The Influence of India and Persia on the Poetry of Germany
by Arthur F. J. Remy
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Copyright 1901, Columbia University Press, New York

Manufactured in the United States of America

TO Prof. William H. Carpenter, Ph.D. Prof. Calvin Thomas, A.M. Prof. A.V. Williams Jackson, L.H.D., Ph.D. OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN GRATITUDE


The Oriental movement which manifested itself so strikingly in German literature during the nineteenth century is familiar to every student of that literature. Although the general nature of this movement is pretty clearly understood, no systematic investigation of it, so far as I know, has ever been undertaken. In the following pages an attempt is made to trace the influence which the Indo-Iranian East—the Semitic part is not considered—exerted on German poetry. The work does not claim to be exhaustive in the sense that it gives a list of all the poets that ever came under that influence. Nor does it pretend to be anything like a complete catalogue of the sources whence the poets derived their material. The performance of such a task would have required far more time and space than were at my disposal. A selection was absolutely necessary. It is hoped that the material presented in the case of each poet is sufficient to give a clear idea of the extent to which he was subject to Oriental influence, as well as of the part that he took in the movement under discussion.

It is my pleasant duty to acknowledge the obligations under which I am to various scholars. In the first place, my sincere thanks are due to Professor Jackson, at whose suggestion this investigation was undertaken and whose encouragement and advice have never been wanting. I am also indebted for helpful suggestions to Professors Carpenter and Thomas of the Germanic department, who kindly volunteered to read the proof-sheets. Furthermore, I wish to thank Mr. Yohannan for assistance rendered in connection with the transliteration of some of the lithographic editions of Persian authors. And, finally, I am indebted to the kindness of Dr. Gray for the use of several rare volumes which otherwise would have been inaccessible to me.

Arthur F.J. Remy.

New York, May 1, 1901.

List of Works most frequently consulted.

Baharistan. The Baharistan by Jami. Printed by the Kama Shastra Society for Private Subscribers only. Benares, 1887.

Bhartrhari. Satakatrayam, 2d ed. Nirnaya Sagara Press. Bombay, 1891.

Quotations are from this edition.

Bodenstedt, Friedr. Martin. Gesammelte Schriften. 12 Bde. Berlin, 1865.

Tausend und ein Tag im Orient in vols. i and ii.

References to Mirza Schaffy songs are based on this edition.

Firdausi. See Shah Namah.

Goethe's Werke. 36 Bde. Berlin (Hempel), 1879.

Quotations are from this edition.

Grundriss der iranischen Philologie. Hrsg. von W. Geiger und E. Kuhn. Strassburg, 1896 ——.

Gulistan. The Gulistan of Shaikh Muslihu'd din Sa'di of Shiraz, ed. John Platts. 2d ed. London, 1874.

Quotations are from this edition.

—— or Rose garden. Printed by the Kama Shastra Society for Private Subscribers only. Benares, 1888.

Hafid. Die Lieder des Hafis. Persisch mit dem Commentare des Sudi hrsg. von Herm. Brockhaus. Leipzig, 1863.

Quotations are from this edition.

Hammer, Jos. von. Geschichte der schoenen Redekuenste Persiens, mit einer Bluethenlese aus zweyhundert persischen Dichtern. Wien, 1818.

Heine. Heinrich Heines saemtliche Werke in 12 Bden. Stuttgart (Cotta), s. a.

Herder. Saemmtliche Werke, ed. Bernhard Suphan. 32 Bde. Berlin, 1877.

Hitopadesa. The Hitopades'a of Narayana Pandit, ed. Godabole and Parab. 3d ed. Nirn. Sag. Press. Bombay, 1890.

Quotations are from this edition.

Jackson, A.V. Williams. Zoroaster, the Prophet of ancient Iran. New York, 1899.

Mohl. See Shah Namah.

Piper, Paul. Hoefische Epik. 4 pts. KDNL. iv.

—— Spielmannsdichtung. 2 pts. KDNL. ii.

Platen. Platens saemtliche Werke. Stuttgart (Cotta), s. a.

References are based on this edition.

Rueckert. Friedrich Rueckert's gesammelte poetische Werke. 12 Bde. Fkft. a. M., 1882.

References are based on this edition.

Schack, Ad. Friedr. Graf von. Gesammelte Werke. 3 Aufl. 10 Bde. Stuttgart, 1897.

Shah Namah. Firdusii Liber Regium qui inscribitur Shah Name, ed. Vullers (et Landauer). Tom. 3. Lugd. 1877-1884.

—— Le Livre des Rois par Abou'l Kasim Firdousi, traduit et commente par Jules Mohl. 7 vols. Paris, 1876-1878.


BLVS. Bibliothek des Litterarischen Vereins in Stuttgart. Tuebingen.

Boehtl. Otto Boehtlingk, Indische Sprueche, St. Petersburg, 1870-1873. 2 Aufl. 3 Bde.

Grdr. iran. Phil. Grundriss der iranischen Philologie.

Gul. Gulistan, ed. Platts.

H. Hafid, ed. Brockhaus.

H.E. Hoefische Epik, ed. Piper in KDNL.

JAOS. Journal American Oriental Society.

KDNL. Deutsche National-Litteratur, ed. Jos. Kuerschner. (Berlin) u. Stuttgart.

K.S. Translations of the Gulistan and Baharistan, printed for the Kama Shastra Society.

Red. Geschichte der schoenen Redekuenste Persiens.

Sh. N. Shah Namah.

ZDMG. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlaendischen Gesellschaft.


Chapter I.

INTRODUCTION. Page Information of Mediaeval Europe concerning India and Persia—Travellers—India and Persia in Mediaeval German Poetry, 1

Chapter II.


Travels to India and Persia—Olearius and his Work—Progress of Persian Studies—Roger—India's Language and Literature remain unknown—Oriental Influence in German Literature, 9

Chapter III.


Herder's Interest in the Orient—Fourth Collection of his Zerstreute Blaetter—His Didactic Tendency and Predilection for Sa'di, 16

Chapter IV.


Enthusiasm for Sakuntala—Der Gott und die Bajadere; der Paria—Goethe's Aversion for Hindu Mythology—Origin of the Divan—Oriental Character of the Work—Inaugurates the Oriental Movement, 20

Chapter V.


Schiller's Interest in Sakuntala—Turandot, 28

Chapter VI.


Friedrich Schlegel's Weisheit der Indier—Foundation of Sanskrit Study in Germany, 30

Chapter VII.


His Oriental Studies—Ghaselen—Their Persian Character—Imitation of Persian Form—Translations, 32

Chapter VIII.


His Oriental Studies—Introduces the Ghasele—Oestliche Rosen; Imitations of Hafid—Erbauliches und Beschauliches—Morgenlaendische Sagen und Geschichten—Brahmanische Erzaehlungen—Die Weisheit des Brahmanen—Other Oriental Poems, 38

Chapter IX.


Becomes Interested in India through Schlegel—Influence of India's Literature on his Poetry—Interest in the Persian Poets—Persian Influence on Heine—His Attitude toward the Oriental Movement, 57

Chapter X.


Lieder des Mirza Schaffy—Are Original Poems—Nachlass—Aus Morgenland und Abendland—Sakuntala, a Narrative Poem, 64

Chapter XI.


Some less known Poets who attempted the Oriental Manner, 72

Chapter XII.


His Fame as Translator of Firdausi—Stimmen vom Ganges—Sakuntala, compared with the Original in the Mahabharata—His Oriental Scholarship in his Original Poems—Attitude towards Hafizian Singers, 74

Chapter XIII.


Summary of Results Attained—Persian Tendency predominates over Indic—Reason for this—Estimate of the Value of the Oriental Movement in German Literature. 79


For the transcription of Sanskrit words the system of the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlaendischen Gesellschaft has been followed; for that of Persian words the system of the Grundriss der iranischen Philologie has been adopted, with some variations however, e.g. [Arabic] is indicated by '. To be consistent, such familiar names as Hafiz and Nizami appear as Hafid and Nidami; Omar Khayyam as 'Umar Xayyam; and the word ghazal, the German Ghasele, is written gazal.



Information of Mediaeval Europe Concerning India and Persia—Travellers—India and Persia in Mediaeval German Poetry.

The knowledge which mediaeval Europe had of India and Persia was mostly indirect, and, as might be expected, deficient both in correctness and extent, resting, as it did, on the statements of classical and patristic writers, on hearsay and on oral communication. In the accounts of the classic writers, especially in those of Pliny, Strabo, Ptolemy, truth and fiction were already strangely blended. Still more was this the case with such compilers and encyclopaedists as Solinus, Cassiodorus and Isidorus of Sevilla, on whom the mediaeval scholar depended largely for information. All these writers, in so far as they speak of India, deal almost entirely with its physical description, its cities and rivers, its wealth of precious stones and metals, its spices and silks, and in particular its marvels and wonders. Of its religion we hear but little, and as to its literature we have only a few vague statements of Arrian,[1] Aelian[2] and Dio Chrysostomus.[3] When the last mentioned author tells us that the ancient Hindus sang in their own language the poems of Homer, it shows that he had no idea of the fact that the great Sanskrit epics, to which the passage undoubtedly alludes, were independent poems. To him they appeared to be nothing more than versions of Homer. Aelian makes a similar statement, but cautiously adds [Greek]. Philostratus represents the Hindu sage Iarchas as well acquainted with the Homeric poems, but nowhere does his hero Apollonius of Tyana show the slightest knowledge of Sanskrit literature.[4]

Nor do the classic authors give us any more information about the literature of Persia, though the Iranian religion received some attention. Aristotle and Theopompus were more or less familiar with Zoroastrian tenets,[5] and allusions to the prophet of ancient Iran are not infrequent in classic writers. But their information concerning him is very scanty and inaccurate. To them Zoroaster is simply the great Magian, more renowned for his magic art than for his religious system. Of the national Iranian legends, glimpses of which we catch in the Avesta (esp. Yt. 19), and which must have existed long before the Sassanian period and the time of Firdausi, the Greek and Roman authors have recorded nothing.

* * * * *

But Europe was not limited to the classic and patristic writers for information about the Orient. The points of contact between the Eastern and Western world were numerous even before the Portuguese showed the way to India. Alexandria was the seat of a lively commerce between the Roman Empire and India during the first six centuries of the Christian era; the Byzantine Empire was always in close relations, hostile or friendly, with Persia; the Arabs had settled in Spain, Southern Italy and Sicily; and the Mongols ruled for almost two centuries in Russia. All these were factors in the transmission of Oriental influence.[6] And, as far as Germany is concerned, we must remember that in the tenth century, owing to the marriage of the emperor Otto II to the Greek princess Theophano, the relations between the German and Byzantine Empires were especially close. Furthermore the Hohenstaufen emperor, Frederick II, it will be remembered, was a friend and patron of the Saracens in Italy and Sicily, who in turn supported him loyally in his struggle against the papacy. Above all, the crusades, which brought the civilization of the West face to face with that of the East, were a powerful factor in bringing Oriental influence into Europe. The effect they had on the European mind is shown by the great number of French and German poems which lay their scene of action in Eastern lands, or, as will be shown presently, introduce persons and things from India and Persia.[7]

Of course it is as a rule impossible to tell precisely how and when the Oriental influence came into Europe, but that it did come is absolutely certain. The transformation of the Buddha-legend into the Christian legend of Barlaam and Josaphat, the migration of fables and stories, and the introduction of the game of chess furnish the clearest proofs of this.

* * * * *

But direct information about the East was also available. A number of merchants and missionaries penetrated even as far as China, and have left accounts of their travels. Such an account of India and Ceylon was given as early as the sixth century by Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes. The names of Benjamin of Tudela (about 1160 A.D.) and of Marco Polo (1271-1295) are familiar to every student of historical geography. The Mongol rulers during the period of their dominion over China were in active communication with the popes and allowed Western missionaries free access to their realm. A number of these missionaries also came to India or Persia, for instance Giovanni de Montecorvino (1289-1293),[8] Odorico da Pordenone (1316-1318),[9] Friar Jordanus (1321-1323, and 1330)[10] and Giovanni de Marignolli (1347).[11] In the fifteenth century Henry III of Castile sent Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo as ambassador to Timur, and towards the end of that century several Venetian Ambassadors, Caterino Zeno (1472), Josaphat Barbaro (1473) and Ambrosio Contarini (1473), were at the Persian Court in order to bring about united action on the part of Venice and Persia against the Turks.[12] These embassies attracted considerable attention in Europe, as is shown by numerous pamphlets concerning them, published in several European countries.[13] In this same century Nicolo de Conti travelled in India and the account of his wanderings has been recorded by Poggio.[14]

As we see, most of these travellers are Italians. We know of but one German, before the year 1500, who went further than the Holy Land, and that is Johann Schildberger of Munich, whose book of travel was printed in 1473. Taken prisoner while fighting in Turkish service against Timur at Angora, he remained in the East from 1395 to 1417, and got as far as Persia. His description of that country is very meagre; India, as he expressly states,[15] he never visited, his statements about that land being mostly plagiarized from Mandeville.[16]

These accounts, however, while they give valuable information concerning the physical geography, the wealth, size, and wonderful things of the countries they describe, have little or nothing to say about the languages or literatures. All that Conti for instance has to say on this important subject is contained in a single sentence: "Loquendi idiomata sunt apud Indos plurima, atque inter se varia."[17]

In these accounts it was not so much truthfulness that appealed to the public, as strangeness and fancifulness. Thus Marco Polo's narrative, marvelous as it was, never became as popular as the spurious memoirs of Mandeville, who in serving up his monstrosities ransacked almost every author, classic or mediaeval, on whom he could lay his hands.[18] In fact a class of books arose which bore the significant name of Mirabilia Mundi and purported to treat of the whole world, and especially of India. Such are, for instance, Les Merveilles de l'Inde by Jean Vauquelin, Fenix de las maravillas del mondo by Raymundus Lullius, and similar works by Nicolaus Donis, Arnaldus de Badeto and others.[19] But the great store-house of Oriental marvels on which the mediaeval poets drew for material was the Alexander-romance of pseudo-Callisthenes, of which there were a number of Latin versions, the most important being the epitome made by Julius Valerius and the Historia de Preliis written by the archpresbyter Leo in the tenth century. The character of the Oriental lore offered in these writings is best shown by a cursory examination of the work last mentioned.[20] There we are introduced to a bewildering array of mirabilia, snakes, hippopotami, scorpions, giant-lobsters, forest-men, bats, elephants, bearded women, dog-headed people, griffins, white women with long hair and canine teeth, fire-spouting birds, trees that grow and vanish in the course of a single day, mountains of adamant, and finally sacred sun-trees and moon-trees that possess the gift of prophecy. But beyond some vague reference to asceticism not a trace of knowledge of Brahmanic life can be found. While the Brahman King Didimus is well versed in Roman and Greek mythology, he never mentions the name of any of his own gods. Of real information concerning India there is almost nothing.

* * * * *

From what we have seen thus far we shall not expect in mediaeval literature conscious imitation or reproduction of works from Persian or Sanskrit literature. Whatever influence these literatures exerted in Europe was indirect. If a subject was transmitted from East to West it was as a rule stripped of its Oriental names and characteristics, and even its Oriental origin was often forgotten. This is the case with the greater part of the fables and stories that can be traced to Eastern sources and have found their way into such works as the Gesta Romanorum, or the writings of Boccaccio, Straparola and Lafontaine. Sometimes, however, the history of the origin is still remembered, as for instance in the famous Buch der Beispiele, where the preface begins thus: "Es ist von den alten wysen der geschlaecht der welt dis buoch des ersten jn yndischer sprauch gedicht und darnach in die buochstaben der Persen verwandelt,...."[21]

Poems whose subjects are of Eastern origin are not frequent in the German literature of the middle ages. The most striking example of such a poem is the "Barlaam und Josaphat" of Rudolph von Ems (about 1225), the story of which, as has been conclusively proved, is nothing more or less than the legend of Buddha in Christian garb.[22] The well known "Herzmaere" of the same author has likewise been shown to be of Indic origin.[23] Then there is a poem of the fourteenth or fifteenth century on the same subject as Rueckert's parable of the man in the well, which undoubtedly goes back to Buddhistic sources.[24] Besides these we mention "Vrouwenzuht" (also called "von dem Zornbraten") by a poet Sibote of the thirteenth century,[25] and Hans von Buehel's "Diocletianus Leben" (about 1412), the well known story of the seven wise masters.[26]

* * * * *

The great interest which the East aroused in Europe, especially after the period of the first crusades, is shown by the great number of poems which have their scene of action in Oriental lands, especially in India or Persia, or which introduce persons and things from those countries. To indulge this fondness for Oriental scenery poets do not hesitate to violate historical truth. Thus Charlemagne and his paladins are sent to the Holy Land in the "Pelerinage de Charlesmagne"[27] and in the poem called the "Karl Meinet," a German compilation of various legends about the Frankish hero.[28] Purely Germanic legends like those of Ortnit-Wolfdietrich and King Rother were orientalized in much the same manner.[29] As might be expected, it is in the court-epic and minstrel-poetry (Spielmannsdichtung) where this Oriental tendency manifests itself most markedly. A typical poem of this kind is "Herzog Ernst." The hero, a purely German character, is made to go through a series of marvelous adventures in the East some of which bear a striking resemblance to those of Sindbad.[30] The later strophic version (14th century) and the prose-version of the Volksbuch (probably 15th century) localize some of these adventures definitely in the fernen India.[31] Probably under the influence of this story the author of the incompleted "Reinfrit von Braunschweig" (about 1300) was induced to send his hero into Persia, to meet with somewhat similar experiences.[32] Heinrich von Neustadt likewise lays the scene of Apollonius' adventures in the golden valley Crysia bordering on India.[33] In the continuation of the Parzifal-story entitled "Der Juengere Titurel," which was written by Albrecht von Scharffenberg (about 1280), the Holy Grail is to be removed from a sinful world and to be carried to the East to be given to Feirefiz, half brother to Parzifal.[34] The meeting of Feirefiz with the knights furnishes the poet an opportunity of bringing in a learned disquisition on Prester John and his dri India die witen, and finally this mythical monarch offers his crown to Parzifal, who henceforth is called Priester Johanni. In the poem of "Lohengrin", of unknown authorship, the knight when about to depart declares he has come from India where there is a house fairer than that at Montsalvatsch.[35]

Princes and princesses from India or Persia abound in the poems of the court-writers and minstrels. Thus in "Solomon und Morolf" Salme is the daughter of the King of Endian;[36] in Wolfram's "Willehalm" King Alofel of Persia and King Gorhant from the Ganjes figure in the battle of Alischanz.[37] In Konrad von Wuerzburg's "Trojanischer Krieg" the kings Panfilias of Persia and Achalmus of India are on the Trojan side.[38] In the same poet's "Partenopier" the Sultan of Persia is the hero's chief rival.[39] In "Der Juengere Titurel" Gatschiloe, a princess from India, becomes bearer of the Grail; similarly in a poem by Der Pleiaere, Flordibel, who comes to the Knights of the Round Table to learn courtly manners, reveals herself as a princess from India.[40] According to a poem of the fourteenth century the father of St. Christopher is king of Arabia and Persia.[41] Even the folk-epic "Kudrun" knows of Hilde of India, Hagen's wife.[42]

Again, wonderful things from India are abundant in this class of poetry. The magic lance which Wigalois receives, when he is about to do battle with a fire-spitting dragon, is from that land.[43] So also is the magic ring given to Reinfrit when he sets out on his crusade.[44] Wigamur's bride Dulceflur wears woven gold from the castle Gramrimort in India,[45] and in the "Nibelungen" Hagen and Dancwart, when going to the Isenstein, wear precious stones from that land.[46]

To some poets India and Persia are a sort of Ultima Thule to denote the furthest limits of the earth, as for instance, when in the "Rolandslied" Ganelun complains that for the ambition of Roland even Persia is not too far,[47] or, when in the "Willehalm" King Tybalt, whose daughter has been carried off, lets his complaint ring out as far as India.[48]

Examples might be multiplied. But they would all prove the same thing. India and Persia were magic names to conjure with; their languages and literatures were a book with seven seals to mediaeval Europe.


[1] Indica, ch. 10.

[2] Var. Hist. xii. 48.

[3] De Homero, Oratio liii., ed. Dindorf, Lips. 1857, vol. ii. p. 165.

[4] Apollonii Vita, iii. 19 et passim.

[5] See Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 8.

[6] See Benfey, Pantschatantra, Vorrede, p. xxiv and note.

[7] See Gaston Paris, La Litterature Francaise au Moyen Age, Paris, 1888, p. 49 seq. A striking illustration of oral transmission is the origin of the tradition about Prester John, for which see Cathay and the Way thither, ed. Henry Yule, Lond. 1866, Hakluyt Soc. No. 36, 37, vol. i. p. 174 and n. 1.

[8] Yule, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 165-167 and p. 197 seq.

[9] Ib. pp. 1-161; Latin text in appendix i of vol. ii.

[10] Mirabilia Descripta, ed. Henry Yule, London, 1863. Hakluyt Society, No. 31.

[11] Yule, Cathay, vol. ii. pp. 311-381.

[12] For their accounts see the publications of the Hakluyt Society, 1859 and 1873. Nos. 26 and 49.

[13] See Paul Horn, Gesch. Irans in Islamitischer Zeit, in Grdr. iran. Phil. II. p. 578 and note 4; also p. 579. See also Bibl. Asiat. et Afric. par H. Ternaux-Compans, Paris, 1841, under the years 1508, 1512, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1535, 1543, 1579, 1583, etc.

[14] English tr. in R.H. Major, India in the Fifteenth Century, London, 1857. Hakluyt Society, No. 22.

[15] Hans Schiltbergers Reisebuch ed. Val. Langmantel (BLVS. vol. 172) Tuebingen, 1885, p. 79: "In der grossen India pin ich nicht gewesen...."

[16] Ibid. p. 164.

[17] Friedr. Kunstmann, Die Kenntnis Indiens im 15^ten Jahrhunderte, Muenchen, 1863, p. 59; Major, op. cit. p. 31.

[18] See Albert Bovenschen, Quellen fuer die Reisebeschreibung des Joh. v. Mandeville, Berl. 1888.

[19] See Graesse, J.G.Th., Lehrbuch einer allgem. Literaergesch., 9 vols., Dresd. u. Leipz. 1837-59, Vol. II. pt. 2, pp. 783-785.

[20] Latin text publ. by Oswald Zingerle as an appendix to Die Quellen zum Alexander des Rudolf v. Ems in Weinhold Germ. Abhandl. Breslau. 1885, pt. iv.

[21] Das Buch der Beispiele der alten Weisen, ed. Wilh. Ludw. Holland, Stuttg. 1860, BLVS. vol. 56.

[22] Piper, H.E. iii. pp. 562-632. Joseph Langen, Johannes von Damaskus, Gotha, 1879, pp. 239-255, esp. p. 252, n. 1.

[23] Piper, H.E. iii. pp. 216-219.

[24] Vetter, Lehrhafte Litteratur des 14. u. 15. Jahrhunderts (KDNL. vol. 12), I. pp. 496-499. For a bibliography of this poem see C. Beyer, Nachgelassene Ged. Friedr. Rueckert's, Wien, 1877, pp. 311-320. For a translation of the version in the Mahabharata see Boxberger, Rueckert Studien, p. 94 seq. A translation of a Buddhist sutta on the same subject is given in Edm. Hardy, Indische Religionsgeschichte, Leipz. 1898, pp. 72, 73. Cf. also E. Kuhn, in Boehtlingks Festgruss, Stuttg. 1888, pp. 74, 75.

[25] Piper, H.E. iii. pp. 531, 532. See also Hagen, Gesammtabenteuer, i. LXXXV and n. 2.

[26] Edited by Keller, Quedl. 1841. See art. by Goedeke in Orient und Occident, iii. 2. pp. 385 seq.

[27] See edition by Koschwitz, in Altfranz. Bibl., vol. ii. p. 7 seq., and consult Gaston Paris, La Poesie du Moyen Age, Paris, 1887, p. 119 seq.

[28] See ed. Adelb. von Keller, Stuttg. 1858 (BLVS. vol. 45), pp. 507 seq. Cf. also Uhland's Koenig Karls Meerfart.

[29] Jiriczek, Die deutsche Heldensage, Leipz. 1897, pp. 144, 153.

[30] On this see Karl Bartsch, Herzog Ernst, Wien, 1869, Einl. p. cliii.

[31] Bartsch, op. cit. p. 204 seq. and p. 279 seq.

[32] See ed. Bartsch, Tueb. 1871 (BLVS. vol. 108), ll. 16749 seq.

[33] Piper, H.E. iii. p. 389.

[34] Piper, H.E. ii. p. 530 seq.

[35] See ed. by Heinr. Rueckert, Quedlinb. u. Leipz. 1858, l. 7141 seq. p. 189.

[36] Piper, Spielmannsdichtung, I. p. 215. See also ed. by Hagen u. Buesching in Ged. d. Mittel., Berl. 1808, i. l. 6.

[37] Piper, Wolfr. v. Eschenbach (KDNL, vol. 5), I. p. 214.

[38] See ed. v. Keller, Stuttg. 1858 (BLVS. vol. 44), ll. 24840, 24939, pp. 296, 298.

[39] Piper, H.E. iii. pp. 299, 300.

[40] Piper, H.E. ii. p. 325.

[41] Piper, Die geistliche Dichtung des Mittelalters (KDNL. vol. 3), ii. pp. 71, 72.

[42] See ed. Bartsch (KDNL. vol. 6), pp. 26, 27.

[43] Piper, H.E. ii. p. 222.

[44] See ed. Bartsch, l. 15067, p. 440.

[45] See ed. by Hagen in Ged. d. Mittel. i. p. 46, l. 4462 seq.

[46] Das Nibelungenlied, ed. Friedr. Zarncke, Leipz. 1894, p. 62, v. 3.

[47] Piper, Spielm., p. 30.

[48] Piper, Wolfr. v. Eschenbach, i. p. 208; cf. Dante's Paradiso, cant. 29, ll. 100-102.



Travels to India and Persia—Olearius and his Work—Progress of Persian Studies—Roger—India's Language and Literature remain unknown—Oriental Influence in German Literature.

Little can be said of Oriental influence on German poetry during the next three centuries after the Great Age of Discovery, and in an investigation like the one in hand, which confines itself to poetry only, this chapter might perhaps be omitted. Nevertheless a brief consideration of this influence on German literature in general during this period forms an appropriate transition to the time when the Oriental movement in Germany really began.

After the Portuguese had sailed around Africa, direct and uninterrupted communication with the far East was established. Portuguese, Dutch, French and English merchants appeared successively on the scene to get their share of the rich India commerce. German merchants also made a transitory effort. The firm of the Welsers in Augsburg sent two representatives who accompanied the expedition of Francisco d' Almeida in 1505 and that of Tristao da Cunha in the following year. But conditions were not favorable and the attempt was not renewed.[49]

Travels to India and Persia now multiplied rapidly, and accounts of such travels became very common; so common, in fact, that already in the sixteenth century collections of them were made, the best known being the Novus Orbis of Grynaeus, and the works of Ramusio and Hakluyt. Among the more famous travellers of the sixteenth century we may mention Barthema, Federici, Barbosa, Fitch and van Linschoten for India, and the brothers Shirley for Persia. In the seventeenth century we may cite the names of della Valle, Baldaeus, Tavernier, Bernier and the German Mandelslo for India, while those of Olearius and Chardin are most famous in connection with Persia. And that books of travel were much read in Germany is attested by the number of editions and translations which appeared there. Thus among the earliest books printed there we have a translation of Marco Polo (Nuremberg), 1477,[50] reprinted repeatedly, e.g. at Augsburg, 1481, in the Novus Orbis, 1534 (Latin version), at Basle, 1534 (German translation of the preceding), while Mandeville's memoirs were so popular as to become finally a Volksbuch.[51]

The account of Olearius is of special interest to us. It gives an excellent description of Persia, and above all it gives us valuable information on the literature and language. Olearius is struck by the similarity of many Persian words to corresponding words in German and Latin, and hints at the kinship of these idioms, though, looking only at the vocabulary and not at the structure, he supposes Persian to be related to Arabic.[52] He tells us of the high esteem in which poetry was held by the Persians, and notices that rhyme is an indispensable requisite of their poetic art. He also mentions some of their leading poets, among them Sa'di, Hafid, Firdausi and Nidami.[53]

* * * * *

But what interests us most is the translation which he made of the Gulistan, published in 1654, under the title of Persianischer Rosenthal. True, it was not the first in point of time. As early as 1634 du Ryer had published at Paris an incomplete French version, and shortly afterwards this version was translated into German by Johann Friedrich Ochsenbach of Tuebingen, but apparently without attracting much notice.[54] In 1644, Levin Warner of Leyden had given the Persian text and Latin version of a number of Sa'di's maxims,[55] while Gentius had published the whole text with a Latin translation at Amsterdam in 1651. But it was the version of Olearius that really introduced the Gulistan to Europe.

The edition of Olearius, from which we have cited, contains also a translation of the Bustan, called Der Persianische Baumgarten, made, however, not directly from the Persian, but from a Dutch version. Besides this, the edition contains also the narratives of two other travellers, Juergen Andersen and Volquard Iversen, as well as an account of Persia by the French missionary Sanson. Iversen, in speaking of the Parsi religion, gives an essentially correct account of the Zoroastrian hierarchy, of the supreme god and his seven servants, each presiding over some special element, evidently an allusion to Ahura Mazda and his six Amesha Spentas, with the possible addition of Sraosha.[56] Sanson states that the Gavres have kept up the old Persian language and that it is entirely different from modern Persian,[57] a distinct recognition of the existence of the Avestan language. The eighteenth century saw the discovery of the Avesta by Anquetil du Perron, and its close found men like Jones, Revizky, de Sacy and Hammer busily engaged in spreading a knowledge of Persian literature in Europe.

* * * * *

India, as far as its literature was concerned, did not fare so well. The struggles of European nations for the mastery of that rich empire did little towards promoting a knowledge of its religion or its language. Nor were the efforts of missionaries very successful. Most of their attention was devoted to the Dravidian idioms of Southern India, not to Sanskrit. We have the authority of Friedrich Schlegel for the statement that before his time there were but two Germans who were known to have gained a knowledge of the sacred language, the missionary Heinrich Roth and the Jesuit Hanxleben.[58] Even their work was not published and was superseded by that of Jones, Colebrooke and others. Most valuable information on Hindu religion was given by the Dutch preacher Abraham Roger in his well known book De Open-Deure tot het Verborgen Heydendom, published at Leyden in 1651, two years after the author's death. This book also gave to the West the first specimen of Sanskrit literature in the shape of a Dutch version of two hundred maxims of Bhartrhari, not a direct translation from the Sanskrit, but based on oral communication imparted by a learned Brahman Padmanaba.[59] As a rule the rendering is very faithful, sometimes even literal. The maxims were translated into German by C. Arnold and were published at Nuremberg in 1663.

This, however, ended the progress of Sanskrit literature in Europe for the time being. Information came in very slowly. The Lettres Edifiantes of the Jesuits, and the accounts of travellers like Sonnerat began to shed additional light on the religious customs of India, but its sacred language remained a secret. In 1785, Herder wrote that what Europe knew of Hindu literature was only late legends, that the Sanskrit language as well as the genuine Veda would probably for a long time remain unknown.[60] Sir William Jones, however, had founded the Asiatic Society a year before and the first step towards the discovery of Sanskrit had really thus been taken.

But let us consider what bearing all this had on German poetry. In this field the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were desperately dreary. In the former century the leading thinkers of Germany were absorbed in theological controversy, while in the next the Thirty Years' War completely crushed the spirit of the nation. There is little poetry in this period that calls for even passing notice in this investigation. Paul Fleming, although he was with Olearius in Persia, has written nothing that would interest us here. Andreas Gryphius took the subject for his drama "Catharina von Georgien" (1657) from Persian history. It is the story of the cruel execution of the Georgian queen by order of Shah 'Abbas in 1624.[61] Nor is Oriental influence in the eighteenth century more noticeable. Occasionally an Oriental touch is brought in. Pfeffel makes his "Bramine" read a lesson to bigots; Matthias Claudius in his well-known poem makes Herr Urian pay a visit to the Great Mogul; Buerger, in his salacious story of the queen of Golkonde, transports the lovers to India; Lessing, in "Minna von Barnhelm" (Act i. Sc. 12) represents Werner as intending to take service with Prince Heraklius of Persia, and he chooses an Oriental setting for his "Nathan der Weise."

* * * * *

In the prose writings of this period Oriental influence is much more discernible. In the literature dealing with magic Zoroaster always played a prominent part. The invention of the Cabala was commonly ascribed to him.[62] European writers on the black art, as for instance Bodinus, whose De Magorum Daemonomania was translated by Fischart (Strassburg, 1591), repeat about Zoroaster all the fables found in classical or patristic writers. So the Iranian sage figures prominently also in the Faust-legend. He is the prince of magicians whose book Faust studies so diligently that he is called a second Zoroastris.[63] This book passes into the hands of Faust's pupil Christoph Wagner, who uses it as diligently as his master.[64]

In all this folkbook-literature India is a mere name. Thus in the oldest Faust-book of 1587 the sorcerer makes a journey in the air through England, Spain, France, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, India, Africa and Persia, and finally comes to Morenland.[65]

Of all the prose-writings, however, the novel, which began to flourish luxuriously in the seventeenth century, showed the most marked tendency to make use of Eastern scenery and episodes, and incidentally to exhibit the author's erudition on everything Oriental. Thus Grimmelshausen transports his hero Simplicissimus into Asia through the device of Tartar captivity. Lohenstein, in his ultra-Teutonic romance of Arminius, manages to introduce an Armenian princess and a prince from Pontus. The latter, as we learn from the autobiography with which he favors us in the fifth book, has been in India. He took with him a Brahman sage, who burned himself on reaching Greece. Evidently Lohenstein had read Arrian's description of the burning of Kalanos (Arrian vii. 2, 3). The Asiatische Banise of Heinrich Anselm von Ziegler-Kliphausen, perhaps the most popular German novel of the seventeenth century, was based directly on the accounts of travellers to Farther India, not on Greek or Latin writings.[66] Other authors who indulged their predilection for Oriental scenery were Buchholtz in his Herkules und Valisca (1659), Happel in Der Asiatische Onogambo (Hamb. 1673), Bohse (Talander) in Die durchlauchtigste Alcestis aus Persien (Leipz. 1689) and others.[67]

The most striking instance of the Oriental tendency is furnished by Grimmelshausen's Joseph, first published probably in 1667.[68] Here we meet the famous story of Yusuf and Zalicha as it is given in the Quran or in the poems of Firdausi and Jami. The well-known episode of the ladies cutting their hands instead of the lemons in consequence of their confusion at the sight of Joseph's beauty is here narrated at length.[69] In the preface the author states explicitly that he has drawn, not only from the Bible, but from Hebrew, Arabic and Persian writings as well.[70] That he should have made use of Arabic material is credible enough, for Dutch Orientalists like Golius and Erpenius had made this accessible.[71] That he had some idea of Persian poetry is shown by his allusions to the fondness of Orientals for handsome boys.[72] On the other hand, what he says of Zoroaster in the Musai can all be found in Latin and Greek writers.[73] Here we get the biography of Joseph's chief servant in the form of an appendix to the novel, and the author displays all the learning which fortunately his good taste had excluded from the story itself. Of the Iranian tradition concerning Zoroaster's death as given in the Pahlavi writings or the Shah Namah[74] Grimmelshausen knew absolutely nothing; nor can we find the slightest evidence to substantiate his assertion that for the work in question he drew from Persian or Arabic sources.

* * * * *

In the eighteenth century the Oriental tale was extremely popular in France, and thence it spread to other countries. The translation of the Thousand and One Nights by Galland (Paris, 1704-1712) and of the Persian Tales by Petis de La Croix called into being a host of similar French productions, which in turn found their way into German literature. The most fruitful writer in this genre was Simon Gueulette, the author of Soirees Bretonnes (1712) and Mille et un quart d'heures (1715). The latter contains the story of a prince who is punished for his presumption by having two snakes grow from his shoulders. To appease them they are fed on fresh human brain.[75] Of course, we recognize at once the story of the tyrant Zahhak familiar from Firdausi. The material for the Soirees was drawn largely from Armeno's Peregrinaggio, which purports to be a translation from the Persian, although no original is known to scholars.[76] From these Soirees Voltaire took the material for his Zadig.[77] In most cases, however, all that was Oriental about such stories was the name and the costume. So popular was the Oriental costume that Montesquieu used it for satirizing the Parisians in his Lettres Persanes (1721). Through French influence the Oriental story came to Germany, and so we get such works as August Gottlob Meissner's tales of Nushirvan, Massoud, Giaffar, Sadi and others,[78] or Klinger's Derwisch. Wieland used the Eastern costume in his Schach Lolo (1778) and in his politico-didactic romance of the wise Danischmende. This fondness for an Oriental atmosphere continues even into the nineteenth century and may be seen in such works as Tieck's Abdallah and Hauff's Karawane. But this brings us to the time when India and Persia were to give up their secrets, and when the influence of their literature begins to be a factor in the literature of Europe.


[49] See Kunstmann, Die Fahrt der ersten Deutschen nach dem portugiesischen Indien in Hist. pol. Blaetter f. d. Kath. Deutschl., Muenchen, 1861, vol. 48, pp. 277-309.

[50] For title see Panzer, Annalen d. aelteren deutsch. Litt., Nuernb. 1788.

[51] See Graesse, op. cit. ii. 2. pp. 773, 774.

[52] Des Welt-beruehmten Adami Olearii colligirte und viel vermehrte Reise-Beschreibungen etc., Hamb. 1696, chap. xxv.

[53] Ibid. chap. xxviii. p. 327 seq.

[54] Olearius, op. cit., Preface to the Rosenthal. Full title of Ochsenbach's book in Buch der Beispiele, ed. Holland, p. 258, n. 1.

[55] Proverbiorum et Sententiarum Persicarum Centuria, Leyden, 1644. In the preface the author says that he undertakes his work, "cum e genuinis Persarum scriptis nihil hactenus in Latinam linguam sit translatum."

[56] Iversen in op. cit. chap. xi. p. 157 seq. Cf. Jackson, Die iranische Religion in Grdr. iran. Ph. iii. pp. 633, 634, 636.

[57] Sanson in op. cit. pp. 48, 49.

[58] Fr. Schlegel, Weisheit der Indier, Heidelb. 1808, Vorrede, p. xi.

[59] See preface to op. cit.

[60] Ideen zur Phil. d. Gesch. der Menschheit, chap. iv. ed. Suphan, vol. 13, p. 415.

[61] The story is given in Chardin's book, though this was not the source. See Andreas Gryphius Trauerspiele, ed. Herm. Palm, BLVS. vol. 162, pp. 138, 139.

[62] See Zoroasters Telescop oder Schluessel zur grossen divinatorischen Kabbala der Magier in Das Kloster ed. J. Scheible, Stuttg. 1846, vol. iii. p. 414 seq., esp. p. 439.

[63] Widmann's Faust in Das Kloster, vol. ii. p. 296; Der Christlich Meynende, ibid. ii. p. 85.

[64] Christoph. Wagners Leben, ibid. vol. iii. p. 78.

[65] Ibid. ii. p. 1004.

[66] Ed. by Felix Bobertag, KDNL. vol. 37, Einl. p. 8.

[67] On this see Felix Bobertag, Gesch. des Romans und der ihm verwandten Dichtungsgattungen in Deutschland, Bresl. 1876, vol. ii. 2. pp. 110 seq., 140, 160.

[68] In Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus ed. Adalb. Keller, Stuttg. 1862 (BLVS. vol. 66), vol. iv. pp. 707 seq.

[69] Op. cit. pp. 759, 760.

[70] Ibid, p. 710; again p. 841.

[71] The Story of Joseph from the Quran was published in Arabic with a Latin version by Erpenius as early as 1617. See Zenker, Bibl. Orient., Leipz. 1846, vol. i. p. 169, No. 1380.

[72] Keller, op. cit. p. 742.

[73] See Jackson, Zoroaster, Appendix V (by Gray).

[74] See Jackson, Zoroaster, pp. 127-132.

[75] Rud. Fuerst, Die Vorlaeufer der Modernen Novelle im achtzehnten Jahrhundert, Halle a. S. 1897. p. 51.

[76] Some of the stories are undoubtedly Oriental in origin. The work appeared at Venice, 1557, and was translated into German, in 1583, by Johann Wetzel under the title Die Reise der Soehne Giaffers. Ed. by Herm. Fischer and Joh. Bolte (BLVS, vol. 208), Tueb. 1895.

[77] Fuerst, op. cit. p. 52. The name is derived from the Arabic [Arabic] "speaker of the truth," as pointed out by Hammer in Red. p. 326. See essay L'ange et l'hermite by Gaston Paris in La Poesie du Moyen Age, Paris, 1887, p. 151.

[78] Fuerst, op. cit. p. 154.



Herder's Interest in the Orient—Fourth Collection of his Zerstreute Blaetter—His Didactic Tendency And Predilection For Sa'di.

The epoch-making work of the English Orientalists, and above all, of the illustrious Sir William Jones, at the end of the eighteenth century not only laid the foundation of Sanskrit scholarship in Europe, but also gave the first direct impulse to the Oriental movement which in the first half of the nineteenth century manifests itself so strikingly both in English as well as in German literature, especially in the work of the poets. In Germany this movement came just at the time when the idea of a universal literature had taken hold of the minds of the leading literary men, and so it was very natural that the pioneer and prophet of this great idea should also be the first to introduce into German poetry the new west-oestliche Richtung.

Herder's theological studies turned his attention to the East at an early age. As is well known, he always had a fervid admiration for the Hebrew poets, but we have evidence to show, that, even before the year 1771, when Jones' Traite sur la poesie orientale appeared, he had widened the sphere of his Oriental studies and had become interested in Sa'di.[79] Rhymed paraphrases made by him of some stories from the Gulistan date from the period 1761-1764,[80] and, as occasional references prove, Sa'di continued to hold his attention until the appearance, in 1792, of the fourth Collection of the Zerstreute Blaetter, which contains the bulk of Herder's translation from Persian and Sanskrit literature, and which therefore will have to occupy our attention.[81]

Of this collection the following are of interest to us: 1 deg.. Four books of translations, more or less free, of maxims from the Gulistan, entitled Blumen aus morgenlaendischen Dichtern gesammlet. 2 deg.. Translations from the Sanskrit consisting of maxims from the Hitopadesa and from Bhartrhari and passages from the Bhagavadgita under the name of Gedanken einiger Bramanen. 3 deg.. A number of versions from Persian, Sanskrit, Hebrew and Arabic poets given in the Suphan edition as Vermischte Stuecke.

The first three books of the Blumen consist entirely of maxims from the Gulistan, the versions of Gentius, or sometimes of Olearius, being the basis, while the fourth book contains also poems from Rumi, Hafid and others (some not Persian), taken mostly from Jones' well known Poeseos.[82] For the Gedanken our poet made use of Wilkins' translation of the Hitopadesa (1787) and of the Bhagavadgita (1785), together with the German version of Bhartrhari by Arnold from Roger's Dutch rendering.

As Herder did not know either Sanskrit or Persian, his versions are translations of translations, and it is not surprising if the sense of the original is sometimes very much altered, especially when we consider that the translations on which he depended were not always accurate.[83] In most cases, however, the sense is fairly well preserved, sometimes even with admirable fidelity, as in "Lob der Gottheit" (Bl. i. 1), which is a version of passages from the introduction to the Gulistan. No attention whatever is paid to the form of the originals. For the selections from Sa'di the distich which had been used for the versions from the Greek anthology is the favorite form. Rhyme, which in Persian poetry is an indispensable requisite, is never employed.

* * * * *

The moralizing tendency which characterizes all of Herder's work, and which grew stronger as he advanced in years, rendered him indifferent to the purely artistic side of poetry. He makes no effort in his versions to bring out what is characteristically Oriental in the original; on the contrary, he often destroys it. Thus his "Blume des Paradieses" (Bl. iv. 7 = H. 548) is addressed to a girl instead of a boy. The fourth couplet is accordingly altered to suit the sense, while the last couplet, which according to the law governing the construction of the Persian gazal contained the name of the poet, is omitted. So also in "Der heilige Wahnsinn" (Verm. 6 = Gul. v. 18, ed. Platts, p. 114) the characteristic Persian phrase


"It is necessary to survey Laila's beauty from the window of Majnun's eye"

appears simply as "O ... sieh mit meinen Augen an."

This exclusive interest in the purely didactic side induced Herder also to remove the maxims from the stories which in the Gulistan or Hitopadesa served as their setting. So they appear simply as general sententious literature, whereas in the originals they are as a rule introduced solely to illustrate or to emphasize some particular point of the story. Then again a story may be considerably shortened, as in "Die Luege" (Bl. ii. 28 = Gul. i. 1), "Der heilige Wahnsinn" (see above). To atone for such abridgment new lines embodying in most cases a general moral reflection are frequently added. Thus both the pieces just cited have such additions. In "Verschiedener Umgang" (Ged. 3 = Bhart. Nitis. 67; Boehtl. 6781) the first three lines are evidently inspired by the last line of the Sanskrit proverb: prayena 'dhamamadhyamottamagunah samsargato jayate "in general the lowest, the middle and the highest quality arise from association," but they are in no sense a translation.

What we have given suffices to characterize Herder as a translator or adapter of Oriental poetry. His Eastern studies have scarcely exerted any influence on his original poems beyond inspiring some fervid lines in praise of India and its dramatic art as exhibited in Sakuntala,[84] which had just then (1791) been translated by Forster into German from the English version of Sir William Jones. Unlike his illustrious contemporary Goethe he received from the East no impulse that stimulated him to production. His one-sided preference for the purely didactic element rendered him indifferent to the lyric beauty of Hafid and caused him to proclaim Sa'di as the model most worthy of imitation.[85] Yet it was Hafid, the prince of Persian lyric poets, the singer of wine and roses, who fired the soul of Germany's greatest poet and inspired him to write the Divan, and thus Hafid became the dominating influence and the guiding star of the west-oestliche Richtung in German poetry.


[79] See the edition by Meyer (KDNL. vol. 74) i. 1. pp. 164, 165.

[80] Given by Redlich in the edition by Suphan, vol. 26, p. 435 seq.

[81] We may state here that the work in question has been thoroughly commented on by such scholars as Duentzer and Redlich, and their comments may be found in the editions of Suphan and Meyer. The same has been done for Goethe's Divan by Duentzer and Loeper. The former's notes are in his Goethe-edition in the Kuerschner-series, the latter's in the edition of Hempel. In this investigation, therefore, the chapters on Herder and Goethe are somewhat briefer than they otherwise would be, as further details as to sources, etc., are easily accessible in the editions just mentioned. In all cases, however, the Sanskrit or Persian originals of the passages cited have been examined.

[82] Poeseos Asiaticae commentariorum libri vi, publ. at London, 1774. Reprinted by Eichborn at Leipzig, 1777.

[83] Compare, for instance. Hit. couplet 43 = Boehtl. 3121 with the rendering of Wilkins in Fables and Proverbs from the Sanskrit, London, 1888 (Morley's Univ. Lib.), pp. 41, 42. And then compare with Herder's Zwecke des Lebens (Ged. 15).

[84] Indien, ed. Suphan, vol. 29, p. 665.

[85] "An Hafyz Gesaengen haben wir fast genug; Sadi ist uns lehrreicher gewesen." Adrastea vi. ed. Suphan, vol. 24, p. 356.



Enthusiasm for Sakuntala—Der Gott und die Bajadere; Der Paria—Goethe's Aversion for Hindu Mythology—Origin of the Divan—Oriental Character of the Work—Inaugurates the Oriental Movement.

In Wahrheit und Dichtung (B. xii. vol. xxii. p. 86) Goethe tells us that he first became acquainted with Hindu fables through Dapper's book of travel,[86] while pursuing his law studies at Wetzlar, in 1771. He amused his circle of literary friends by relating stories of Rama and the monkey Hanneman (i.e. Hanuman), who speedily won the favor of the audience. The poet himself, however, could not get any lasting pleasure from monstrosities; misshapen divinities shocked his aesthetic sense.

The first time that Goethe's attention was turned seriously to Eastern literature was in 1791, when, through Herder's efforts, he made the acquaintance of Kalidasa's dramatic masterpiece Sakuntala, which inspired the well known epigram "Willst du die Bluete des fruehen," etc., an extravagant eulogy rather than an appreciative criticism. That the impression was not merely momentary is proved by the fact that five years later the poet took the inspiration for his Faust prologue from Kalidasa's work.[87] Otherwise it cannot be said that the then just awakening Sanskrit studies exercised any considerable influence on his poetic activity. For his two ballads dealing with Indic subjects, "Der Gott und die Bajadere" and "Der Paria", the material was taken, not from works of Sanskrit literature, but from a book of travel. The former poem was completed in 1797, though the idea was taken as early as 1783 from a German version of Sonnerat's travels, where the story is related according to the account of Abraham Roger[88] in De Open-Deure. There the account is as follows: "'t Is ghebeurt ... dat Dewendre, onder Menschelijcke ghedaente, op eenen tijdt ghekomen is by een sekere Hoere, de welcke hy heeft willen beproeven of sy oock ghetrouw was. Hy accordeert met haer, ende gaf haer een goet Hoeren loon. Na den loon onthaelde sy hem dien nacht heel wel, sonder dat sy haer tot slapen begaf. Doch 't soude in dien nacht ghebeurt zijn dat Dewendre sich geliet of hy stierf; ende storf soo sy meynde. De Hoere die wilde met hem branden, haer Vrienden en konde het haer niet afraden; de welcke haer voor-hielden dat het haer Man niet en was. Maer nadien dat sy haer niet en liet gheseggen, soo lietse het yver toestellen om daer in te springen. Op't uyterste ghekomen zijnde, ontwaeckte Dewendre, ende seyde, dat hy hem hadde ghelaten doot te zijn, alleenlijck om te ondervinden hare trouwe; ende hy seyde haer toe, tot een loon van hare ghetrouwigheyt, dat sy met hem na Dewendrelocon (dat is een der platsen der gelucksaligheyt) gaen soude. Ende ghelijck den Bramine seyde, ist alsoo gheschiet."[89]

It will be seen that Goethe has changed the story considerably and for the better. How infinitely nobler is his idea of uniting the maiden with her divine lover on the flaming pyre from which both ascend to heaven! It may also be observed that Goethe substitutes Mahadeva, i.e. Siva, for Dewendre[90] and assigns to him an incarnation, though such incarnations are known only of Visnu.

* * * * *

The "Paria," a trilogy consisting of "Gebet," "Legende" and "Dank des Paria," was begun in 1816, but not finished until December, 1821. Even then it was not quite complete. The appearance of Delavigne's Le Paria and still more of Michael Beer's drama of the same name, spurred Goethe to a final effort and the poem was published in October, 1823.

The direct source is the legend which Sonnerat tells of the origin of the Paria-goddess Mariatale.[91] Indirectly, however, the sources are found in Sanskrit literature. Two parts may be distinguished: The story of the temptation and punishment, and the story of the interchange of heads.[92] The former story is that of the ascetic Jamadagni and his wife Renuka, who was slain by her son Rama at the command of the ascetic himself, in punishment for her yielding to an impure desire on beholding the prince Citraratha. Subsequently at the intercession of Rama she is again restored to life through Jamadagni's supernatural power. The story is in Mahabharata iii. c. 116 seq.[93] and also in the Bhagavata Purana, Bk. ix. c. 16,[94] though here the harshness of the original version is somewhat softened.[95]

The second story is found in the Vetalapancavims'ati, being the sixth of the "twenty-five tales of a corpse-demon," which are also found in the twelfth book of the Kathasaritsagara.[96] It relates how Madanasundari, whose husband and brother-in-law had beheaded themselves in honor of Durga, is commanded by the goddess to restore the corpses to life by joining to each its own head, and how by mistake she interchanges these heads.

The two stories were fused into one and so we get the legend in the form in which Sonnerat presents it. Goethe followed this form closely without inventing anything. He did, however, put into the poem an ethical content and a noble idea. Both the Indic ballads are a fervent plea for the innate nobility of humanity.

* * * * *

Here the influence of India on Goethe's work ends. The progress of Sanskrit studies could not fail to excite the interest of the poet whose boast was his cosmopolitanism,[97] but they did not incite him to production. For India's mythology, its religion and its abstrusest of philosophies he felt nothing but aversion. Especially hateful to him were the mythological monstrosities:

Und so will ich, ein fuer allemal, Keine Bestien in dem Goettersaal! Die leidigen Elephantenruessel, Das umgeschlungene Schlangengenuessel, Tief Urschildkroet' im Weltensumpf, Viel Koenigskoepf' auf einem Rumpf, Die muessen uns zur Verzweiflung bringen, Wird sie nicht reiner Ost verschlingen.[98]

Goethe classed Indic antiquities with those of Egypt and China, and his attitude towards the question of their value is distinctly expressed in one of his prose proverbs: "Chinesische, Indische, Aegyptische Altertuemer sind immer nur Curiositaeten: es ist sehr wohl gethan, sich und die Welt damit bekannt zu machen; zu sittlicher und aesthetischer Bildung aber werden sie uns wenig fruchten."[99]

After all, Goethe's Orient did not extend beyond the Indus. It was confined mainly to Persia and Arabia, with an occasional excursion into Turkey.

To this Orient he turned at the time of Germany's deepest political degradation, when the best part of its soil was overrun by a foreign invader, and when the whole nation nerved itself for the life and death struggle that was to break its chains. The aged poet shrank from the tumult and strife about him and took refuge in the East. The opening lines of the first Divan poem express the motive of this poetical Hegire.

The history of the composition of the Divan is too well known to require repetition. It is given with great detail in the editions prepared by von Loeper and Duentzer.[100] Suffice it to say that the direct impulse to the composition of the work was the appearance, in 1812, of the first complete version of Persia's greatest lyric poet Hafid, by the famous Viennese Orientalist von Hammer. The bulk of the poems were written between the years 1814 and 1819,[101] although in the work as we now have it a number of poems are included which arose later than 1819 and were added to the editions of 1827 and 1837.[102]

The idea of dividing the collection into books was suggested by the fact that two of Hafid's longer poems bear the titles [Arabic] i.e. "book of the cup-bearer" and "book of the minstrel," as well as by the seven-fold division which Sir William Jones had made of Oriental poetry.[103] For the heroic there was no material, nor were some of the other divisions suitable for Goethe's purpose. So only the Buch der Liebe and the Buch des Unmuts (to correspond to satire) could be formed. Other books were formed in an analogous manner until they were twelve in number. The poet originally intended to make them of equal length, but this intention he never carried out, and so they are of very unequal extent, the longest being that of Suleika (53 poems) and the shortest those of Timur and of the Parsi (two poems each).

The great majority of the Divan-poems are not in any sense translations or reproductions, but entirely original compositions inspired by the poet's Oriental reading and study. The thoroughness and earnestness of these studies is attested by the explanatory notes which were added to the Divan and were published with it in 1819,[104] and which show conclusively, that, although Goethe could not read Persian poetry in the original, he nevertheless succeeded admirably in entering into its spirit.

We have mentioned Hammer's translation of Hafid as the direct impulse to the composition of the Divan. It was also the principal source from which the poet drew his inspiration for the work. A single verse would often furnish a theme for a poem. Sometimes this poem would be a translation, e.g. "Eine Stelle suchte der Liebe Schmerz," p. 54 (H. 356. 8); but more often it was a very free paraphrase, e.g. the motto prefixed to Buch Hafis, a variation of the motto to Hammer's version (H. 222. 9). As an example of how a single verse is developed into an original poem we may cite "Ueber meines Liebchens Aeugeln," p. 55, where the first stanza is a version of H. 221. 1, all the others being free invention. Other Persian poets besides Hafid also furnished material. Thus the opening passage of Sa'di's Gulistan was used for "Im Athemholen," p. 10, where the sense, however, is altered and the line "So sonderbar ist das Leben gemischt" is added. A number of poems are based on the Pand Namah of 'Attar, e.g. pp. 58, 60,[105] and two are taken from Firdausi, namely "Firdusi spricht," p. 75 (Sh. N. i. p. 62, couplet 538; Mohl, i. 84; Fundgruben. ii. 64) and "Was machst du an der Welt?" p. 96 (Sh. N. i. p. 482, coupl. 788, 789; Red. p. 58). But it was not only the poetical works of Persia that were laid under contribution; sayings, anecdotes, descriptions, remarks of any kind in books of travel and the like were utilized as well. Thus Hammer in the preface to his version of Hafid relates the fatva or judgment which a famous mufti of Constantinople pronounced on the poems of the great singer, and this gave Goethe the idea for his "Fetwa," p. 32.[106] In the same preface[107] is related the well known reply which Hafid is reported to have given to Timur, when called to account by the latter for the sentiment of the first couplet of the famous eighth ode, and this inspired the poem "Haett' ich irgend wol Bedenken," p. 133. Similarly "Vom heutigen Tag," p. 94, is based on the words of an inscription over a caravansery at Ispahan found in Chardin's book. The story of Bahramgur and Dilaram inventing rhyme[108] gave rise to the poem "Behramgur, sagt man," p. 153. And so we might cite poems from other sources, Quran, Jones' Poeseos, Diez' Buch des Kabus, etc., but the examples we have given are sufficient to show how Goethe used his material.

Throughout the Divan Persian similes and metaphors are copiously employed and help to create a genuine Oriental atmosphere. The adoration of the dust on the path of the beloved, p. 23 (cf. H. 497. 10); the image of the candle that is consumed by the flame as the lover is by yearning, p. 54 (cf. H. 414. 4); the love of the nightingale for the rose, p. 125 (cf. H. 318. 1); the lover captive in the maiden's tresses, p. 46 (cf. H. 338. 1); the arrows of the eye lashes, p. 129 (cf. H. 173. 2); the verses strung together like pearls, p. 193 (cf. H. 499. 11), are some of the peculiarly Persian metaphors that occur. Allusions to the loves of Yusuf and Zalicha, of Laila and Majnun and of other Oriental couples are repeatedly brought in. Moreover, a whole book is devoted to the saqi so familiar to students of Hafid, and Goethe does not shrink from alluding to the subject of boy-love, p. 181.

A great many of the poems, however, do not owe their inspiration to the Orient, and many are completely unoriental. Such are, for instance, those of the Randsch Namah, expressing, as they do, Goethe's opinions on contemporary literary and aesthetic matters. Again, many are inspired by personal experiences, and, as is now well known, the whole Buch Suleika owes its origin to the poet's love for Marianne von Willemer; some of its finest poems have been proved to have been written by this gifted lady. Such poems, written under the impressions of some actual occurrence, were sometimes subsequently orientalized. Some striking illustrations of this are given by Burdach in the essay which we cited before and to which we refer.

As the Divan was an original work, though inspired by Oriental sources, Goethe did not feel the necessity of imitating the extremely artificial forms of his Oriental models. Besides, he knew of these forms only indirectly through the work of Jones. What Hammer's versions could teach him on this point was certainly very little. Perhaps he did not realize what an essential element form is in Persian poetry, that, in fact, it generally predominates over the thought, and this so much that the unity of a gazal is entirely dependent on the recurrence of the rhyme. Instead of such recurrent rhyme he employs changing rhyme and free strophes. Only twice does he attempt anything like an imitation of the gazal, but in neither case does he satisfy the technical rules of this poetic form.[109]

From all this we see that Goethe in the Divan preserves his poetic independence. He remains a citizen of the West, though he chooses to dwell for a time in the East. As a rule he takes from there only what he finds congenial to his own nature. So we can understand his attitude towards mysticism. He has no love for it; it was utterly incompatible with his own habit of clear thinking. Speaking of Rumi, the prince of mystics, he doubts if this poet could give a clear account of his own doctrine;[110] the grades by which, according to Sufi-doctrine, man rises to ultimate union with the Godhead he calls follies.[111] Therefore to him Hafid was the singer of real love, real roses and real wine, and this conception of the great lyric poet was also adopted by all the later Hafizian singers.[112] Unfortunately it cannot be said that it is quite correct. For even if we ignore the mystical interpretation which Oriental commentators give to the wine of Hafid, we cannot possibly ignore the fact that the love of which he sings is never the ideal love for woman, but mostly the love for a handsome boy.[113]

With the Divan Goethe inaugurated the Oriental movement in German poetry, which Rueckert, Platen and Bodenstedt carried to its culmination. These later Hafizian singers remembered gratefully what they owed the sage of Weimar. Rueckert pays his tribute to him in the opening poem of his Oestliche Rosen, where he hails him as lord of the East as he has been the star of the West.[114] And Platen offers to him reverentially his first Ghaselen:

Der Orient sei neu bewegt, Soll nicht nach dir die Welt vernuechtern, Du selbst, du hast's in uns erregt: So nimm hier, was ein Juengling schuechtern In eines Greisen Haende legt.[115]

The poetic spirit of the Orient had been brought into German literature; it was reserved for Rueckert and Platen to complete the work by bringing over also the poetic forms.


[86] Asia, Oder: Ausfuehrliche Beschreibung, etc. See Benfey, Orient u. Occident, i. p. 721, note.

[87] See Duentzer, Goethes Faust, Leipz. 1882, p. 68.

[88] This information is given by Duentzer in his Goethe ed. (KDNL. vol. 82), vol. i. p. 167, note. The French ed. of Sonnerat, Paris, 1783, does not contain the story. The German version to which Duentzer refers has not been accessible to me.

[89] Roger, De Open-Deure, Leyden, 1651, pp. 166, 167, chap. xi.

[90] It is to be noted that in Sanskrit literature devendra is an epithet of Siva as well as of Indra.

[91] Voyage aux Indes et a la Chine, Paris, 1782, i. 244 seq.

[92] See Benfey, Goethes Gedicht Legende und dessen indisches Vorbild in Or. u. Occ. i. 719-732. Benfey erroneously supposes the material of the poem to have been derived from Dapper.

[93] Bombay edition; cf. also Engl. trans. of Mahabh. ed. Roy, vol. iii. p. 358 seq.

[94] Nirn. Sag. Press ed. Bomb. 1898, p. 407 seq. Cf. also Engl. tr. in Wealth of India ed. Dutt, Calc. 1895, pp. 62, 63.

[95] For other Sanskrit sources see Petersb. Lex. sub voce renuka.

[96] Nirn. Sag. Press ed., Bombay, 1889, p. 481 seq. Cf. also Engl. tr. by Tawney, vol. ii. p. 261 seq.

[97] See for instance his discussion of Sakuntala, Gitagovinda and Meghaduta in Indische Dichtung, written 1821. Vol. 29, p. 809.

[98] Vol. ii. p. 352.

[99] Sprueche in Prosa, vol. 19, p. 112.

[100] See also Konrad Burdach, Goethe's West-Oestlicher Divan, Goethe Jahrbuch, vol. xvii. Appendix.

[101] More than 200 poems out of 284 date from the years 1814, 1815 alone. Loeper in vol. vi. preface, p. xxviii.

[102] Loeper, ibid. p. xv.

[103] Poeseos, The Works of Sir William Jones, ed. Lord Teignmouth, London, 1807, vol. vi. chapters 12-18.

[104] Based mainly on information contained in Hammer's Gesch. der schoenen Redekuenste Persiens, Wien, 1818.

[105] Given in Fundgruben des Orients, Wien, 1809, vol. ii. pp. 222, 495, in the French translation of de Sacy.

[106] Op. cit. p. xxxiv.

[107] Ibid. pp. xvi, xvii.

[108] Red. p. 35; Pizzi, Storia della Poesia Persiana, Torino, 1894, vol. i. p. 7. This story inspired also the scene between Helena and Faust. Faust, Act iii. See Duentzer, Goethes Faust, Leipz., 1882, ii. p. 216.

[109] In tausend Formen, p. 169; Sie haben wegen der Trunkenheit, p. 178.

[110] Noten u. Abhandlungen, p. 260.

[111] Ibid. p. 264.

[112] That Goethe knew of the mystic interpretation to which Hafid is subjected by Oriental commentators is evident from "Offenbar Geheimnis," p. 38, and from the next poem "Wink," p. 39.

[113] See Paul Horn, Was verdanken wir Persien?, in Nord u. Sued, Sept. 1900, p. 389.

[114] Rueckert's Werke, vol. v. 286.

[115] Platen, Werke, i. p. 255.



Schiller's Interest in Sakuntala—Turandot.

While the Orient, as we have seen, cast its spell over Germany's greatest poet and inspired the lyric genius of his later years for one of its most remarkable efforts, it remained practically without any influence on his illustrious friend and brother-poet Schiller. If Schiller had lived longer, it is not impossible that he too might have contributed to the West-Eastern literature. As it is, however, he died before the Oriental movement in Germany had really begun. At no time did he feel any particular interest in the East. Once, indeed, he mentions Sakuntala. Goethe had drawn his attention to a German version of the Gitagovinda and this reminded Schiller of the famous Hindu drama which he read with the idea of possibly utilizing it for the theatre.[116] This idea he abandons owing to the delicacy of the piece and its lack of movement.

An attempt has been made to prove that to Kalidasa's drama Schiller was indebted for the motive of his "Alpenjaeger," but it cannot be said to have been successful.[117]

* * * * *

Though there was no direct Oriental influence on Schiller's poetry, there is one dramatic poem of his which indirectly goes back to a Persian source. It is Turandot. The direct source for this composition was Gozzi's play of the same name in the translation of August Clemens Werthes, which Schiller, however, used with such freedom that his own play may be regarded as an original production rather than a version. The Italian poet based his fiaba on the story of Prince Kalaf in the Persian tales of Petis de La Croix.[118] Now, as has been pointed out by scholars,[119] the name of the heroine, who gives the name to the play, is genuinely Persian, Turan-ducht, "the daughter of Turan,"[120] and although the scene is laid in China, most of the proper names, both in Gozzi and Schiller, are not at all Chinese, but Persian or Arabic. The oldest known model for the story is the fourth romance of Nidami's Haft Paikar, the story of Bahramgur and the Russian princess, written 1197.[121] Whether Schiller was aware of the ultimate origin of the legend or not, he certainly made no attempt to give Persian local color to his piece, but on the contrary he studiously tried to impart to it a Chinese atmosphere.[122] It is interesting nevertheless to notice that when Turandot was given at Hamburg (July 9 to Sept. 9, 1802) its real provenence was recognized, and, accordingly Turandot was no longer the princess of China, but that of Shiraz, her father being transformed into the Shah of Persia and the doctors of the divan into Oriental Magi.[123] At Dresden the same thing happened, and here even Tartaglia and Brigella, who had been allowed to retain their Italian names in Hamburg, were made to assume the Oriental names of Babouk and Osmin. The specifically Chinese riddles disappeared, and instead of Tien and Fohi, Hormuz was now invoked.[124]


[116] A Letter dated from Weimar, Feb. 20, 1802. Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller u. Goethe. Stuttg. (Cotta) s. A., vol. iv. p. 98.

[117] W. Sauer in Korrespondenzblatt f. d. Gelehrten u. Realschulen Wuerttembergs, XL. pp. 297-304. Against this view Ernst Mueller in Zeitschr. fuer vgl. Litteraturgesch., Neue Folge, viii. pp. 271-278.

[118] Les Mille et Un Jours, tr. Petis de La Croix, ed. Loiseleur-Deslongchamps, Paris, 1843, p. 69 seq.

[119] Hammer, Red. p. 116; Pizzi, Storia della Poesia Persiana, p. 429.

[120] Cf. name of Mihrab's wife, Sinducht, Sh. N. tr. Mohl i. p. 192 et passim; Puranducht, daughter of Xusrau Parviz, Mirchvand tr. Rehatsek, vol. i. p. 403.

[121] See Ethe, Gesch. der pers. Litt. in Grdr. d. iran. Phil. ii. p 242.

[122] See Albert Koester's essay on Turandot in Schiller als Dramaturg, Berl. 1891, p. 201.

[123] Koester, op. cit. p. 212.

[124] Ibid. p. 213.



Friedrich Schlegel's Weisheit der Indier—Foundation of Sanskrit Study in Germany.

We have now come to the period of the foundation of Sanskrit philology in Germany. English statesmanship had completed the material conquest of India; German scholarship now began to join in the spiritual conquest of that country. With this undertaking the names of Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel are prominently identified. The chief work of these brothers lies in the field of philosophy, translation and criticism, and is therefore beyond the scope of this investigation. Suffice it to say that Friedrich's famous little book Die Weisheit der Indier, published in 1808, besides marking the beginning of Sanskrit studies and comparative grammar in Germany,[125] is also of interest to us because here for the first time a German version of selections from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Code of Manu, as well as a description of some of the most common Sanskrit metres is presented,[126] and an attempt is even made to reproduce these metres in the translation. The work of August Wilhelm Schlegel as critic, translator and editor of important works from Sanskrit literature is too familiar to need more than mention.[127] It is well known that to his lectures Heine owed his fondness for the lotus-flowers and gazelles on the banks of the Ganges.

On the poetry of the Schlegels their Oriental studies exercised very little influence. Friedrich translated some maxims from the Hitopadesa and from Bhartrhari;[128] August likewise translated from the same works, as well as from the Epics and Puranas.[129] There are only two original poems of his that have anything to do with India, and both of these were written before he had begun the study of Sanskrit. The first is "Die Bestattung des Braminen,"[130] a somewhat morbid description of the burning of a corpse. It was addressed to his brother Karl August, who had joined a Hanoverian regiment in the service of the East India Company. The second of these poems is "Neoptolemus an Diokles" (ii. 13), written in 1800, and dedicated to the memory of this same brother who had died at Madras in 1789.[131] As a matter of fact, there is really nothing Oriental in the spirit of the poem.

Aside from translations, the only poems that are connected with Schlegel's Sanskrit studies, are the epigrams against his illustrious contemporaries, Bopp and Rueckert. Those against the former (ii. 234) are of no special interest here. With those against Rueckert, however, the case is different. It is worth while noting that towards the distinguished scholar-poet Schlegel assumed a patronizing attitude. To Rueckert's masterly renderings from Sanskrit literature he referred slightingly as "Sanskritpoesiemetriknachahmungen" (ii. 235). But when he hailed the younger poet as

Aller morgenlaend'schen Zaeune Koenig, Wechselsweise zeisigkranichtoenig! (ii. 218),

he came much nearer to the truth than he imagined at the time. For, while it will be conceded that Rueckert did not always sing with equal power, it also is indisputable that he is the leading spirit in the movement under investigation. But we shall not anticipate a discussion of this poet's work, which is reserved for a succeeding chapter.


[125] See Benfey, Gesch. der Sprachwissenschaft und orient. Philologie in Deutschland, Muenchen, 1869, pp. 361-369.

[126] The sloka, the tristubh and the jagati metre are described, the last two, however, not by name. Narada's speech, p. 236, is in sloka, 16 syllables to the line; the first distich, p. 233, is in tristubh, 22 syllables to the line. Quantity of course is ignored.

[127] See Benfey, op. cit. pp. 379-405.

[128] Friedr. Schlegel, Saemmtliche Werke, Wien, 1846. vol. ii. p. 82 seq.

[129] Aug. W. Schlegel, Saemmtliche Werke. Leipz. 1846. vol. iii. p. 7 seq.

[130] Ibid. i. p. 82.

[131] Friedr. Schlegel, Weisheit der Indier, pref. pp. xii, xiii. See also prefatory remarks to the poem in question.



His Oriental Studies—Ghaselen—Their Persian Character—Imitation of Persian Form—Translations.

The first to introduce the gazal in its strict form into German literature[132] was Rueckert, who in 1821 published a version of a number of gazals from the divan of Rumi.[133] Chronologically, therefore, he ought to have the precedence in this investigation. If we, nevertheless, take up Platen first, we do so because the gazals of this poet were really the first professedly original poems of this form to appear in Germany (Rueckert's claiming to be versions only), and also because they constitute almost the only portion of his poetic work that comes within the sphere of this discussion. Moreover, the remarks which we shall make concerning their content, imagery, and poetic structure, apply largely to the gazals of Rueckert and also to his Oestliche Rosen, if we except the structure of the latter.

Platen became interested in the East through the work of Hammer, and still more through the influence of Goethe's Divan. He at once set to work studying Persian, and his zeal was increased when, on meeting Rueckert in 1820 at Ebern, and again at Nuernberg, he received encouragement and instruction from that scholarly poet. Above all, the appearance of the latter's versions from Rumi gave him a powerful stimulus, and in 1821 the first series of his Ghaselen appeared at Erlangen. Others followed in rapid succession. The same year a second series appeared at Leipzig;[134] a third series, united under the title Spiegel des Hafis, appeared at Erlangen the next year;[135] and, lastly, a series called Neue Ghaselen appeared in the same place in 1823. A few gazals arose later, some being published as late as 1836 and 1839.[136]

We shall confine our discussion to those gazals that date from the years 1821 and 1822, the last series being Persian in nothing but form.

The Ghaselen are not at all translations. Like the Divan-poems they are original creations, inspired by the reading of Hafid, and, to use the poet's own words "dem Hafis nachgefuehlt und nachgedichtet."[137] They follow as closely as possible the Persian metrical rules, and make use throughout of Persian images and metaphors, so much so that we can adduce direct parallels from the poems of Hafid. Thus in 13[138] we read: "Schenke! Tulpen sind wie Kelche Weines," evidently a parallel to some such line as H. 541. 1:


"saqi, come! for the tulip-like goblet is filled with wine." In 75 the words "Weil ihren goldnen Busen doch vor euch verschliesst die Rose" are an echo of H. 300. 2:


"like the rose-bud, how can its inward secret remain concealed?" (cf. also H. 23. 3). And again in 85 "Und nun ... entrinnet dem Herzen das Blut leicht, das sonst mir den Odem benahm" is to be compared with H. 11. 9:


"the sorrowful heart of Hafid, which through separation from thee is full of blood." Furthermore in 81 we read:

Du fingst im lieblichen Trugnetz der Haare die ganze Welt,— Als spiegelhaltende Sklavin gewahre die ganze Welt!

For the first line compare H. 102. 1:


"there is no one who has not been snared by that doubled tress," and for the second line compare H. 470. 1:


"O, thou of whose beauty the sun is the mirror-holder!" In 86 the idea of the young men slain like game by the beauty of the beloved is evidently inspired by H. 358. 6:

[Arabic] [Arabic]

"in every nook thine eye has a hundred slain ones fallen like me," and the following lines in the same poem 86:

O welche Pfeile strahlt zu mir dein Antlitz, Und es befreit kein Schild von deiner Schoenheit,

remind us of H. 561. 7:


"thine eye causes the arrow (lit. poplar) to pass through the shield of life."

* * * * *

Again and again we meet with allusions to the famous image of the love of the nightingale for the rose (35, 75, etc.) so common in Persian poetry, especially in Hafid. We cite only 318. 1:


"the whole thought of the nightingale is that the rose may be his beloved; the rose has in her thought how she may show grace in her actions." In 302. 1 the nightingale is called [Arabic] "the rose's bride."

Besides this, the poems teem with characteristic Persian metaphors: the moth longing for the flame (37, H. 187. 7); the tulip-bed glowing like fire (67, H. 288. 1); the tulip-cheek [Arabic] (whence Moore's Lalla Rookh), (70, H. 155. 2); the musk-perfumed hair (73, H. 33. 4); the garden of the face (73, H. 33. 4); the pearl of Aden (77, H. 197. 10 and 651); wine as a ruby in a golden cup (82, H. 204. 8 "O thou, the golden cup is made full of ruby"); the eye-brows like the crescent-moon (82, H. 470. 5 "brow like the new moon"); the dust on his love's threshold (83, H. 497. 10 ); the sky playing ball with the moon (14, inspired by some such couplet as H. 409. 7); and the verses like pearls (43). For this compare H. 499. 11:


"like a string of lustrous pearls is thy clear verse, O Hafid." We might multiply such parallels, but those given bear out our statement in regard to the imitation of Persian rhetorical figures on the part of Platen.

In the eagerness to be genuinely Persian, the poet was not content, however, with imitating only what was striking or beautiful; he introduces even some features which, though very prominent in Eastern poetry, will never become congenial to the West. Thus the utter abjectness of the Oriental lover, who puts his face in the path of his beloved and invites her (or him) to scatter dust on his head (H. 148. 3), is presented to us with all possible extravagance in these lines of 87:

Sieh mich hier im Staub und setze deine Ferse mir auf's Haupt, Mich, den letzten von den letzten deiner letzten Sklaven, sieh![139]

To the saqi is assigned a part almost as prominent as that which is his in the Persian original. It was the introduction of this repulsive trait (e.g. 82) that gave to Heine the opportunity for the savage, scathing onslaught on Platen in the well known passage of the Reisebilder.[140]

* * * * *

Otherwise Platen, like Goethe, ignores the mystic side of Hafid, and infuses into his Ghaselen a thoroughly bacchanalian spirit, taking frequent occasion to declaim against hypocrisy, fanaticism and the precepts of the Quran. The credo of these poems is the opening gazal in Spiegel des Hafis (64), where the line "Wir schwoeren ew'gen Leichtsinn und ew'ge Trunkenheit" may be taken to reflect the sentiment of the revelling Persian poet, who begs the sufi not to forbid wine, since from eternity it has been mingled with men's dust (H. 61. 4); who claims to have been predestined to the tavern (H. 20. 4); who asks indulgence if he turns aside from the mosque to the wine-house (H. 213. 4); who drinks his wine to the sound of the harp, feeling sure that God will forgive him (H. 292. 5); who is above the reproach of the boasters of austerity (H. 106. 3); and who, finally, asks that the cup be placed in his coffin so that he may drink from it on the day of resurrection (H. 308. 8). But when Platen flings away the Quran he certainly is not in accord with his Persian model, for, while Hafid takes issue with the expounders of the sacred book, he discreetly refrains from assailing the book itself.

But perhaps the chief significance of these Ghaselen, as well as those of Rueckert, lies in the fact that they introduced a new poetic form into German literature. It is astonishing to see how completely Platen has mastered this difficult form. The radif or refrain, so familiar to readers of Hafid, he reproduces with complete success, as may be seen, for instance, in 8, where the words "du liebst mich nicht" are repeated at the end of each couplet, preceded successively by zerrissen, wissen, beflissen, gewissen, vermissen, Narzissen, exactly in the style of such an ode as H. 100. In those odes called Spiegel des Hafis the name Hafis is even regularly introduced into the last couplet, in accordance with the invariable rule of the Persian gazal that the author's name must appear in the final couplet.

Besides the gazal Platen has also attempted the ruba'i or quatrain, in which form he wrote twelve poems (Werke, ii. pp. 62-64), and the qasidah. Of this there is only one specimen, a panegyric (for such in most cases is the Persian qasidah) on Napoleon, and, as may therefore be imagined, of purely Occidental content.[141]

* * * * *

Of Platen's translations from Hafid we need not speak here. But we must call attention to the attempt which he made to translate from Nidami's Iskandar Namah in the original mutaqarib-metre. The first eight couplets of the invocation are thus rendered, and in spite of the great difficulty attending the use of this metre in a European language, the rendering must be pronounced fairly successful. It is also faithful, as a comparison with the original shows. We cite the first two couplets from the Persian:

[Arabic] [Arabic]

"O God, world-sovereignty is Thine! From us comes service, Godhead is Thine. The Protection of high and low Thou art! Everything is nonexistent; whatever is, Thou art."[142]

Of other Oriental poems, not translations, we notice "Parsenlied," dating from the year 1819, when Goethe's Divan appeared, and it is quite possible that the Parsi Nameh of that work suggested to Platen the composition of his poem.[143] His best known ballad, "Harmosan," written in 1830, has a Persian warrior for its hero. The source for the poem is probably Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (chap. li.)[144]


[132] We might say into European literature. The only previous attempts, as far as we know, to reproduce this form were made by Jones, who translated a ghazal of Jami (Works, vol. ii. p. 501) into English, and by a certain Tommaso Chabert, who translated several ghazals of Jami into Italian (Fundgruben, vol. i. pp. 16-19).

[133] In Taschenbuch fuer Damen, which was already published in 1820, thus establishing Rueckert's priority over Platen. See C. Beyer, Neue Mittheilungen ueber Friedrich Rueckert, Leipz. 1873, p. 14; also letter to Cotta, ibid. pp. 113, 114.

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