Eduard Mörike (MOH-ree-kuh) belongs to the group of German Romantic writers called the Swabian School. His poems are simple, cheerful, and readable, without being trivial. There are few anthologies of German poems that do not include a few by Mörike. The poet was born in 1804, the seventh child in a family of thirteen, and he lost his father, a physician, at an early age. His mother, who came from a vicar’s family, considered the study of theology the only proper education for her son. Despite his dislike of this calling, Mörike became pastor in the small Swabian village of Cleversulzbach. “I feel like a tethered goat,” was his comment when he started his pastoral duties.
Writing poetry was much more enjoyable for Mörike than writing sermons. Frequently he had to borrow a sermon from a colleague, and he said of his parishioners: Fortunately my peasants like a sharp sermon. What happens is, that on Saturday evening after eleven o’clock they creep into my garden, and steal my lettuce, and on Sunday morning they expect the vinegar for it. But I make the ending gentle: they get the oil.
After nine years, and some time after his first volume of poetry, with the simple title Poems, had appeared in 1838, Mörike resigned for health reasons and accepted a position as professor of literature at a girls’ high school, which allowed him time for writing. It was the happiest period of his life. At that time he also produced many...
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