The New International Encyclopædia/Freiligrath, Ferdinand

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The New International Encyclopædia
Freiligrath, Ferdinand
Edition of 1906. See also Ferdinand Freiligrath on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FREILIGRATH, frī'lĭK-rät, Ferdinand (1810-76). A German poet of almost bizarre originality, an admirable translator, and a sturdy liberal agitator, born at Detmold. His father was a teacher. Though apprenticed to a grocer at fifteen, Freiligrath continued his studies, and published verses in local journals before he was twenty. The years 1831 to 1836 he spent as banker's clerk in Amsterdam. Then, after publishing translations of Hugo's Odes, and Chants du crépuscule, and launching a literary journal, Rheinisches Odeon (1836-38), he became a bookkeeper at Barmen, but continued writing lyrics, of which a volume (1838) won immediate and wide favor. This contained the famous “Löwenritt,” “Prinz Eugen,” and “Der Blumen Rache,” probably his masterpieces. He afterwards gave himself wholly to literature, coöperating in several now unimportant works, and gaining a pension of 300 thalers from the Prussian King. Gradually his associates drew him into political strife. In 1844 he surrendered his pension, and in his Glaubensbekenntnis 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 went to Belgium and Switzerland, published in 1846 Englische Gedichte aus neuerer Zeit, a volume of fine translations, and Ça ira a collection of political songs, and lived till 1848 in England. 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, was for a time imprisoned, published Zwischen den Garben (1849) and Neue politische und soziale Gedichte (1850), after which he went once more into exile in England (1851), where he remained till 1868, supporting himself by office work and admirable poetic translations, among which an anthology, the Rose, Thistle, and Shamrock (1854), and Longfellow's Hiawatha (1857), with Shakespeare's Cymbeline and Winter's Tale, are worthy of record for their felicity and faithfulness. 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. The general amnesty proclaimed in 1868 brought him back in time to celebrate the triumph of 1870 in the popular “Hurrah, Germania!” and “Die Trompete von Vionville.” Freiligrath's works are collected in 8 vols. (Stuttgart, 1870-71), and those up to 1858 in 6 vols. (New York, 1858-59). There is a volume of select translations into English, edited by his daughter, Mrs. Kroeker (Leipzig, 1871). For his biography consult: Kippenberg (Leipzig, 1868); Schmidt-Weissenfels (Stuttgart, 1876); Buchner, Ferdinand Freiligrath, Ein Dichterleben in Briefen (Lahr, 1881-82); Richter, Freiligrath als Uebersetzer (Berlin, 1899); and Rodenberg, Jugenderinnerungen (Berlin, 1901).