Friedrich Rückert’s Kindertotenlieder

  • Eda Sagarra


A brief half-page article in the Economist of July 1997 makes a useful introduction for the modern reader to the author of Kindertotenlieder1 and the texts of some of Schubert’s best-known Lieder. The anonymous writer, writing in a pastiche of Samuel Johnson, under the heading ‘In praise of mediocrity’, claims for the ‘deepest human emotions’ a central place in all literature, major and minor. ‘Parental love’ he goes on ‘is seldom honoured in poetry yet is an honourable subject’. Abandoning the Johnsonian persona he continues:

Buckets of dire verse — and still more of dire non-verse — have been poured out by good poets in this century; and oceans thereof by well-known poets. Often a paucity of substance, spirit or both is wrapped in portentous complexity. The poet who — not always only temporarily — has nothing to say has been able since around 1900 to hide his lack in obscurity even more easily than earlier poets hid theirs in smoothness of metre and rhyme.


Dead Child Modern Reader Christmas Tree Chinese Poetry Pocket Book 
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  1. 2.
    Walter Schmitz, Friedrich Rückert. Gedichte (Stuttgart 1988), 235f.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Eda Sagarra

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