Paper 2 v1.5 - Chew 1 Vanessa Chew Adrienne Damiani German...

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Chew 1 Vanessa Chew Adrienne Damiani German R5A October 19, 2010 A love lost: Sensory imagery in Hofmannswaldau’s Wo sind die Studen German poetry of the 17 th century was part of a sweeping cultural change in Western Europe: the transition from stern medieval tradition to the opulence of the Baroque. Its style had evolved from its austere origins of forbidden love to a more sensuous expression of longing, and sometimes even lust. There exist poems of that period that are rich in graphic details; Kaspar Stieler’s verses are good examples (Walsøe-Engel, 254-259). Yet not all Baroque poetry thrived in the extreme. Still, these poems are no less moving or vivid than their more theatrical counterparts. Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau’s poem Wo sind die Studen (So sweet, so golden) , is one such example (Walsøe-Engel, 240-243). The speaker of the poem is a man, musing on a love that has recently ended; the poem is stark, striking and emotive. This paper examines Hofmannswaldau’s use of the Baroque trend of sensory imagery to portray the man’s thoughts with startling detail, thus showcasing his irrepressible longing for his lost love. This stylistic element is evident from the very first lines of the poem: So sweet, so golden Where is the time When I came first to bolden 1
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Chew 2 And own your beauty’s prime Had me beholden? (Hofmannswaldau, 1-5) In this excerpt, the description of time brings to mind the sweetness and hue of honey – perhaps even honey produced by the nectar of the gods. The speaker recalls the exact moment when he first laid eyes on his lover, likening it to the divine ecstasy produced by ambrosia. “Golden” time is also associated with the treasured, gilded jewelry commonly used to demonstrate affection (Hofmannswaldau, 1). A fine work of gold filigree is mesmerizing, and this is precisely how the speaker feels about his lady; he is mesmerized by her beauty and cannot look away. Yet the good cannot last forever. Keeping with the theme of jewelry, the speaker is brought back into reality by the sudden “pearl[ing] away” of this ephemeral moment, indicating that he has lost something akin to a precious stone (Hofmannswaldau, 6). Interestingly, the man next muses “that earthly joys which come, must go” (Hofmannswaldau, 7). That he is disappointed by the end of this relationship is indisputable, but the choice of the word “earthly” seems to indicate that his thoughts are drifting towards the divine: he attempts to ease his yearning with a reminder that there is a greater reward and joy waiting for him in Heaven. But the next stanza shows his lack of success. He describes his lady’s “pleasantness” as
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Paper 2 v1.5 - Chew 1 Vanessa Chew Adrienne Damiani German...

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