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Moritz, Graf von Strachwitz

born: 13 March 1822
died: 11 December 1847
country: Germany

Moritz, Graf von Strachwitz was born on 13 March 1822 in Frankenstein, Silesia. He came from exactly the same aristocratic background, and from more or less the same part of the world, as Joseph von Eichendorff. Unlike Eichendorff, whose family suffered a terrible financial crisis, Strachwitz came from a wealthy background and worked from his father’s estates at Schloss Peterwitz; like Eichendorff he studied in Breslau. A man of tremendous energy and vitality he travelled first to Scandinavia, but it was a trip to Venice that aggravated a long-standing illness and led to his premature death (11 December 1847) at the age of twenty-five. He had published his first collection, Lieder eines Erwachenden, in 1842, at the age of twenty. This showed enormous promise and provided a refreshing challenge to the prevailing Biedermeier tone of poetry at the time. Strachwitz was a young man of action and a conservative in matters of religion and loyalty to the monarchy—in this regard further comparisons with Eichendorff seem inevitable, although Strachwitz was a less thoughtful and introverted personality. Many of his poems and ballads look back to the age of the Minnesänger and the courtly love tradition; an element of this time-travel is to be found in Mein altes Roß. On the other hand he believed in realism and had no time for generalized Weltschmerz; we can be sure, for instance, that unlike the salon poets of Vienna he had grown up with horses, that he was a superb rider, and that this story of an old horse came, in part at least, from first-hand experience. His second collection, Neue Gedichte (1848), was published posthumously and it marked a considerable advance on the first; his untimely death caused a stir in literary circles because so much had been expected of him.

from notes by Graham Johnson

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