Hermann Hesse: Die Gedichte (Collected Poems)

Die Gedichte - Hermann Hesse

Starting with the disclaimer that I have absolutely no interest in dissecting poems with respect to rhyme,  structure, symbolism, whether the author was suffering from a headache when he/she wrote it, and what-not. A poem either speaks to me (on whatever level) or it doesn't. 


With Hesse, I was curious to see how his poetry compared to his novels and how his poetry reflected the themes of his novels, because to my mind Hesse's novels are works of beauty but they are also very complex. I've been trying to write a review of Steppenwolf for several months now and just don't know where to start...


Anyway, the great thing about this collection is that it is a complete collection of all of the poems that Hesse wanted to publish. I have not counted but there seem to be 700+ of them and they are in chronological order. The order helps to relate the poems to different events in Hesse's life (if you want to do that) and to his novels. 


What is stark with Hesse is there is not just the expected change in the themes and complexity of his work if you compare the early works with the later ones, but there is a marked differentiation of his approach to dealing with themes of darkness and isolation which interchange with other themes. The poems that tend to be on the "existential" side are the ones that draw me in most, simply because it seems Hesse doesn't need to try to compose them, they just seem to flow. It is this seemingly effortless expression of doubt, anger, frustration, anxiety and the simplicity in which he expresses them that are captivating.  


By comparison, his love poetry (especially the early ones) kinda fail to persuade me that they were anything but writing exercises.