The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Körner, Karl Theodor
KÖRNER, Karl Theodor, a German poet, born in Dresden, Sept. 23, 1791, killed near Rosenberg, Mecklenburg, Aug. 26, 1813. His father intended him for scientific pursuits, and sent him to the mining academy of Freiberg; but he early displayed a strong taste for poetry, inspired by Schiller, who was an intimate friend of his father, and in 1810 published his first volume of poems under the title of Knospen, or “Buds.” Having studied for a short time at the university of Leipsic, he went to Berlin, and soon after to Vienna, where he wrote his dramas Toni and Hedwig, and the tragedies Zriny and Rosamunda, and was appointed poet to the Burgtheater. During the German “war of freedom” against Napoleon Körner joined the “black huntsmen” of Lützow (March, 1813), with whom he entered Saxony. His bravery soon gave him a reputation and the rank of lieutenant. It was during this exciting life that he wrote those patriotic songs which, set to music by Weber, have since become so well known. During the night of Aug. 25, 1813, while waiting in a wood to attack a small detachment of French troops, he wrote his celebrated Schwertlied, or “Sword Song.” At 7 o'clock on the morning of the 26th Lützow attacked the French, who took refuge in the wood while Körner pursued them. Between the fires of his own men and the enemy he was mortally wounded. His corpse was crowned with oak leaves and buried beneath an old oak, near the village of Wöbbelin. Near the spot is now placed a fine monument of iron, designed by the architect Thormayer, which has become a place of great resort for visitors. A selection of his battle songs was prepared by his father and published under the title of Leier und Schwert (Berlin, 1814). His complete works were published by the direction of his mother, and edited by Streckfuss (1 vol., Berlin, 1834; 4 vols., 1838). His “ Life, written by his Father, with his Selections from his Poems, Tales, and Dramas,” translated from the German by G. F. Richardson, appeared in London in 1845.