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Otfried of Weissenburg

Otfried, on the other hand, continually betrays his acquaintance with classical models, and the self-consciousness of the educated barbarian in the presence of a higher culture. He is constantly 17 lamenting his own incompetence and the barbarism of the German tongue; he gives fewer facts and less of the distinctly ethical discourses than his Saxon contemporary; but he much more frequently introduces episodes, sometimes similes or allegories from ecclesiastical works, sometimes mystical and moral reflections of his own. But there are passages where he rises to warmth and true poetry, as where, in describing the journey of the Magi, he speaks of the longing of the soul for its heavenly fatherland; and the very idea of thus endeavouring to make the grounds of their faith intelligible to the common people, marks him out as no common man.

The following is a version of the passage just mentioned. The rhyme and metre of the original are very irregular, and here and there a rhyme is wanting altogether; still, as its structure constitutes a marked difference between this poem and its predecessors, it seemed best to imitate, as far as possible, its rhythm, while keeping close to the meaning; but in such a process somewhat of the poetical element is apt to vanish.

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