Wagner’s use of Stabreim
Jul 6, 2006 9:25 pm
I always loved Wagner’s poetry. I do not know German very well, and certainly do not have a sense of how it sounds to the ears of a native speaker of the language. But I always loved the rhythm and the sound. The varied and uneven lines of Wagner’s alliterative Stabreim keep driving the reader forward. It does not get tiring because there is so much variation. It really seemed like the perfect vehicle for music, at least late Romantic or Modern music where we have moved away from strophic or thematic repetitions. However, I doubt that it would have impressed Rossini or Donizetti!
Some of it reminds me of certain early, experimental poems of Goethe, but I suspect a real German might find that idea ridiculous. I have never seen it included in any anthology of German poetry and as far as I can tell, it seems to have had no influence on subsequent German poetry. Although he does contribute several lines to T. S. Eliot‘s The Wasteland, which seems to me to have a rather similar prosody.