Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Runeberg, Johan Ludvig, 1804-77, Finnish national poet. In 1837 he became a teacher of Latin and Greek at Porvoo near Helsinki. Runeberg's simple and realistic style helped to check the tendency toward false rhetoric in Scandinavian literature. His first long work was the realistic peasant epic The Elk Hunters (1832). The excellent lyric epic King Fjalar (1844, tr. 1904), an unrhymed verse cycle based on Scandinavian legend, is pervaded by a sense of inexorable tragedy. The first song from Runeberg's great poem on the Russo-Swedish War of 1808-9, "The Tales of Ensign Stål" (1848-60, tr. 1925, 1938), has been adopted as the Finnish national anthem. Like other Finnish authors of his day, Runeberg wrote in Swedish.

Johan Ludvig Runeberg (5 February 1804, Jakobstad – 6 May 1877, Porvoo) was a Finnish poet, and is the national poet of Finland. He wrote in the Swedish language.

Runeberg studied first in the cities of Vaasa and Oulu, later on at Academy of Åbo, where he befriended Johan Vilhelm Snellman and Zacharias Topelius. His studies concentrated mainly on the classical languages of Latin and Greek. From 1837 onwards he lived in Porvoo, where he served as professor of Roman literature in the Gymnasium of Porvoo.

Many of his poems deal with life in rural Finland. The best known of these is Bonden Paavo , (Farmer Paavo, Saarijärven Paavo in Finnish), about a smallholding peasant farmer in the poor parish of Saarijärvi and his determination, "sisu" (guts) and unwavering faith in providence in the face of a harsh climate and years of bad harvests. Each year he mixes double the amount of bark into his bread to stave off starvation and gives what he can to his neighbors.

Runeberg's most famous work is Fänrik Ståls sägner (The Tales of Ensign Stål, Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat in Finnish) written between 1848 and 1860. It is considered the greatest Finnish epic poem outside the native Kalevala tradition and contains tales of the Finnish War of 1808-09 with Russia. In the war, Sweden ignominiously lost Finland, which became a Grand Duchy in the Russian empire. The poem, which is composed episodically, emphasizes the common humanity of all sides in the conflict, while principally lauding the heroism of the Finns. The first poem "Vårt land" (Our Land, Maamme in Finnish) became the Finnish National Anthem. Runeberg is celebrated on 5 February each year.

See also

  • Johan Ludvig Runeberg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth, the €10 Johan Ludvig Runeberg and Finish Poetry commemorative coin, minted in 2004. The obverse of the coin features an interestingly stylized portrait of Runeberg's face. The reverse features a 1831 font sample from Helsingfors Tidningar - a Swedish-language newspaper - since Runeberg wrote most of his work in Swedish, representing his versatile literary talent.
  • List of Swedish language writers
  • Runeberg's tart
  • Finnish band Ensiferum wrote a song "Old Man" that contains two verses from Johan Ludvig Runeberg's work "The Cloud’s Brother", where a dead hero’s girl shows her loss and pride by saying:

"Sweeter far than life from I found that love was"
"Sweeter far than love to die as he did"

External links

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