Heinrich Heine

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Heinrich Heine, 1831

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈhaɪnə] (audio speaker iconlisten); born Harry Heine; 13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century.

Heine was born into an assimilated Jewish family in Düsseldorf, Germany. His father was a tradesman. After his father's business failed, Heine was sent to Hamburg. His uncle in Hamburg was a very successful banker, so Heine started learning banking, but he soon dropped it. Then Heine started to study law at the universities of Göttingen, Bonn and Berlin but was more interested in literature than law. He nonetheless took a degree in law in 1825. At the same time he decided to convert from Judaism to Protestantism because of the severe restrictions on Jews in the German states. Only Christians were allowed to have certain businesses or to be clerks of the state. Jews were also forbidden to become university professors, a particular ambition at the time for Heine. Heine himself said, his conversion was "the ticket of admission into European culture". Heine is best known for his lyric poetry, much of which was set to music by lieder composers, including especially Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann.

His start as poet Heine was made with Gedichte ("Poems") in 1821. Heine's infatuation with his cousins Amalie and Therese later inspired him to write some of his loveliest lyrics; Buch der Lieder ("Book of Songs", 1827) was Heine's first comprehensive collection of verse.

Heine left Germany for Paris, France in 1831. There he associated with utopian socialists. He met people who followed Count Saint-Simon, who preached an egalitarian classless society.

He remained in Paris for the rest of his life. His only visit to Germany was in 1843. German authorities banned his works and those of others who were considered to be associated with the Young Germany movement in 1835.

Heine continued to comment on German politics and society from a distance. Heine wrote Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (Germany. A Winter's Tale). In 1844; his friend, Karl Marx, published it in his newspaper Vorwärts ("Forward") in 1844.

Heinrich Heine, an Engraved portrait, 1837

One of the books was burned by the Nazis. One of Heine's most famous lines is now: "Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too" (Almansor, 1821).


Wenn dich ein Weib verraten hat,
So liebe flink eine Andre;
Noch besser wär es, du ließest die Stadt –
Schnüre den Ranzen und wandre!

Du findest bald einen blauen See,
Umringt von Trauerweiden;
Hier weinst du aus dein kleines Weh
Und deine engen Leiden.

Wenn du den steilen Berg ersteigst,
Wirst du beträchtlich ächzen;
Doch wenn du den felsigen Gipfel erreichst,
Hörst du die Adler krächzen.

Dort wirst du selbst ein Adler fast,
Du bist wie neugeboren,
Du fühlst dich frei, du fühlst: du hast
Dort unten nicht viel verloren.[1]

Take to the road!

If you are let down and betrayed by a girl,
Don't bother but find a new one.
Much better though - you took to the road,
Tie up your backpack and wander!

You will quickly come up to a blue awesome lake,
Encircled by big weeping willows.
You may here cry about your little ache,
Your intimate pains and sorrows.

And when you that smashing height will have climbed,
You will be heavily sighing.
Still, as you get to that rocky peak,
You will hear the eagles cawing.

And there you are – as an Eagle yourself!
You are as if a newborn.
You feel at ease, you feel you have not lost
That much down there below!

(Translated by Sergei Osankin)

In 1851 Heinrich Heine wrote the "König Richard" poem. The poem was written in tribute to King Richard I of England and it was translated into several languages.

König Richard

Wohl durch der Wälder einödige Pracht
Jagt ungestüm ein Reiter;
Er bläst ins Horn, er singt und lacht
Gar seelenvergnügt und heiter.
Sein Harnisch ist von starkem Erz,
Noch stärker ist sein Gemüte,
Das ist Herr Richard Löwenherz,
Der christlichen Ritterschaft Blüte.
»Willkommen in England!« rufen ihm zu
Die Bäume mit grünen Zungen -
»Wir freuen uns, o König, daß du
Östreichischer Haft entsprungen.« 
Dem König ist wohl in der freien Luft,
Er fühlt sich wie neugeboren,
Er denkt an Östreichs Festungsduft -
Und gibt seinem Pferde die Sporen.[2]

King Richard

Through lonesome, desolate splendor of woods
A rider gallops unabated.
He blows the horn, he sings and he laughs
With joy, carefree and contented.

His armor is thick and his posture is strong,
Much stronger is his dedication.
King Richard is he, Richard Cœur de Lion,
The Lord's army blooms in elation.

“Welcome to England!” they say out loud -
The green leafy trees by the waters -
“We are pleased and happy, O King, that you have
Sprung free from that Austrian fortress!”

The King breathes free air, in his heart he is glad,
He feels born anew and enlivened.
That damp dungeon smell makes no longer him sad,
He, spurring his horse, is triumphant.
<April 2021>

(Translated by Sergei Osankin)

Some works[change | change source]

Reisebilder, 1831
  • Gedichte, 1821
  • Tragödien, nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo, 1823
  • Reisebilder, 1826-31
  • Die Harzreise, 1826
  • Ideen, das Buch le Grand, 1827
  • Englische Fragmente, 1827
  • Buch der Lieder, 1827
  • Französische Zustände, 1833
  • Zur Geschichte der neueren schönen Literatur in Deutschland, 1833
  • Die romantische Schule, 1836
  • Der Salon, 1836-40
  • Über Ludwig Börne, 1840
  • Neue Gedichte, 1844 - New Poems
  • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen, 1844 - Germany
  • Atta Troll. Ein Sommernachtstraum, 1847
  • Romanzero, 1851
  • Der Doktor Faust, 1851.
  • Les Dieux en Exil, 1853
  • Die Harzreise, 1853
  • Lutezia, 1854
  • Vermischte Schriften, 1854
  • Letzte Gedichte und Gedanken, 1869
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1887-90 (7 Vols.) (collected works)
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1910-20 (collected works)
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1925-30 (collected works)
  • Werke und Briefe, 1961-64 (works and letters)
  • Sämtliche Schriften, 1968 (all written works)

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]