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Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Grave in Nysa

Joseph Karl Benedikt Freiherr von Eichendorff (March 10, 1788 – November 26, 1857) was a German poet and novelist.



Eichendorff was born at Schloß Lubowitz near Ratibor in Upper Silesia in 1788. His parents were the Prussian officer Adolf Freiherr von Eichendorff and his wife, Karoline Freiin von Kloche, who came from an aristocratic Roman Catholic family. He studied law in Halle (1805-1806) and Heidelberg (1807-1808). In 1808 he travelled through Europe, visiting Paris and Vienna. In 1810, he returned home to help his father run the family estate. The same year he met Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, and Heinrich von Kleist in Berlin. He finished his studies in Vienna in 1812. From 1813 to 1815 he fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

From 1816, Eichendorff worked in various capacities in the administrative service of the Prussian state. In 1821, Eichendorff became school inspector in Danzig, in 1824 Oberpräsidialrat in Königsberg. He moved with his family to Berlin in 1831, where he worked for several ministries, until he retired in 1844. Eichendorff died in Neiße, Upper Silesia, in 1857.

Despite a career of rather mundane officialdom, Eichendorff is considered the greatest of the German Romantic lyric poets. His guiding poetic theme was that Man should find happiness in full absorption of the beauties and changing moods of Nature. He also wrote a history of German literature that was posthumously published. Eichendorff's poetry has been set by many composers, including Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hans Pfitzner, and Alexander Zemlinsky.

Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts – Eichendorff's masterpiece

English title: Of the Life of a Good-For-Nothing.

A typical romantic novella, voyage and love are the main topics. The protagonist leaves his father's mill and becomes a gardener at a Viennese castle where he falls in love with the daughter of the duke. Because she is unattainable he travels to Italy but then returns and learns that she had been adopted by the duke, so nothing stands in the way of a marriage between them.

Important and popular works

Stamp of him from the GDR
  • 1808 – Die Zauberei im Herbst
  • 1808–1810 – Oberschlesische Märchen und Sagen (Upper Silesian fairytales and sagas)
  • 1810 - Abschied (translated as Parting/Separation/Farewell/Wrench; also known as O Täler weit, o Höhen from its beginning verse)
  • 1815 – Ahnung und Gegenwart
  • 1819 – Das Marmorbild (The Marble Statue)
  • 1826 – Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Life of a Good-For-Nothing)
  • 1833 – Dichter und ihre Gesellen
  • 1833 – Viel Lärmen um nichts
  • 1834 (or 1838) – Auch ich war in Arkadien
  • 1835 – Die Meerfahrt
  • 1835 - Mondnacht (Night of the Moon, published 1837)
  • 1837 – Das Schloß Dürande
  • 1839 – Die Entführung
  • 1841 – Die Glücksritter
  • Geschichte der poetischen Literatur Deutschlands (published 1857)
  • Libertas und ihre Freier


Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.

External links



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