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Poetry and the Art of Speech
GA 281

Notes by the Translators

[Editor's note: References to specific page numbers in the typed manuscript of Poetry and the Art of Speech have been changed to references to the relevant sections in this work, since absolute page numbers will not be used in the online version. References to specific page numbers in other published works have, however, been retained.]

[1] For some details with regard to the speech-formation of this scene, see Creative Speech (London1978), pp. 118f.

[2] I was induced to undertake a rendering of this scene by the consideration that poetic effects in German and English are obtained by very different means. The resulting version is to be seen as a tentative exploration of how some of the musical and rhythmic qualities of the original might be recreated in terms of English poetic resources – in so far as I had any command of them. (A.J.W.)

[3] For Goethe's account of this influence, see his essay, “Von deutscher Baukunst” (1773), included in the Jubiläums-Ausgabe (Stuttgartand Berlin), Vol. XXXIII.

[4] For a fuller explanation, see Steiner's classic description of these three systems in The Case for Anthroposophy, ed. Barfield (London 1970), pp. 69ff.

[5] The hexameter was never employed, however, in this, its archetypal form. In practice a certain irregularity and variety were always introduced into its perfect symmetry; but the underlying ratio remains constant.

[6] The reader may be aided in following this description by the account Steiner had given a year earlier in the cycle The Study of Man (London 1966), especially Lecture 2: this discusses in more detail the progressive series of inner activities reaching from active volition, through the intermediate stages of image-formation and representation, to the contemplative extreme of concept-formation.

[7] For some details of the sounds produced through this process, see Creative Speech, pp. 60-63.

[8] The long and short syllables inevitably demand a slightly unnatural reading in English:

¾ È È ¾ È ¾ È ¾ È È ¾ È È ¾ È

Then do I / thinke in / deed, // that / better it / is to be / private

¾ È È ¾ È ¾ ¾ È È ¾ È È ¾ È

In sorrows / torments, / then, // tyed to the / pompes of a / pallace,

¾ È È ¾ È È ¾ ¾ È ¾ È È ¾ È

Nurse inwarde / maladyes, / which // have not / scope to be / breath'd out,

¾ È ¾ È ¾ ¾ È È ¾ È È ¾ È

But per / force dis / gest, // all bitter / juices of / horror

¾ È È ¾ È ¾ È ¾ È ¾ È È ¾ È

In silence, / from a / man's // owne / selfe with / company / robbed.

Eclogues is part of a long sequence in hexameters in the so-called New Arcadia; they are not to be found in editions of the Old Arcadia. Some editions also carry the poet's.notes an the emblems used: laurel – victory; myrrh – lamentation; olive – quietness;. myrtle – love; willow – refusal; cypress – death; palm – happy marriage.

There have been infrequent attempts at English hexameters since Sidney's day. Coleridge, for instance, wrote a poem whose title is almost as long as itself, called, The Homeric Hexameter Described and Exemplified:

Strongly it bears us along in swelling and limitless billows,

Nothing before and nothing behind but the sky and the ocean.

And at greater length he addressed a verse-letter headed “Hexameters” to his friend Wordsworth, and wrote a Hymn to the Earth ultimately based on the Homeric model, together with a few minor pieces in the metre. There are examples to be found, too, in Bridges' Poems in Classical Metres; and there is Kingsley's Andromeda.

[9] There are many other splendid examples of assonance in English. Notable is Tennyson's famous “The splendour falls...”; Keats' Stanzas (“In a drear nighted December...”); and there are the works of Dylan Thomas.

[10] On this triad, cf. Creative Speech, pp.76ff.

[11] Since there are certain difficulties in interpreting this fine lyric, we may add a few brief comments here. A note in the original to the last line explains that this is a ‘Gnostic symbol,’ so hinting that Isishere is the virgin Sophia of Gnostic and esoteric Christian tradition, whom Soloviov beheld several times in mystical visions. In his Lectures on Godmanhood, trans. P.P. Zouboff (London 1948), p.154, Soloviov explains the nature of Sophia as follows:

In every organism we necessarily have two unities; on the one hand, the unity of the active beginning which reduced the plurality of the elements to itself as to one; on the other hand, that plurality as reduced to unity, as the definite image of this beginning.... In the divine organism of Christ, the acting, unifying beginning...obviously is the Word or Logos. The unity of the second kind, the produced unity, in Christian theosophy bears the name of Sophia. If in the Absolute we differentiate the Absolute as such, i.e. as the unconditionally extant One, from its content, essence or idea, then we find the direct expression of the first in the Logos, and of the second in Sophia, which is thus the expressed, realized idea.... Sophia is God's body, the matter of Divinity, permeated with the beginning of divine unity.

She is spiritual unity raised by the Logos from the plurality of mankind, and in the poem, it seems, this resurrection of Christ's mystical body is emblematized in the rainbow and the spring flowers, above all by the Touch-me-not which commemorates Christ's words to Mary Magdalene, first witness of his resurrection.

[12] Steiner had discussed art in these terms in his earlier Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World-Conception (New York 1968), pp.116-8.

[13] The term used by Schiller: see the Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Letter 26.

[14] Some illumination on this point may be acquired by referring to Steiner's cycle published as The Wisdom of Man, Of the Soul and Of the Spirit (New York 1971), which is largely epistemological in content. Logical judgment (Urteil) is there described as a psychic act characterised by a “directedness” toward something – and that something is a representation. In response to my experiences I judge: “That rose is red,” logically combining “rose” and “red” in my judgment, and as a result, Steiner says, “I retain in my soul the representation of ‘the red rose.’” The essentially psychic, he concludes, could not be accurately comprehended without the knowledge that judgments converge into representations....In the case of judgment, the question is, Whither? and the answer is, Toward the representation. (p.72)

He later (p.86) formulates this as the dictum that “judgment leads toward representation.”

[15] We may mention Blake's “Couch of Death” and other short pieces in Poetical Sketches, which look back to Ossianic models. Equally gloom-ridden is Coleridge's Wanderings of Cain; and so are many of the somberly magnificent opium-dreams described in the works of De Quincey. Of a more rhetorical splendour are the sections of poetry (if they are not as his enemies have claimed “not poetry, but prose run mad”) of Milton – such, for instance, as the marvellous passage from “Areopagitica” beginning “Behold now this vast City: a city of refuge...,” which was used by Owen Barfield as an example of prose poetry in Poetic Diction. And then there are the “lyrical novels” of Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence besides the younger Joyce.

[Editor's note: The typed, translated manuscript for Poetry and the Art of Speech does not appear to include endnote 15 in the text, although the preceding explanatory material is recorded in the Notes by the Translators as endnote 15. The editor has placed this endnote in the most reasonable position within the text, taking account of the contents and contexts of the written text and of the endnote. This endnote is clearly attributable to translators J. Wedgwood and A. Welburn, and not to Rudolf Steiner, so it has been positioned within one of the translators' bracketed interpolations in the main body of the text.]

[16] Marie Steiner cites the words from [Editor's note: the 1923 lecture on “The Interaction of Breathing and Blood‑Circulation”]– in a slightly variant form. See text on [“A true understanding of the close collaboration between the spiritual-super-sensible and the physical-perceptible is reached…”] in that lecture.

[17] The point at which this happens in any particular language is obviously of extreme importance for its literature. Cf. Barfield's discussion in Poetic Diction, pp.102ff (and especially p.107).

[18] The text of the scene recited has already been given, in the [Seventh Scene from The Portal of Initiation].

[19] This is true of the English (Shakespeare) sonnet we have provided as well as the German one from Goethe. See Creative Speech, pp. 178-9 for some interesting remarks on the importance of English lyric in Shakespearean times and its relation to the literature of Germany.

[20] In his postscript to the German edition of this book, E. Froböse cites a passage from Steiner's closing speech at the course on recitation and declamation which also bears on this relation between poetic form and content:

In declaiming and reciting, as becomes apparent when one is actually reciting for eurythmy, what has to come to expression is in fact an inner eurythmy: it is the rhythm, metre and in general the way the literal content has been brought into form – particularly in the formation of the sound, in its form, its tempo, its metre, its rhythm. So should this inner eurythmy come to expression.

And only in practising such recitation as I have just described, and which you have experienced when Frau Dr. Steiner recited during the course, can it be demonstrated how, on the one hand through rendering speech visible through eurythmic movement, and on the other through the eurythmic organization of the sound in recitation and declamation the content achieves full expression.

[21] The text of this passage has already been given, in [Iphigeneia (Weimar version), Act I, Scene 1].

[22] The text is given above, in [Iphigeneia (Roman version), Act I, Scene 1].

[23] See above, [Goethe's “Achilleis”], for the text of the passage here recited.

[24] Cf. Study of Man, pp.34ff.

[25] For the texts of these passages, see [Iphigeneia (Weimar version), Act I, Scene 1].

[26] The meaning of “rhetoric” in this context may be clarified through comparing [“Yet whoever wishes to approach recitation from this point of view must avoid a certain error…“] with regard to the “error” mentioned there.

[27] The text has been given above, in [Goethe's “Achilleis”].

[28] The text of Scene 7 is given above, in [Seventh Scene from The Portal of Initiation]. We follow here the editorial practice of Marie Steiner in the earlier German edition, of introducing the somewhat parallel scene from the second of the Mystery Plays.

[29] For something further on this wider sense of “humour,” Creative Speech, pp.179ff.

[30] Schiller's “Tanz” is, of course, in elegiacs, and the poet gets his dancing movement from the alternating hexameter and pentameter lines. Again we might go to Sidney for experiments in this metre (see for example the lines in the “First Eclogues” which begin, “Fortune, Nature, Love...”). Coleridge provided a companion-piece to his “Homeric Hexameter” in “The Ovidian Elegiac Metre Described and Exemplified”:

In the hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column;

In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.

But there is a dearth of more substantial attempts. English would more naturally obtain the effect by other means, as we hope the extract from “Orchestra” will show.

[31] These words should be read against the background of the historical situation in Central Europe. They were spoken at a very difficult time, when the German countries were gripped by economic anxieties, for example caused by galloping inflation.

[32] The text from Wilhelm Jordan's poem has already been given, in [The Nibelungenlied] above.