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A.D. 1635-1700.

Though the middle of the seventeenth century marks an epoch in the literature of Germany, different tendencies of thought are never really parted by so sharp a line of demarcation: the new school first grows up by the side of the old one; and so in this instance too we must go back to the days of the great war for the men who first introduced the new style. In an unpoetical age like the one that was now approaching--empty of the great interests and vivid sentiment of a common life that furnish the soil on which true poetry springs--the art is apt to degenerate into an artificial sort of composition of either a didactic or a sentimental kind, which here and there rises a little above the dead level of mere verse-making, where some real gift of song has been bestowed. But it also often happens that the originators of even these styles are very superior to their successors.

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