1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Winther, Christian

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WINTHER, CHRISTIAN (1796-1876), Danish lyrical poet, was born on the 29th of July 1796 at Fensmark, in the province of Praesto, where his father was priest. He went to the university of Copenhagen in 1815, and studied theology, taking his degree in 1824. He began to publish verses in 1819, but no collected volume appeared until 1828. Meanwhile, from 1824 to 1830, Winther was supporting himself as a tutor, and with so much success that in the latter year he was able to go to Italy on his savings. In 1835 a second volume of lyrics appeared, and in 1838 a third. In 1841 King Christian VIII. appointed Winther to travel to Mecklenburg to instruct the princess Caroline, on the occasion of her betrothal to the Crown Prince of Denmark, in the Danish language. Further collections of lyrics appeared in 1842, 1848, 1850, 1853, 1865 and 1872. When he was past his fiftieth year Winther married. In 1851 he received a pension from the state as a poet, and for the next quarter of a century he resided mainly in Paris. Besides the nine or ten volumes of lyrical verse mentioned above, Winther published The Stag’s Flight, an epical romance in verse (1855); In the Year of Grace, a novel (1874); and other works in prose. He died in Paris on the 30th of December 1876, but the body was brought to Denmark, and was buried in the heart of the woods. In the verse of Christian Winther the scenery of Denmark, its beechwoods, lakes and meadows, its violet-scented dingles, its hollows perfumed by wild strawberries, found such a loving and masterly painter as they are never likely to find again. He is the most spontaneous of lyrists; his little poems are steeped in the dew and light and odour of a cool, sunshiny morning in May. His melodies are artless, but full of variety and delicate harmony. When he was forty-seven he fell in love, and at that mature age startled his admirers by publishing for the first time a cycle of love songs. They were what were to be expected from a spirit so unfaded; they still stand alone for tender homage and simple sweetness of passion. The technical perfection of Winther's verse, in its extreme simplicity, makes him the first song-writer of Denmark.  (E. G.)