Paper 1 v1 - Vanessa Chew German R5A September 12, 2010...

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Vanessa Chew German R5A September 12, 2010 Heinrich von Morungen: Ich hôrt ûf der heide (I heard on the meadow) Medieval German courtly lyric, “Minnesang”, commonly portrays the struggles of a knight as he yearns for his lady love. Interestingly, C. S. Lewis opines in his essay, The Allegory of Love , that such courtly love of the late 12 th century is a unique sort, wholly different from the romantic love of modern understanding (Lewis, 2). Most Minnelieder of this time period deal with common themes and are expressed with preset ideals and descriptions. There are, of course, a few notable exceptions in each poem, and indeed it is these quirks that make the poem memorable; yet it is these common characteristics that set the tone and ground these poems firmly in the 12 th century German courtly lyric tradition. In this essay, the poem of focus is Ich hôrt ûf der heide (I heard on the meadow) by eminent Minnesanger Heinrich von Morungen. Upon first glance, the poem appears to be just one of many describing a knight pining for his lady. Springtime imagery is abundant, just as it is in its contemporaries. This is especially evident in the optimistic opening of the poem: “I heard on the meadow / bright voices and sweet tones /… / I found her in the dance, singing”. Meadows, dancing and singing – this stanza is made of optimism. Springtime is the time of love; it blossoms along with flowering of the trees. The tone here is light and playful, with the heady rush of breaking out from bondage, evident in the imagery of the knight’s thoughts having “struggled and soared” – and later: “free of sorrow, I danced too”. Further analysis delves deeper into the characteristics of the knight’s love itself, removed 1
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from the environment the poem is set in. From The Allegory of Love , it is gleaned that medieval courtly love has four defining characteristics: Humility, Courtesy, Adultery and the Religion of Love (Lewis, 2); all of which are present, in varying degrees, in most other Minnelieder. Here, humility is certainly present in the knight’s behavior: he appears to be bent to the will of his lady. Only when the lady is happy is he happy also – “I found her in the dance, singing; I danced too.” Similarly, when she is sad, he mirrors her emotions, so much so that his feelings become subject to hers. All of his being is centered and dependent on her; his own personal thoughts and wishes are nothing, as they are so much lower in status than hers. “I would rather the hate of my beloved than how it felt / kneeling before her where she sat / and let go of all her pain”, says he –
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Paper 1 v1 - Vanessa Chew German R5A September 12, 2010...

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