Caspar Hauser: A Poem in Nine Cantos by David Constantine
The subject of Constantine's fifth book of poems is the enigmatic German Caspar Hauser, who was incarcerated for most of his childhood, released, and then murdered. He appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, able to write his name and say without understanding it one sentence: "I want to be a rider like my father was". Taken in by well-wishers one of whom fell in love with him he was attacked with a razor by an unknown assailant. Three years later, the eccentric Lord Stanhope made him his ward and left him in another town to go travelling. In 1833 he was killed. Constantine's epic poem unravels the strange strands of Caspar's short life. He touches on the intrigues of the time (Caspar may have had a claim to the throne of Baden), but his cantos are mainly concerned with Caspar's innocence and the extraordinary reactions of his untried nervous system to a new life in daylight, and the longings and hopes he awakened in others.