In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Neibelungen-leid

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: After 1856

Whitman Archive ID: mid.00019

Source: Middlebury College Library, Special Collections. 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Editorial note: Grier estimates that this was written between 1856 and 1860 (Walt Whitman: Notebooks and Unpublished Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 5:1812). These notes refer to Thomas Carlyle's essay "The Nibelungen Lied," first published in the Westminster Review in 1831, republished in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, Centenary Edition (1838-39), 2:216-272.

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

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Neibelungen-leid Song of Neibelingen


author unknown

it is objective, like the Iliad

Song of the

Probably composed dates back to about the 6th of 7th century
but the date when it was written as now, is the 13th century


Carlyle supposes it to be about the third reduction (digestion) from its primitive form ^out of myths, poems acts, traditions, or what not.—

  • Characters
Siegfried—the hero, a warrior, king, full of courage—the usual type‑hero, as seen, duly followed, in all modern novels and plays.
Chriemheld—a beautiful princess, sister of three kingly brothers, of Worms, in time Siegfrieds wife
Gunther, the principal of the three brothers
Brumhilde, a brave, vindictive, relentless woman—Gunthers wife
Hagen, a brave warrior
Etzel (king of Hun‑land Chriemhilde's second husband) supposed to be the historic Attila died 450 A.D.


In their present shape these poems Heldenbuch, and Neibelungen, cannot be older than the twelfth century.—


The poet himself is unknown—he probably made up the poem in the thirteenth century.—



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