Selected Poems

by Stefan George

(selected by Edward Viesel)



Introductory note
Apart from spawning devout disciples (called “Derived Beings” in the parlance of his “George Circle”), the elitist artistic personality “Stefan George” also brought forth a great number of opponents. And it is fairly easy to criticise the whole lofty “George attitude”, a persona that is constantly “swooning and soaring in higher regions”. George was generally supportive of the Conservative Revolution movement, but whether he was really a precursor of German fascism is still a matter of some debate. However, such diverse writers as Rudolf Borchardt, Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno have praised his creative use of words as well as the terse language he developed; coming after the sprawling literary styles of the 19th century, this new minimalist language gave rise to a wholly new and focused way of giving expression to personal experience.
I would like to publish my translation into English of some of his best-known poems here (which I also think are his most accomplished); you can also access the original German-language poems on my website.
(Edward Viesel)