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Mette Moestrup
Rainer Maria Rilke's Poetic Rhythm - and Rhythm in German Poetry around the Turn of the Century
The intention of my project is to focus on the term poetic rhythm, to characterize Rainer Maria Rilke's (1875-1926) poetic rhythm, and to discuss rhythm in relation to the changes in the verse of German poetry around the turn of the century. Thus I am studying poetic rhythm from three angles, combining theory, close analysis, and literary history. The theoretical angle includes terminological reflections on the unclarified relations between rhythm as a natural phenonomen and rhythm in poetry, and between meter and poetic rhythm. The close analysis involves examinations and methodological experiments concerning the relation between metrical patterns and rhythmical movements and structures, including enjambement, caesura, syntax, and prosody. I am examining Rilke's authorship as a whole, discussing the striking differences between the conventional early works and the original late works, but the close analysis is focusing on "Duineser Elegien", which Rilke wrote from 1912-22. In this beautiful elegiac cycle, Rilke combines reminiscenses of the elegiac meter, distich, with innovative rhythmic structures. In the historical perspective, I am going to discuss Rilkes rhythmical innovations compared to the verse of German poets such as George, Trakl, and Holz, leading to a broader discussion of the development of verse and poetry around the turn of the century.

Updated March 15, 2000 by smc. Please mail comments to the webmaster at Centre for Cultural Research.