean I close this post with the following poem from Heine's Buch der Lieder.

Auf meiner Herzliebsten Äugelein
Mach ich die schönsten Kanzonen.
Auf meiner Herzliebsten Mündchen klein
Mach ich die besten Terzinen.

Auf meiner Herzliebsten Wängelein
Mach ich die herrlichsten Stanzen.
Und wenn meine Liebste ein Herzchen hätt,
Ich machte darauf ein hübsches Sonett.

Upon my darling's little eyes
I make the most beautiful canzonas
Upon my darling's little mouth
I make the best tercets.

Upon my darling's little cheeks
I make the most marvellous stanzas
And if my darling dearest had a little heart,
I would make a lovely sonnet upon.

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