Eduard Mörike Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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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(European Poets and Poetry)

Eduard Mörike spent his entire life in southwest Germany, in what is now the state of Baden-Württemberg. He is sometimes referred to as a Swabian poet, because Swabian is the dialect spoken in that region. The family’s standard of living was severely reduced when Mörike’s father, a physician, suffered a massive stroke in 1815 and died two years later. Although Mörike was not a good student, an influential uncle arranged for him to attend the theological seminar in Urach and then to study theology in Tübingen. Mörike subsequently served reluctantly as a Protestant clergyman in numerous posts. He was not convinced of the doctrine he was required to preach and was not appreciated by his parishioners. In 1834, he was appointed pastor in Cleversulzbach and brought his mother and younger sister Klara to live with him there. It was his last position with the church. In 1843, two years after his mother’s death, Mörike took early retirement.

The Mörikes were a close-knit family. Eduard Mörike was devastated when his younger brother August died of a stroke in 1824 and commemorated him in the poem “To an Aeolian Harp.” Three years later, his older sister Luise died at age twenty-nine, and Mörike had to take several months’ leave of absence. His own health was delicate, and he was often overextended financially because he felt obliged to help his siblings. Mörike was apolitical, and was shocked by the interrogation he underwent after his...

(The entire section is 482 words.)