I walk around Schiller Park every day. I’ve gazed in appreciation at the heroic statue in the middle of the park, and know that Schiller was a poet who was so admired by the German immigrants who initially settled in the German Village section of Columbus that they chose to erect a statue to him in the park.
But that’s about the extent of my knowledge, regrettably. And since I think we should always be interested in broadening our horizons and learning a bit more about the places where we live and work, I set out to learn a bit more about Herr Schiller. And with the aid of Google, it wasn’t difficult.
Friedrich von Schiller, who lived from 1759 to 1805, was a poet, playwright and philosopher who was a major figure in the European Romantic movement. He was immensely popular during his life and has been described by a biographer as a “pop star of his time.” He was passionate, apparently personally unkempt, and had a tumultuous love life that saw him fall in love with two sisters.
But here’s the most impressive thing I learned about Schiller: he actually inspired Ludwig von Beethoven. One of Schiller’s most famous poems was Ode to Joy, which Beethoven set to music, in modified form, in the final, chorale movement of his Ninth Symphony. That’s a pretty impressive testament. No wonder our predecessor German Village residents erected a statue to this guy!
You can read the entire, translated Ode to Joy here. Here’s the first verse:
Joy! A spark of fire from heaven, Daughter from Elysium, Drunk with fire we dare to enter, Holy One, inside your shrine. Your magic power binds together, What we by custom wrench apart, All men will emerge as brothers, Where you rest your gentle wings.