Portland State University. Department of German
Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.) in German
1 online resource (175 p.)
Paul Fleming (1609-1640) Deutsche Poemata, Death in literature
In the Deutsche Poemata the word Tod and its variant forms appear in over 130 different poems. The word may appear more than once in the same poem. Despite the frequency of this word, its use has not previously been researched in depth. Secondary sources fall into five basic catagories:
l. the use of the word Tod is ignored completely;
2. its use may be isolated to borrowings from Roman Literature;
3. its use is Petrarchan;
4. if comprehensible at all, it is an expression of Fleming's Christian philosophy of nature;
5. Fleming's use of the word is typical for the entire Baroque era.
This thesis attempts to show that Fleming's use of the word is predictable according to certain patterns.
With only a few exceptions, Fleming retains the concrete meaning of the word. The word, however, becomes a series of motifs. The series of motifs builds a weltanschauung. This philosophy is expressed in Fleming's conception of God, Christ, nature, the cosmos and the loved-one. God is immanent, but He also intervenes directly in human affairs. In recognition of divine intervention, Fleming believes in an animi tranquillitas. Fleming also believes in a unification of the microcosm and macrocosm. There are strong Stoic elements in this Christian philosophy of nature. Although it cannot definitely be proven that Fleming was a believer in Stoicism, certain concepts of death are similar to those of the Stoic philosophers. The philosophy of nature, the cosmos and ever-changing human destiny is expressed throughout the Deutsche Poemata.
Fleming's use of Petrarchan elements is isolated, however, to his love poetry. By limiting the use of Petrarchism to the love poetry, Fleming rejects the religious Petrarchism of Sarvievsky and Spee.
Some themes are borrowed from the rhetorical structure of the memento mori. But, in contrast to the memento mori, Fleming does not show any strong influence from the Erbauungsliterature.
The Roman influence usually does not extend beyond a borrowing of naked motifs. The Latin expression is used to elicit a certain effect but the original context, although understood, is not retained in Fleming’s poem. The original form is given free expression.
The thesis also investigates Fleming’s views on the Thirty Years war and its destruction of Germany. The war hero has a significant place in Fleming's concept of Heaven; however, Fleming always expresses a disdain for the tragedy of war, and he seeks peace.
Death motifs are integrally connected to Fleming's view of the poet and his creation. The thesis also shows how Fleming's conception of his own death relates to his philosophy of the tranquil acceptance of divine intervention.
Several different themes, systems and philosophies are joined together by Fleming into a clearly conceived, if somewhat eclectic weltanschauung. In general, Fleming's use of death motifs is subjective, even though material may be borrowed from traditional sources.
Wolf, Paul Ancil, "Der Gebrauch des Todesmotivs in den Deutschen Poemata von Paul Fleming" (1973). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1702.