19 June 2005

100 words on a poem: No.7

Walther von der Vogelweide’s ‘Aller werdekeit ein füegerinne’ addresses the Minnesänger’s role (as professional voice of the love-struck) through having him express his narcissistic quandaries to an abstraction: the singer is appealing to Lady Moderation to advise him how to woo without excess! Both wooing the lowly and wooing the high-class is making him miserable. He calls lust ‘kranke liebe’ and frets about being led astray by ‘herzeliebe’. The song depends on antitheses: between ‘low’ and ‘high’ love, between moderation and excess, between nobility and shame; slippery concepts all, which may refer to the moral or to the social realm.

See Walther von der Vogelweide, Sämtliche Lieder (Munich: Fink, 1972).