Frauenlob’s Catechetical Imperative: Form and Function in the “Kreuzleich”

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The poetry of Heinrich von Meißen, best known as Frauenlob (d. 1318), has long been considered esoteric and difficult to understand, both by the poet’s contemporaries and by modern scholars. This paper seeks to isolate those aspects of Frauenlob’s poetry which contribute to this difficulty, taking the poet’s “Kreuzleich” as a case study. It examines how Frauenlob uses specific literary devices, including rhyme scheme, metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche, to provoke confusion and uncertainty in the audience. Further, the poet couches his work in liturgical language and performativity, imbuing this created uncertainty with moral and spiritual significance. In this way, Frauenlob flushes his poetry with a catechetical imperative: Frauenlob’s poetry is purposefully chaotic, designed to continually bring forth theological obstacles and paradoxes, in the hope of inspiring intellectual contemplation and revelation in his audience.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalZeitschrift für deutsche Philologie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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