BURGER, burger, GOTTFRIED AUGUST (1747 94). A German poet. Ile was born in Mohners wende, the son of a country clergyman, and studied theology at Halle and law at Gottingen, where his poetic genius was fired by the works of Shakespeare and by Percy's Religues. He became a leading member of the Gottingen Poets' (Diehterbund), contributed to its organ, the .11usenalnianach, and from 1779 until his death was its editor. The University of Gattingen gave him an honorary degree in 1787, and soon after made him professor (without salary) of philosophy and asstheties, a curious post for one of dissolute youth and discreditable manhood. The greatest work of his misguided genius was produced while he was still young. His best ballad. Lenore (1773). coincided in date with Goethe's Gott von Berlichingen, and the beginning of the decade of literary storm and stress. Goethe. who was soon to speak of him as a `sad example,' thought his earlier poems `worthy of a better age.' Critics to-day see in them the most potent influence toward the revival of this ballad form in which so much of the best German poetry of the next generation was cast. These ballads are classics familiar to every schoolboy. Some of the most striking, besides the incomparable Lenore. are
r Jager. Dos Lied tuna brazen Mann, Die Wribe• roe Ireinsberp, /kr Kaiser •nd der Alit. and Burger's own favorite Lenardo und Bandine. Barger also revived the sonnet form in German. and his experiments in it were praised as models by Schiller, who, however, severely criticised sonic of Burger's more popu lar poems. His ballads have retained their pop tilarity to this day, and his poems have appeared in inane editions. Ills collected works were edited by his friend Reinard (4 vols., 1706). Ile was introduced to English readers in Wi/ aunt OM/ Meier (1775). Walter Scott's version of Lenore. The elder Dumas translated Lenore into French. Bfirger's imagination was fresh and naive. lint it was not rich or sustained. His taste was more elegant than delicate: his style was studied. though clear and forcible. The moral tone of his poems., virile and almost uni formly noble, contrasts strangely with that of his life. His qualities were those which com mand popular favor. and his defects those which the majority of readers readily condone. His place in German letters is apparently secure.