A novel of love, with pictures and real, living people
translated by Sheldon Gilman and Robert Levine
That little Kurt has taken you with him to Sweden, Herwarth, is certainly the act of a friend. Little Kurt will first become a public prosecutor and nothing can happen to you. But something can happen to me, I have no one to whom I can tell my adventure except Peter Baum, who, however, is moving out of his old place into a new one. In his confusion he carried his Matja instead of his writing table into the moving van, and she begged the moving men not to tear the tassels. In the evening I told him my new love story for the first time. I certainly have never been as much in love as I am this time. If it is of interest to you: the day before yesterday I went with Gertrude Barrison to Luna Park, to the Egyptian exhibition, as though we had a premonition of something sweet. In a coffee house Gertrude caught the attention of an Arab with a full beard; she was totally horrified at my suggestion to flirt with him. I had, you see, watched the curl of his lips, which had now become stiffer in response to the coolness of my companion. I didn't hold it against her. But during the belly dancing one of the miracles of my Arabian book happened; I danced with Minn, the son of the sultan of Morocco. We danced, danced like two dancing snakes, up on the Islamic stage, we crept back and forth to the mellow tone of the bamboo flute of the band, to the drum of the ancient Pharoahs, with the eternal bells. And Gertrude also danced the craquette, but like a muse, not as Muslim-like as we, she danced with the graceful, provocative movements of a swan, her fingers waving like fringes. But he and I found ourselves on the way to Tangiers, shouted war-like cries, until his mouth kissed mine so gently, with such ardor, and I might have embarrassed myself by resisting. Ever since I have loved all people whose skin color has a trace of his skin color, reminding me of his gold brocade. I love the Slav, because he has brown hair like Minn; I love the bishop, because the ruby in his tie is made of the red material with which my royal Muslim colored his nails. I cannot, without burning, think of his eyes, narrow, careless rivers, shimmering irises, whose bed is the Nile. What shall I begin? The management of Luna Park, apparently having become suspicious, has forbidden me to enter the park. You see, yesterday morning I brought my wonderful friend a large diamond Ė yours, Herwarth; are you angry? Ė together with a bag of cocoa nut candies. Suppose I really had some money! And I have written a firm letter to Luna Park, that I would report the insult inflicted upon me to Voss, that my name is Else Lasker-Schüler, and I had supplied occasional verse for the Khediv at the reception of European crown princes. What good is it that the let me in now Ė a detective is always following me, but Minn and I meet at the Zulus, who live, black and wild, in the seamy area of the Egyptian exhibition, where no white man enters. I was let in on the whole story by the impresario, who treats the Muslim people like slaves, and I shall kill him with my dagger, which I bought in Minnís land. He is the youngest that the slave-trader brought to Europe, he is the most youthful looking father in the Egyptian Luna garden. He is no slave, Minn is a kingís son, Minn is a warrior, Minn is my biblical playmate. He wears an arrogant satin gown and he dreams only of me, because he has kissed me. Little Kurt, friend Herwart, would that you were here, no one will go with me to Egypt; yesterday a marriage was announced there on all the billboards. Can it be that he got married? Just think, I looked at the moon on the Weidendammer bridge for twenty cents. I got only a very shadowy acquaintance with the people through the telescope. One man had his hair cut like you, Herwarth, or rather not cut off. Are the working people on the moon also always asking you to cut your hair? And I saw a gentleman with a briefcase eating bread with roast beef, who looked like you, little Kurt. And really, there is a café on the moon; it was night, I heard from inside the café a voice like Dr. Caros singing, "Then let us speak again of love, as once in May".
I have fallen totally in love with the Slav Ė why Ė I only ask the stars. I love him in an entirely different way from the Muslim, whose kiss still sits, a golden butterfly, on my cheek. But I now love to look at the Slav only, like a painting based on an old master. His face has the color of fire, I burn when I look at it and am drawn inexorably to it. You need not worry, Herwarth, he has not replied at all to my love letter. I wrote to him: "Sweet Slav, had you been on display in the Louvre in Paris, I would have stolen you instead of the Mona Lisa. I would like to look at you forever; I would never grow weary of doing that, I would have them build me a tower, without doors. I would most like to come to you when you are asleep, so that your eyelash did not blink in the frame. I think of nothing else but you and only you and nothing else, as though you were standing in a frame. So beautiful as you were yesterday, you were so beautiful, one would have to steal you twice, once for the world and once for yourself; you hardly know how to deal with your own affairs, you always hang yourself in bad light." I assure you again, Herwarth, you need not concern yourself about this, yesterday evening he never once offered me his hand. Someone told me in confidence, he doesnít want to be at odds with you, he is a writer. What do you say to such cowardice? In his place you would have written back to me, wouldnít you? You donít need to come any longer; two nights ago I even dreamt that a polar bear met the two of you north-pole travelers and asked you whether you would permit yourselves to be photographed with him. What exceptional unhappiness I have in love! You too? Have you already seen Ibsen and Hedda Gabler? And have you looked at another landscape, like a café? Up there there are only fields of snow and white mountains and who knows what else? The Laps don't stay in one place, but send me a couple of provinces.
Laugh if you want, but I havenít slept the whole night; first itís cold, then itís hot, then fall storms in, and in the interval your midnight sun glows. As though September was mimicking me! I certainly donít know exactly whom I love: the Slav or the bishop? Or will I ever be able to part from Minn? Yesterday I appointed the bishop an archbishop. But the Slav will prudently submit his resignation, his diplomatic experiments with me are democratic. I asked him to return my love letter, damn it. I have, damn it, self-respect in my bones. He has not yet sent it back Ė I wonder if he will write a couple of words to me! But what help would that be now, the archbishop speaks, as I imagine, exactly so, and also understands how to fulfil my unspoken wishes. He wandered with me through the melancholy woods, along paths of roses, or we sought out, during the ghost hours, cracked streets that looked up at the Spree river, dark as the eye of a worker. And every day I received a letter from the bishop, they were the loveliest letters that I had ever read, I read them aloud, in the voice of the Slav. And how are things going for you? May I assume that you must have reached the region of the snow hen by now? Donít catch a cold, Herwarth. Above all donít get the sniffles, a running nose is driving me crazy. Are you coming home soon? The archbishop and the Slav got up today before eleven oíclock and left the café. I would gladly have gone off with them, really, but you still donít know the people in the café. If the archbishop and the Slav, if they tell each other everything, now tell all! The fat Caius-Majus didn't budge from my table; if only he didnít always talk about literature! As long as it is about my verses it is bearable, but when he begins to chatter about Aristophanes, he should be holed up in Danteís hell! He confided to me that he loves Lucretia Borzia. When I asked him who the lady might be, he laughed convulsively. Without you, Herwarth, nothing much goes on: you always help me with the story, Iím embarrassed also to ask anyone to help me dot my i's. Yesterday your friend, the doctor, suddenly appeared in the café with Marie Borchardt and her friend, Margret König. She is an actress, did you know that? You know, she is charming! I sent her, in empty packets of cigarettes smoked by the Slav, chocolate cookies and a cigarette. She is a sweet silhouette. I always see her standing before me, a golden nymph, among my splashing, confused thoughts. That's why I went this evening to Marie Borchardtís talk, not to hear my poems, but because of Margret. But I was very surprised by Marieís reading (she speaks Italian); her voice resonates with the sounds of Venetian glass flowers, and genuine lace from the palazzi crackle among her words. In her terra cotta dress and her turban with gold fringes, she looked like a little Dogeís princess. Had I known a Doge, I would have had her carried off in a gondola. But am I the only one to whom this happens every day? You always say that I should not bother with other people, but if the artistic in life provides me pleasure, so too the inartistic is a source of annoyance. I believe it is now twelve oíclock; I am really too frightened today to step into the corridor leading to my apartment alone. I am edgy. I shall not be able to keep my word to you to be in bed before morning. I shall go sleep at the ticket agentís place in the Halenseer railroad station, on her bloodless, old sofa. She tells me, during the remainder of the night, about her lovers. Good night, Herwarth, dear little Kurt!
For two evenings now I have not been in the café, my heart has been bothering me. Doctor Döblin von Urban came with his dear girl friend to offer a diagnosis. He thinks that I am suffering from a thyroid condition, but actually I have a longing for the café. He insisted, however, on getting rid of my thyroid, which indirectly affects the heart; it might make me into a little cretin, but since I am so sharp-witted, I would soon be my old self. I have, you see, confessed that I had wanted to use the gas pipe to end my life because of my two friends; the whole gas pipe has been taken out. I could not pay the gas bill. I could not even drown myself in milk, Bolle does not bring it any more. How shall I come back to the café now without blushing? A person like me must keep her word. I shall make up some story,so that the bishop and the Slav will think that you will be too frightened.
Just think, neither of them was there when I arrived at the café around noon, but your friend the doctor sat singing to himself, sometimes so loud he nearly forgot where he was. His voice is mythic, Olympian, and like a smoking crater, and it can thunder like the word of Zeus. How utterly inartistic to be angry with one another.
Guess who rang me up early this morning -- Fridolin Guhlke. He says that he is in love, that he has found his first love; that it happened three years ago, when she was just thirteen. And he is on the wagon now, his flame seems to wear a halo around her head. Also, he says that he never comes to the café any more, and I should promise him to do the same. Secretly we all think of the café as the devil, but what would life be without the devil? I am curious how long Guhlke can hold out without the devil. Sometimes things get too hot here, when one rudely addresses an overdressed plebeian, one should get out of her way; it's hard for her to get by, with her big bust covered by a lace stole. I wanted to box her ears when she went upstairs to get her husband, who approached me accompanied by Galician and Chaldean Saducees, out of the pool hall. But I kept quiet; I hate getting involved with loud, screaming women. After a while two policemen arrived, to question me. But Richard hid me between two newspapers; that is now my pigeon-hole. Then our Director Wauer arrived, he would have enjoyed watching that scene. I made that up to him. He didn't really know the actors in the Egyptian Luna Park. Then the dromedary trotted by the window of the café; it came from the zoo, it had a stomach ache. I longed for Minn, he hadnít gotten married. Which reminds me, little Kurt, Herwarth forgot his pocket handkerchief, lend him one of yours. You'll get it back washed. It is four oíclock, it is still completely light. Director Wauer leads our little caravan in his car. Dear Herwarth and dear little Kurt! Stay as long as you like; I am so pleased that you have recovered, and that you have sent such beautiful, interesting picture post-cards. How well is Ibsen's tomb kept, a pillar in the language of hieroglyphics, a northern pyramid. Yesterday the archbishop also showed me my monument. The Indian tower in Luna Park
one day out to stand over my body. Fear overcame me, but at the same time, ennobled, I bent my head in recognition of the honor accorded me. The bishop is the gardener of the word, he speaks with a restrained peacefulness that does me good. He even maintains that he speaks so evenly and carefully only with me, and I donít know whether he takes me for a delicate kind of plant or a tiger. In the evening, when we met the Slav, he walked right by us; in an old-fashioned way he plays the sublime one, he is elderly even in youth. If someone is elderly, he can experience no season, not even winter, just as someone who is childish knows nothing of spring. O, everything points to change in people; the bishop and I, we play spring at the moment. Peter Baum agrees entirely with me that he is too lazy to change. He sends you greetings; his novel about the eighteenth century is ready, for nearly half a year it has been ready. Farewell, dear comrades!
Caius-Maius, the Emperor, sat mysteriously at my table when Peter Baum went off for a moment, Caius wanted to ask me something. "I want to ask you something, Else Lasker-Schüler, pay attention! It's about my literary, as well as my material future. Would Mr. Walden take it badly if I went with the publisher Capuletti in Florence? Kraus is above all that, but on one such occasion in the time of Mr. D., Walden provided an alternative." I answered him, Herwarth, that he overestimated my standing with you. My position in the office was not much more than that of a go-for, but I was a candidate for the position of secretary, and would bring up his concern. Now, am I so dumb? Admittedly I would gladly make Caius-Maius suffer, he is a droll, adult, fat-cheeked angel, a Dionysius turned pious, in a Dionysian train; he has preserved his sense of humor, but instead of a bunch of grapes he wears a white tie around his neck. How people change, what literature makes of people! But, in all seriousness, Herwarth, will you hold it against him? I'll tell you only once, if you publish no more of his work, I'll write no more. The only things that give me pleasure are Caius-Maius things. When Peter Baum came back to our table, the ladies Marie and Margret came through the door of the coffee-house. I said that today Margret looked like a glow-worm, and Peter Baum gasped. But Caius-Mauis again swam through the literary bliss like a whale. From his head a fountain flowed crosswise. We went home early, Herwarth, on my honor! Another letter has come from the Dalai Lama in Vienna, I have stuck it into the other letters and cards and second-class matter in your five-o'clock trousers.
Dear Cook and Peary!
I must entrust you with a secret: yesterday evening, the sky was a mixture of dull gray and stars, the bishop and I went into a little bar in Mommen street. But I had no more money with me than would pay for a glass of water. The bishop, however, could drink huge amounts of alcohol; he only wanted to drink Burgundy, white Burgundy. He declared that white Burgundy flowed through his heart, he wanted to let me know of his pure love through the fragrance of wine. But I told him that I had no money. And he was crest-fallen that I would take nothing from him, Do you think that I should have drunk Burgundy with him? Or Danziger? I'll tell you straight out, we drank Danziger; I let a person pay for me for the first time; there was a delicacy in his giving, at times he lifted the small, finely cut glass to my lips the way one does it for a child. Since that moment I have loved the bishop, and I have permitted him to kiss my hair; he says that it smells of lavender.
I don't have anyone here to whom I can tell everything, come back soon! Peter Baum is a sheep, he is always grazing on the meadow at his mother's house, and he can never get away from Hans or some other cousin from Wuppertal. Or his sister doesn't let him go, or his wife Maja has returned from a trip. Without Peter Baum I cannot live. He never reproaches me, he finds that everything I do is an expression of who I am. But I am afraid of you, dear Herwarth; I would prefer being slapped rather than looking at your severe face. This is the feeling that I had at school. And I would rather, in your absence, send these letters to you and little Kurt in your publishing house. Yet you say that it's not right, but everything works, if there is good will. I waited for him all day yesterday; three times I sent the same letter to him, one to his first house, the second to his second house, and the last to his mother's place in Friedenau. In Wupperthal Plattdeutsch: "Dear Peter Baum, the last time that I write to you: come or don't come, old man. I have so much to tell you, I don't know which of three workers I love: Frederick or Wilhelm, or the East Prussian. You must help me think about it, stupid thing. Why were you put on earth? Lend me some pennies, I don't have any more potatoes in the house, or anything to eat. I'll pay you back when my tragedy of occasion, Die Wupper, is produced. Director Reinhardt has promised to put it on, if only the old grandfather in the first act doesn't die first, he suffers from the weather, as you know. Grätz, of the German theater, will play him. That should rile you up, old clown? Are you coming or not? Come on! Your Amanda!"
Just think, he has gone off with his sister Julie to Hiddensee. At Hohenzollerndamm his wife, Matja, is living with her friend Jenni. Peter Baum has left his novel lying in old Ringbahnstrasse. The paperhanger has smeared half the pages with paste, to glue them under the new wallpaper. But what does that have to do with us! Did you get your letter from the post office in Christiana, dear Herwarth? What do you have to say about your pantomime having been taken up throughout Luxemburg? I'm still singing: I am the count of Luxemburg and have squandered, have squandered my wealth.
I have something frightfully painful to tell you quickly: the Morrocan has been seduced by a woman who is certainly not a lady.
Yesterday a monster with orange-blond curls pasted on her head was in the café and seemed to be waiting for you until noon, Herwarth. Just don't lie, you know her; she talks in your accent, with all of your ways of expressing yourself. Then she went into the telephone-booth; I, together with witnesses, heard her say your name, but your secretary had probably already left, since the monster stamped her feet so angrily that the glass door of the booth rattled. Only intimates stamp like that! It would be mean of you to be untrue to me. Someone in the café saw how she placed under the table for you one of her artificial, orange-colored locks. But what was the other thing I wanted to mention: this morning Minn was at my place; on his proud shoulders he carried a huge suitcase in which to pack me off to Tangiers. I must think again about the bishop; certainly if he really loves me, I can't just leave. But one more thing: no one was more enchanted with your pantomime than the archbishop and the Slav. So take your time at the north pole, you and little Kurt.
To your well-being, little Kurt!
Yesterday my Rosa and I were almost mugged. She patched up my skirt. It was her guy, who had seemed so harmless. Last time she wrote to him the same letter to you and little Kurt that I had read aloud to her. All the things that we have to go through! Material things also go badly for me. I am much in debt at the café, with the afternoon waiter: pheasant with rice and apple sauce; with the midnight waiter: veal cutlet with broiled potatoes and cranberries and a vanilla ice, a total of fifty cents. Martha Hellmuth, the sorceress Hellmuthe in my Saint-Peter-Hille book, lent me ten cents for the trip home, otherwise I could not have kept my word to you again. And then along came attorney Caro; he certainly is a gentleman, he gave me ten marks for you; he owes you that. When I ate salmon with butter sauce I thought of it as an elegant apology from him. Having no money certainly is a bummer. Having only a little money is even worse, I am not accustomed to living on a small scale. Don't worry about me, in dire circumstances, as long as I have something to pawn -- your Croesus.
Höxter suspects that I am enchanted with Minn, he brought me two picture postcards of the Egyptian exhibit at Luna park, which show my Sultan seated on the camel in a palm-tree landscape. To what land has that thieving woman carried him off? By the way, Herwarth, have you made a plate of the drawing which Höxter made of me? Is it going to appear in The Storm? I certainly am the warrior prince of Thebes, for whom, by contrast, the Sphinx in the foreground is a real woman. (Otherwise I shall not write another word for The Storm). Höxter and I sit today all alone in the front garden of the café, in the sun, imagining that we both are descended from Bedouins, he sits, as I do, on a noble Arabian steed, and this is our protection. We are of the race of kings, and in our thoughts battle other tribes. I am grateful to Höxter, he told me a fantasy, his sister's name is Salomé.
Do you know who was with me yesterday? The ex-queen Eugenie! I timidly opened the door of the hall, frightened that it was the baillif. Her majesty promised to write to my cousin, who is her twin millionairess.
Dear Herwarth, noble little Kurt!
A few days ago I decided that Karl Kraus, the Dalai Lama in Vienna, should also become the minister. The only way I see him is sitting on a powerful throne. If people were not so boring and tedious, he would have been made minister long ago. Do you think I might become court-poet, with all rights and privileges, but that's less important to me. I would have brought up the matter of the Dalai-Lama long before, but people always smile wearily at what I say, and if I say something, they do not understand how to stretch the net to catch my playful words. Only the minister enjoys my leaps, he is serious enough.
Little Jakobsohn has subscribed to twenty-two numbers of The Torch, I told you right away, Herwarth, he is not so bad, The Storm will be his undoing. Have a good time, both of you, don't worry about my dowry, I have diamonds and pearls -- and a pile of verse -- composed about you.
I can only write you a postcard today; the bishop just phoned about our taking a bit of a walk in Siberia. We call the area around Lutzowerplatz in Charlottenburg Siberia. In any event, we have many similar perceptions about the world. We also see the same animals in people's faces. He loves cats, I don't. I'll ask him today if he loves cats more than me. Such questions give him pleasure. I ask him many frightful things in French, as though he were my tutor. It is such a sigh of relief when suddenly all the burdensome thoughts and imbedded feelings glide from one's shoulders and one becomes a marionette, pulled about in fine silk strings. But sometimes I am his golden ball, which he lovingly tosses in his child-like hands. Or I fall asleep, drunk with his words, he has something of the quality of a vine. Since I met him I often lean on the black painted walls of the house and become sweet. If only he did not consider me a plaything! I would have to wither in Berlin. Even the earth here is buried under asphalt; now they want to construct a canopy, like the Wintergarden's dreary starry heaven, over the center of the city; where then can anyone see blue. For me, the western part of our city is the most hateful, the workers' areas at least have something war-like about them. Recently we were standing at night on the bridge which leads to the Siemens factory. We would almost have kissed, but I avoided his lips, involuntarily, we are also both too white, if we were to blush while kissing, it would be like blood, perhaps like murder. I must tell you everything, love me for it.
When I entered the café today, the Slav and the bishop sat in their hiding-place. The Slav seems to find it apparently more politic in your absence, Herwarth, to have nothing to do with me, he plays the nobleman. The idea hasnít dawned on me yet that I mean nothing to him, but I am tired of him; in addition, he is not as good-looking as when I first saw him, he has a cramped expression on his face. And he is always pleased if someone shows a lack of imagination, since he has none. I have lost Minn; all the Moroccan dreams and the tattooed half moon on his quivering nostril. Across the room the bishop saw me crying, he sympathetically kissed the head of his sacred cat at least 23 times. Today I presented to the bishop a singer, because she resembles the talismanic photograph which he carries in his wallet. Now let him really see his type face-to-face. I certainly believe that he is only trying to get my goat, but revenge is going to be fun. Felicitas is always humming in Berlin jargon my melodies, which I know from the East, she is my watered-down Nile, alternating with my bowl of water from the Tigris, in which she washes her stockings. But she wears silk stockings; the bishop noticed that with pleasure, he also made comparisons between me and her. I don't like that about him, I think I donít like him any more. My whole pysche has been split for some time now. My soul is a fine city made entirely of gold, with nothing but covered paths leading from one palace to another. And its landscapes surpass the beauties of all other countries. Am I sick again, but where? They have run out of mosaic tile there, and they render me in brick. When I left I offered my hand to the bishop with a smile: "Farewell, archbishop, you claim to love Egyptian culture above all, and forget that one must not juxtapose a Pharaonic princess (even in the mind) with a German porcelain goose." That's what I said to him.
Today we had cold cuts again; and what I really like to eat is duck and yellow plums. I simply longed for Kempinski, in spite of the greedy Philistine at the next table. Why are we both still so unmarried? In the café I am neither your admirer nor your companion, nor your betrothed. There you are my lover, first lover, and I certainly felt that in the two times we ate there the talent to be a bon vivant lay hidden in you as it lies hidden in all men; but I have existed not only as the poetess and Tino of Bagdad, not only as the prince of Thebes, as well as Jussuf the Egyptian, but I can also be a very little girl, who will for the first time is taken to dinner at Kempinski by a gentleman, and discovers a taste for caviar and duck with plum sauce, but who still shudders with fear at the sight of snails on the half-shell. Do you know how we were afraid that someone we knew would see us -- our relationship. I drank out of your glass of red wine, and you complimented me on my slender ankles. You promised to buy me silk stockings and a white feather for my big straw hat. You spoke with such honeyed sweetness to me, especially when I was embarassed while choosing something in addition from the selection of jams. And I really forgot that I was your wife, and I was pleased with your dragon, and its dark forehead. But I never shall forget your suspicious face; right then I knew that you had often dined at Kempinski's with little girls, who made fun of your wife's fanatical Galilean forehead. Again and again that distracted you from your little sweethearts, if you were gruff and annoyed with me, because I had insulted your "wife." (??) And as I have learned, you were there again recently, in a little party, your friend, the doctor, brought his smiling little girl with him. Why didn't you urge Kurt to invite the doctor also on the trip to Norway? He seemed worn out and angry. There was no one more in need of attentive love than the doctor, than "our" doctor, he and I are getting along well. For many years I have sent flowers to young men who look like him.
Dear North Pole researchers!
This morning Director Wauer received a telegram from Elberfeld. The city of Elberfeld has informed him that the Wupperthal singing group will serenade him, because he is performing my little piece. My hometown people really like me! And a deputation of dyers, button-makers, and two hundred weavers will make the presentation of an album of photographs of the mountains to the director. I am raving mad for director Wauer.
Dear both of you!
How does Richard Weiss in Vienna know about the production of my play? He sent me roses today. I'd like to see him once more. In his writings all of his poems are printed, some are bent trees, but fine domed structures also rise on the banks. Yes, his writing has banks and rivers, sacred waves, like fragrant prayers. His writing is fragrant. Someone revealed to me that he is thin, has brown hair, and his eyes have a pained look; like me, he parts his hair on one side. When I think about him, I am always very touched: I wished that I were a clown and he a snake, I would teach him to dance.
Dear Herwarth and dear Kurt!
Ah, I had such a strange dream tonight! I lay on a bier in the middle of a square. I lay wrapped in a broad, silent cloth, as though in an ocean -- and was dead. At times you came up to me, Herwarth, and lifted the sea from my face and pointed to my forehead. The number of people who have mocked me equals the number of days I have lived. I began to grow angry because of your naiveté, for I have always hated the curious, impertinent day. But when night came I implored you to bestow upon three princesses my love. You solemnly promised to send me the bracelet of Venus of Siam, that I wore while composing my poems. You repeated to me, with clear voice, to hand my ring, with the evening gleaming on its edge, to the wife of the gentle lawyer, who is always singing about May. You swore to me faithfully that you yourself would place my ruby heart around the neck of Nora of India, the white panther, my true Absalon, my playmate. I wept so wildly, I heard the sea rising around me. And I was afraid that your finger would be caught as it grew over the place, upon which I lay, the clear sign-post which pointed to my forehead. We are always waiting for something -- Zeuxis Kokoschka strolled behind the Dalai-Lama; and Loos, the gorilla-architect, wore on his hands my vaults, which is in keeping with my character, made of Lebanese wood, smooth, but too rich for the vain taste of the people. And war broke out around the house of my body; plaster moulds and carvings are placed on the façade of my temple. But I ccould no longer struggle, I had already turned aside from the diurnal, and played with undifferentiated time. The eyes of the Dalai-Lama, blue, gentle myrrh, embalmed me, Zeuxis painted me finally in death. And you, Herwarth, kissed my forehead, an organ symphony rose up within me; I am incomparable; I always could be only what others see in me, since my forehead was the night sky. You knew it.
I am so looking forward to your antlers! But it occurred to me that you wouldn't easily get away from sledding. And therefore I have made short work of my letters to you. Because of this I have received many inquiries expressing regret; therefore stay there for a while, endure the cold a bit. I shall begin to collect my letters to you, and publish them later under the title, "Heart-letters, the only true manual for writing love letters designed, legally protected." All existing manuals of love-letters provoke nausea and stomach-ache. A manufacturer of porcelain will have to draw the cover for me, a couple between picturesque floral patterns. Oesterheld and Cohn say this is my first reasonable idea, only their reader Knoblauch is shocked by it. But the press has not yet recovered from the flop of my Wupper. And what do you think Ė the miller who mills mills has sent back my manuscript of essays from Munich, "although they are lovely, the public is not interested in the names." But I think that Julius Lieban, Emmy Destinn, Tilla Durieux, William Wauer, Paul Lindau, Friedrich von Schennis, Peter Baum, St. Peter Hille, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Oskar Kokoschka, Dr. Adolf Kerr, Maupassant etc, are not unknown people. Moreover, all of my essays appeared in leading newspapers and magazines, that should be a yardstick for the miller who mills mills. Your bad luck.
Herwarth and Kurt!
Tonight I must tell you something very strange. I just ran into Stefan Georg in the darkness. He wore a black velvet jacket, let his shoulders droop as though weary from the weight of the wing. I screamed very loudly. I had met an archangel, like the one painted in Dürer's picture.
Dear Herwarth and Kurt!
I am tired of the café, but that does not mean that I'm going to say farewell to it for ever, or to go there in some gypsy wagon. On the contrary, I shall continue to spend time there often. All day yesterday the door opened and shut, like a bazaar; not everything is the real thing: imitation poets, false verbal embellishments, simulated thinking, cigarettes smoked as an affection. For a long time now the lawyer no longer comes in. Why is one drawn so to the café! Every evening a corpse is drawn to the upper room; it cannot rest. Why do people really stay in Berlin? In this cold, unpleasant city. Berlin is an irrefutable clock, we know that she, side-by-side with time, is always watching always letting you know where art is on the clock. And I would like to sleep through time. Children, I bore myself terribly, all my loved ones have betrayed me. I feel like an outcast, I enter the forecourt of our café. I can no longer bear the Slav. And the bishop is too valuable to me to play with; if he could bear the game! But who can bear the leaping of the mind and heart! These women who are no ladies have been Minní undoing; I don't know whether he is still here in Berlin. I am withdrawn, like a basement. I am so alone; were I at least lonely, then I could make poetry out of it. I am the last shade of abandonment, nothing comes after. But if only someone would say something sweet to me! Would that I were a bee and could make honey for myself! What good do your dear letters and post-cards do me? I know you and you know me, we can no longer surprise each other, and I can only live on miracles. Invent a miracle, please!
Yesterday evening I was in the Wintergarden with the painter Gangolf. I enjoy going with him to the vaudeville shows. He doesn't mock them, he can stare wide-eyed, like a child. Sometimes a romantic feeling overcomes us -- then he looks furtively at the carnation or rose or dahlia with which my hand is playing. Then I push it, without any reason, into his lap. Our favorites are the two musical clowns, one of whom in the white-face mask of Kubeik, who was supposedly himself hidden behind it. The other, dressed like Rubinstein, played the way he must have played. Yes, yes, one must be a clown to be understood by the public, and -- that's the way to get someplace with them. I have said it to you many times, Herwarth, I shall play Augustus and speak through my nose about my fakir and my Ached-Bey and my poetry. Gangolf was moved by it -- in the evening he showed me, as a distraction, his puppet theater. He has created a city of miniature people. In addition, his paintings were actually created from the variegated blood of colors. I was sorry that he had destroyed his excellent self-portrait, the man behind the window looking out over the towers of the city. The city lost him and he lost the city. Now we intend to go together back to the vaudeville show very often. You don't have anything against that, Herwarth, do you? Best wishes!
Or don't you go skiing? How can I ask such superficial questions, and yet be extremely anxious about where to place my manuscript? I must feed a family, I mean my Paul with all his favorite names). Now he wants a locomotive with four or forty volts of electric power or a 50-horsepower steam engine that needs 100 cubic centimeters every day. I no longer ask him to reduce his demands; he is angry about my ignorance in technical matters. I believe he is Edison, and he is waiting at most only one more month for me to open a shop and sell everything a penny cheaper. Perhaps he is right, he also rejects my books, and I have copied my play from Schiller. If you could only see his model for his new airplane, he is contantly talking about propellers to me. Tomorrow I must know everything by heart. What I have given birth to !! Where now can I place my manuscript quickly? Make inquiries about a young, courageous Norwegian publisher. This afternoon Paul goes out with big Caro, both of them are engaged.
I visited Mrs. Franziska Schultz. Her orphanage for new-born babies is so Easter-like. Nothing but little pinkish-red sugar Easter-eggs side-by-side peek out, hidden on white pillows.
It's so charming to see, and a black chick also lay among them Ė a good example of black and white art. I wish that I also were still small. Sometimes I really wish that someone would take me out for a walk and I was only four years old. Time is pressing, time is deadly. Therefore one should go back into childhood.
This evening I would like to say to you only: Berlin is a small city, every day it shrinks more and more. A city is big only if it offers a wide perspective. Berlin has only a peephole, a bottleneck, and generally it is corked up, even imagination suffocates.
I am beside myself, Peter Baum, whom I made famous in The Storm, writes the following picture post-card to me, word-for-word: "Dear Tino, although I find that everything suits you, yet everything does not suit me. I must insist finally that my family be left out of this entire matter. I read the low-German letter in The Storm. Warmest greetings from Hiddensee. Peter Baum."
Do you have the words -- perhaps in some kind of North-Pole-language? I need them to calm my anger. But I know something you don't know. But I have sworn not to repeat it, in spite of how it affects me personally. Why does someone actually defend himself, one should not be suspicious of oneself. It makes me unhappy that I may not say it to anyone. If only some creature would force me to do so. Or at least Peter Baum would come here and I might shout it into the night. Aren't you curious?
My oath became a compulsive idea, or, even better, I could not repress it. Damned Cajus-Majus came up to me today in the hospital market, where Krögel is, and said that I seemed to be suffering from depression. His mother, however (Dr. Hiller has a very young, charming mother), found that I seemed very cheerful. "That I certainly am, I am happy, and can't say why to anyone. A week ago my cousin Therese sent me from Zoo street 200 marks. But I can't buy a hooded coat for myself!" Mother and son promised me not to repeat it to anyone. Relieved then, I sat down on the banks of the Spree, with the rest of the 200 marks. All these practical, unnecessary items, which I have paid for with my millions -- at least I would still own the hooded coat. Wouldn't people pay tribute to me? Krögel is a fitting place, Krögel is the most beautiful spot in Berlin; that's the way I think of the fjords in Norway, like the view of the Spree suddenly, unexpectedly lying there, then dropping off into narrow, old lanes. Only flags blow over the shores of the fjords -- here the small blue and white striped ice-cream trucks, which carry frozen raspberry and woodruff juice for poor children. If you see a rose, say hello to it for me.
Why don't I tell you more about the bishop? He says that I am always speaking about myself. I believe he is fed up. And yet he discovered only a small town in me,He didnít even conquer one of my cities. He ended up a hundred thousand miles from Baghdad. But who knows about my heart? Everything always only on the map. I lie between ocean and desert, a mammoth. My structure is terrifying and impressive. Please donít be frightened. But I must really try to stop talking about myself, like Kokoschka in Vienna, who never speaks about himself. Just think, Herwarth, the poster for the New Secession was in the café. That is Pechstein's wife. She is really Indian, the wonderfully beautiful daughter of the red vulture; she is picturesquely ferocious, she wore a purple gown with yellow fringes. And many painters were in the café today: Bernais, Ali Hubert, the sky-painter, and Fritz Lederer. He is Rübezahl's son. He and his brand-new wife showed me their new place; I had to drink tea with them. Through the cracks of the door of his studio the cold is always blowing. He paints only snow-pictures. You could make snowballs from the snow which lies on the huge mountains of his Bohemian homeland. I drink tea there every evening now.
Walden-Niemann. Norway. Hotel Sea-dog. Hiller, Kurtz, Hoddis have again reached a reconciliation. Else.
I entered the café and scarcely could believe my eyes, everyone was seated together, reconciled again. Blass was also with them, and Golo Ganges. I quickly sneaked by the assembled literati. Rudi Kurtz spoke of the wild myth of my Wupper, What ever made me curse him! Everything is finished! Let someone say something nasty about him. Addio!
Today is St. Peter Hilles name-day. A stranger asked me what St. Peter Hille had been like. The questioner was an astronomer and he made the true, shining picture of him. Why I do not make a pilgrimage on his name-day to his grave -- had I been Mary or Magdalene -- but between us even the intimacy of tears did not exist. I wait respectfully until the prophet appears to me. Just as I wait, as the astronomer said, for the heavenly apparition, so do they wait for the comet. But you didn't know, Herwarth, that St. Peter Hille once met an angel in the field? As he told it to me, his brown eyes became blue, and a blind man, who was listening to our conversation ecstatically confided to me later that he had been able to see while the prophet was telling the story of the angel. It would really be worth something to me if he could hear the melody which you consecrated to his poem; he might have been pleased; and my bible, the book of Peter-Hille, he might have carried always in the big pocket of his coat, and looked up whatever he might have forgotten about himself. Sometimes he really forgot that he was a prophet. We must build for St. Peter Hille a temple in which to think about him; whose heart would be mighty enough to devote himself entirely to him? Your temple-builderess. Greetings, little Kurt.
The Secessionist-painter Hernstein really believes that he is the bishop. I am myself guilty of having always called him the distinguished Jewish cardinal. In addition, he finds that my correspondence is losing its verve, that it is no longer funny. Yet now I know something funny again. The "real bishop" asked me whether he might introduce his girl friend to me. When my inquiries about her financial situation were unappreciated, I replied to my bishop that I could not grant him this luxury. Iím really making a sacrifice, my friend, since his giggling blond thinks that I am a rascal, but I cannot meet everybody gratis in my unfortunate financial circumstances. Isn't that enough to make you laugh?
Rudolf Kurz wrote a letter in the style of Kleist's time to me this morning. But his lines reveal to me clearly a dissatisfaction, and that is the reason I sent you, somewhat circuitously, the telegram about the Hiller-Hoddis-Kurtz etc. alliance. And for this reason it was kept short, in his own compact style of writing. His last essay (I think in The Present) was, in content, an intellectual book, exactly two pages long. But because I did this, the reconciliation-telegram was all the more pleasing to Max Fröhlich, dear friends bundled in your fur coats. He paints the way I make poems. For this I love him beyond words, my love also includes his wife, who is a sculptress, did you know that? Oh, his is such a brilliant variety of colors on the bright walls! To think about line there is like trying to trace the outline of solar spots. The radiant imagination of his art casts a range of interacting colors. Kete Parsenow, the Venus of Siam, lies on silk background, a jewel encased in the golden case of the frame!
Do you know who suddenly came into the room when Gertrude Barrison was dancing? Minn! But he understands Eastern dance in a way that I donít; I make an exception only of Gertrude. The last beauty of Barrison's dancers moves in an interesting and graceful manner, and her garments are silken secrets of the white-wigged days of the age of the Marquis. All of the on-lookers were charmed.
Today I ran into the bishop on the Spree bridge. I was very pleased by his sudden appearance; all day I had an incomprehensible fear again, and my heart hardly had a beat. And I even saw colors that were not there. I was glad that the bishop offered no learned method to calm me down. He possesses a gentle will, which he, like you, Herwarth, can cast over me. Indeed he does not understand that a fluttering dove, standing between antediluvian Mammoths, can be frightened. How did my soul manage to reach the state of touching helplessness? That is, I have noticed that even the most callous person is moved by my fear. Now I often pretend to be afraid when I become too difficult for my own self. And yet I must get some return for my hours of suffering. And we climbed up into the bishop's hermit's garret. On the walls dusty ideas hang, melancholy pictures. I sat myself down in a big chair and tried not to be too relaxed yet, and I observed my savior through half-closed eyes. The bishop's features are made of stone with a warm color, his eyes are hard blue, and his brows sometimes are like steel. He began to caress my hand, he knows that I love tenderness, and answered with embarrassed coarseness. "Where are you at the moment?" The bishop asked me. In fact I was sitting at the end of a cracked street in Cairo -- I am four years old -- in a torn smock, a faded fez on my unkempt, shorn head, and my eyes glued together by thousands and thousands of tiny insects. I have so often seen these little troubled children sitting and begging in the ditches of the streets; "sweet bishop, ever since that time I have often felt like the neglected child of a donkey-driver." He gave me a coin, it was really a golden penny, a lucky penny, I let it dance on the palm of his hand; there it became a small, glowing earth-ball, until it fell to the ground. Then we kissed, Herwarth; do you think that's bad? I was terribly sorry about it, thought about the many throbbing homelands in life I had left, all of which wore the color of my love. Everywhere a drop of my blood calls me back. Now, however, in the little hermit's cell, on the top floor, I return to myself, unconstrained, I coalesce radiantly. The bishop, of course, thinks (he sometimes forgets his new rank) that he should be punished for kissing me. He thinks you might bring charges against him, and there is a criminal penalty for doing that, he vigorously emphasized, because he apparently feared my frankness. Can you guess my answer? And what of it -- ! And just think, Herwarth, I have you to thank for my being able to cool off the situation.
Is it only my imagination -- your doctor would like to set a trap for me. And yet I cannot be more candid than in my letters to you and Kurt. But on several occasions an acquaintance of the doctor sat down near my table. That would still not support my suspicion, but the acquaintance looks like a rabbit, and one of his ears is already worn out from eavesdropping. How mysterious it is to be respectfully angry with someone. A dead space lies between us, in which nothing more can bloom, but we offer the piety of our friendship at the gravesite -- sometimes in the shape of multicolored immortals. Can the doctor at sometime have had similar thoughts? No one brings me news of him. It must be like this after death, we have become dependent spirits while still alive. He appears to me often in roles, sometimes as a higher spirit, who says no. As Samuel he frightened me recently on the banks of the Spree, when I was secretly waiting for the bishop. He is slender, his shadow like a cameo, he came upon me suddenly in a dream as one of the kings murdered by Richard. Do I resemble in my being a bloodhound? Now is the winter of my discontent -- I have also gotten through the awful summer.
Dear both of you!
In a restaurant on Friedrichstrasse our doctor sat, Herwarth. I only wanted to use the telephone there, but when I noticed him, I slipped out into the gallery and observed him from my perch. He was alone, otherwise there was only bare tables. Then he began to hum again, in a voice that surged against the columns of the room. I don't understand what still keeps him from giving recitals. He is, of course, no folk-singer, like all the twittering, ornate singers, music-making sylvan leaves. The doctor's voice is still not always even , I can place many of the black pearls in my hand. Wüllner's sounds are all lined up on gold wires, the doctor's oceanic voice should be strung on ropes. His teacher ought to be aware of this. You must disabuse him, Herwarth.
I painted Peter Baum for The Storm. All summer long he has shown no concern for me, he seems no longer like a great prince, but, as I painted him in his depression, as a rabbit. I showed him his picture, but he refused to pay for the plate. Now, with this letter, I turn to his cousin. Please, Herwarth, dot the iís; he is educated, he wrote a mathematical book on births and deaths.
"Honored Sir. Are you the Johannes who is Peter Baum's cousin? I am his friend Amanda and I go to work in the button factory, and am not like those who have gone to the girlsí high school in Elberfeld, and high German makes me scratch my head. You are one of the fashionable people and therefore you boldly spend two Thaler for the sketch of your cousin Peter; otherwise his mug cannot be knocked out. Peter brought you to my attention in the confidence of the lamb-hour, (??) Mr. Johannes. And I send you friendly greetings and content yourself with one less bulldog, and feed your quails with devil's berries (bella donna?), and drink a glass of wine to my health. Your Amanda Wallbrecker, from Elberfeld Green Pump on Klotzbahn ?? 86."
I waited the whole day for the money-order messenger, afraid that he would take the money to your office. You see, I intend to go to the circus, and
a good seat costs three marks; and I want to invite the Slav to go with me, so that he may see that the world has more than cows, for he is obsessed with himself. I am disgusted that people whom I consider to be people are also not people; they strangle love with their ambition. And love, Herwarth, you know what I think of love, if it were a flag I would conquer or die for it. Good night.
Just think, the two thaler arrived, together with a subscription to The Storm. See what a great salesman I am. Hire me, you have never understood business, and I don't want to wait until The Storm has decimated everything. I have written a bit more about his painting to my Peter Baum:
That you are such a dummy, no, I never thought that. How can you write me such a silly post-card from Hiddensee! For that you must be punished. I shall bring all your extravagances and hocus-pocus to the attention of your wonderful family and to the Forward. I shall also expose your fine brother Hugo. you spend the summer and fall in fine hotels, picking people's pockets while I sit here by the empty cooking-pot. Where did you get all that money? Perhaps from your aunt in the waffle-hut, or from the giant-lady? You have squandered the legacy of your great grandfather, the director of the Olympia flea-circus, to buy yourself new trousers or a Shabbas table-cloth. You stand there exactly like a minister, with a long pipe in your puss, in front of the door of your villa, on the penny postcard, and Hugo looks out the window like your vicar. And an Aeolian harp also stands on the roof; who is playing it? Your loyal Amanda.
Caius-Majus said to me that he has invited Willi Himmel from Regensburg to "Gnu." The cabaret-evening is taking place in the café Austria. It would really be nice if Willy Himmel came. He reminds me of the grammar school child whom my oldest sister graciously bequeathed, along with her clothing with their many ribbons, to my second sister, before she retired. He had, like the Regensburg student, big, intelligent eyes, and was no spoil-sport, and he had the exact same name. I went by car to the cabaret, I really feel sick. "Gnu" sounds like kangaroo. But it was interesting there, thousands and thousands of people came, wanting to get in, but there was no more room. I climbed up on the stage and sat on a tall chair. With the huge sapphire on my finger (a very large blue piece of glass) I looked like Leo XXVII. Cajus-Majus thought so also. The poetry reading soon began.
Herwarth, little Kurt!
A Zeppelin again passed over our house. I sat asleep at my writing desk when the earth suddenly rolled up -- a modern thunder-storm, the world collapses, I have no more time to pack my trunk. A crazy mood in the air; the ocean rushes over our roofs and houses -- where has the sky remained, where is the whale up there going so calmly through the tidal clouds. Adieu, adieu, I'm running swiftly down to the fields. Else.
Today only a couple of pieces of news!
First: Dr. Alfred Döblin has set himself up as a birthday-helper and as a general factotum. On his name-plate in Blücher Street 18 Halleschen tower he has had inscribed that he was the chief doctor to Urban. What an advertisement!
Second: Leonhard Frank has again painted a girl with a heavenly blue body, now I really believe in his Satanic power!
Third: Scherl wants to employ me to help with the circulation of Garden Foliage in Tripoli. I would live (??) at Enver Bey's place.
Fourth: The incomparable Baron von Schennis was in the café again yesterday.
Fifth: Poiret has invited all of Berlin's virgins to an audition at Gerson's. They lined up, forming a wall to the left and to the right of the entrance. Between blond and dark women's hair, a vista opened, I saw the model wonder. She was not born in the city, no one knew where she came from.
Sixth: The café and environs, Berlin and its suburbs, sends its greeting to you gulls!
Just imagine, the New Free Press published a warrant-poster for the arrest of Kokoschka; but he continued to work busily, he was always touching when he began to imagine the villa that he would give to his parents. He always ostentatiously filled his belly on idealism. I really feel sorry! for him. Even though he doesnít like me! That's not the way I am! He is supposed to have stolen a model, a wooden little house, at night, between the fifteenth and sixteenth of October. I cut out his picture for you here, it's an amateurish drawing and, to tell the truth, his criminal features have been softened. Has he found a good boarding-house to hide in, one that will take care of him? Rattke, the waiter in the café, at whose place he lived here in Berlin, also hopes that someone is looking after him.
I have sent to the Dalai-Lama in Vienna a manuscript for The Torch. Here is the copy.
Most worthy Dalai-Lama, most honored minister! I would like to tell you something about heaven, which I dedicate to my mother.
One must seek it in oneself, it blooms best of all in people. And one who has found it, a most delicate blue wonder, a blessed upward glance, must nourish his celestial bloom. Miracles proceed from it; countless miracles yield transcendence. If I could always only be at one with myself, I would like to cultivate celestial beds. How one might be reconciled with himself, and self kiss his eternity. Would that I had experienced a person as immutably as I have experienced myself! Two knocks on the door, intimate welcome. My thoughts swirl around me, around all life -- that is the great journey around all the ringing bells of the heart and whispers, over embankments, which joy raised, over sunken depths; and I fall in pits dug by fear -- and finds again and again its heart-prints, the pulse of its blood, until one hears within oneself the first flutter of wings, as one becomes an angel -- and looks down on oneself -- sweet mysticism. And it is an error to call someone who has received heaven's grace a dreamer, because he wandered through eternity and escaped man, but smiled with God: St. Peter Hille. -- What do the wretched people know who never experienced blue at their heartsí goal, or in the course of their dreams in the night. Or those driven from heaven, those who were robbed of blue in their youth. Heaven can no longer find in them light for blossoming.
But the doubter spreads paleness, the cultivation of heaven requires strength. For example, the Nazarene, filled with heaven, he spoke, and glowed sumptuously blue, so that his coming was a miracle, he wandered, eternally blue, over the fields of the land. And Buddha, the Indian king's son, carried heaven's flower within himself, in the fulfillments of blue plenitude. And Goethe and Nietzsche (art is speaking with God) and all those who look upwards are graced by heaven and even Heine convinces me, heaven hung above him, and therefore he carelessly tore into the blue divine tendrils, like a wild child tugging his mother's hair. Hauptmann's face and yours also, Dalai-Lama, produce blue. No one can earn heaven falsely, but many pluck the young, celestial flower in man before it is attached firmly. They are the devils. Their life is without vision, their hearts without breadth. The Nazarene on the cross wanted to give to the devil next to him another gentle cloud, a drop of dew from his heaven. But a deaf and dumb person is easier to convince than someone too dumb to have any belief. He sins against himself. One cannot enter heaven if one does not have it within himself, only the eternal presses forward towards eternity. Heaven doesn't open itself to the heaven-blooming because of his good deeds, nor do his misdeeds damn him to dust. Heaven does not reward or damn. But eternal values determine heaven. It mirrors itself in people, inconceivable, like God himself. Wealthy and thoughtful is the one who carries heaven within himself. The miracles of the prophets, the works of artists, and all enlightenments, as well as the incalculable playfulness in the eye, rise from eternity, the enduring blue of the heart. Sometimes a painful responsibility overcomes me, but one cannot look deeply enough into oneself and look up at heaven.
Divinity in heaven cannot be comprehended, there would soon be nothing left to touch -- eternity cannot be curtailed at all. The divinity of heaven in human beings is genius.
Farewell, very honored minister, my heaven does not make me happy in the earthy sense, I cannot share it. But the deepest memories of my blood play wonderfully and repeatedly in the gleam of my blue. Fata-Morgana. Late amazement, blessed upward glance. Wear the sapphire of my blue evening hours on your thoughtful hand.
Herwarth, little Kurt, comrades, brothers!
Did you read Rudolf Kurz's battle-cry to all heater-directors in Pan? He has unleashed a flood over my dried-up Wupper -- I myself had already given up. But now I also carry at my side my velvet sword, which my Negro Tecofi is wearing as a supernumerary in the theater. Wa kadaba kabinahu hinama raga utu dalik, lia nahu jakra anisa a wahalakujunna!!! Pitter Boom sent me six glasses of honey (Gühler (??) and bee) for his picture. Iíve humming to myself now all day. No one has heard a word from Kokoschka. In general I am tired of life. Ruth suggested that I write to Kokoschka, he has such rich patrons . But I know how they behave and spared them the trouble.
Very honored Mr. Kokoshcka!
Really I should be angry with you, since you didn't make the slightest effort, after having enjoyed the greatest hospitality in our house, to say goodbye. But one cannot be angry with you. I said that yesterday to Mrs. Lasker-Schüler, who lay in bed, very sick. Write her a line, saying that her picture gave you pleasure -- she is such a dear, poor creature and is so crazy about you. things are not going well for her. She turns down every morsel I give her, she is so stubborn. But couldn't you, in a gentle way, get something for her from your friends? I kindly ask that you be discreet, honored Mr. Kokoschka, for you know how sensitive she is. With best wishes, I remain your Jeptha Elfriede Caro.
"Say nothing to me of Rome -- "
The bishop and I have broken up, he maintains that I misused him. How can one misuse someone else? I should very much like to be on good terms again with him, and ask him himself. Herwarth, write something to him! Mr. Architect Gregor Münster, Hildebrandstrasse 11. -- He also wanted to hack at me, I mean in stone al fresco. Perhaps I'll come upon a house someplace. -- Yesterday I sat down at his table, he drank Kümmel and seltzer. I called Otto, who brought me a glass, when I filled it with the strange Syphon, the bishop had to suppress a laugh. But he didn't speak with me. He is a charming teacher. Or he has character; that's what people say when someone keeps his qualities buttoned up within himself. So you can say he is predictable; I'm more aggravating and more difficult. Isnít that more elegant? Or perhaps he only acts that way towards me and follows your tactics, Herwarth, when you play the insulted party. You know, falling out with others is difficult with me. The things one must endure!
Today in the café I was disguised as a bear. An automobile-driver lent me his fur coat. People coming home from the theater were sitting in the back room. At the next table head-teachers were arguing; would that I were still studying Latin today with Professor Cohen. But in the little corner of the sofa Höxter was asleep, let the the fringes of his hair carelessly hanging over his eyes. His old jacket is crumbling, but he wore green silk stockings in patent leather shoes. Next to him Mrs. Spela sat quietly, a secret snail, curled up elegantly. Park atmosphere the color of moonshine. Fritz Lederer-Rübezahl was laughing in the middle of the café, together with his wife, who has a cool, fashionable scent and blue, tulip eyes. And just think, Otto Freundlich is here from Paris because of the New Secession, he entered the café together with Gangolf, who always comes from Italy, whether he arrives from Friedenau or Florence. From time to time I growled at Cajus-Maius from my bear-skin. I also saw Pechstein with his Indian girl, and M. Richter with his Roman girl friend. And many came in and out, finally our dear director Wauer, who recognized me in my get-up, arrived, but I was sweating a whole Wupper.
Say nothing to me of Rome!
Dear Herwarth and little Kurt!
Daniel Jesus, the king of Bohemia, is here; I mean Paul Leppin. He has written a new novel, he dedicated it to me; he even wrote from Prague: "Dear, dear, dear, dear Tino." Oh, what a lovely salutation, a song. I would like to teach many people to sing like that.
Very honored envoy!
I, the poetess of Arabia, princess of Baghdad, granddaughter of the sheik, formerly Jussuf of Egypt, interpreter of ears of corn, corn-manager and favorite of the Pharoah, award the Order of the Elephant with emerald and the black chain with crocodile teeth first-class to the great essayist Rudolf Kurtz.
Cohen is riding, Oesterheld has married a woman, all for my Wupper. At the same time Cohn (Oesterheld would have gladly taken my essays) rejected my new manuscript, saying that he canít buy an apple-white horse to go along with his black one. I stood in front of his garden like a rejected travelling salesman with a sample case under his arm. "One should broil such a fellow alive, or hang him Ö!" -- In any case I sent him in the evening a farewell verse, on which I hope he cut his tongue:
Rider and royal knight,
Bitterly, in the storm, I tear to pieces
in the thorn bush in front of your lattice
Today I received in the first mail a letter from the Mouse-tower in Bingen. An admirer of Peter Baum seems to live there. But that person certainly cannot understand a joke. This inhabitant of the Mouse-tower asks me whether Mr. Peter Baum really is a loafer, but this simply is not congruent with the generosity and aristocratic sensibility of his novels and castle-tales. Because of his appreciative criticism, I answered him: "Sir, I have no doubt that you are located in the Mouse. Didn't you notice that my Norwegian correspondence is a playful collection -- although with serious outpourings, somewhat like The Storm itself. Peter Baum begged me particularly to play the role of loafer in my work, to remain completely unrecognized: I myself, sir, tied a red-patterned handkerchief around his neck, and stuck a brandy-flask in his opened coat-pocket. In real life he is more boring, it pains me to disillusion you, that is, he sits all day up in his room and works. I despise that in him, as well as his self-sufficiency, but he is a dear, dear, dear, dear person, as is his Mama; but Johann, his cousin, plays the baron on my revolving stage and his profession is: dogcatcher."
Hurrah, dear Herwarth, dear little Kurt!!! Hurrah!
My twin cousins Theresas sent me a fur coat. My most fervent wish. In the summer I am going to pawn it, simply because of the Huegue-moths.
Jakob van Hoddis, the raven, has run off with a dame. During the summer he always sat on the ledge of the front window of Friedlander's, 21 Potsdamerstrasse, hungering, among the towering hats and rose bonnets, for the sweet little Marquises in their little peacock slippers. A soul that was for sale for 60 marks.
I believe that I can write no more letters to you. When I sat down outside in front of the café today, a perfect stranger in a threatening coat pounced on me, came up very close to me, nearly knocking over the chairs at my table with his wild gyrations. I heard the man breathing like Karl von Moor: he said that I was a incredible swindler of a woman, that I gave false testimony about myself, that I was blasphemous in My Heart -- for among the many, many love letters in The Storm I was only hiding what was not written. I was too tolerant to tell the man to leave my table, I let him get a lemonade and placed a cream puff from the dish on his plate. He calmed down but I did not, you two can bet on that, you cool Skagarakten characters. I suddenly hate you, dear, good Herwarth, and you, little Kurt, and all the people in the café as well, and the many people worthy of love and hate in the world. Don't all of you stand like a living wall between them and me. And I also hate the perfect stranger, to whom I dictated my "unwritten" love letter, until it became singed under his trembling hand.
Today the bishop came by my place; we whisper more gently each time we meet. My heart is so sensitive, I hear with my heart and quiet speech is so good for us. He sat in my camping-place (you Herwarth, I have put up a tent exactly in the middle of the room) and played with his shell-pencil; I used my huge diamond to draw the moon until it floated away -- like this: Between the white night of the paper, all alone, without a star or earth. How frightfully one can draw, but I asked the bishop to use his roaring pencil to place an ocean under the moon. But that's the way it is with me with noses which I draw, or mouths, or half faces, I must complete them, so that they make sense, so they are not without a meaning, and the heart so seldom loves until the end. Herwarth, you too must learn to whisper, one hears the world's echo very clearly. When the bishop and I whisper, the walls grow quiet and the furniture more bearable, its colors mild. And the mirrors of the cupboards are brooks, and our love is a little home or a cricket, a dandelion, out of which children make chains.
Today I received a postcard from Rheingold in Berlin:
Dear, best Mrs. L.-Sch.!
We all miss you!!! Loos.
Dear, unknown lady!
Mr. Loos has heaped such praise upon you that I almost fear to make your acquaintance. No poetess in all of Germany writes verse equal to that of Mrs. L.-Sch., that is the least of what he says, and then he recites the Tibet-tapestry from morning until evening. But we hope that you are what he says you are. And someday we shall meet. Greetings from Karin Michaelis, Arnold Schönberg. Webern. Best wishes, Ludwig Kainer. Ada and Emil Nolde. Little Kurt. Best wishes, Albert Ehrenstein. Herwarth Walden. Döblin Ė as always. Erna Reiss. Gustav Wallascheck. Hede von Trapp. William Wauer. Lene Kainer.
Now when you are both again in Berlin; I completely forgot, have my letters sent back from Norway. Else.
The Dalai Lama thinks that some of my models are not sufficiently challenging for my art. I can interpret the minister's words in no other way. But all that matters is what I make of the models. Beyond that I have nothing to do with them. And I shall sell my poetry later, to sell my soul to a publisher, and, nevertheless, the Dalai-Lama has opened my eyes; since that time I have felt that to be a poetess is to be a pawn-broker; I always, almost without exception, overestimate people. O these losses!
Please make the announcement in The Storm that all members of our communal café who so wish may choose not to be mentioned in letters to you. I grant them free withdrawal.
Dear Herwarth and dear Kurt!
Sometimes Cajus-Majus on the telephone seems like a trumpeting angel, particularly at blabbing hour in the twilight. He sits with two wings at his writing-table, while everything flies in his window, as though from the literary land of milk and honey. When he is writing an extraordinary comic poem, I interrupt him with my damned ringing. To do that, I still wear a little bell around my neck. Sometimes I can really be a sheep. Why do I need to ask him whether people like my Norwegian letters? He will always know someone who finds something wrong. Yesterday your frowning doctor complained about his incident in my letters to you. I am flabbergasted by that. Furthermore, a great grandson of Bach wants to take his own life (that's what he promised Cajus-Majus) in case I mentioned him in my correspondence. A pity, he has a rosy, glorious smile. He will throw himself into the waves of the holy Franziskus, because a poetess bravely brought him a serenade in the middle of The Storm.
Yesterday he himself threatened me. Is my answer litigation-proof?
You want to take your life in case I mention you in The Storm, or do you plan to suggest it to me indirectly? Especially since you may assume that I am not sentimental, I let everyone follow his own inclinations, in fact the life of such a person doesn't much matter to me. But until now there never was a question of using you as a model either for a portrait or for a caricature. Indeed I have in the past succeeded in creating a word out of a prudish cipher. But be patient, have courage. Deepest respects.
Loos is no ordinary gorilla, he is a royal gorilla. He asked me whether he would once again find himself in The Storm? Did you know that he wears, for the time being, mutton chops on his cheeks, that has a mollifying effect, improving the pure features of his face. Most men wear branching beards to indicate their manliness, or to obscure their broad mouths or long chins. Adolf Loos told me stories from the African forests, his eyes shone with earnest gracefulness. O, he is kind, and that is a divine quality, the highest thing one can say about a person.
I have answered Karin Michaelis:
First I cast a little star into the K of your first name and greet you! Your books are variegated doves, white, blue, but also red, demonic doves, and golden and silver whirlwind doves are among them. For this reason I do not place your books in the cage of a book case. Tino of Bagdad.
You can publish the following in The Storm:
Under the blind cover of Heinrich Mann the abbé Max Oppenheimer delivered the blood of Kokoschka to Munich's critics.
Abbé painter Oppenheimer must have received my lines today:
Dear Max Oppenheimer!
Unlike the narrow-minded general public, I have always taken pleasure in your ostentatious clothing. It shows not only courage but also good taste. I went very eagerly with you to Munich to your exhibition, but your pictures were not hanging on the walls, but only those of Oskar Kokoschka. And you had to take me, of all people, who knows your original, there with you. Did you consider me so uncritical -- do you belong to the group of people who are accustomed to take on the gestures of a second person, with whom you are in love? You are, I assume, in love with Kokokschka and your pictures are plucked works, for that reason the lack roots. And yet you possess your own garden. The picture of Heinrich Mann gave me exceptional pleasure. like a shining copy, and I saw in its colors and rhythms the painter Oaskar Kokoschka, not you. Is there something of Max Oppenheimer in Kokoschka's pictures? In the old museums people actually copy the old masters, but do not put their names at the bottom. Kokoschka is an old master, born later, a terrifying wonder. And I make no allowances in matters of eternity, you should also be more pious in respect to time. Otherwise I am, as always, trust me, well disposed towards you, Max Oppenheimer, dear abbé.
7 december 1911 Else Lasker-Schüler
Who doubts his originality? He gladly assumes his original shape as a coarse angel. Today I went, together with my maid, through Freidrichsruherpeterbaum Street in Halensee along the railway tracks. My maid is my half-price Sunday-gallery public. Walking alongside her, I can never really enjoy my thoughts, nor sink into despair about them, she always drives out my inspirations. But she only acts that way, in reality everything bores her, but she has grown accustomed to the rhythm of the railroad tracks of my language, even with its difficulties; sometimes she is derailed, but she always gets past me to her treasure. I like very much to look at some people as the divine works of ancient domes and temples. "Only St. Peter Hille could not be looked at, he was invisible, he was a sun who did the looking." My narration is straightforward, I spoke as though to a child, and yet since then I have felt embarrassment in the presence of the creature, just the way I felt ashamed in school of my most beautiful gifts; the world is filled with servant girls and slaves (of poor and rich, of the trained and the ignorant); the German always confuses coarseness with originality; and yet a potato tuber would understand me better than a coarse person. I hate love among ordinary people, if the prophet were still alive, I would write him a pastoral letter, that he forbid love. St. Peter Hille was an aesthete. Tristan and Isolde needed to love each other, Carmen and Escamillo, Ratcliff and Mary, Sappho and Aprhrodite, the moor of Venice and Desdemona, Willhelm von Kevlaar, you, Herwarth, and Gretchen, Romeo and Juliet, Faust and Margaret, Mephisto and the Venus of Siam, the white panther and Joseph of Egypt, Sascha the imprisoned prince and Sheherezade -- "he" named me Sheherezade. Good night.
Today the sculptor Georg Koch visited me and brought me chocolate bonbons. I ate up all the sweet things with Marzipan and sugar fillings, one after another. They were wrapped in silver-green paper with gold stars. I played the whole night with them; first I put on a coat made out of the enchanted fairy-tale radiance, then my feet stood in silver-green shoes with stars, a crown glowed in my hair, I sat suddenly in a circus with Lorchen Hundertmarck, who was allowed to accompany me Ė the little daughter of the coachman -- her father drives the carriages of my beloved aunt Johanna. Lorchen and I are both ten years old and yearn secretly for Joy Hodgini; she is the coach
This evening I had another crazy dream, I was strolling across the Kurfürsterdam, dressed like a tramp, in tattered pants and worn-out skirt, thinking only dull thoughts, and I was also tipsy -- out of sadness. -- The wind was howling against my red nose. But youíve seen this before in me, but not as bad -- when you had gone on a trip and returned, and found me up here in Henriettaplatz, as if I were homeless. This time, in the dream, Kete Parsenow, the Venus of Siam, came up to me. After searching for some words, she grasped me by the elbow with her ivory hands, but with the energy of a policeman -- "Tino!"
Herwarth, little Kurt!
I always forget his name -- he is from the Tirolian area of Saxony, he wrote a book about painted terra cotta pots, the future director of the museum here. I don't know anything more about him. Incidentally, he owns his own furniture, inherited from his great aunt; and he has hanging on the tapestry a country cousin of the Mona Lisa, the painting he also inherited from his arch-aunt Isabella.
Why do you never ask me what I meant by the mysterious, "Don't tell me about Rome?" I wanted, you see, to open a fortune-telling salon called "Don't tell me about Rome" -- but since both of you have passed over it in silence, how could strangers be taken in? I'd do better as a peddler.
Just think, Herwarth, our Rosa just came and gave me notice; must I now leave the house or she? She secretly subscribed to The Storm via Leipzig, and took personally the account of the walk with me through Friedrichsruher-peter-baum-street. Her sense of honor has been attacked; she feels hurt, I must now clean my house myself or not clean it. I have become dust among dust. Her Fritz would not now marry her, what do you think if I promise her to hold the marriage ceremony at our place?
Dear both of you!
Peter Baum seems in bad shape, he longs for Elberfeld, he even thinks of his wet-nurse with great affection. Her carries her on his watch chain in a heart-envelope. She nursed his ancestors, and comes from Remscheid. She was the one who really started him on verse, right?
I have printed, once and for all, in hieroglyphic writing, an answer to the many letters I receive, for each letter, from whomever it may come. "Go take a flying leap!" What will Richard Weiss and Paul Leppin in Prague, both of them, whom I like so much, say to this discourtesy! Such a discourtesy can really become a compulsion, it then takes the shape of an enemy that clearly creates enemies. Suppose that the Venus of Siam writes a letter to me and I send an answer back to her in hieroglyphics. Or Ramsenith? Do you know who Ramsenith is -- he has been living in Munich since the Testament and wears a pyramid on his head and is lovely, his eyes reach into heaven. He is the only person who can prove historically that I am Jussuf the Egyptian, for I lived at his court.
My heart is very sick, or does it feel excessively large? If it spills over, one always has a bit of a tendency to think that one is sick. That is picked up from doctors. Herwarth, yesterday evening my heart was granite red, I could hear, taste the color in my mouth. My heart was the sunset, and sank. Outdoors, in this dismal winter-time, this cannot happen; I died of sunset. Can you understand, could anyone ever understand, when I spoke of the stars as though they were my brothers, accompanied through the clouds the moon, a jolly, disarming gentleman, Berncastle Doktor, old Valerian noble vintage. O, I am not joking, I do not wish to amuse you and you, but to rescue myself continually with Til Eulenspiegel's games. I would have become a clown, Herwarth, if it would not have offended you.
Dear Herwarth, I am very sad, I hear weeping all day long in the city. Ė But as I turned around, it was me. I weep, Herwarth, because someone is angry at me.
I am deeply moved, my soul has dissolved, emerald and ruby and sapphire flow over it, as well as moonstone, like multi-colored springs. And I always speak two words, the title of my singed, "unwritten" love-letter, which was addressed to Sascha at Saint Petersburg citadel:
Heavenly king's son --
I no longer have a secret, my heart cannot keep it, my heart lies open to the world. Oceans come and pour their secrets onto the land, it awakens at daybreak and dies at sunset. But my heart is always made of silk, I can close it like a case. Do you know a secret, or ask little Kurt, that would be worthy of my discretion?
Dear Herwarth, dear little Kurt!
Did I really mix up the letters yesterday, sending Peter Baum's letter to you, and your letter to Peter Baum? Or did the post office play a trick, the postal clerk with the goatee always looks at me like a faun.
When you receive this letter I shall have killed myself, but you need not concern yourself with it. Peter, this time I really have fallen head over heels in love, guess with whom! You no longer believe me, Peter, but it is really true, and I can no longer go to work in the factory. Peter Baum, in the morning the boss dismissed me, because I was always gazing into the air, like a pigeon in the pigeon-coop, or sewing the buttons onto the wrong side.
And I can no longer eat, and I always hide my heart's painful love in my checkered pillow; or I look at the pictures on the walls, our picture, where we were confirmed, among the rich children. Do you still remember it? How you have changed, Peter, and I too, in times of joy and sorrow we have always remained faithful to one another, and you know quite well that I always came honestly to you, confessing everything to you. "Work makes life sweet," Pastor Krummacher once wrote in your poetry album, and he had harsh words for me, because I always laughed under my desk during confirmation class. For you thatís all gone now, but I am no longer laughing, now I always want to weep when I think of him. Do you know "Him?" You know him! Guess! "Him" and donít tattle to Herwarth, Pitter, and greetings
from your friend, Amanda
Unhappy Herwarth, Peter has also sent back the letter that I wrote to you. Dear, good Herwarth, remain calm and in good cheer up there on the ice. You will come back home all the more refreshed. But you know me, you cannot rest easy, in any event, I am home all day long and I'm decorating the Xmas tree and in the evening I light the candles and sing songs, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes in the depths of despair. I am wildly happy. From that you can see how loyal I am to you. Say hello to little Kurt, our angel.
So that you know, today I ran, like a school-child, to Jeptha-Elfriede -- I wanted to unburden my heart to a "woman." But she no longer believes me, not until I come to her four weeks from now with the same feeling for "him." Please mark the date, you and little Kurt, it was yesterday, December 19. I am totally convinced that my heart is not betraying me, I can rely basically on my heart, but if it deserts me, then I shall become shallow.
I have written to Tristan: Sweet Tristan, at night all my ancestors gather in my tent, Califs and Dervishes and Pashas in lofty turbans. And also a Chief, who taught me how to dance over the bodies of unbelievers, and is now threatening me with the anger of Allah. Tristan, you are an unbeliever, but I love you Tristan, and with the gold of your hair I dazzle the eye of the lord in the Koran. And my palaces and my herds of dromedaries I give to you, they will bow down, shaggy slaves, before you, when you wish to mount them. And you will wear around your neck the strings of my wild blue pearls, and take my ring with the pearl of the Flood. And I give you my heart, you can take it in your hand and play with it. The burning thorn-bush of the sacred mountain and the night and its unspeakable stars are reflected in it. I love you, Tristan.
Tino of Baghdad
Dear Herwarth and dear little Kurt!
Your card showed me that a card can smile ironically, a certain fatherly gaze emanates from the serene, temperate letters, as if they were the hairs of an old man. You must have written it together, right? Serenity must be extremely difficult, at least for me. Your handwriting, Herwarth, is normally a symphonic concert or a pantomime, and little Kurt offers a self-portrait, each hair-stroke of his lines reveals himself. More than anything, I find you both so impudent, to behave so patronizingly towards my confession.
Tristan too will not believe me that I love him, but he was very gentle when we met; we went hand-in-hand, and he told me the story of the wolf, without knowing that the story is an actual event. I myself was the boy who cried breathlessly through the city, "The wolf is here, the wolf is here!" And twice I howled to the people, roused fear in them, and when the wolf really did break out of a zoo, no one would believe me. "He" also will not believe me that I love him, and I shall be devoured by sorrow, and certainly the whole city as well.
Please have these poems printed in The Storm, they are to Tristan -- perhaps he will believe then -- we cannot lie in a poem.
When we look at each other
Our eyes bloom.
And how astonished we are
At the sight of our miracles Ė isnít that so?
And everything becomes so sweet.
We are framed by the stars
and we flee the world.
I believe we are angels.
The stars in the night
Settle on your blue soul.
We must be quiet with you,
O you, my temple,
My prayers frighten you;
My pearls awaken
From my sacred dance.
There is no day and no star,
I no longer know the world,
Only you -- everything is sky.
The sun is no more,
But your face shines.
And the night without miracle,
You are my slumber.
Your eye flashes like a shooting star --
I always desire something for myself.
Your laughter is pure gold,
My heart is dancing in the sky.
If a cloud comes --
I can no longer sleep,
You constantly sprinkle gold over me.
And my ear is a bell.
In whom do you confide?
The bushes in the sky gloom
As brightly as you.
Angels gather your smile
And give it to children.
They play with it as though it were the sun,
Tristan has told me that he has a girl friend, I shall speak no more about him --
And now I frequently go into the city alone, travel with all the moles in the subway. My skin color is now like earth. I must look bad. That somebody said to me that it was just hypochondria! But then it occurs to me that itís normal for one person to ask another, "how are you?" But I am always looking, like a hypochondriac, for earth-colored lines in my face when we pass the Knie-Görlitzer station. But people by nature have such calcified faces, eggs; at best, Easter eggs; I am always glad to find a laughing poster in the lower entrance of the elevated train. The wild little rascal drawn by his father, Ludwig Kainer, I recognized it immediately, in the morning, bravely riding astride the large hand of his servant girl, it laughs at me from the newspaper, as though coming out of a stable. I would like to bring to the least of the Secessionist-painters a green little dwarf horse, it would have to be like a tree, so green and sparkling, that would be the jolliest thing that I could imagine. For a long time now nature has been growing on the asphalt table of the city; the strong, hard heart of Berlin is moving. The fragrance of fir trees colors the blood in the veins and faces seem fresher. But what has that to do with me. I am no longer interested in the fate of this world, I still dream only of the poorest trinkets, glass balls in all the gentlest colors, many formed like little altars, hidden in their niche, gleaming flowers of Mary glow. I believe that I already detect the glassy flowers in my breast. This revelation! And I am not even a Christian; how could I become a Christian? That would mean to disown one's own blood. This recognition should be the proudest wealth of Jehovah's people.
Gulliver built a city here; he is, after all, the architect; Adolf Loos told that to me. Thousands of dwarves, big as matchsticks, tramp through the streets, across the marketplace of Midget-town. There were five of us giants and we were very ashamed of our size -- and we moved cautiously, bent over. And still we had bad luck; one of us, the actor Murnau, crushed a dwarf. Did you read about it? And Peter Baum, absorbed in thought, put a fireman, ten centimeters tall, in his pocket. The place is just filled with detectives and policemen running around. Cajus-Majus, that is, Dr. Hiller, looked like a good-natured cannibal, with his round belly. And Hans Ehrenbaum-Tegele invited the dwarves to drink from the New Yearís eve punch bowl; I believe he wants to pour them into it.
Herwarth and little Kurt!
You know Chamay Pinsky, of course, he has gone with Beate to Jerusalem, to leaven the land. The rascal! He certainly knows that promised people belong to a promised land. And not Jewish bourgeois, who move from Berlin-Posen to the land of kings; their piety consists of crumbling matzos, strong meat soup. For forty years Moses taught his people the freedom of the desert, and the roar of the jackal, and to read the law from the divine countenance before he led them through Jerusalem's gate.
I think much about religion now, but a world is a part of religion: to be alone. It is not an idyll in a quiet house,. I was destined to perform temple-duty, I would have plucked saints from the banks of gentle streams. And I would have kept the light of the soul blue.
I also place pious images among the stars that hover above the holiest of the holy, and I always would have known how to kneel before God, so that he would not unleash his rage. I say tu to God, and the others say tu.
Dear Herwarth and dear little Kurt!
My religious feeling must have a reason. Do you think that remorse is bothering me? Sin has appeared to me, you think, with purgatory in its hand, or the snake has finally won influence over me. The devil! You believe that I might build a religious feeling on posts set up in the Flood? I have faith both in my good and in my bad behavior. I am aware of no sin, though I often reach out for them, like candy, I have never noticed myself doing that. I live life like a picture, in which I am always present. Sometimes the picture is hung to my disadvantage, or something moves in my setting, or I am not pleased with the frame. Frames are restrictions, non-art, borders, which no god, but a dilettante-God lays out. Round frames still have something circular, but the four-cornered ones, which are now the fashion, have, in such a completely human way, stepped out of the universe. Thus I look out of the picture at life; which of them do I take more seriously? Both. In life I perish, and in the picture breathe again. Hurrah!
Suddenly I feel grey, like the day; night is near; should I remain awake or go to sleep. Is it better to live or to miss the chance. Everything should be worth something, even what is not present. I know that somewhere a Hadrian or a Pharoah longs for me. Now is that true or false? But I find that such a thought is rewarding. However, the burger loses nothing by having such a thought, but it might cost me my life. Do you think that my life is exchangeable? Would it pay me to exchange my life? I want you to answer this thought. But I spoke of Hadrian, I spoke of the Egyptian king who wore a pyramid as a crown, we ride together into battle on dromedaries. I rode behind him, up against his back, and my arrows fly past his heart, into the bodies of the enemy. At night he adorns my lips with his kisses.
Karl Kraus, the Dalai Lama, is staying in Vienna, but his marble hand hangs downstairs in your studio. I stand again in front of the black board, upon which it is fastened, reaching downwards, it moved, as though wanting to explain something to me. This hand, the confident hand of a minister, the gentle hand of a diplomat, a flickering hand, which can set fire to a city. My eyes dance a polka around its outline. I would prefer to wrestle with this hand to pass the time of day. Should this fine battle ever stop! During the night I often dream of the battle of our hands, and am surprised that in the morning you always find his still hanging on the board. Recently it has even been smiling. The minister's hand, a serious, Mongolian jackdaw, a hand in which everyone ends his journey. What does he think then about my aimless, playful, bloody hand?
What sort of vain competition is life when compared to ascending toward eternity. I am excited, at times today I already had the feeling I must die. Even if I live in a picture, am the picture, my growing eclipse in your eyes has been causing me great pain now for sometime. We can scarcely see each other, Herwarth, all the people who want to bring us together again are no more than retouchers, or paint-restorers, they want to freshen us up, to smear false, forced colors over the genuine colors. Forgery! Fake resurrection! Instead, one should embalm people over whom night falls. Today there was a knocking at my door several times, something terrible is happening in the world, pure counterfeit, for such things people spend their money. I tell you this, I wish I owned a bridge, everyone would have to pay me a toll -- bridge-toll. Because I am dead, I have decided at least to become rich.
First, I am sending you another poem for The Storm. I am wildly in love with someone, but I am saying nothing more. As a result, the poem can be addressed to you.
You are everything that is made out of gold
In the great world.
I seek your stars
And don't want to sleep.
We shall lie down behind hedges
never to arise.
Out of our hands
sweet reveries kiss.
My heart fetches
roses from your mouth.
My eyes worship you,
you try to catch their butterflies.
What should I do,
if you are not there.
From my lids
black snow drops;
When I am dead,
play with my soul.
I have sent Ludwig Ullman the poem: "To Someone" -- for his leaflet:
Dear Ludwig Ullmann!
It was night when your letter arrived, I had just hanged myself, only in the morning I could not find the tree again. Whether that will help your leaflet I cannot judge. For I am still very upset by the hanging and by everything else. Cheer people up for me, I can't. Berlin is also so boring, neither living nor dying is of any interest, as far as I can tell. Your postcard was refreshing, written in such a lively way; your writing is like well-water, undiluted. You should always write about forests, that would be your strength. In any case, come with me to the Prater when I come to Vienna. Your E.L.Sch.
I intend to become reigning prince. Wouldn't everyone have to pay me tribute? Yesterday I wrote, unfortunately to no avail, to medical doctor F.:
You have correctly sensed that I am the Prince of Thebes. You want to present me with a blade as a gift. I ask you to enclose two hundred pieces of silver, that is, two hundred German marks, so that I can pay your servant the reward that is owed to him.
Could I have shown greater respect to his master? I had confidence that this doctor would treat my letter respectfully, he is a kidney specialist, has something of the Bohemian about him, and specializes in floating kidneys.
Just now a woman came from Prague, asking me to speak to her group. Since I write so much gratis, I must now double my price for speaking. Willy Haas sent her to my place from Prague. I asked for a thousand marks; two hundred marks for my love poems in particular. The woman was shocked, but she will speak to her group about my price. I was also expressly pompous, wearing my royal cloak sometimes over my shoulders in folds, in crazy folds. In any event, I no longer speak without being paid, only conjunctions; would that I might find one that would bind me together.
Ludwig Kainer wants to illustrate my calif-stories. I cannot invite him to my place, letters to you in Norway, a foot high, lie all over the place. But my distinguished illustrator is going to Munich, I too am going for a few days; by the way, my friend Antoni, the prince of Poland, wrote from Munich, saying that yesterday my spirit appeared to everyone in the café Bauer in Galla. I was always curious to get acquainted with my spirit, my astral body, it must be rich, I shall put the touch on it.
"Prince of Thebes," the painter Schmidt-Rotluff wrote to me, "I want to paint you with your black servant Ossmann." I wish he would paint me right in the middle of his manuscript. Nothing but snake grottoes, jungle vegetation, palm trees, the bodies of apes as big as people. One cannot see through his handwriting into the distance, one remains rooted in the writing. He and Richard Dehmel drink out of the same dark springs. I shall tell him stories of my life. But you know that my jungle ancestor is the only person who does not descend from apes. I still have our genealogical tree in bloom. You won't believe it, but the painter with the terrifying handwriting will believe me, that I am descended from the pineapple. O, this intoxicating, wild head of fruit, decorated with a chief's leaf! I have never eaten one, not once nibbled at it, because of my piety, and yet I could devour my vegetable ancestry, like a cannibal.
Do you already know that Ludwig Cranach has painted the Venus of Siam as Kete Parsenow. Then I am not alone in knowing that Kete Parsenow is Venus, the true Venus. I saw Venus smile, I looked at myself in the mirror of Venus' tears, I saw Venus dance, I saw Venus die. I, I, I, I can scarcely touch me any more I am so sweet.
Little Paul has made up his mind not to go to the movies any more, he could not sleep through the night, someone in the film went crazy and none of his little friends wants to go back there anymore. As a rule he likes to watch disasters. He was still very much excited in the morning, and told me the following: there was a man named Marius, who won a girl friend at a dance, and then the girl friend wrote to Marius that a window shining in the night would show him where she was. In the same house was a hotel, in fact the house was effectively a hotel, in the front was Dr. Russel's madhouse for the mentally ill, Doctor Russel cures people with rays. Mr. Marius got lost in the dark and entered a cell in the madhouse. A mentally ill man suddenly arrives in an automobile, and one of the attendants puts him to sleep with radiation, and he sleeps. Then he awakes and wanted to go out the window, but he sinks down in front of the bed, and Marius suddenly comes in and sees the madman, and, terrified, he wants to run behind the wall, but the sick man grabs him by the throat and almost chokes him to death, but not quite, suddenly an attendant, making his rounds, hears this and opens the door, and suddenly one can see into the room of Dr. Russel, who is sitting on the bed, flirting with Marius' girl friend.
Dear little Kurt!
Tomorrow I'm coming to your office, 45 Potsdamerstrasse with the bill for the negative of your picture -- I hope you feel that it looks like you.
Negative six marks. 22 marks for the car to get the negative from the factory; 53 marks, with tip, for dinner at Kempinski's and for 50 cents of Fachinger (mineral water). At Kranzler's I drank chocolate for 50 cents and ate, for 75 cents, small, stale tortes. Then took a car back to a swank place. (Meinhard played wonderfully.) 30 cloak room, 60 lobby (salmon canapés). Then took an auto, sped off to the café des Westens, to pick up you and Herwarth; didn't find you, finally returned home in the car, but got back too late, had to roust the concierge from his bed, 25 cents. Please count it all up, make no mistakes. You ego needs to be protected, go jump in the lake.
Greetings! Else L.-Sch.
Dear Herwarth, dear little Kurt!
I met Adolf Lantz; he wears, since he became director, a stove-pipe hat, which is smoking. I seldom go to the café these days, I know it by heart by now. It's not too difficult to learn; international cafés are harder to keep in mind. I am chattering again to myself, as though withered). I have surrendered everything to time, like a rash ascetic, now the wind takes with it my last, autumn-colored words. Soon I shall be completely empty, completely white snow that fell in Asia. The earth has never frozen as cold as I am; is there anything else I could die of! I have blown away and disappeared, no one can build a temple out of my bones any more. I could scarcely remember myself anymore if the winds did not whistle in my face. O, you world, you labyrinth, I no longer care for your fragrance, which feeds false dreams. You unmasked, frightful world-speaker, I have torn the mask from your face. What business have I to be down here, where no star hangs. I am now entirely dependent on my soul, and have tread upon my shores with fear. So much wilderness! I shall be devoured by myself. I celebrate bloody pagan rites, wear the masks of evil animals, and dance with human bones, with your thighs. I must have patience. I have patience with myself.
Schmidt-Rotluff painted me sitting in a tent. A mandrill who composes battle-songs, Schmidt-Rotluff has painted me as a mandrill, and I descend from the pineapple. You have conquered the ape; but one can in no way escape one's birth.
Am enchanted with my colorful personality, my ancient fearfulness, my dangerousness, but my golden forehead, my golden eyelids, which guide my blue composing. My mouth is as red as berries in a thicket, in my cheeks the sky ornaments itself in a blue dance, but my nose quivers toward the east, a battle-flag, and my chin is a spear, a poisoned spear. Thus I sing my solemn song. O, Herwarth, you cannot understand how it feels at all -- what remains of the ape in you? Herwarth, you need not repeat this, Herwarth I swear to you by the prophet Darwin, I am my only immortal love.
I hear that you are holding a musical performance at Cajus-Maius in the cabaret Gnu. I still don't know whether I can come. The Gnu has had such a big litter and they certainly wonít remain blind to your music. Someone has circulated word that, from the time that you dedicated one of your songs to someone other than me, your music no longer interests me. There is some truth to that. I always believed that you only could bear my luster, that no pale longing inhered in you.
But I am still going to the cabaret of Dr. Hiller, if only to bring pralines to little Martha Felchow. She sits at the entrance between Prolet and Gnu, and still takes tolls.
I hear that Ludwig Hardt has again performed wonderfully in Choralion hall -- he is the only interpreter of Liliencron. Once he gave a Liliencron-evening for me alone, in one of the corners of the café. His performance captured the gentle soul of Liliencron, the steel of his heart. Ludwig Hardt's voice marchs with spurs through the poet's war poems. Ludwig Hardt is a lyrical soldier, he is noble, like Liliencorn. His parents' home, a lioness, is on a gold chain. Today Ludwig Kainer is coming to draw me as the Prince of Thebes for The Storm. My two negroes, Ossman and Tecofi, the chief's son, will receive him in the courtyard of my palace. I am wearing my holiday outfit and my belt of shells, with the Islamic star of the sultan over my heart, and I shall resemble "him."
Dear Herwarth, dear little Kurt!
I intend to arrange a big celebration; my rooms are not big enough, and this morning I went to the new area of the castle of the marquise August Fürst-Foerster, whose Valencienne hand I respectfully kissed. She was her usual supremely graceful self, and, at my request, placed her salon at my disposal. Her hope also to be permitted to appear at my celebration pleased her no end. Then she accompanied me through the rose tapestries of her corridors; "Your highness, marquise" -- Marquise (smiling graciously at me): "Highness" Ö
I have found another drawing of S. Lubinski, which I drew while peering over everybodyís heads in the café, because we had fought earlier. He was a character. The only quality which can create a full character is courage. Thus he was even more than a character, he was a rusty structure.
Here is an open letter I am writing to Paul Cassirer.
It was no surprise to me to admire the works of Oskar Kokoschka in your fine salon. Some of the observers certainly suppressed their smiles, out of respect for you, sir, because of their unshakable belief in you, in your reputation for understanding art, because of your reliable judgement about colors and values and the nature of our time; on the day that you displayed Oskar Kokoschka in your salons you advanced yourself 100 years into the future, since you, as Berlin's leading dealer in art, recognized the eternal value of what he has created. I heard with no less astonishment that you want to arrange in your salons a second exhibition of Kokoschka, that is, of copies of his genius. But why in his own lifetime? Should one dilute pure win just because it gives people with weak constitutions heart palpitations! Or makes them get drunk, or stagger or become animated. I ask you, with all due respect, sir, to cancel this exhibition. Oskar Kokoschka is no one's twin, he doesn't even have a cousin, only a treacherous friend. Sir, I and the true admirers of the paintings of Oskar Kokoschka are counting on you to cancel an exhibition of copies that a certain someone plans to put on in your salons. with the greatest respect and warmest regards, sir.
Oppenheimer also has hangers-on, yes, indeed, hanging on to his watch-chain.
Max Oppenheimer, Abbé!
You want to push me back into the confessional Ö For no one knows as well as I do, that you write out phony checks with the signature of Oskar Kokoschka. Why? Because you yourself know how to paint. (I am writing this to him in the café, he believes that I, the prince of Thebes, am the tool of a faction.)
I wrote to Dr. Hiller:
This afternoon I ate the first-born, certainly not lentils, but thick peas. Crumbs were swimming in it, and the remains of a pig's ear. I'm very swollen, but your face, Cajus, has become as round as the moon. How can you permit yourself to address us, above all me, in your talk as idiots; especially since you know I am an idiot. But you need not remind me of it, that is indelicate, that is outright vulgarity on your part. I shall no longer come to the Gnu. Iíve had enough.
Yesterday my uncle, the southern German minister, went to the Russian ballet with me. Behind us sat striking women from St. Petersburg, between them Mr. Barchan, the sorcerer. Several times at our place he conjured up fresh fish, which he then swallowed live; he had wanted to make you too disappear, do you still remember that? I mean, to deny your existence, but his sleeve was not wide enough. I have been writing Norwegian letters three months now, or longer. Arenít you two going away again soon? Perhaps a second trip, like your trip to the North Pole, will inspire me. I have forgotten how to write in sunlight; my stories of ancestors demand the East. I have also strapped skis onto my narrative style, and have simply swept it away, I didnít care where it was gpoing. Thus I wrote the greatest part of my letters with my big toe; but one can write history only with one's heart; the heart is emperor. With what do I actually write my poems? What do you believe? I write it with my most invisible design, with the hand of my soul, with my wing. Is it there, -- certainly. But clipped by malicious life. (mysticism)
Moreover, I have drawn the director of the Gnu, Cajus-Majius = Dr. Hiller, sitting at the lecture table on the stage. He is speaking about the dappled moon-gnu-calf -- because of the noise I understand only half of what he is saying Ė in his brain -- the bulb is reflected electrically.
O, Herwarth, o, little Kurt!
How the world has changed; in earlier times the night was black, now it is gold-blond.
Dear little Kurt!
Do you already know that one of your clients has bought The Storm, and is having her bedroom papered with your picture! She sings: "I have seen your picture in The Storm!"
Now I understand about art: one must draw the way one performs an operation. Whether one slices off too much or draws a stroke longer is not at all the point! -- and the mass appeal of music has become clear to me. The tongue has the most to do with hearing, it grows, so to speak, towards hearing, it does the tasting; patriotic music pleases it: especially Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, folk songs, stirring songs from operettas; Carmen, brilliant wedding meal; Wagner's holy grail as well is not to be despised. Your music, Herwarth, of dances and swords, spring and shepherds, moon and night and stars, the crowd gobbles up for turtle soup and Indian bird's nest -- I hope!
In the evening I now drink Chambard tea, a drink made out of golden chamomile, bluebell flowers, and rose leaves. I have written the fragrant recipes to Peter Altenberg, for the serialization of his book, Prodromus. I hear he spat on my fine poem, on my old Tibetan tapestry, as a result it can only become more antique and more valuable.
Peter Altenberger, the poet of Austria, hurrah!!!
When I meet Professor Helene Herrmann, I must think of deep clouds; when I think of Julius Hart, I know where I once met angels. Helene Herrmann and Julius Hart are souls intertwined (away with all confetti brains).
Dear Herwarth, dear little Kurt!
I have given away both my rings; I am sorry, but I have had a large, brown glass beetle mounted in brass; it sits on my middle finger as though on a bare branch in autumn, longing for summer and sun, for flowers and silver leaves, and probably for a glowworm.
We are only on the way, life is only a path, has no arrival, for it comes from nowhere. Where should one go? Always to flee into oneself. That is why people are so poor, their hearts offer refuge, they feel secure in their human habitations. Where should one go? My heart has disintegrated; o, this isolation among broken columns! Do you know of a heart bathed in pleasure, even if it is made of marble?
My dear ones!
I have become very curious; I begin to ask whether I am an intellectual or dull? Sometimes I think something that surpasses my limits; I have already surpassed your horizons in thought. But where will I get when I hang over my walls and fences, where land has not separated from sea? Who will be my creator? Shall I love my creator, or
worship him respectfully? When Iím seriously ill, I donít go for a doctor, Herwarth, but an astronomer, an astrologer or a fakir, or, as far as Iím concerned, a juggler would do.The latter can determine how far my astral body is separated from my astral soul more accurately than the most respected professor.
I have composed (not written) my medical work, for which I certainly shall receive a doctoral cap, but may wear it only at Mardi Gras.
I have had an announcement placed in the Berliner Tageblatt, seeking the painter of Simplizissimus, Ludwig Kainer, and his wife, the painter. Both have suddenly disappeared. But sometimes I linger in their apartment. I ask myself whatís going to happen to my various versions of myself?
Does one go to prison for saying "bastard"? Or pay a fine? Or does a swearword, like, for example, "son of a bitch", come under a statute of limitations after two years? I called someone that two years ago; I would like to free myself from this chain. Sometimes I must think of the dreamer New Year's Eve at the café Westens. She knelt before me (a posture which I distinctly dislike), but she knelt in blood, because wine made an island of our table. I was wearing my war-dress and all my daggers, and I was never so distinguished a prince of Thebes as on the threshold between the old and the new year. I had promised the dreamer to speak no more low German in my Norwegian correspondence; but also, basically the colloquial speech between me and Peter Boom is only an expression of brotherhood.
How do you find my likeness on the postage stamp issued by my city of Thebes? I shall love my people until my dying day.
You have no choice, I'm sending this letter to you until you publish it in The Storm. I believe you that printing these lines that come directly from my heart is painful for you, but because I have not learned to control myself, I demand it from you. For my sake you must tame polar bears -- poodles are easier to train; once I said to you that most breeds only bark, groan, or yelp.
I was at Everyman, or is it called All Kinds of things? I believe it is called All Kinds of Things for Everyman or Everyman for All Kinds of Things: Just step right in, gentlemen, to the giant Punch-and-Judy show, in the Berlin puppet-theater. Weíre putting on an evangelical play for "baptized" Jews, very graphic and edifying. All baptized Jews had been at the evangelical show's performance/exhibition and were particularly edified by the blond Germanic angel in blue, with a double chin. On the right a little spot, a little spot on the left, human being or angel, on the Punch-and-Judy wall, and how the conscience began to howl: everyone here, everyone there. Where it came from -- I think out of the stables, Herwarth. No, we would rather go to the Kermess in Cologne-on-the-Rhine, and visit a Cologne puppet theater, and there director Reinhardt should look for naiveté, and not have something manufactured from the Viennese style of Hofmannsthal or have a British evangelical mystery play whitewashed, with the even more terrible, boring, false rhyming of a play doctor. Just imagine, if he had become a sculptor, and had tinkered with the sculpture, replacing both arms of the Venus de Milo! What other literature did he dig up; first the Oedipus of Sophocles, and he fed it with Viennese blood; Electra he made into a demonic "school-mistress". He lacks imagination. People always say, Herwarth, because they become suspicious: "So, haven't you read his poem, "Children with big eyes?" I have even read his "The Fool and Death" and "The Death of Titian"; brilliant poems certainly, but carved in Goethe's granite. If everyman knew what everyman was, etc. -- a blasphemy, a mockery of an ancient piety, of a religious composition. Life and death, sin and punishment, heaven and hell, everything is reduced to showmanship, like elephants and Arabian horses decorated with ribbons and knickknacks, but not like here, for the pleasure of children, but rather for the edification of the rich, pleasure-seeking public, damn it, to make the champagne taste better.
A few days before Christmas director Reinhardt asked for my play, The Wupper. It's been lying in his house not quite two months; my play has life, my creatures want to go on living. Now my play will be a hostage in Reinhardt's hands, he will throw my poetry into the fire, or have his secretary send it back to me with a few comments. All the same, I want to prevent the slightest indications of emotion or sentimentality, Herwarth, I must sacrifice my poetry to truth, in spite of "ambition." The prince of Thebes casts off the last chain. With a golden shovel I want to pave the way for my city or bury it, by telling the truth to director Reinhardt. The production of Everyman is a bungled job, detrimental to art -- from a man whom the public thinks infallible, and who in truth cannot consciously blunder. How can one explain this cynicism? Does Reinhardt need money? Why don't his people rob for him: They should rob the western part of the city for their emperor!! Cashiers' drawers canít be deceived, but certainly audiences (there are able listeners among them) can be made dizzy by sleight of hand.
Reinhardt should not permit himself such gifts. Outside the social democrats raged, it was election day -- within me a stronger revolution raged, in the evening my last hope died that my play would be produced under the direction of Reinhardt, whom I had admired in so many of his productions. With this letter I demand the return of my tale of working people, the Wupper. Has he already read it? It must have impressed him.
Dear both of you!
When I got up this morning a small sun was creeping on my foot and playing with it like a brilliantly colored lizard. I am very happy today, my room is sweet, the cold air that penetrates it tastes good and my wardrobe contains nothing but fine holiday dresses: one golden, one palm-colored, and a dress of crystal silk, which rustles. And my warrior outfits are peaceful, sweet borders of pearl adorn the wide black silk trousers, and from the shells of my belt snails encounter each other and stretch their little coral horns towards one another: allah machâh -- They are all shells that I picked up on the banks of the Nile. And in the pocket of my battle garb, among the hard shells of unripe fruit I find sugared roses that are sweet to eat. I am in love. --
Little Kurt, Herwarth!
He says that he has broad hands. I find his hands wonderful and sweet, the small hands of a child, but seen through a magnifying glass, as though they definitely wanted to be big. I play all day with his hands; I have placed a ring on each finger, each bears a different rare stone. The one on his little finger tells the story of my great grand-father, the sheik, the head priest of all mosques. On his ring-finger sits the myth of the fakir, the brother of the wife of the emir of Afghanistan, my mother's cousin. On his thumb the bloodiest war sits menacingly, a deeper stone with more fissures, with the picture of Constantine the crusader whose head I decapitated in the battle for Jerusalem. "He" is himself a crusader, I find myself filled with amorous despair.
Will you both telegraph me whether it is tasteless for me to be in love with a knight?
Tino of Baghdad
Instead of telegraphing your answer, ask me who "he" is. But I have already emphasized that I will say nothing more precise. He is tall and slender, and when his eyes open in happiness they bloom like a field of corn flowers. I told him, each time he opens his eyes with a smile, I'll give him a palace, or a golden palm tree, or a handful of black pearls or all of Asia. I must tell you something noteworthy: he begged me, tenderly urging me to comply, and on that very night I didnít go to the café. On another evening I went back again; he was very sad, as he said, he had lost a battle. It bothered me, he should win every battle, and if it would help him, and if I could help him by cutting off my head. Or do you think I might go to the café headless? Just with my torso, a dull stump, in the objective swamp! O, how pompous, no? But there is nothing as objective as the café, after having played the leading role in one's literature at the writing table at home. Charming, to shake off one's most intense burden. Tell me, both of you, can the café harm me or not harm me? Herwarth, you always insist that I am a genius, it is your own business. Should I part from -- "him" -- and return to the café, or should I stay with him? "Turn back, all is forgiven!" Hah! He has the most beautiful profile that I have ever seen, to whom should I confide this -- to you, Herwarth: He is the Conrad whom I killed in Jerusalem, whom I hated in Jerusalem, together with all his crusaders in Jerusalem. In whom should I confide but you, Herwarth; the others are all Philistines. We are all purple, when we love we are gladioli, when we kiss he leads me into Asian heaven. We are no longer human. You never told me anything, Herwarth, or I never let you get a word in, or donítí you remember any longer that we are married?
I now have only him. But I am so curious, how are things going at my rest stop and my death stop, the café des Westens? It is exactly as though I have lost an ear-ring, I'm beginning to lose contact with myself. A drunkard needs his bar, a gambler his den, but I alone am not normal. But he means well, he says that people don't understand me. But the café is the only secret between us (he even knows you, Herwarth); the café lies like a coast between us. Is there now another place which contains such a bizarre-like array of colors as exist in our café?
Dear Herwarth, Kurth!
Have you heard the latest? Cajus-Maius has disappeared, he is not allowed to come into the café, they say that he has taken his own life, at least partially. I heard it myself in the café, I was disguised as a poet, only the collector of Kokoschka, Mr. Staub, recognized me, he is an oddball; it was yesterday, on the first spring day of February, the snow lay modestly on the field Ö I am a poetess!! But so many people came into the café, with so many strange animal faces, I wanted to have such a face just once, to strike fear in someone's heart. I would have liked to speak with the collector of Kokoschka; he also laughed once, but I would like to have -- damn, if I knew what I wanted.
I have much to think about, I also am very fearful again. And I have such an odd feeling in my heart, I cannot sleep, and I dream realities with eyes wide open. There is a person in Berlin who has the same heart that I have, your friend the doctor. His heart is checkered: yellow and orange colored with green dots. Gallows humor! And sometimes it is melancholy, then the churchyard mirrors itself in his pulse. That one must experience! But mine sometimes doubles in size, or becomes bluish purple. If he would at least experience the rapture of his heart; but sometimes he feels restlessness. I know all kinds of hearts, but not that of the Bürger. O the fear in the heart when the heart sinks into a crater of water or is suspended between earth and sky in the teeth of the moon, or it sinks -- O the moment when my city Thebes-Bagdad sinks. Look at the picture, Herwarth, how clearly all things and not-things of the heart are drawn. Shouldn't one believe in reality, can it be rejected? Is this little section on the heart's feelings of my medicinal poetry worthless?
Farewell, I still want to write to the Dalai Lama.
Very honored Dalai-Lama
I shall rattle on the red door of your Torch until you open it for me. I have a new poem, I have composed a new poem. I insist that it appear in your Torch, come hell or high water, it must be published in your journal. Whether or not you are writing it alone, I don't care, -- it must be. Your Torch is my red garden, I carry your Torch like a rose above my heart, your Torch is my rosey-red prospect, my red bread-winner. You do not have the right to write The Torch alone, how can I nourish myself adequately?
Greetings to you, sir, from the Prince of Thebes (some more handwritten lines)
Soon there will be nothing left to say, Herwarth and Kurt. By the way, you have been back in Berlin again quite a while, and my Norwegian letters are coming to an end. It seems to me that soon I'll have nothing more to say; who will go on speaking my poems. Only Prince Antony of Poland knows how to speak them, his moonlight voice is transparent, and all the listening visions will be mirrored in my poems. soon it will be impossible for me to live among people, I am extremely bored, it is beyond expression, I see no end to it, and do not know where the boredom and sadness may end. He, the prince, speaks my poems, in a way that makes them shine everywhere, over all changing forms, towards the blue or towards the unknown.
I believe finally that itís all up with me, because the German poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele has challenged me to a duel. On behalf of German myth and lofty song. His second will be the actor Wilhelm Murnau, and a quack to take care of wounds will be present. But to urge me on, my black Tecofi-Folifi Temanu will perform his dance of human bones during the fight.
Herwarth Walden, Halensee, Katharinenstrasse 5. My right hand cut to the quick by a rapier!
I have brought great disgrace upon my city Thebes. For a warrior it is shameful to be sick, but for me it is an irremediable disgrace to lie wounded in the tent, wounded by an Occidental victor. Both my black servants are howling like women, creeping about the house like cunning cats under a full moon; I am in a bad mood.
Yesterday I shut myself up in the private room of my palace and prayed. I had almost forgotten how to say prayers, which are notched like harps. Absorbed in thought, I kissed my mother's feet; how pious one can become, I was at that moment of golden humility without sin. You think that there are no sins, but I no longer doubt that, because I am still praying and am cleansed by the pious kiss. Should I open my heart?
How one never finds oneself! That always indirectly has a cosmic reason. I move restlessly from star to star; if I were not Lucifer's sister I would be the eternal angel. At the moment you stand exactly, as calculated by the observatory, at the tropic of the warring Storm-cock. Bravo!
This evening I sat on the roof and looked down, with the moon, on Thebes; but I fell asleep and dreamed that my strongest battleship had filled with water and sunk. Then I thought of you -- if ever a loose woman got hold of you! For water, whether a brook or a pond, a river or an ocean, conceals in itself the sinuous, tempting guts of a woman. No ship is safe from her. -- I can no longer bear you.
I have drawn Richard Dehmel, I have drawn him blood red, as an oriental city-scape; not in the frock coat with which he customarily meets the outside world, but in the old-fashioned city-turban. Richard Dehmel's poems flow like blood, each one a blood-letting and a transfusion at the same time. He is the great calif of all poetry.
You two friends!
What's going on here? Were you already waiting there, at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Wilmersdorfer Street, in the café Kurfürstendamm? God, I have become disloyal to the café des Westens; how I have abandoned the coffee house, like a beloved to whom I pledged eternal loyalty. The café Kurfürstendamm is a woman, an Asian dancer. She amuses me, consoles me, charms me with the many sweet colors of her clothing. There is movement in the café, it turns secretly, like the gleaming body of Fatima. The small recesses of the galleries, covered with stars, are veiled hearts. O, the things one can say and hear there -- violins quietly singing, blissful moods. The café is the embodiment of Lucien Bernard's poster. I shall have the order of the crescent moon bestowed upon him as a sign of my respectful admiration, appointing him pascha of Thebes.
Herwarth, little Kurt!
Today I myself am writing the "unwritten" lines to Sascha in the citadel in Russia. Don't have my flaming myrtle letter published.
Just elected reigning prince in Thebes. Long live the capital and my people!
They are waiting for me in my city, costly rugs hang from the roofs down to the ground. They are rolled up and again unrolled. Since sunrise my Negroes have been lying before me on their black bellies, and in the evening will go among the people, teaching the word "highness," until the word dances in their mouths. I am highness. Note this, emphasize this to everyone you come across. But this honor gives me pain, for I cannot return to my city, I have no money. And eastern countries love splendor; they seize stars from the clouds, and they store up in their hearts the golden wheat of the sky. Here there are no stars, small scattered grain glitter as they fall to the ground. O, how poor this eastern land, here no paradise grows, no angel, no miracle.
How this poverty has made me ashamed, your poverty; I don't have even one damask-skin left; my miserable feet are torn to pieces -- I look down upon my own highness with scorn. But the Negroes have delicate feelings, they have invented a game, we pretend to be people and king. They arrange themselves like a crowd on both sides of me, hundreds of thousands or millions of turbaned heads, yelling and screaming, "Allah, maschâ!" And they applaud -- I smile and waft gracious kisses among the people. I am dresssed all in gold, like the full moon, my hair glitters, the nails of my fingers are pearls; I am carried into the palace and I give to my dear people a constitution.
I hope that my letters have not bored you, or has little Kurt yawned often? Read my letter once again, Herwarth, the one that ends with: "I am the life". How proud! Now I am a transparent, bottomless ocean, I feel that I have lost my bearings. You should have remained firm, Herwarth. What good to me now are your ready and willing hands, and all the other clutching, anxious fingers surrounding me, through which my soul, knowing no limits, flows. Soon death will inundate everything, everything is blurred in me, my thoughts and feelings. I have never made a system, the way wise women do, never buttressed myself with a world-view, the way even wiser men do, I have not built an ark. I have no focus, my words are spread out everywhere, my words came from everywhere, I received and turned inward, thus I was always the reigning prince of Thebes.
How old am I, Herwarth? One thousand and fourteen. A petit bourgeois never reaches one thousand and fourteen, but sometimes reaches one hundred and fourteen, if he has good intentions. Herwarth, have you been faithful to me? For the sake of good taste in your own interest, I would prefer that you were faithful to me. You don't have to use me as a model, I have never felt that people were more than a frame in which to present myself, sometimes, frankly speaking, I lost myself in them, two were golden, Herwarth, to one of whom my heart was devoted. It is wonderful to be in love, so intoxicating, so overpowering, so irresponsible, the heart is always dizzy; yesterday I stood before the picture of the proud Medici, he has come back to life and wants to carry me away in the night. How bourgeois is love in comparison to being in love, or someone must have loved me. Did you love me, Herwarth? Who has loved me?
I would throw myself at his feet at this moment, as though I were in front of a rock, before a precious altar, I, the prince of Thebes. I would carry the beloved with me in death, as the Egyptian kings carried their treasures, their golden pitchers with them into their tombs, and contemptuously drank the last remnants out of them. I flee into the thicket, Herwarth, I have always hated the house, the palace itself; just call a room property and you are already domesticated I hate domesticity, therefore hate the last confinement, the tomb. I move into the deepest forest, Herwarth; what I do is well done, I have no doubts about myself. Can one make a more believable statement without provoking a smile? Or is there a grasshopper hopping somewhere? I lie down under big trees and stretch myself out along their roots, entwined with each other like gnarled snakes. I no longer hear in my ears the sound of little bells; every beat of my heart was a dance. I can no longer dance, Herwarth; I cry -- snow falls on my weeping eyes. Hello, Greek Thebes, my city, do not forget the prophet saint Peter Hille the way you forgot me, he wrote prophetically: my world is shattered. I rise up once again, sink my wild daggers in the earth, battle-tribute to my captain. Here and no further!
This morning, when I took your travel-bag from the trunk, Herwarth, an unpublished letter from me was stuck inside it, which I once sent to you and little Kurt in Norway -- with my self-portrait wrapped in silk paper; this is definitely a theft from art historians. For I have made no sketch of myself, also no painting, I have placed a creature on paper. I shall quickly send you the lost lines and my enormously valuable self-portrait. At most it costs five or six marks to make a plate of it. Give up two evenings at the café, offer a sacrifice to my picture. I have placed under my bed the chest with my love letters, to give you something to do. Meanwhile I am resting here in the country; I go for walks with Richard Fuchs and Otto Fuchs, through their greenhouses, and watch the carnations grow. But it is terribly cold and the rustling trees are enough to drive you crazy. I'm going to cut them down tonight, damn it!
Greetings to you, your E.
When you are in Berlin again, I probably shall be in Thebes, at the dedication of my bas-relief on the wall. But I am not excited to see me, since I have never recognized myself, either in sculpture or in painting, or even in cast. In my portrait I look for the changing play of day and night, sleep and waking. Doesn't my mouth in my self-portrait emit a call to battle? An Egyptian arababesque, a royal hieroglyphic, my nose, my hair dart-like arrows, and my neck carries its head powerfully. In this manner I give myself to the people of my city. Ossman and Tekofi Temanu, my black servants, will carry my self-portrait on a banner through the streets of Thebes. So my people will celebrate me, so I celebrate myself.
My people always wish see my face, hear my voice. Under the early morning star named after me, I speak to my city and open my soul to her people like a grove of palms they must enter. The sky is my mirror. My portrait will be distributed in Thebes.