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Object #40 / Stefan George: The Books of Eclogues and Eulogies

… of Legends and Lays, and the Hanging Gardens
Berlin, 1907

Arnold Schönberg Center, Wien

Stefan George’s collection of poetry (“Die Buecher der Hirten- und Preisgedichte, der Sagen und Saenge und der haengenden Gaerten”) first appeared in 1895. This volume is divided into three subsections, and Arnold Schönberg was particularly attracted to the third one, the Hanging Gardens. These thirty-one poems offer a torrid narrative, recounting a young prince and his sexual awakening in a paradisiacal garden. The overall theme is one of transformation: a naïve youth quietly enters the garden and later consummates his desire with his lover in a bed of flowers. As the awakened youth parts ways with her, the garden itself then dies. Carl E. Schorske, in his book on fin-de-siècle Viennese culture, explains how these poems “chart the transformation not only of the lover, but also of the garden. The trajectory is from the autonomy of garden and lover, through their integration, to the disintegration of both.”

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