The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Ewald, Johannes
EWALD, or EVALD, Johannes, yō-hän′-nĕs, Danish poet: b. Copenhagen, 18 Nov. 1743; d. there, 17 March 1781. At 15 he ran away and enlisted in the Prussian service. Being compelled to join a regiment of artillery at Magdeburg, instead of being attached to the hussars as he had been promised, he deserted the Prussian standard in the Seven Years' War, and entered the Austrian service. After a few months he again deserted, returned home and began to apply himself seriously to theology. On the death of Frederick V of Denmark he was requested to compose an elegy (1766); and the general admiration with which it was received roused his ambition and he soon became one of the most eminent lyric and tragic poets of his nation. His opera the ‘Death of Balder’ (1774), the subject of which is taken from the northern mythology and his ‘Rolf Krage’ (1770), a tragedy taken from the ancient history of Denmark, are works which, notwithstanding many defects, bear the impress of true genius; but by some his lyrical drama ‘The Fishers’ (1779), in which is included the Danish national hymn, is ranked as the finest of all his works. As a lyric poet he is most popular at the present day, and several of his odes and elegies are among the best that modern times have produced. Consult Jorgensen, ‘Johannes Ewald’ (1888).