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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Eurythmy as Visible Speech
GA 279

XIII. Moods of Soul Which Arise Out of Gestures of the Sounds

10 July 1924, Dornach

To-day we will continue to develop such forms as we spoke about yesterday. In this connection I should like to speak about those forms which may help to establish a certain relationship between a statement and its answering statement (Rede und Gegenrede). Yesterday I mentioned the spiral form and we saw how the evolving spiral gives the feeling of an outgoing of the human being into the world, and how the involving spiral gives the feeling of coming back into oneself. Now, however, let us bring these two forms into a relationship with each other. Move the forms to a clear Anapest rhythm; do it in the first place so that one form follows after the other. You can try it in this way: Fri. S. . . . will you take the spiral which goes from within outwards, and you, Fri. V. . . . the line which goes from without inwards; now reverse it, taking about six Anapests . . . it can be practised in this way.

In the case of dialogue,—a conversation from some play for instance in the form of question and answer,—it is good to move the spiral which winds from within outwards and which corresponds to the answer, in such a way that, when one reaches the last two Anapests, one simply takes two long, emphasized steps; it is as if one wished simply to have the long, emphasized beats. Do the exercise thus: Four Anapests, two long beats. In this way you get a form, the feeling of which corresponds to the nature of dialogue in a play, for example,—or indeed any dialogue which is to be expressed in eurythmy.

This form can also have a certain significance in curative education. I said yesterday that the one spiral form can be made use of in the handling of wild, unruly children, who are always fighting; while the other spiral may be used in handling children who are phlegmatic and who hardly come to the point of raising their own hands.

If you get individual children of such types to practise these forms you will have a certain amount of success. But if you form two groups—the one group of choleric, the other of phlegmatic children—and make both these groups run the spiral forms, and in such a way that the children must constantly look into each other’s eyes, then they will mutually correct each other. If you employ this corrective action of the one type of child upon the other, these forms will prove to have a remarkably powerful effect.

Now we have in the course of the past years made use of a number of eurythmic exercises and forms, based on such things as these. Frau. K. . . . will you do the form which we have for Hallelujah. One can, in the first place, do this to the pentagram form. You stand at the back point of the pentagram and use one line to do the ‘Hallelujah’. Begin with the H, pass over into a, do the l seven times; pass on to the e; make the second l three times; then u, i, a. You must, however, continue to move the form. The second line of the form must be done in the same way. Thus, when carried out by one person alone, this exercise is repeated five times.

Now let us take five people; when each one does this same exercise we again have a complete ‘Hallelujah’. Frau K . . . . you move the first line; Frl. S . . . . has the next, Frl. Sch . . . . the third, Frau Sch . . . . the following line and Frl. V . . . . has the last line.

You must all begin at the same time. And you must be careful to space out the line in such a way that, when the exercise is completed, you have all arrived on your own places.

In this way, out of the lines of the pentagram, you get a complicated and ever changing form. When this exercise is carefully practised the effect is very impressive and does actually convey the whole character of the word ‘Hallelujah’.

It is, however, possible to find another variation of this exercise. Let one person stand here, the second there (see diagram) and there the third, fourth and fifth . . . now we must add a sixth and a seventh. Each one must move in this direction (see arrow).

A different impression is thus created. The form should be divided up as before. Those in the front must always stand in such a way that the back ones come into the intermediate spaces, and are, therefore, also visible. Let us try it: 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, 4 to 5, 5 to 6, 6 to 7 and 7 (in a curve backwards) to 1. (All at the same time.)

You will see that this produces a form of ‘Hallelujah’ which, on account of its measured tempo gives an impression of high exaltation.

Yet another variation can be brought about if each of you, on reaching your place (see following diagram), adds this line (the curve) to the form. (Here again all must move simultaneously.) The two lines of the form must now be accompanied by the same gestures as before. This way of doing the ‘Hallelujah’ necessarily entails a certain quickening of the pace. Such a form lends itself to many further variations.

Let us for instance do it in this way: Frau S. . . and Frl. Sch. . . will you stand here, one on each side, while the others fonn the pentagram? Now, you Fri. Sch. . . . must make the movement for the Sun as we did it yesterday, continuing this while the others move the pentagram. At the same time, Frau S.... you must make the quiescent gesture for the Moon. Here we have a form for ‘Hallelujah’ which again has its special colour.

Let us pass over from this form to our second form,—without the curved lines,—then we shall have a very exalted ‘Hallelujah’. And in making this transition, let the Sun and Moon take their places as before.

At this point we can pass over to the last form of all, which again demands a somewhat quicker tempo. Thus the ‘Hallelujah’ may be carried out in the most varied manner. In this way you get a form which will really have a profound effect upon the onlookers. Let us try it: Hallelujah.

This shows the possibility of making use of forms in such a way that they actually correspond to the most individual characteristics inherent in the matter in question.

Now let us vary the form of Evoe in a somewhat similar fashion. Frau P. . . . will you do it alone? With E take a step; with v stretch out one arm and with the other make a movement as though you were going to take hold of something; with o hold the arms to the sides and raise yourself up to a very erect position; with e step backwards. When you carry out these movements the form comes of itself.

Now let us see how this works out when done by three people. Here, when three take part, you can approach so closely together that each one lightly takes the hand of the other (with the v). The greater the number taking part in this exercise the more beautiful is the effect.

These are examples of definite forms which may be developed when, by entering into their inherent mood and feeling, and at the same time retaining throughout the true character of eurythmy, one is able to conjure up a certain mood of soul from out of the movements for the sounds.

It is also possible, by means of a single gesture arising directly out of a certain mood of soul,—as do the sounds in eurythmy, to give adequate expression to some special feeling. Fri. S. . . . will you do the following: Dr. W. . . . will kindly stand here on the stage, while Frl. S. . . . looks at him; she must stand with the toe of the left foot touching the ground, and, while still looking at him, must make the movement for s; I think no one could mistake the fact that her dealings with him are ironical: the mood of irony is expressed absolutely naturally when this eurythmic movement is carried out in the right way.

And now, Fri. S. . . . will you make the following movements: first express an ironical perception of something, and then, with an inner effort of will make this mood of irony still more active. Thus we have the previous movement as the first stage; and now, putting the foot flat on the ground and still retaining the S-gesture, hold the chin awry and slant the eyes. Pass over from the first movement to the second: first Irony, then delight in being a minx.

There can be no doubt that we have here an adequate means of expression, one which is actually drawn out from the gestures themselves. You have seen how satisfying it is. I wanted to show by means of this example how these things must be felt and experienced.

In eurythmy the possibility of becoming truly artistic first arises when one has reached the point of finding each movement,—whether vowel, consonant, or any of the other movements we have had,—as inevitable as this most characteristic gesture for irony. From this very gesture you can learn how one can find one’s way into all these things.

I want to show you another example of the metamorphosis of form. Those who took part on the stage yesterday in the interwoven Peace Dance and I and You exercise will remember how the four groups of three people were arranged; and 1 shall now ask those who were on the stage yesterday to come up again and take these same places. Let us do the following: instead of merely moving the form silently as yesterday, you will do the first form, the triangle, three times, accompanied by lines built up according to this pattern: Es keimen der Seele Wunsche,—then a second line to the second part of the form, and a third line to the third part of the form. We have now reached the point where yesterday we began the ‘I and you’; but here again we shall have words which may be built up according to the pattern of ‘I and you’. Thus we shall have a number of lines fashioned in this way. Then again, as an ending, we have another three lines, so that we once more come back to the Peace Dance:

Es keimen der Seele Wünsche,
Es wachsen des Willens Taten,
Es reifen des Lebens Fruchte.
Ich fable mein Schicksal, (approaching each other)
Mein Schicksal findet mich, (going back)
Ich fuhle meinen Stern, (approaching)
Mein Stern findet mich. (going back)
Ich fuhle meine Zeile, (approaching)
Meine Ziele finden mich. (going back)
Meine Seele und die Welt Sind eines nur.

Now come the last three lines corresponding to the Peace Dance:

Das Leben, es wird heller urn mich,
Das Leben, es wird schwerer fur mich.
Das Leben, es wird reicher in mir.

(The wishes of the soul are quickened,
The deeds of the will wax and grow,
The fruits of life are ripening.

I feel my fate,
My fate finds me.
I feel my star,
My star finds me.
I feel my aims,
My aims find me.
My soul and the world
Are one.

Life will be clearer round me,
Life will be heavier for me,
Life will be richer in me.)

In this way we have a relationship with the ‘I and You’, etc. which is not merely schematic, not merely an abstract form, but which, even if not perfect, is still absolutely dependent upon the structure of the lines of the poem. It is an example of how these forms may be developed. Do it once more. Now you will understand it better; you will see that there really is a perfect adjustment between the lines of the form and what is contained in the lines of the poem.

Here, at the same time, I have given you an example of the intimate relationship existing between the language of eurythmy and the language which we ordinarily use.

I have attempted, it is naturally only a slight attempt and intended merely as an illustration, to answer the question: How did poems arise in certain Mystery Centres where an art of movement existed such as we are endeavouring to renew in eurythmy?—In these Centres it was not the language, the structure and form of language in a poem which was considered in the first place, for a man of those early times had something within him which caused him first to experience the movement, the gesture with its accompanying form. And it was out of the form, out of the gesture, that the structure of the poem was sought. The eurythmic forms and gestures preceded the fashioning of the poem.

These things actually show the intimate relationship existing between eurhythmy and the earthly language. As eurythmists we must acquire a feeling for the fact that not every poem can be expressed in eurythmy. You see, at least 99 per cent of the poems which have gradually accumulated are far from artistic; at the outside we have the remaining 1 per cent. The history of literature could certainly not assume vast proportions if true poetry only were taken into consideration. For true poetry always contains eurythmy within it; it gives the impression that the poet who wrote it first carried out in his etheric body the eurythmic movements and gestures; it is as if he only possessed his physical body in order to translate the eurythmic gestures and movements into the language of sound. In no other way can a true poem arise.

Naturally this need not penetrate into the intellectual consciousness. Even in our present age there are true poets who dance, as it were, with their etheric bodies before they produce a poem; and in earlier times too such poets existed, as for instance Schiller in his really beautiful poems. I do not mean those poems of Schiller’s which should also be set on one side, but those which are a real poetic achievement. With Goethe, too, in the case of most of his poems, one really feels the eurythmic gestures lying behind the words. Indeed quite a number of poets may be said to possess this quality, albeit unconsciously. It is present in them unconsciously.

Now the eurythmist must naturally be able to feel, from the way in which a poem works on his organism, whether it is suited to eurythmic expression; whether, that is to say, he can answer the question: Was the poet himself a eurythmist? Had he in himself that something which I wish to express in form and movement?—It is when one feels this to be the case that one can enter into a certain inner relationship with the poem which is to be expressed in eurythmy.

Of course all this must not be exaggerated, for in the realm of Anthroposophy we must never become fanatics; it is possible to carry such ideas too far. We need not, for instance, advocate that only such poems as arose out of the Mysteries should be done in eurythmy, or such poems as are fashioned, as it were, after the manner of the Mysteries. On the other hand one would not, I imagine, choose a poem by Wildenbruch. It is such things as these which must be felt by eurythmists, otherwise they will not be able to enter into the true nature of eurythmy.

From this you will perhaps have gained some understanding of the intimate relationship existing between eurythmy and language.—And now I will ask Fri. S. . . . to do the following in eurythmy:

Mein Freund, kannst du es nicht lassen,
Mir das Traurige immer wieder
In die Seele zu rufen?

(My friend, canst thou not refrain from ceaselessly calling up sorrow in my soul?)

Do it as follows. Take, for instance, a simple wave-like line as your form, and, when you come to the words: ‘Mein Freund, kannst du es nicht lassen’ . . . begin definitely to accelerate the tempo, letting this acceleration be really visible; move the second half: ‘Mir das Traurige immer wieder in die Seele zu rufen,’—at a quite definitely quicker tempo. Do this once more. Now let us reverse the process in the following sentence:

Was seh’ ich: es ist der Morgensonne Glanz!
(What do I see: it is the glow of the morning sun!)

After ‘ich’ you must try to retard the quick tempo with which you began. You have here (first example) the transition in tempo from slow to quick, and here (second example) the transition from quick to slow.

When it is a question of will or striving, as in the first sentence, in which there is the impulse to check something, where there is a certain element of will: ‘I do not wish him to call this up incessantly before my soul’—then we have a transition from a slow to a quick tempo.

And when it is a question of the effect of an external happening, thus when,—as in the second sentence,—we are incited to observe something, when we have to do with perception, then we must pass over from a quick to a retarded tempo.

Mein Freund, kannst du es nicht lassen,
Mir das Traurige immer wieder = Will
In die Seele zu rufen?

Was seh’ ich: es ist der Morgensonne Glanz! = Perception.

You will feel that these tempi really give the possibility of expressing in movement on the one hand, will and on the other hand perception or feeling. And you will have to analyse poems in order to discover whether it is more a question of expressing will, of resistance in the movement, warding off something, or whether it is a question of expressing a yielding up of oneself, something in the nature of reverence or devotion.

In addition to this one can, of course, make use of the gesture for devotion. The effect will then be intensified. For there are always more ways than one of expressing such things.