Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was one of the most celebrated poets in Germany. He wrote poems, odes, plays and theoretical writings on German literature, language and culture. Klopstock revolutionized German poetic language and its function, he introduced free verse into German poetry and instilled religious pathos into poetic representation of friendship, nature, love, leisure, and the nation.
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was the eldest of seventeen children born into an impoverished Pietist family of attorneys and pastors in Quedlinburg (Saxony-Anhalt). He spent a happy childhood both in his birthplace and on the estate of Friedeburg on the Saale, which his father later rented. He grew up strong and healthy and became an excellent horseman. In his thirteenth year, he returned to Quedlinburg and attended Gymnasium there. In 1739 Klopstock went on to the famous classical school named Schulpforta, where he received a humanistic education. In his school years Klopstock read “Paradise Lost” in Bodmer’s translation and was greatly inspired by the book.
At the Protestant School of Schulpforta Friedrich Klopstock became an adept in Greek and Latin versification, wrote some meritorious idylls and odes in German as well as drafted the plan of The Messias, on which most of his fame rests. On quitting Schulpforta he delivered a remarkable "leaving oration" on epic poetry.
In Jena University Friedrich Klopstock elaborated the first three cantos of the Messias in prose. But in spring 1746 having found life at this university uncongenial, he transferred to Leipzig. Here in 1746 he joined the circle of young men of letters who contributed to “The Bremer Beiträge”. In 1748 the first three cantos of “The Messiah” (his most famous poem) in hexameter verse were anonymously published in this periodical.
Soon after he left University he started working as a private tutor in the family of a relative. After two years of service he quited the job and left for Zurich, where he spent nine months. In 1751, he accepted an invitation from the Danish king, Frederick V, who sponsored the completion of "The Messiah". After living in Denmark for almost twenty years, Klopstock resided in Hamburg for the rest of his life. In both the places he published poems, plays, and theoretical writings on German literature, language, and culture.
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock became one of the most celebrated poets of his time. He revolutionized German poetic language and its function and introduced free verse into German poetry. Klopstock’s most famous poem is “The Messiah”. His works marked a departure from grammatical and syntactical rules and introduced an innovative, complex style. The pathetic use of inversions, repetitions, neologisms, comparisons, and metaphors infused enthusiasm, passion, and sentiment into the biblical story. Klopstock transformed the culture of religious dogma into an inner world of sensitive experience. In his works Klopstock instilled religious pathos into the poetic representation of friendship, nature, love, leisure, and the nation.
Ode to Zurich lake
The death of Adam
Battle of Arminius
Memoirs of Frederick and Margaret Klopstock
The Scholar's Republic
He was such an avid supporter of the French revolution, that the French Republic sent him a diploma of honorary citizenship. However, horrified by the terrible scenes of the Revolution he returned the Diploma and gradually distanced himself from the fanatical and tyrannical descendants of it.