Johann Michael Friedrich Ruckert - Encyclopedia


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JOHANN MICHAEL FRIEDRICH RUCKERT (1788-1866), German poet, was born at Schweinfurt on the 16th of May 1788, the eldest son of a lawyer. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native place and at the universities of Wurzburg and Heidelberg. For some time (1816-17) he worked on the editorial staff of the Morgenblatt at Stuttgart. Nearly the whole of the year 1818 he spent in Rome, and afterwards he lived for several years at Coburg. He was appointed a professor of Oriental languages at the university of Erlangen in 1826, and in 1841 he was called to a similar position in Berlin, where he was also made a privy councillor. In 1849 he resigned his professorship at Berlin, and went to live on his estate Neuses near Coburg. He died on the 31st of January 1866. When Ruckert began his literary career, Germany was engaged in her life-and-death struggle with Napoleon; and in his first volume, Deutsche Gedichte, published in 1814 under the pseudonym "Freimund Raimar," he gave, particularly in the powerful "Geharnischte Sonette," vigorous expression to the prevailing sentiment of his countrymen. In 1815-18 appeared Napoleon, eine politische Komddie in drei Stiicken (only two parts were published), and in 1817 Der Kranz der Zeit. He issued a collection of poems, Ostliche Rosen, in 1822; and in 18 34-3 8 his Gesammelte Gedichte were published in six volumes, a selection from which has passed through many editions. Ruckert, who was master of thirty languages, made his mark chiefly as a translator of Oriental poetry and as a writer of poems conceived in the spirit of Oriental masters. Much attention was attracted by a translation of Hariri's Makamen (1826), Nal and Damajanti, an Indian tale (1828), Rostem and Suhrab, eine Heldengeschichte (1838), and Hamasa, oder die dltesten arabischen Volkslieder (1846). Among his original writings dealing with Oriental subjects are Morgenlandische Sagen and Geschichten (1837), Erbauliches and Beschauliches aus dem Morgenland (1836-38), and Brahmanische Erzahlungen (1839). The most elaborate of his works is Die Weisheit des Brahmanen, published in six volumes in 1836-39. This last and the Liebesfriihling (1844), a cycle of love-songs, are the best known of all Ruckert's productions. In 1843-45 he issued the dramas Saul and David (1843), Herodes der Grosse (1844), Kaiser Heinrich IV. (1845) and Christofero Colombo (1845), all of which are greatly inferior to the work to which he owes his place in German literature. At the time of the Danish war in 1864 he wrote Ein Dutzend Kampflieder fiir SchieswigHolstein, which, although published anonymously, produced a considerable impression. After his death many poetical translations and original poems were found among his papers, and several collections of them were published. Ruckert had a splendour of imagination which made Oriental poetry congenial to him, and he has seldom been surpassed in rhythmic skill and metrical ingenuity. There are hardly any lyrical forms which are not represented among his works, and in all of them he wrote with equal ease and grace.

A complete edition of Rtickert's poetical works appeared in 12 vols. in 1868-69. Subsequent editions have been edited by L. Laistner (1896), C. Beyer (1896), G. Ellinger (1897). See B. Fortlage, F. Ruckert and seine Werke (1867); C. Beyer, Friedrich Ruckert, ein biographisches Denkmal (1868), Neue Mitteilungen uber Ruckert (1873), and Nachgelassene Gedichte Ruckerts and neue Beitrcige zu dessen Leben and Schriften (1877); R. Boxberger, Ruckert-Studien (1878); P. de Lagarde, Erinnerungen an F. Ruckert (1886); F. Muncker, Friedrich Ruckert (1890); G. Voigt, Ruckerts Gedankenlyrik (1891).

Rudagi (d. 9J4). Farid-eddin Mahommed `Abdallah, the first great literary genius of modern Persia, was born in Rudag, a village in Transoxiana, about 870-900. Most of his biographers assert that he was totally blind, but the accurate knowledge of colours shown in his poems makes this very doubtful. The fame of his accomplishments reached the ear of the Samanid Nasr II. bin Ahmad, the ruler of Khorasan and Transoxiana (913-42), who invited the poet to his court. Rudagi became his daily companion, rose to the highest honours and amassed great wealth. In spite of various predecessors, he well deserves the title of "father of Persian literature," "the Adam or Sultan of poets," since he was the first who impressed upon every form of epic, lyric and didactic poetry its peculiar stamp and its individual character. He is also said to have been the founder of the "diwan" - that is, the typical form of the complete collection of a poet's lyrical compositions in a more or less alphabetical order which prevails to the present day among all Mahommedan writers. Of the 1,300,000 verses attributed to him, there remain only 52 kasidas, ghazals and ruba`is; of his epic masterpieces we have nothing beyond a few stray lines in native dictionaries. But the most serious loss is that of his translation of Ibn Mokaffa's Arabic version of the old Indian fable book Kalilah and Dimnah, which he put into Persian verse at the request of his royal patron. Numerous fragments, however, are preserved in the Persian lexicon of Asadi of Tus (ed. P. Horn, Gottingen, 1897). In his kasidas, all devoted to the praise of his sovereign and friend, Rudagi has left us unequalled models of a refined and delicate taste, very different from the often bombastic compositions of later Persian encomiasts. His didactic odes and epigrams express in well-measured lines a sort of Epicurean philosophy of human life and human happiness; more charming still are the purely lyrical pieces in glorification of love and wine. Rudagi survived his royal friend, and died poor and forgotten by the world.

There is a complete edition of all the extant poems of Rudagi, in Persian text and metrical German translation, together with a biographical account, based on forty-six Persian MSS., in Dr H. Ethe's "Rudagi der Samanidendichter" (Gottinger Nachrichten, 18 73, pp. 66 3-74 2); see also his "Neupersische Literatur" in Geiger's Grundriss der iranischen Philologie (ii.); P. Horn, Gesch. der persischen Literatur (1901), p. 73; E. G. Browne, Literary History of Persia, i. (1902); C. J. Pickering, "A Persian Chaucer" in National Review (May 1890).

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