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Barthold Heinrich Brockes Biography | Poet

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BROCKES, BARTHOLD HEINRICH (1680-1747), German poet, was born at Hamburg on the 22nd of September 1680. He studied jurisprudence at Halle, and after extensive travels in Italy, France and Holland, settled in his native town in 1704. In 1720 he was appointed a member of the Hamburg senate, and entrusted with several important offices. Six years (from 1735 to 1741) he spent as Amtmann (magistrate) at Ritzebtütel. He died in Hamburg on the 16th of January 1747. Brockes' poetic works were published in a series of nine volumes under the fantastic title Irdisches Vergnügen in Gott (1721-1748); he also translated Marini's La Strage degli innocenti (1715), Pope's Essay on Man (1740) and Thomson's Seasons (1745). His poetry has small intrinsic value, but it is symptomatic of the change which came over German literature at the beginning of the 18th century. He was one of the first German poets to substitute for the bombastic imitations of Marini, to which he himself had begun by contributing, a clear and simple diction. He was also a pioneer in directing the attention of his countrymen to the new poetry of nature which originated in England. His verses, artificial and crude as they often are, express a reverential attitude towards nature and a religious interpretation of natural phenomena which was new to German poetry and prepared the way for Klopstock.

Brockes' autobiography was published by J.M. Lappenberg in the Zeitschrift des Vereins für Hamburger Geschichte, ii. pp. 167 ff. (1847). See also A. Brandl, B. H. Brockes (1878), and D.F. Strauss, Brockes und H.S. Reimarus (Gesammelte Schriften, ii.). A short selection of his poetry will be found in vol. 39 (1883) of Kürschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur.

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