Hymnen, 1890 (Odes, 1949)
Pilgerfahrten, 1891 (Pilgrimages, 1949)
Algabal, 1892 (English translation, 1949)
Die Bücher der Hirten- und Preisgedichte, der Sagen und Sänge und der hängenden Gärten, 1895 (The Books of Eclogues and Eulogies, of Legends and Lays, and of the Hanging Gardens, 1949)
Das Jahr der Seele, 1897 (The Year of the Soul, 1949)
Der Teppich des Lebens und die Lieder von Traum und Tod, mit einem Vorspiel, 1899 (Prelude, The Tapestry of Life, The Songs of Dream and Death, 1949)
Die Fibel, 1901 (The Primer, 1949)
Der siebente Ring, 1907 (The Seventh Ring, 1949)
Der Stern des Bundes, 1914 (The Star of the Covenant, 1949)
Das neue Reich, 1928 (The Kingdom Come, 1949)
The Works of Stefan George, 1949 (includes the English translations of all titles listed above)
Baudelaire, Die Blumen des Bösen, 1901
Zeitgenössische Dichter, 1905 (of contemporary poets)
Shakespeare, Sonnette, 1909
Dante, Die göttliche Komödie, Übertragungen, 1909
Blätter für die Kunst, 1892-1919 (12 volumes)
Tage und Taten, 1903 (Days and Deeds, 1951)
Maximin, ein Gedenkbuck, 1906
Gesamt-Ausgabe, 1927-1934 (18 volumes; poetry and prose)
Stefan Anton George (GAY-awrg) was born in Büdesheim near Bingen in the Rhine district of Germany. His ancestors were farmers, millers, and merchants. When George was five years old, his father, a wine dealer, moved the family to Bingen. Bingen had a lasting impact on the poet’s imagination, and its landscapes informed much of his early poetry. In 1882 George began his secondary education in Darmstadt. He received broad humanistic training and excelled in French. While in school he taught himself Norwegian and Italian and began translating works by Henrik Ibsen, Petrarch, and Tasso. When he was eighteen he began writing poetry and published some of his earliest lyrics under the pseudonym Edmund Delorme in the journal Rosen un Disteln that he had founded in 1887.
Upon leaving school in 1888 George began the travels that later characterized his lifestyle. He went first to London, where he became acquainted with the writings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Ernest Dowson, whose poems he later translated and published in German. In Paris, in 1889, he met the French poet Albert Saint-Paul, who introduced him into the circle of Symbolist poets surrounding Stéphane Mallarmé. In this group of congenial literary artists, which included Paul Verlaine, Francis Vielé-Griffen, the Belgian Albert Mockel, and the Polish poet Waclaw Rolicz-Lieder, George found needed personal acceptance and friendship as well as important poetic models. Verlaine and Mallarmé became his acknowledged masters and provided him with a sense of his own poetic calling.
After returning to Germany, George studied Romance literature for three semesters in Berlin. During this time he experimented with language and even developed a personal “Lingua Romana” that combined Spanish and Latin words with German syntactical forms. In 1890 he published his first book of poems, Odes, in a private edition. Two years later, with Carl August Klein, he founded Blätter für die Kunst, which served as an initial focus for his circle of disciples and remained a major vehicle for his ideas for twenty-seven years.
Other encounters with contemporary writers and artists, with his own disciples, and with other personal friends had decisive formative influence on George’s career. In 1891 he began a productive if frequently stormy friendship with Hugo von Hofmannsthal, whom he viewed as his only kindred spirit among German poets of his time. When Hofmannsthal refused to commit himself exclusively to George’s literary ideas, their association ended in 1906. George’s only significant relationship with a woman, a friendship with Ida Coblenz (later the wife of Richard Dehmel), began in 1892 and influenced many of the poems in The Year of the Soul, which he originally intended to dedicate to her. After their association ended in disappointment for George, he limited his emotional involvement to young male disciples, among whom Friedrich Gundolf and Maximilian Kronberger had profound impact on his mature poetry. Affection for Gundolf moved George to direct his creative attention toward molding German youth. Kronberger, a beautiful adolescent who died of meningitis in 1904, provided him with a model for the divinely pure power of youth as an absolute force of life.
Although his fame and influence grew steadily, George refused all public honors save the Goethe Prize of the city of Frankfurt on the double occasion of his sixtieth birthday and the publication of his collected works. In frail health, and under pressure from the National Socialists to dignify their cultural policies by accepting honors and public office, George left Germany for Switzerland in 1933. He died on December 4, 1933, and was buried in the village of Minusio, according to his own wishes.