Tag Archives: Walther von der Vogelweide

German Literature Month 2015 – wrap-up

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German Literature Month in November was again an extremely interesting event, just like last year. The two unfatigable hosts Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat) and Lizzy (Lizzy’s Literary Life) once again created an event with plenty of opportunities to join in. In the end 44 bloggers had published 166 posts, mainly about fiction and poetry, but also including some featured articles and several non-fiction reviews.

Over the years, this event has become increasingly popular and the index on the website that links to all articles that were published in all editions of the German Literature Month has become a major resource for anyone who wants to get informed about German literature. Check it out, the variety of authors and opinions is truly amazing! (Thanks, Lizzy!)

Interestingly, the most reviewed author this year was Stefan Zweig (14 reviews of 12 works), followed by Schiller (10 posts related to Schiller’s works and books about Schiller). Goethe on the contrary was ignored by everybody – maybe we should include a Goethe week next year?

After several months of being not very active, this event has brought me back to blogging on a more regular basis. I discovered plenty of new books, got reminded of some others I should re-read again in the future and I also discovered a few book blogs which I hadn’t known before but will follow in the future. It was fun to read the comments and to comment myself sometimes. I read literally all reviews, but time restrictions prevented me so far to comment on all of them.  Just like last year  I thoroughly enjoyed this event, and just like last year, I won a giveaway, Ulrich Plenzdorf’s Werther novel which I will review one day of course. (Thanks, Caroline!)

This year, I published ten posts – compared to eight last year. Beside a featured anecdote about Jean Paul, nine of the posts were reviews:

Veza Canetti: The Tortoises

Thomas Kling: Collected Poems

Schilleriana (9 publications of Deutsche Schillergesellschaft)

Hans Magnus Enzensberger: New Selected Poems

Walther von der Vogelweide: Poems

Detlef Opitz: The Books Murderer

Jean Paul: The strange company at New Year’s Eve

Joseph Roth: Letters from Germany

Gertrud Kolmar: Poems

Several of the books I had intended to read for German Lit Month, I had to postpone for the time being, while others popped up in the last moment. I reviewed/presented more poetry than last years and a bit less prose by contemporary authors. Who knows what I will be up to next year?!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Under the Linden Tree

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This blog post is part of the German Literature Month, hosted by Lizzie (Lizzies Literary Life) and Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Very little is known about the life of Walther von der Vogelweide, the most remarkable German poet before Goethe; neither the birthplace of this troubadour (Minnesinger) – probably in Austria, but maybe also in Northern Italy –  nor his exact years of birth (ca. 1170) and death (ca. 1230) are known. He was obviously the loyal servant of a bishop and was rewarded with an amount of money sufficient for an expensive fur coat once – the only official mentioning of his name in the records and proof of his comparatively elevated social status.

Walther’s poetry is written in Middle High German (Mittelhochdeutsch) which is surprisingly intelligible to modern-day native speakers – especially when you are from Southern Germany or Austria. It covers a number of topics and genres but his love poetry features most prominently. While a big part of it worships an aristocratic, married and therefore inaccessible frouwe from a distance, Walther’s poetry also covers other, to us modern readers more familiar grounds that make his charming poems still very fresh and appealing until this day. I am therefore recommending his works to anyone with a genuine interest in German literature.

In the following Taglied the poet lends his voice to a girl after her spending a night with her lover (most probably a man of higher social status).

Under der linden

Under der linden
an der heide,
dâ unser zweier bette was,
dâ muget ir vinden
schône beide
gebrochen bluomen unde gras.
Vor dem walde in einem tal,
tandaradei,
schône sanc diu nahtegal.

Ich kam gegangen
zuo der ouwe:
dô was mîn friedel komen ê.
Dâ wart ich empfangen
(hêre frouwe!)
daz ich bin sælic iemer mê.
Kust er mich?
Wol tûsentstunt:
tandaradei,
seht wie rôt mir ist der munt.

Dô hete er gemachet
alsô rîche
von bluomen eine bettestat.
Des wirt noch gelachet
inneclîche,
kumt iemen an daz selbe pfat:
bî den rôsen er wol mac,
tandaradei,
merken wâ mir’z houbet lac.

Daz er bî mir læge,
wesse’z iemen
(nu enwelle got!), so schamte ich mich.
Wes er mit mir pflæge,
niemer niemen
bevinde daz, wan er und ich,
und ein kleinez vogellîn:
tandaradei,
daz mac wol getriuwe sîn.

Under the linden tree

Under the linden tree
on the heather,
where we shared a bed
there you may find
lovely together
broken flowers and grass.
Near a forest in a vale,
tandaradei,
beautifully sang the nightingale.

I came to meet him
at the green:
there was my beloved come before.
Such was I received
(Queen of Heaven!)
that I am blessed for evermore.
Did he kiss me?
Perhaps a thousand times and some:
tandaradei,
see how red my mouth has become.

There he had been making
for luxury
a bed from every kind of flower.
It sets to laughing
delightedly
whoever comes upon that bower;
by the roses well one may,
tandaradei,
mark the spot my head once lay.

If someone knew
he lay with me
(may God forbid!), for shame I’d die.
What did he do?
may none but he
ever be sure of that — and I,
and one tiny bird,
tandaradei,
that may well not say a word.

(Translation by Thomas Hübner, after Graeme Dunphy)

Walther von der Vogelweide

For those who read German, I can recommend the edition of Walther’s poetry in the legendary Reclam Universal Edition (bi-lingual, High German/Middle High German), Stuttgart 2013 (“Gedichte – Auswahl”); there is an English edition “Selected Poems of Walther von der Vogelweide: The Minnesinger”, translated by Walter Alison Phillips in 1896 and republished by Cornell University Library in 2009; another more modern translation of the poem in English can be found in Raymond Oliver’s “To Be Plain: Translations from Greek, Latin, French, and German”, Robert L. Barth, 1981

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.