Poem Analysis Of Erwartung

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“Erwartung” is a poem from Richard Dehmel’s book Weib und Welt, which was first published in 1896 and from which Schönberg also took “Verklärte Nacht”. It describes the anticipation of an encounter between two lovers from the perspective of an outside observer. The poem consists of five quatrains. As only two of the four verses of each stanza rhyme and the metre is slightly irregular, it appears formally far less strict than most of Stefan George’s poetry.
The first stanza describes the scenery. A pond, in which the moonlight is mirrored, lies next to a villa with an oak tree. Enjambments connect the four verses of the first stanza, which consists of only one sentence. The flow is never interrupted as each verse ends with an unstressed syllable
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They enhance the vividness of the scene and make it appear almost painted in the reader’s mind. Two pairs of contrasting colours dominate. The first two verses introduce the greenish blue of the pond and the complementary red of the villa. In view of the trimeter in the second and third verse, the first verse is most likely composed of two trochees framing a dactyl. It is, however, also possible to read a secondary stress on the second syllable of “meergrünen” and thus further emphasise the adjective, which compares the pond’s colour to the sea and adds depth and darkness to the image. The double letter “m” at the word boundary “dem meergrünen” contributes to the incantatory tone and magical, dreamlike atmosphere of the poem. While red and green are mentioned specifically several times throughout the poem, the other pair of colours is only alluded to. As both parts of the first stanza employ contrasting images, it is easy to imagine the blackness of the oak and the pale whiteness of the moonlight in the third and fourth verse, even though only the first two verses contain adjectives referring to colour. The vivid and contrasting colours of the first stanza might indicate either that it is evening rather than late night or that the moon shines very bright. The image of the dead oak enhances the fantastic, mystical atmosphere of the scene. As oak trees symbolise persistence and…show more content…
First, he kisses his ring. The pronoun “sie” (v. 13) creates another slight ambiguity, as it could refer either to the opals or the sparks or even to an unknown woman. The intensity of the immediately consecutive actions is underlined by the accumulation of the conjunction “und” (vv. 12, 13). The moment the man kisses the opals, his eyes shine like the bottom of the pond. This is the result of the gemstones projecting the image of the pond onto his eyes, making them appear dark and mysterious and thus conveying his excitement and anticipation. When the man removed his ring in the second stanza, the reader might have expected it to be a wedding ring that he took off before meeting his lover. Now, however, he kisses the ring either as a signal or a magical gesture. The play with light and his kiss of the ring add to the mystical atmosphere of the poem. The magical properties of the ring seem to be confirmed when a window of the villa opens immediately after the kiss. The colon at the end of the fifteenth verse makes two interpretations plausible. Either the man’s eyes shine because the window opens, or the window opens as a result of the kiss. The action seems sudden and surprising after the slow development of the previous stanzas, and the changed metre underlines the unexpectedness. The sixteenth verse is the only iambic verse in the whole
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