Page:Bürger's Lenore, Rossetti 1900.djvu/16

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Prefatory Note

any other foreign poem that could be named: I presume that it is a good deal less familiar to the present generation. I will therefore say a few words about the ballad and its author. Gottfried August Bürger, a very ill-starred specimen of the poetic race, was born on January 1st, 1748, son of a Lutheran minister, at Molmerswende in Halberstadt. He was fond of romantic solitude, and was anything but a strict moralist. His face is not an interesting one: fleshy, with round eyes, and, save the mouth, large features. A professorship at Göttingen, without fixed salary, formed his principal dependence. Lenore, published towards 1775, was the first poem of his to fix attention, which it effectually did; there was also the equally celebrated Wild Huntsman. Unlucky in most things, Bürger was specially unlucky in his marriages, three in number. Shortly after publishing Lenore, he married a Hanoverian lady named Leonhart, and then by his misdoing consigned her, as his spectral Wilhelm did Lenore, to an early grave. As soon as he was married to one Leonhart, he fell desperately in love with another, the younger sister whom he has celebrated under the name of Molly.