Hoffmann von Hoffmannswaldau (1616-79), also known as Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau Hoffmannswaldau was a versatile and technically brilliant poet, as the following poem illustrates:

Auff den mund

Mund! der die seelen kan durch lust zusammen hetzen /

Mund! der viel süsser ist als starcker himmels-wein /

Mund! der du alikant des lebens schenckest ein /

Mund! den ich vorziehn muß der Inden reichen schätzen /

Mund! dessen balsam uns kan stärcken und verletzen

Mund! der vergnügter blüht, als aller rosen schein.

Mund! welchem kein rubin kan gleich und ähnlich seyn.

Mund! den die Gratien mit ihren qvellen netzen;

Mund! Ach corallen-mund / mein eintziges ergetzen!

Mund! laß mich einen kuß auff deinen purpur setzen.

To the mouth

Mouth! who can chase souls together with lust

Mouth! who is much sweeter than strong Heaven-wine

Mouth! who pours in the Alicante of life

Mouth! whom I must prefer to the riches of the Indies

Mouth! whose balsam can strengthen us and wound us

Mouth! who blossoms more pleasurably than any rose.

Mouth! whom no ruby can resemble.

Mouth! who the Graces moisten with their waters;

Mouth! O coral mouth, my only delight!

Mouth! on your purple let me set a kiss.

The poem takes a part for the whole, addressing the mouth in the place of the lover (metonym). The poem is addressed directly to a character or thing (apostrophe). The opening word of each line is the same. Repeating the opening word, or opening words, of each line is known as anaphora. This poem takes anaphora to an extreme, and the result is an accumulation of intensity, a sense of being utterly fixated.

The rhyme scheme is ABBA, but the last three lines rhyme, which increases their force. The poem reaches an emotional climax in the penultimate line: this can be seen from the exclamation mark, the ‘Ach’, the break in the middle of the line (caesura), and the assonance of ‘mein eintziges ergetzen’. The final line changes direction from praise to a direct request: the poet asks permission to kiss the mouth, perhaps as a reward for his assiduous praise. The final word of the poem is ‘setzen’ (‘set’), the action of setting a kiss on the lips. In this way, the poem uses German word order to seal itself with a kiss.

In order to show how versatile Hoffmannswaldau was, here is another poem in an entirely different genre, from the series ‘Grabschriften’ (Epitaphs):

Eines Mohren

Kein Europaeer sol die schlechte Grabschrifft lesen /

Und lachen daß ich schwartz und nackend bin gewesen.

Ich trug das Mutterkleid / dich kleidet Bock und Kuh /

Du bist mehr Vieh als ich / ich war mehr Mensch als du.

Of a Moor

No European shall read this poor epitaph /

And laugh that I was black and naked.

I wore the clothes my mother bore me in / you wear the skins of bucks and cows

You are more animal than I / I was more human than you.


‘Die Wollust’ (Sensuality) expresses the Epicurean philosophy of pleasure-seeking and sensual enjoyment:

Further Reading

Peter J. Burgard, ‘Dead Metaphor Society? From Opitz to Hoffmannswaldau’, Neophilologus 93:2 (2009), 295-310

L. W. Forster, The Icy Fire. Five Studies in European Petrarchism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969)

Veronique Helmridge-Marsillian, The Heroism of Love in Hoffmannswaldau's 'Heldenbriefe' (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1991)

Terry Llewellyn, ‘Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau “Wo sind die stunden der süssen Zeit”’, in Landmarks in German Poetry, ed. by Peter Hutchinson (Bern: Peter Lang, 2000), pp. 31-39

Alan Menhennet, ‘The Interplay of Wit and Sensuousness in Hoffmannswaldau’s Metaphor’, Daphnis, 13 (1984), 385-408

Michael M. Metzger, ‘Christian Hoffmann von Hoffmannswaldau’, in German Baroque Writers, 1661-1730, ed. by James Hardin (Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 1996), pp. 194-202

Cornelia Niekus Moore, ‘The lover and the beloved in Hoffmannswaldau’s poetry: which one is glorified?’, Daphnis, 1 (1972), 150-67.