Collecting of Folk Poetry
Most Honored Sir!
A society has been founded that is intended to spread throughout all of Germany and has as its goal to save and collect all the existing songs and tales that can be found among the common German peasantry (Landvolk). Our fatherland is still filled with this wealth of material all over the country that our honest ancestors planted for us, and that, despite the mockery and derision heaped upon it, continues to live, unaware of its own hidden beauty and carries within it its own unquenchable source. Our literature, history, and language cannot seriously be understood in their old and true origins without doing more exact research on this material. Consequently, it is our intention to track down as diligently as possible all the following items and to write them down as faithfully as possible: . . . .
1) Folk songs and rhymes,
2) Tales in prose that are told and known, in particular the numerous nursery and children’s fairy tales about giants, dwarfs, monsters, enchanted and rescued royal children, devils, treasures, and magic instruments as well as local legends that help explain certain places.
3) Funny tales about tricks played by rogues and anecdotes; puppet plays from old times with Hanswurst and the devil.
4) Folk festivals, mores, customs, and games.
6) Proverbs, unusual dialects, parables, word composition.
It is extremely important that these items are to be recorded faithfully and truly, without embellishment and additions, whenever possible from the mouth of the tellers in and with their very own words in the most exact and detailed way. It would be of double value if everything could be obtained in the local live dialect. On the other hand, even fragments with gaps are not to be rejected. Indeed, all the derivations, repetitions, and copies of the same tale can be individually important. . . .Here we advise that you not be misled by the deceptive opinion that something has already been collected and recorded, and therefore that you discard a story. Many things that appear to be modern have often only been modernized and has their undamaged source beneath it. As soon as one has a great familiarity with the contents of this folk literature (Volkspoesie), one will gradually be able to evaluate the alleged simplistic, crude and even repulsive aspects more discreetly.