Name, my Laura, name the whirl-compelling
Bodies to unite in one blest whole--
Name, my Laura, name the wondrous magic
By which soul rejoins its kindred soul!
Angel-fair, Walhalla's charms displaying,
Fairer than all mortal youths was he;
Mild his look, as May-day sunbeams straying
Gently o'er the blue and glassy sea.
Honor to woman! To her it is given
To garden the earth with the roses of heaven!
All blessed, she linketh the loves in their choir
In the veil of the graces her beauty concealing,
Since thou readest in her what thou thyself hast there written,
And, to gladden the eye, placest her wonders in groups;--
Since o'er her boundless expanses thy cords to extend thou art able,
Thou dost think that thy mind wonderful Nature can grasp.
We speak with the lip, and we dream in the soul,
Of some better and fairer day;
And our days, the meanwhile, to that golden goal
Are gliding and sliding away.
Past the despairing wail--
And the bright banquets of the Elysian vale
Melt every care away!
Delight, that breathes and moves forever,
Woman, never judge man by his individual actions;
But upon man as a whole, pass thy decisive decree.
Friend!--the Great Ruler, easily content,
Needs not the laws it has laborious been
The task of small professors to invent;
A single wheel impels the whole machine
Joy, thou beauteous godly lightning,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Joy, thou goddess, fair, immortal,
Offspring of Elysium,
Mad with rapture, to the portal
Of thy holy fame we come!
A youth, impelled by a burning thirst for knowledge
To roam to Sais, in fair Egypt's land,
The priesthood's secret learning to explore,
Had passed through many a grade with eager haste,
Pale, at its ghastly noon,
Pauses above the death-still wood--the moon;
The night-sprite, sighing, through the dim air stirs;
The clouds descend in rain;
See you the towers, that, gray and old,
Frown through the sunlight's liquid gold,
Steep sternly fronting steep?
The Hellespont beneath them swells,
"Do I believe," sayest thou, "what the masters of wisdom would teach me,
And what their followers' band boldly and readily swear?
Cannot I ever attain to true peace, excepting through knowledge,
Or is the system upheld only by fortune and law?
Believe me, together
The bright gods come ever,
Still as of old;
Scarce see I Bacchus, the giver of joy,
By love are blest the gods on high,
Frail man becomes a deity
When love to him is given;
'Tis love that makes the heavens shine
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life, Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism. They also worked together on Xenien, a collection of short satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe challenge opponents to their philosophical vision.
Friedrich Schiller was born on 10 November 1759, in Marbach, Württemberg as the only son of military doctor Johann Kaspar Schiller (1733–96), and Elisabeth Dorothea Kodweiß (1732–1802). They also had five daughters. His father was away in the Seven Years' War when Friedrich was born. He was named after king Frederick the Great, but he was called Fritz by nearly everyone. Kaspar Schiller was rarely home during the war, but he did manage to visit the family once in a while. His wife and children also visited him occasionally wherever he happened to be stationed. When the war ended in 1763, Schiller's father became a recruiting officer and was stationed in Schwäbisch Gmünd. The family moved with him. Due to the high cost of living—especially the rent—the family moved to nearby Lorch.
Although the family was happy in Lorch, Schiller's father found his work unsatisfying. He sometimes took his son with him. In Lorch, Schiller received his primary education. The quality of the lessons was fairly bad, and Friedrich regularly cut class with his older sister. Because his parents wanted Schiller to become a pastor, they had the pastor of the village instruct the boy in Latin and Greek. Pastor Moser was a good teacher, and later Schiller named the cleric in his first play Die Räuber (The Robbers) after him. As a boy, Schiller was excited by the idea of becoming a cleric and often put on black robes and pretended to preach.
In 1766, the family left Lorch for the Duke of Württemberg's principal residence, Ludwigsburg. Schiller's father had not been paid for three years, and the family had been living on their savings but could no longer afford to do so. So Kaspar Schiller took an assignment to the garrison in Ludwigsburg.
There the Schiller boy came to the attention of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. He entered the Karlsschule Stuttgart (an elite military academy founded by the Duke), in 1773, where he eventually studied medicine. During most of his short life, he suffered from illnesses that he tried to cure himself.
While at the Karlsschule, Schiller read Rousseau and Goethe and discussed Classical ideals with his classmates. At school, he wrote his first play, The Robbers, which dramatizes the conflict between two aristocratic brothers: the elder, Karl Moor, leads a group of rebellious students into the Bohemian forest where they become Robin Hood-like bandits, while Franz Moor, the younger brother, schemes to inherit his father's considerable estate. The play's critique of social corruption and its affirmation of proto-revolutionary republican ideals astounded its original audience. Schiller became an overnight sensation. Later, Schiller would be made an honorary member of the French Republic because of this play.
In 1780, he obtained a post as regimental doctor in Stuttgart, a job he disliked.
Following the performance of The Robbers in Mannheim, in 1781, Schiller was arrested, sentenced to 14 days of imprisonment, and forbidden by Karl Eugen from publishing any further works.
He fled Stuttgart in 1782, going via Frankfurt, Mannheim, Leipzig, and Dresden to Weimar, where he settled in 1787. In 1789, he was appointed professor of History and Philosophy in Jena, where he wrote only historical works.
He died of tuberculosis in 1805, at the age of 45.
Marriage and family
On 22 February 1790, Schiller married Charlotte von Lengefeld (1766–1826). Two sons (Karl Friedrich Ludwig and Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm) and two daughters (Karoline Luise Henriette and Luise Henriette Emilie) were born between 1793 and 1804. The last living descendant of Schiller was a grandchild of Emilie, Baron Alexander von Gleichen-Rußwurm, who died at Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1947.
Weimar and playwriting
Schiller returned with his family to Weimar from Jena in 1799. Goethe convinced him to return to playwriting. He and Goethe founded the Weimar Theater, which became the leading theater in Germany. Their collaboration helped lead to a renaissance of drama in Germany.
Legacy and honors
For his achievements, Schiller was ennobled in 1802 by the Duke of Weimar, adding the nobiliary particle "von" to his name. He remained in Weimar, Saxe-Weimar until his death at 45 from tuberculosis.
The first significant biography of Schiller was by his sister-in-law Caroline von Wolzogen in 1830.
The coffin containing Schiller's skeleton is in the Weimarer Fürstengruft (Weimar's Ducal Vault), the burial place of Houses of Grand Dukes (großherzogliches Haus) of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the Historical Cemetery of Weimar. On 3 May 2008, scientists announced that DNA tests have shown that the skull of this skeleton is not Schiller's, and his tomb is now vacant. The physical resemblance between this skull and the extant death mask as well as to portraits of Schiller, had led many experts to believe that the skull was Schiller's.
In September 2008, Schiller was voted by the audience of the TV channel Arte as the second most important playwright in Europe after William Shakespeare.
Schiller has become an inextricable part of pop culture at the American undergraduate college, Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota. Several secret student groups on campus own busts of Schiller, which they show at popular campus events. Other students are set on stealing these busts from the secret societies. The Carleton's beloved "DVD Fest" has, in past years, been renamed "The Golden Schillers. The college has also named its student dollars "Schillers", and the "Schiller Society" is part of the admissions office.
Some Freemasons speculate that Schiller was a Freemason, but this has not been proven.
In 1787, in his tenth letter about Don Carlos, Schiller wrote:
"I am neither Illuminati nor Mason, but if the fraternization has a moral purpose in common with one another, and if this purpose for human society is the most important, ..."
In a letter from 1829, two Freemasons from Rudolstadt complain about the dissolving of their Lodge Günther zum stehenden Löwen that was honoured by the initiation of Schiller. According to Schiller's great-grandson Alexander von Gleichen-Rußwurm, Schiller was brought to the Lodge by Wilhelm Heinrich Karl von Gleichen-Rußwurm. No membership document has been found.
Schiller wrote many philosophical papers on ethics and aesthetics. He synthesized the thought of Immanuel Kant with the thought of Karl Leonhard Reinhold. He elaborated Christoph Martin Wieland's concept of the Schöne Seele (beautiful soul), a human being whose emotions have been educated by reason, so that Pflicht und Neigung (duty and inclination) are no longer in conflict with one another; thus beauty, for Schiller, is not merely an aesthetic experience, but a moral one as well: the Good is the Beautiful. His philosophical work was also particularly concerned with the question of human freedom, a preoccupation which also guided his historical researches, such as the Thirty Years' War and the Dutch Revolt, and then found its way as well into his dramas (the Wallenstein trilogy concerns the Thirty Years' War, while Don Carlos addresses the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain.) Schiller wrote two important essays on the question of the sublime (das Erhabene), entitled "Vom Erhabenen" and "Über das Erhabene"; these essays address one aspect of human freedom—the ability to defy one's animal instincts, such as the drive for self-preservation, when, for example, someone willingly sacrifices themselves for conceptual ideals.
Schiller is considered by most Germans to be Germany's most important classical playwright. Critics like F.J. Lamport and Eric Auerbach have noted his innovative use of dramatic structure and his creation of new forms, such as the melodrama and the bourgeois tragedy. What follows is a brief, chronological description of the plays.
The Robbers (Die Räuber): The language of The Robbers is highly emotional, and the depiction of physical violence in the play marks it as a quintessential work of Germany's Romantic 'Storm and Stress' movement. The Robbers is considered by critics like Peter Brooks to be the first European melodrama. The play pits two brothers against each other in alternating scenes, as one quests for money and power, while the other attempts to create revolutionary anarchy in the Bohemian Forest. The play strongly criticises the hypocrisies of class and religion, and the economic inequities of German society; it also conducts a complicated inquiry into the nature of evil.
Fiesco (Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua):
Intrigue and Love (Kabale und Liebe): The aristocratic Ferdinand von Walter wishes to marry Luise Miller, the bourgeois daughter of the city's music instructor. Court politics involving the duke's beautiful but conniving mistress Lady Milford and Ferdinand's ruthless father create a disastrous situation reminiscent of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Schiller develops his criticisms of absolutism and bourgeois hypocrisy in this bourgeois tragedy. Act 2, Scene 2 is an anti-British parody that depicts a firing-squad massacre. Young Germans who refused to join the Hessians and British to quash the American Revolutionary War are fired upon. Giuseppe Verdi's opera Luisa Miller is based on this play.
Don Carlos: This play marks Schiller's entrée into historical drama. Very loosely based on the events surrounding the real Don Carlos of Spain, Schiller's Don Carlos is another republican figure—he attempts to free Flanders from the despotic grip of his father, King Phillip. The Marquis Posa's famous speech to the king proclaims Schiller's belief in personal freedom and democracy.
The Wallenstein Trilogy: These plays follow the fortunes of the treacherous commander Albrecht von Wallenstein during the Thirty Years' War.
Mary Stuart (Maria Stuart): This "revisionist" history of the Scottish queen, who was Elizabeth I's rival, portrays Mary Stuart as a tragic heroine, misunderstood and used by ruthless politicians, including and especially, Elizabeth.
The Maid of Orleans (Die Jungfrau von Orleans): about Joan of Arc
The Bride of Messina (Die Braut von Messina)
William Tell (Wilhelm Tell)
The Aesthetic Letters
A pivotal work by Schiller was On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters (Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen), first published 1794, which was inspired by the great disenchantment Schiller felt about the French Revolution, its degeneration into violence and the failure of successive governments to put its ideals into practice. Schiller wrote that "a great moment has found a little people"; he wrote the Letters as a philosophical inquiry into what had gone wrong, and how to prevent such tragedies in the future. In the Letters he asserts that it is possible to elevate the moral character of a people, by first touching their souls with beauty, an idea that is also found in his poem Die Künstler (The Artists): "Only through Beauty's morning-gate, dost thou penetrate the land of knowledge."
On the philosophical side, Letters put forth the notion of der sinnliche Trieb / Sinnestrieb ("the sensuous drive") and Formtrieb ("the formal drive"). In a comment to Immanuel Kant's philosophy, Schiller transcends the dualism between Formtrieb and Sinnestrieb with the notion of Spieltrieb ("the play drive"), derived from, as are a number of other terms, Kant's Critique of the Faculty of Judgment. The conflict between man's material, sensuous nature and his capacity for reason (Formtrieb being the drive to impose conceptual and moral order on the world), Schiller resolves with the happy union of Formtrieb and Sinnestrieb, the "play drive," which for him is synonymous with artistic beauty, or "living form." On the basis of Spieltrieb, Schiller sketches in Letters a future ideal state (a eutopia), where everyone will be content, and everything will be beautiful, thanks to the free play of Spieltrieb. Schiller's focus on the dialectical interplay between Formtrieb and Sinnestrieb has inspired a wide range of succeeding aesthetic philosophical theory, including notably Jacques Rancière's conception of the "aesthetic regime of art," as well as social philosophy in Herbert Marcuse, in the second part of his important work Eros and Civilization, where he finds Schiller's notion of Spieltrieb useful in thinking a social situation without the condition of modern social alienation. He writes, "Schiller's Letters ... aim at remaking of civilization by virtue of the liberating force of the aesthetic function: it is envisaged as containing the possibility of a new reality principle
Ludwig van Beethoven said that a great poem is more difficult to set to music than a merely good one because the composer must rise higher than the poet – "who can do that in the case of Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier," wrote Beethoven.
There are relatively few famous musical settings of Schiller's poems. Two notable exceptions are Beethoven's setting of "An die Freude" (Ode to Joy) in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, and Johannes Brahms' choral setting of "Nänie". In addition, several poems were set by Franz Schubert as Lieder, such as "Die Bürgschaft", mostly for voice and piano. In 2005 Graham Waterhouse set Der Handschuh (The Glove) for cello and speaking voice.
The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi admired Schiller greatly and adapted several of his stage plays for his operas: I masnadieri is based on The Robbers; Giovanna d'Arco on The Maid of Orleans; Luisa Miller on Intrigue and Love; and Don Carlos on the play of the same title. Donizetti's Maria Stuarda is based on Mary Stuart, and Rossini's Guillaume Tell is an adaptation of William Tell. The 20th century composer Giselher Klebe adapted The Robbers for his first opera of the same name, which premiered in 1957.
Here is a poem written about the poet's burial:
Two dim and paltry torches that the raging storm
And rain at any moment threaten to put out.
A waving pall. A vulgar coffin made of pine
With not a wreath, not e'en the poorest, and no train –
As if a crime were swiftly carried to the grave!
The bearers hastened onward. One unknown alone,
Round whom a mantle waved of wide and noble fold,
Followed this coffin. 'Twas the Spirit of Mankind.
– Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
Fantasie -- To Laura
Name, my Laura, name the whirl-compelling
Bodies to unite in one blest whole--
Name, my Laura, name the wondrous magic
By which soul rejoins its kindred soul!
See! it teaches yonder roving planets
Round the sun to fly in endless race;
And as children play around their mother,
Checkered circles round the orb to trace.
Every rolling star, by thirst tormented,
Drinks with joy its bright and golden rain--
Drinks refreshment from its fiery chalice,
As the limbs are nourished by the brain.
'Tis through Love that atom pairs with atom,
In a harmony eternal, sure;
And 'tis Love that links the spheres together--
Through her only, systems can endure.
Were she but effaced from Nature's clockwork,
Into dust would fly the mighty world;
O'er thy systems thou wouldst weep, great Newton,
When with giant force to chaos hurled!
Blot the goddess from the spirit order,
It would sink in death, and ne'er arise.
Were love absent, spring would glad us never;
Were love absent, none their God would prize!
What is that, which, when my Laura kisses,
Dyes my cheek with flames of purple hue,
Bids my bosom bound with swifter motion,
Like a fever wild my veins runs through?
Every nerve from out its barriers rises,
O'er its banks, the blood begins to flow;
Body seeks to join itself to body,
Spirits kindle in one blissful glow.
Powerful as in the dead creations
That eternal impulses obey,
O'er the web Arachne-like of Nature,--
Living Nature,--Love exerts her sway.
Laura, see how joyousness embraces
E'en the overflow of sorrows wild!
How e'en rigid desperation kindles
On the loving breast of Hope so mild.
Sisterly and blissful rapture softens
Gloomy Melancholy's fearful night,
And, deliver'd of its golden children,
Lo, the eye pours forth its radiance bright!
Does not awful Sympathy rule over
E'en the realms that Evil calls its own?
For 'tis Hell our crimes are ever wooing,
While they bear a grudge 'gainst Heaven alone!
Shame, Repentance, pair Eumenides-like,
Weave round sin their fearful serpent-coils:
While around the eagle-wings of Greatness
Treach'rous danger winds its dreaded toils.
Ruin oft with Pride is wont to trifle,
Envy upon Fortune loves to cling;
On her brother, Death, with arms extended,
Lust, his sister, oft is wont to spring.
On the wings of Love the future hastens
In the arms of ages past to lie;
And Saturnus, as he onward speeds him,
Long hath sought his bride--Eternity!
Soon Saturnus will his bride discover,--
So the mighty oracle hath said;
Blazing worlds will turn to marriage torches
When Eternity with Time shall wed!
Then a fairer, far more beauteous morning,
Laura, on our love shall also shine,
Long as their blest bridal-night enduring:--
So rejoice thee, Laura--Laura mine!
Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.
The history of the world is the world's court of justice.
They would need to be already wise, in order to love wisdom.
The greater part of humanity is too much harassed and fatigued by the struggle with want, to rally itself for a new and sterner struggle with error.
Nothing, it is true, is more common than for both Science and Art to pay homage to the spirit of the age, and for creative taste to accept the law of critical taste.
To save all we must risk all.
Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.
The hat is the pride of man; for he who cannot keep his hat on before kings and emperors is no free man.
No doubt the artist is the child of his time; but woe to him if he is also its disciple, or even its favorite.
Utility is the great idol of the age, to which all powers must do service and all talents swear allegiance.
The strong man is strongest when alone.
Posterity weaves no garlands for imitators.
A gloomy guest fits not a wedding feast.