Paul Scheerbart (1863-1915)

1. da "Ichliebe dich! Ein eisenbahnroman": Kikakou (1897) / 2. da "NaProst! Phantastischer Königsroman" : Zauberspruch I-II (1898) / 3. da "Immer mutig! Ein Phantasticher Nilpferderoman": Monolog des Verrückten Mastadons (1902)

Total time (2:35)

Performed by Trio Exvoco:
Hanna Aurbacher, Teophil Maier, Ewald Liska
from the LP Futura Poesia Sonora (Cramps Records, Milan)


A contemporary of Christian Morgenstern, Paul Scheerbart (born at Danzig in January 1863, died in Berlin in May 1915) published in 1897 "Ich liebe dich! Ein eisenbahnroman" (I love you. Railway novel) (Schuster Verlag, Berlin), a singular work, a station novel with 66 intermezzos, among them some total phonopoems, such as "Kikakoku!"

Paul Scheerbart used the same technique in two subsequent novels: "Na Prost! Phantastischer Königsroman" (Well! Fantastic Royalnovel, Berlin, 1898) and "Immer mütig! ein phantaticher Nilpferderoinan" (Always courageous . A fantastic hippopotamic novel, Minden, 1902). From the first we have selected the two intermezzos "Zauberspruch I and Il" (Spell I and II), from the second the "Mon I des Verrücken Mastodons" (Monologue of the Mad Mastodont).

Rimbaud had already blazed the trail to the invention Of illogical images in a traditional linguistic structure, for example the verse: "Les roses des roseaux dès longtemps dévorées".

And how can one fail to consider purely phonic certain verses (and even entire sonnets) of Mallarmé, such as "La vierge, te vivace et le bel adjourd'hui" or "Aboli bibelot d'inanité sonore"?

The times were ripe, therefore, for a totally abstract euphony: created by the mouth before the hand, the poem starts with the sound of a word and then proceeds to identify the signal. The rhythm represents the physiological emotion inseparable from the idea. Phonic values are embodied irrespective of the semantic aspect of the word. In his book "L'Arte dei Rumori" ("The art of noises") (1913), Luigi Russolo, futurist, noted that "there exists in language a wealth of timbre that no orchestra possesses... nature has endowed the instrument of the human voice with unique timbre-sounds. ... poets do not yet know how to derive from this inexhaustible source those expressive and emotive elements capable of giving their message a human resonance". This, as we have said, Balla had intuited, and later Depero. The poetic function is a system of listening in which the poet lives permanently as a very refined biological resonator. in the beginning, the poem is always the sound of a consonant subjected to the acoustical influence of a vowel. The abstract sense of a naked consonant becomes body and idea, taking shape by association with a vowel. This consonance, the . syllable, if stripped of all signification, can give rise to a new poetic projection by reason of its nature of timbre-sound. As plastic and chromatic values have become pre-eminent in abstract painting, so do tonal, rhythmical and timbre values, used for their own sakes, without semantic and syntactic encumbrances, prefigure the pure phonic poem.