Oswald von Wolkenstein's Animals and Animal Symbolism

George Jones

Modern Language Notes, 94:3 (April), 1979, 524-540

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"Of far greater importance for the medieval mentality than the somewhat personified but otherwise natural animals of the fables were the fabulous creatures that either prefigured the birth and life of Christ or else illustrated the sins and foibles of mankind. ... Walther von der Vogelweide, as a representative of the High Middle Ages, exhibits many facets of this zoological lore; and most of the birds and animals in his songs have more symbolic than objective value. By far the most common of Walther's creatures are the birds who herald the summer but cease singing when winter approaches. The few remaining birds in his songs appear mostly as symbols or in metaphors and similes; and the same is largely true of the animals he mentions. ... Although he lived some two hundred years after Walther, the South Tyrolian singer Oswald von Wolkenstein inherited all the traditions reflected in Walther's songs, and a minor part of his songs would duplicate nearly everything that Walther had to say about birds and beasts." - Jones

Language: English


Last update December 6, 2021