Heinrich Heine (HI-nuh) was born Chaim Harry Heine to Jewish parents in Düsseldorf, Prussia, on or about December 13, 1797. At the age of seventeen, he tried, unwillingly, to engage in a business career, first in Frankfurt and later in Hamburg under his rich uncle, Salomon Heine, a banker. There he fell in love with his uncle’s daughter, Amalie, who inspired his earliest lyrics, “Youthful Sorrows.” In 1819, although his interests were already decidedly literary, Heine attended the University of Bonn as a law student. A year later, he went to the University of Göttingen, from which, after having interrupted his studies for a time to pursue his literary and artistic interests in Berlin, he eventually received his law degree in 1825. During that same year he was received into the Lutheran church, a practical measure he viewed with misgivings.
Heine published his first book of poems in 1822, to be followed by two romantic verse plays, which are considered to be of little dramatic importance. After leaving Göttingen, he began to travel, visiting the North Sea and England as well as various German cities in a fruitless attempt to find a university position. By this time, he was no longer in love with Amalie but found himself instead attracted to her younger sister, Therese, who became the inspiration for poems in the “Home-Coming Cycle” (1826). In 1826, “Die Harzreise” (journey through the Harz mountains) appeared, a mixture of impressionistic travel sketches and verses that became the first volume of Pictures of Travel. Three other installments were published, the last one in 1831, and in that year, weary of his failure to find a congenial post and restless in Germany, he went to Paris, a voluntary exile in the new constitutional monarchy.
Book of Songs, Heine’s most important collection of poetry during his period of residence in...
(The entire section is 772 words.)