Kimming Kimming
The visual horizon, between sea and sky
The visual horizon, between sea and sky

Kissing Angels
and Singing Birds


A Cognitive Literary Analysis of the Poetic Imagery in the Danish Golden Age Poet B.S.Ingemann's "Morning Songs for Children (1837)"



English Resume of "Englekys og Fuglesang". A Final Thesis in Religious Science by Tinne Stubbe Østergaard. Summer 2007.

B.S.Ingemann (1789-1842) dedicated his seven Morning Songs for Children to the children in the so called Children's Asylums in Copenhagen. These Asylums were established by concerned members of society, notably including the Crown Princess Caroline Amalie, to provide poor children of mothers having to work away from home with good day care facilities, based on a positive view of the Christian faith combined with a Romantic view of the true nature of children. According to the Romantic view, children has innate qualities of trust, love, and imagniation, and proper care and stimulation should develop these qualities into true traits of the human character.

Ingemann was a declared Romantic himself. Raised in a loving family as the youngest of nine children born in a well off parish home, he enjoyed nature as well as a varied social life. He drew experiences from his own happy childhood into his poetry for children. He was a Professor at Sorø Akademi when he wrote the songs, and a very popular writer of historical novels. He was a close friend of fairy tale writer H.C.Andersen, and the poet NFS Grundtvig, but not impressed by the great Golden Age Romantic poet Oehlenschläger, nor poet and scientist H.C. Ørsted. The disputes about the proper understanding of the Romantic view made Ingemann a target of contemporary critique, and he resigned from public disputes, residing in his villa by the beautiful Sorø Lake, with his beloved wife Lucie Mandix.

The Danish composer Weyse, appointed to the Royal Court, provided the lyrics with very congenial tunes, which contributed to the songs immedeate popularity. The songs became curriculum in the Danish Schools until about 1970, and are still popular today. The thesis includes a section about the reception of the songs, and one about Ingemann's view of the Romantic ideology and his poetics.

This thesis employs literary theories and analytic models based on cognitive research, in order to find out why these songs should be so suited for children, as they have always been assumed to be. The theories include the works of Lakoff & Johnson on Conceptual Metaphors and Image Schematas, Fauconniers Mental Space Theory, Fauconnier & Turners Conceptual Integration Network Theory, in short the Blending Theory, and works by their associates and collegues Todd Oakley, Seana Coulson et. al. The adaption of the theories are mostly based on private notes from these researchers frequent visits to the Center for Semiotic Studies at the Århus University from 1998 to about 2003, when I was a student at the Center, which was presided by Professor Per Aage Brandt.

The analytic model used in this thesis is mainly the Many Space Semiotic Model, in short the Aarhus Model. It is developed on the basis of Fauconnier & Turners model of the construction of Blends. Fauconnier & Turners model include two Input Spaces, with mappings between them, blending into a Final Blend according to some optimality constraints; a Generic Space is assigned to govern the mappings between the Input Spaces. The most important addition of the Aarhus Model to the original model of Blending is the Base Space, where the text, or any sign production, which is actualised as a communicative act, is situated. The Aarhus Model also includes a Relevance Space, which govern the relevance of the vast cognitive processing going on in meaning production as soon as communication exceeds very simple sentences, but the Generic Space is not included, since it had no heuristic value in the practical use of the model as an analytical tool.

The Aarhus Model was demonstrated on a vast variety of texts, poetry, images, and any sign production actually used in communication, including gesture, music and emotions. The Base Space has great heuristic value, since it provides the possibility to include all classical analysis of texts, communications, exchange of signs and also meaning production seen as an social interaction. Very little has been published about the advantages of including the Base Space, and this thesis is an attempt to provide an initial example.

The analysis of Ingemann's Morning Songs for Children demonstrates the heuristic value of the chosen theories and models, notably the Base Space. All songs make several prompts for the active cognitive involvement by the singing participants in the Base Space. It is also demonstrated that the songs use Image Schematas which are relevant for the children, and a great variety of Blends between the childrens experiences of nature, notably the sun and singing birds, and Divine Presence, imbuing nature with Divine Presence as well, and the Divine with naturalness. The songs provide the children with cognitive skills for exploring and using their own poetic imagination.

- - - An English translation of the songs, including the Danish songs and the original tunes, can be found in B.S. Ingemann & C.E.F. Weyse, Morning Songs, Bøgeskov Musikforlag, 1997

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