Opitz, Martin

Opitz, Martin (afterwards ennobled as OPITZ VON BOBERFELD), a famous German poet, noted for his literary productions of a moral and religious character, was born Dec. 23, 1597, at Bunzlau, in Silesia. He studied at Frankfort and Heidelberg, and published in 1618 a Latin essay, Aristarchus de contemptu linguae Teutonicae, in which he vindicates the merit of the German language. His most important work, Von der deutschen Poeterei, or the "Book of German Poetry" (1624), passed through nine editions before 1669, and produced a reform in German versification. For nearly three centuries the art of writing in verse had degenerated, until it had been reduced to nothing better than a mere counting of syllables. Opitz insisted on the importance of both metre and rhythm, while he contended for purity in the choice of words. His own attainments as a Scholar — especially as a writer of respectable Latin verses — recommended his book to the notice of educated men. and its success made Opitz the founder of a new school — the First Silesian School. After several years of service in diplomacy he settled in Dantzig, and gained in 1637 an appointment as historiographer to the king, Vladislaus IV, of Poland. He was closely engaged in historical researches, and was looking forward to the enjoyment of years of literary industry when his career was cut short. He died Aug. 20, 1639, of the plague, caught from a beggar to whom he had given alms. Opitz was more honored by his contemporaries than almost any other poet ever was. German poetry, which had been neglected and despised, began again to be esteemed and cultivated. The popularity of Opitz, and his relations with the chiefs of the Roman Catholic party, led to the adoption, throughout the whole of Germany, of the form given to the German language by Luther, which had previously obtained general acceptance only in the Protestant states (see Hallam, Introd. to the Lit. of Europe). His poetry is characterized by careful attention to language and metre, and by reflection rather than by brilliant fancy or deep feeling. There are several complete editions of his works (Breslau, 1690, 3 vols.; Amsterdam, 1646, 3 vols.; Frankfort and Leipsic, 1724, 3 vols.); a selection of his works was published by Müller (Leipsic, 1822) and Tiltmann (1869). "Opitz was essentially a clever, industrious literary man of the world, with the art of making himself everywhere agreeable, and was petted and caressed accordingly more than was good for his work. Such a man would probably never have written religious poetry at all in ordinary times; but living as he did when grave thoughts and terrible struggles were in all men's minds, he, too, was influenced by his age, and he wrote a good deal of this kind — versions of all the Epistles for the Sundays of the year, of many of the Psalms, and of the Song of Solomon. Among his sacred poems, however, his hymns are by far the best, and some are really fine." One of its best is, O Licht geboren aus demni Lichte (Wilkworth, Singers of Germany, "O Light, who out of Light wast born"). See Koch, Gesch. d. Kirchenliedes, 3:6 and 9; Strehlke, Martin Opitz (Leipsic, 1856); Weinhold, Martin Opitz von Bobe-feld (Kiel, 1862); Palm, — Martin Opitz (1862); Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany, p. 173 sq.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.