In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: The celebrated old German poem

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1854 or later

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00196

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the marginalia and annotations, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: Grier argues that Whitman paraphrases Joseph Gostwick's German Literature (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1854). See Walt Whitman: Notebooks and Unpublished Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier (New York: New York University Press, 1984), 5:1816. These two scraps are pasted down, leaving the verso unavailable; Grier says these pages originally were pinned together.

Contributors to digital file: Lauren Grewe, Nicole Gray, Ty Alyea, and Matt Cohen

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The celebrated old German poem we are going to make a running sketch of, is traceable back to the Twelfth Century, when, ^or soon after when, it was probably put in the shape transmitted to us modern times, by some writer or rhapsodist whose name is ^now unknown.— Yet it is quite certain that this remarkable epic, long antedates even that far off period.—How much further back, though, it is impossible to tell, with any certainty.

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Of the many critical theories, ^about the construction of the Nibelungen, the most plausible is that these were the many ballads or versions floating about, were collected by the rhapsodist just before alluded to, ^during the Twelfth or Thirteenth Century, and fused into one connected Epic.— The critics say they can tell the connecting passages; and they point to marked differences of style, and contradictions.—

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The Nibelungen is thus, by high authorities, stated to be have been a series of ^formed from ^this ballads belonging to several ages, but having a general principle of union and character, and ^thus comes to be united upon the thread of one main plot.—


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