Emanuel Geibel -- By: James B. Angell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:48 (Oct 1855)
Article: Emanuel Geibel
Author: James B. Angell


Emanuel Geibel1

James B. Angell

On Sunday, the first day of May, 1853, a sad, but illustrious, assembly were gathered together in Berlin. Ranch, the sculptor, was there, at the head of a deputation from the Academy. Von Raumer, Werder, Waager, and the great Humboldt were there. The hearts of all were heavy with grief. For before them lay all that was mortal of Ludwig Tieck. Loving hands had strewed the coffin with flowers. The tears, which moistened many an eye, told of a deeper and holier feeling than mere admiration of a world-renowned author. On every face was depicted sorrowing love for the Friend and the Man. In an eloquent discourse, Dr. Sydow portrayed the character and the genius of the deceased.

Then the procession moved out through the city-gate, entered the cemetery, and halted near the grave of the great Schleiermacher. The poet had often and ardently expressed the desire that he might be suffered to sleep by the side of this faithful friend. His wish was now to be granted. The storms, which for days had prevailed, had suddenly ceased. The air was laden with the perfume of the early flowers, which made even this home of the dead cheerful with life and beauty. The birds were singing in the trees. The softened sounds of the distant bells fell faintly on the ear. The preacher solemnly recited the simple and impressive words of the Lutheran service; and thus, on a quiet Sabbath May-day morning, the poet passed from earth to the land of perpetual spring.

“With him,” says a chronicler, “perished the great school of writers of the last generation.” This, then, is a crisis in the history of German poetry. We stand upon one of those points, where a glorious past must cease, and an uncertain future begin. Here will some Gervinus pause to study the influence of the Goethes and Schillers and Tiecks of a departed century upon centuries yet to come. From our distant post of observation we cannot refrain from watching with interest the tendencies of a poesy which has colored and shaped so many a mind in America. With no common solicitude do we observe its development, and inquire whither it is hastening. Must we believe, with the pessimists, that the great Revival of Letters which was heralded by Klopstock and Lessing, has really achieved its work? Is it true that in the graves of the two great bards of Weimar were buried forever the hopes of a poesy like theirs? Or must we say, on the other hand, that the works of the last generation were but a prelude to the higher triumphs of “Junge Deutschland,” and that the Heines and the Gutzkows are hurrying on their nation to glories poetical and political, which were before unknown. Or may we hope that a s...

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