But precisely for this reason, when 1948 also failed in Germany and the interpreters of the revolution sought safety outside their homeland, in England, in Switzerland, in France, and the reaction regained power, the new state of mind that followed at the new generations was of concentration, and for a few years literature again began to lose interest in public life, to close itself in the search for pure poetry, to withdraw into the world of individual sentiment.
By aiming at other purposes of a practical nature, the “Tendenzpoesie” had lost the sense of form; and immediately after 1950, in the Munich that aspired to be the Athens of Germany and reproduced in its squares and streets the ancient monuments and Italian palaces of the Renaissance, the group of poets who gathered around King Maximilian found in the restoration of formal values his first task. And E. Geibel (1815-1884), who alongside Ernst Curtius had learned to understand ancient poetry and who throughout his life considered “measure and harmony” as the supreme ideal, was its recognized master. The taste was eclectic and the circle of interests vast. F. v. Bodenstedt (1819-1892) brought you the warm sensuality and sententious wisdom of the East; F. v. Schack (1815-1894) the poetry of Spain; P. Heyse (1830-1914) the poetry of Italy; H. Lingg (1820-1905) the taste for historical evocation; W. v. Hertz (1835-1902) the cult of medieval Germanic poetry; H. Leuthold (1827-1879) the torment of a life in continuous internal conflict and upheaval to the point of madness. But whatever the material of the poem, resonance of the classical world or the romantic, historical or subjective world, the animating spirit was the search for formal purity. And a well-behaved literature was born, from cultured people, who are sensitive to beauty and know how to behave well in the world: which was beneficial as a resistance against that “Formlosigkeit” which is the immanent danger of German poetry; and undoubtedly he also contributed to distinguishing and giving a broad breath to cultural life in Germany; and on the other hand, due to the multiplicity of rhythmic and metric attempts in the researches of color, he refined the means of expression; but it seldom reached full poetry. Some poems by Geibel, some fragments by Leuthold, some lyrical moments of simple but straightforward inspiration by Martin Greif (1839-1911) – who later continued in a certain way the orientation of the group – aesthetically constitute the most vivid result; along with the best part of Heyse’s tireless work. Apart from Leuthold, almost all of them were men who led a calm and serene existence, with that stately joy of spiritual enjoyment which gave the Bavarian capital its most characteristic imprint. And of this pleasant and serene beauty of life Heyse was the poet. It was, moreover, a very widespread mood in the spirit of the time. With the empire of idealistic philosophy waning, the realism of the later Hegelian school having degenerated into materialism, 1948 had heard the hymn to the enjoyment of life celebrated as the only good of man, to the beauty of the senses which is the only reality, to the indefinite future of man in the conquest of life.
According to PARADISDACHAT, it was, in a first naive form, the sign of that new orientation of spirits towards the positivist conception, which was to dominate in the following decades. God had disappeared from the heavens. Science attributed the inheritance of religion to itself. The “blue flower” of the romantic dream had vanished into the inconsistency of an illusion. On earth, which is limited but his, man moves towards the infinite beauty of the world. Heyse’s poetry was the poetry of this way of feeling, written by a naturally optimistic spirit, who portrays the world in the composed and lovable images of his serene soul. But few aspects of life managed to blend with this inspiration: the rest remained conventional academicism. The true poets of this attitude were other spirits, more complex or more intimate, who, welcoming it within themselves, they lived it in depth. Under the “beauty of the world” that T. Storm (1817-1888) also describes and sings, there is always an indefinite anxiety: God has disappeared, but His light in the world has remained; science has opposed its rigid laws to the romantic impulse towards infinity, but that impulse has remained within souls; all the great problems of human existence remained; only man no longer seeks its solution elsewhere, but around himself, within himself, in his own life; and all the problems have been resolved in one: “to be able to live one’s life to the full”, because there is no greater beauty and richness than the possibility of life of a human soul; but men, pressed by illusion and hindered by reality, often pass by without being able to make it their own; poetry thus acquires a background of shadow on which the beauty of life is inexhaustible renewal, an eternal enchantress who attracts and flees. And also Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) has a partly similar position: he too would like to suck the “goldener Überfluss der Welt” with his eyes as much as the pupils can contain; and all his poetry is in love with life; but poetry of a poet who knows the reality of men with all their weaknesses and detects it with a clear-headedness that nothing escapes and sees life perpetually renewing itself in a continuous problematicity, mixed with good and evil, of spiritual elevation and meanness and comedy but precisely therefore richer; such that the humorist’s gaze seems to accompany the caress everywhere to the smile, such that while the Grüner Heinrich (1848-55) himself, the prodigious variety of figures he outlines was born.