Born: 25 August 1802, Schadat, Hungary
Died: 22 August 1850, Oberdöbling, near Vienna
Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau, a Hungarian-Austrian poet.
Lenau's fame rests mainly upon his shorter poems; even his epics are essentially lyric in quality. His excellent poem, "Herbst", expresses the sadness and melancholy he felt after his sojourn in the United States and his strenuous travels across the Atlantic to return to Europe. In it, he mourns the loss of youth, the passing of time and his own sense of futility. The poem is archetypal of Lenau's style and culminates with the speaker dreaming of death as a final escape from emptiness. He is the greatest modern lyric poet of Austria, and the typical representative in German literature of that pessimistic Weltschmerz which, beginning with Lord Byron, reached its culmination in the poetry of Giacomo Leopardi.
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Musical settings of literary works
- Der erste Frühlingstag Op. 48 (Felix Mendelssohn)
- Herbstlied, Op. 48, No. 6 (Felix Mendelssohn)
- Der Lenz (Ferdinand Hiller)
- Die Primel, Op. 48, No. 2 (Felix Mendelssohn)
- Schilflied (Fanny Hensel)
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