Authors: Eduard Mörike

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

German poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Gedichte, 1838 (Poems, 1959)

Long Fiction:

Maler Nolten, 1832

Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag, 1855 (Mozart on the Way to Prague, 1934)

Biography

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.{$I[AN]9810000386}{$I[A]Mörike, Eduard}{$I[geo]GERMANY;Mörike, Eduard}{$I[tim]1804;Mörike, Eduard}

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 delightful drawings. His marriage in 1851 was not successful; his close relationship with his sister Dorothy, who lived with the Mörikes, caused many conflicts which finally led to the separation of husband and wife. Mörike had experienced several unfortunate love affairs before his marriage, but these relationships had also provided material for the poet. Mörike, in spite of his dislike of theology, had a sincere belief in the goodness of his creator, and his belief led him to say: “Lord, send what you will–Love or Sorrow–I am happy that both flow from your hand.”

His major source of inspiration was nature in his own backyard. He gathered his ideas while resting in the grass, sitting in bed, or merely reflecting on the beauty of a name while reading a dictionary. Mörike distrusted purely academic approaches and replied to his German critics: “You can see in his poems that he can express himself in Latin.” Some of his poems are written in the Swabian dialect. With the help of friends, Mörike was able to travel and to live in several spas when ill health plagued him. By the time he died in 1873, he and his wife had reconciled. The Swiss writer Gottfried Keller said, “He died like the departure of a quiet mountain spirit . . . like a beautiful day in June. If his death does not bring him closer to the people–it is only the people’s fault.”

BibliographyAdams, Jeffrey Todd, ed. Mörike’s Muses: Critical Essays on Eduard Mörike. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1990. Essays in this critical and biographical study examine the elements which inspired Mörike.Mare, Margaret Laura. Eduard Mörike: The Man and His Work. London: Methuen, 1957. Study of the life and work of Mörike.Slessarev, Helga. Eduard Mörike. New York: Twayne, 1970. Critical and biographical study.
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