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Wikipedia says the title of Elfen Lied was taken from a German poem.

But that poem seems to be a simple (not to mention a bit confusing) children's poem . Reading the poem, I'm not sure why it would inspire anyone to write a story about killer children.

What does the poem have to do with the anime / manga?

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Well, in the same Elfenlied (Elf Song) article it says:

A sung version of "Elfenlied" appears in the manga. Also, the term "Silpelit" is used in the series to describe a category of Diclonius, which refers to an evolved subspecies of humans to which the main character belongs.

The "Silpelit" is part of the poem:

And he thinks that the nightingale
must have called him by name from the valley,
or Silpelit might have sent for him.

Additionally, this song is taught to Nyu by the manga-only protagonist Nozomi.

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    You might want to mention that 'Elfen Lied' is German (the title, not the anime of course). – dragon112 Aug 16 '13 at 7:03
  • Still not clear what the German poem has to do with the anime. They have nothing in common (theme or story wise). – Shantnu Tiwari Aug 16 '13 at 20:09
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    @ShantnuTiwari Outside of what's listed, the poem has nothing to do with the anime. The anime just uses the poem as inspiration and in the manga, it was read to Nyu. – Jon Lin Aug 16 '13 at 20:17

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