Sibyl Ruth: Eight Poems from Heine’s ‘Buch der Lieder’

The High Window

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Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a German poet, writer and literary critic. The eldest of four children, he was born into a Jewish family and, during his childhood, was called ‘Harry’ until after his conversion to Lutheranism in 1825. Heine’s father, Samson Heine (1764–1828), was a textile merchant. His mother Peira (known as ‘Betty’), née van Geldern (1771–1859), was the daughter of a physician.

He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of lieder (art songs) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine’s later verse and prose are distinguished by their satirical wit and irony. He is considered a member of the Young Germany movement. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities — which, however, only added to his fame…

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