'Mich schwindelt vor Farbe und Duft': Nature and Subjectivity in Sarah Kirsch's Landaufenthalt


Stokes A (2017) 'Mich schwindelt vor Farbe und Duft': Nature and Subjectivity in Sarah Kirsch's Landaufenthalt. German Life and Letters, 70 (2), pp. 226-240.

There appears to be a critical consensus that the poetry of Sarah Kirsch revealed from the outset a tension between the individual and society, between the poet’s private experiences and those of the socialist collective. This essay argues, however, that sustained critical focus on implicit political opposition to travel restrictions and the inequality of the sexes in a handful of Kirsch’s poems from the late sixties, has resulted in a lack of attention to the main concern of her debut solo collection Landaufenthalt, namely the poet’s questioning and eventual abandoning of the dictates of socialist realism regarding the role of nature in poetry, and the pivotal role played by her personal interaction with nature in this process, as signalled in the title. The essay discusses the depiction of nature in allegedly dissident poems involving travel that are situated at the start of the collection before considering poems about features of the natural landscape that appear after the title poem. It outlines the evolution of Kirsch’s questioning of official cultural policy within the context of the lyric poetry debate in Forum in the sixties and her decisive departure from socialist realism in the final poem of the collection.

German Life and Letters: Volume 70, Issue 2

Publication date30/04/2017
Publication date online07/03/2017
Date accepted by journal15/09/2016