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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Critical and Biographical Introduction

By Johanna Ambrosius (1854–1939)

BEFORE the year 1895 the name of the German peasant, Johanna Ambrosius, was hardly known, even within her own country. Now her melodious verse has made her one of the most popular writers in Germany. Her genius found its way from the humble farm in Eastern Prussia, where she worked in the field beside her husband, to the very heart of the great literary circles. She was born in Lengwethen, a parish village in Eastern Prussia, on the 3d of August, 1854. She received only the commonest education, and every day was filled with the coarsest toil. But her mind and soul were uplifted by the gift of poetry, to which she gave voice in her rare moments of leisure. A delicate, middle-aged woman, whose simplicity is undisturbed by the lavish praises of literary men, she leads the most unpretending of lives. Her work became known by the merest chance. She sent a poem to a German weekly, where it attracted the attention of a Viennese gentleman, Dr. Schrattenthal, who collected her verses and sent the little volume into the world with a preface by himself. Her poems have gone through some fifty editions. The short sketch cited, written some years ago, is the only prose of hers that has been published.

The distinguishing characteristics of the poetry of this singularly gifted woman are the deep, almost painfully intense earnestness pervading its every line, the fine sense of harmony and rhythmic felicity attending the comparatively few attempts she has thus far made, and her tender touch when dwelling upon themes of the heart and home. One cannot predict what her success will be when she attempts more ambitious flights, but thus far she seems to have probed the æsthetic heart of Germany to its center.