Matthias Claudius

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Born: 15 August 1740

Died: 21 January 1815


Matthias Claudius was a German poet, otherwise known by the penname of “Asmus”.

Claudius was born at Reinfeld, near Lübeck, and studied at Jena. He spent the greater part of his life in the little town of Wandsbeck, near Hamburg, where he earned his first literary reputation by editing from 1771 to 1775, a newspaper called the Wandsbecker Bote (Wandsbeck Messenger), in which he published a large number of prose essays and poems. In his later days, perhaps through the influence of Klopstock, with whom he had formed an intimate acquaintance, Claudius became strongly pietistic, and the graver side of his nature showed itself. In 1814 he moved to Hamburg, where he died in the following year.

Claudius's poem Death and the Maiden was used by composer Franz Schubert in 1817 for one of his most celebrated songs, which in turn became the basis for the 1824 string quartet of the same name.

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  • Abendlied (Der Mond ist aufgegangen (Traditional))
  • Der Mensch
  • Christiane
  • Die Sternseherin Lise
  • Die Liebe
  • Der Tod
  • Ein Wiegenlied bei Mondschein zu singen
  • Täglich zu singen
  • Kriegslied
  • Der Frühling. Am ersten Maimorgen
  • Der Säemann säet den Samen
  • Der Tod und das Mädchen
  • Wir pflügen und wir streuen (sung in Germany as a harvest festival hymn - translated into English as "we plough the fields and scatter")

Settings of text by Matthias Claudius


  • Asmus omnia sua secum portans, oder Sämtliche Werke des Wandsbecker Boten (8 vols., 1775-1812; 13th edition, by C. Redich, 2 vols., 1902)

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