A German poetess, the first woman known to have written in German and
probably identical with a recluse of that name who died in Austria in the
vicinity of Melk, A.D. 1127. Almost nothing is known of her life or personality.
She herself tells us in a passage in her work that she was the mother of two
sons who helped her in procuring the material for her poems. These poems are
metrical versions of stories from the New Testament and consist of a
The Gifts of the Holy Ghost,
The Last Judgment, and
John the Baptist. They are preserved in two manuscripts, one at Verona, the
other at Gorlitz. The
John the Baptist is found only in the latter manuscript.
Ava's authorship of this poem, as well as that of the
Life of Jesus has been
questioned, but hardly on sufficient grounds. The poems are naive in tone and
display deeply religious sentiments, but, except for occasional passages, they
are destitute of poetic merit. Their technique is often crude, assonance taking
the place of rhyme and alliteration being not infrequent. The chief source from
which Ava drew her material was the New Testament, but she also made use of
older German poems and possibly other writings such as the Apocryphal Gospel of
the Infancy of the Saviour by the Pseudo-Matthew.
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