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Ferdinand Freiligrath

Ferdinand Freiligrath

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Ferdinand Freiligrath was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, translator and liberal agitator.

Biography


Freiligrath was born in Detmold
Detmold
Detmold is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with a population of about 74,000. It was the capital of the small Principality of Lippe from 1468 until 1918 and then of the Free State of Lippe until 1947...

, Principality of Lippe
Principality of Lippe
Lippe was a historical state in Germany. It was located between the Weser River and the southeast part of the Teutoburg forest.-History:...

. His father was a teacher
Teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

. He left a Detmold gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 at 16 to be trained for a commercial career in Soest
Soest
-Places:* Soest, Netherlands* Soest, Germany** Soest , a district around the location in Germany-Organizations:*SOEST, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa...

. There he also familiarized himself with French
French literature
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens...

 and English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

, and before he was 20 had published verses in local journals. He worked in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 from 1831 to 1836 as a banker's clerk. After publishing translations of Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's Odes and Chants du crépuscule, and launching a literary journal, Rheinisches Odeon (1836-38), in 1837 he started working as a bookkeeper in Barmen
Barmen
Barmen is a former industrial metropolis of the region of Bergisches Land, Germany, which in 1929 with four other towns was merged with the city of Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia. Barmen was the birth-place of Friedrich Engels and together with the neighbouring town of Elberfeld founded the...

, where he remained until 1839. Later on, he started writing poems for the Musenalmanach (edited by Adelbert von Chamisso
Adelbert von Chamisso
Adelbert von Chamisso was a German poet and botanist.- Life :He was born Louis Charles Adélaïde de Chamissot at the château of Boncourt at Ante, in Champagne, France, the ancestral seat of his family...

 and Gustav Schwab
Gustav Schwab
Gustav Benjamin Schwab was a German writer, pastor and publisher.-Life:Gustav Schwab was born in Stuttgart, the son of a professor and was introduced to the humanities early in life...

) and the Morgenblatt (ed. Cotta
Johann Friedrich Cotta
Johann Friedrich, Freiherr Cotta von Cottendorf was a German publisher, industrial pioneer and politician.- Ancestors :Cotta is the name of a family of German publishers, intimately...

).

His first collection of poems (Gedichte) was published in 1838 in Mainz. This contained his poems “Löwenritt,” “Prinz Eugen,” and “Der Blumen Rache.” His early poems were inspired by Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's Orientales
Les Orientales
Les Orientales is a collection of poems by Victor Hugo, inspired by the Greek War of Independence. They were first published in January 1829.Of the forty-one poems, thirty-six were written during 1828...

, which he also partly translated into German; they often dealt with exotic subjects. The poem "Der Mohrenfürst" for example tells the story of a black prince who was a fierce warrior. He is defeated in battle, sold as a slave and ends up as a drummer in a circus, only the lion's skin he wore that now decorates the drum still reminding him of his previous life. This poem was set as a song by Carl Loewe.

His 1838 book of poems won immediate and wide favor, and he decided upon a literary career which he embarked upon in 1839. He cooperated in several now unimportant works, and in 1842 received a pension of 300 thalers from the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n king, Frederick William IV
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

. He married, and, to be near his friend Emanuel Geibel
Emanuel Geibel
Emanuel von Geibel , German poet and playwright, was born at Lübeck, the son of a pastor in the city.He was originally intended for his father's profession and studied at Bonn and Berlin, but his real interests lay not in theology but in classical and romance philology. In 1838 he accepted a...

, settled at St. Goar.

Freiligrath was a friend of the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline...

. In 1842, when Longfellow was taking a rigorous water cure at Boppard on the Rhine, a fellow patient introduced him to Freiligrath at the latter's home in St. Goar. Freiligrath had a special interest in English and American poetry. There followed many meetings and outings in Germany where this topic was discussed, and Longfellow presented Freiligrath with copies of his books Hyperion
Hyperion (Longfellow)
Hyperion: A Romance is one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's earliest works, published in 1839. It is a prose romance which was published alongside his first volume of poems, Voices of the Night.-Overview:...

and Ballads and Other Poems. The friendship developed further in their correspondence.

Due to political repression (censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

), and the encouragement of fellow poet Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Freiligrath later became more political. In 1844, he surrendered his pension, and in his Glaubensbekenntnis (Confession of Faith) placed his poetic gifts at the service of the democratic agitation that was to culminate in the Revolution of 1848. Such poems as “Trotz alledem” (a translation of Burns's “A man's a man for a' that”), “Die Freiheit,” “Das Recht,” and “Hamlet,” made his absence from Germany expedient.

He left for Belgium where he met Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. From there, he proceeded to Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and then to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, publishing in 1846 Englische Gedichte aus neuerer Zeit, a volume of translations, and Ça ira, a collection of political songs. He lived until 1848 in England, where he resumed his commercial career. At the invitation of Longfellow, he meditated going to America, but on the short-lived triumph of liberalism returned to Germany as a democratic leader. In 1847, Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 set Freiligrath's poem "O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst
O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst
O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst is a poem written by Ferdinand Freiligrath, a 19th century German writer. In 1847, Hungarian composer Franz Liszt set the poem to music , and eventually adapted it into his famous Liebesträume No. 3. The work is one of Liszt's most famous and poignant...

" to music — the song was later arranged by Liszt for solo piano as his "Liebestraume No. 3," which subsequently became one of his most famous piano pieces.

Upon his return to Germany, Freiligrath settled in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, and worked for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Neue Rheinische Zeitung
The Neue Rheinische Zeitung - Organ der Demokratie was a German daily newspaper, published by Karl Marx in Cologne between June 1, 1848 and May 19, 1849. Its name refers to a paper earlier edited by Marx, the Rheinische Zeitung...

(general editor: Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, editor of cultural pages: Georg Weerth
Georg Weerth
Georg Weerth was a German writer. Weerth's poems celebrated the solidarity of the working class in its fight for liberation from exploitation and oppression...

). It was not long before he had again called down upon himself the ill-will of the ruling powers by a poem, Die Toten an die Lebenden (The Dead to the Living, 1848). He was arrested on a charge of lèse-majesté, but the prosecution ended in his acquittal. This trial, in which he was acquitted, is memorable for another reason, being the first jury trial ever held in Prussia. He published Zwischen den Garben (1849) and Neue politische und soziale Gedichte (New Political and Social Poems, 1850). New difficulties arose; his association with the democratic movement rendered him an object of constant suspicion, and in 1851 he judged it more prudent to go back to London. There he became the director of the London branch of the Schweizer Generalbank and set up residence in the north-east of the city at 3 Sutton Place, Hackney. He remained in London until 1868, supporting himself by office work and poetic translations, among which were an anthology, the Rose, Thistle, and Shamrock (1854), Longfellow's Hiawatha
Hiawatha
Hiawatha was a legendary Native American leader and founder of the Iroquois confederacy...

(1857), and Shakespeare's Cymbeline
Cymbeline
Cymbeline , also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as a romance...

and The Winter's Tale
The Winter's Tale
The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623. Although it was grouped among the comedies, some modern editors have relabelled the play as one of Shakespeare's late romances. Some critics, among them W. W...

. These kept up his popularity in Germany, where in 1866 a subscription of 60,000 thalers was raised for him, partly as a political manifesto.

Back in Germany after the amnesty of 1868, Freiligrath settled first in Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 and in 1875 in the neighbouring town of Cannstatt. He became a nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, publishing the patriotic poems “Hurrah, Germania!” and “Die Trompete von Vionville,” inspired by Germany's victory in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

. He also indicated that German National Flags colors (which at the time stood only for the nation, not any political entity), the black was for gunpowder, the red for blood and the yellow the glow given off by the fire. He died in Cannstatt in 1876.

Among the first writers to translate Freiligarth into English was the Irish poet James Clarence Mangan
James Clarence Mangan
James Clarence Mangan, born James Mangan was an Irish poet.-Early life:Mangan was the son of a former hedge school teacher who took over a grocery business and eventually became bankrupt....

. A selection, by his daughter, from the English translations of his poems was published in the Tauchnitz “Collection of German Authors” (Leipzig, 1869).

External links