[This page by Madeleine Brook]


Although Sachs’s poetry (much of it intended to be sung) keeps strictly to the meter and rhyme scheme for Knittelvers and is generally a narrative form, it encompasses a wide range of themes and genres, including gender relations, social relations, current events, comic tales and episodes (the so-called Schwank), fables, religious poetry, and historia (exempla or moral anecdotes). Much of this, even the comic material, includes a didactic and moralistic element in which the weakness of human nature is bared, regardless of social position. Reformation ideas can be found in much of Sachs’s poetry, particularly in that produced in the late 1520s and early 1530s. Sachs’s source material for his themes is also varied, covering classical, medieval, and renaissance writers and texts, and includes Boccaccio’s Decameron, Aesop’s fables, and Sebastian Brant. A selection of Sachs’s poetry is listed below:

Das Schlauraffen Landt; Land of Milk and Honey

Sankt Peter mit der Geiß; Saint Peter and the Geese

Ein Tischzucht; Table manners

Wider den blutdürstigen Türken; Against the bloodthirsty Turks

Der Abt im Wildbad; An abbot takes the cure

Die Biene mit der Spinne; The bee and the spider

Der kranke Edelmann; The sick nobleman

Der Bauer mit der Säuhaut; The farmer and the pigskin

Die ungleichen Kinder Evä; Eve’s unequal children

Ein geistlich Lied wider die Bauchsorge; A spiritual song against stomach trouble

Ein Lobspruch der Stadt Nürnberg; Ode to Nuremberg

Die Wolfsklage über die bösen Menschen; The wolf’s complaint of evil human beings

Ein artig Gespräch der Götter, die Zwietracht des römischen Reichs betreffend; A goodly conversation between the gods concerning the discord in the Holy Roman Empire

Ein Epitaphium oder Klagred’ ob der Leiche Doctor Martini Lutheri; An epitaph or lament over the corpse of Martin Luther

Eulenspiegels Disputation mit einem Bischof ob dem Brillenmachen; Eulenspiegel’s discussion with a bishop about making spectacles

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