Romantic nationalism was often expressed in verse. Poets of the period felt themselves inspired by higher, transcendent ideals, such as Love, Nature, Justice and Death – and, last but not least, the Fatherland.
At the same time, such national verse, especially when set to music, was an ideal carrier for nationalist propaganda: easily memorized, easily performed, and often activated in the conviviality of communal singing. Many national verses of the period had great inspirational and mobilizing power and would eventually become official ‘national anthems’.
It is intended here to present an anthology of such verse. Much of it is disregarded by literary historians because of its formulaic and indeed stereotypical nature; social or intellectual historians tend only to mention titles or refer to the texts in passing, without extensive quotation.
The anthology presented here aims to highlight the influence and pervasive presence of such verse; its stereotypical nature invoking invariant ideals and stock phrases, albeit in different languages and applied to different societies; the sometimes remarkable patterns of recycling and dissemination by which these texts and songs were kept in circulation; and their ongoing popularity alongside the literary canon.
The anthology presents the original text, an English paraphrase, and metadata; a first selection is now online. The anthology will, it is hoped, eventually be expanded and completed to number ca. 500 texts from all languages and countries of Europe.
Contributions of nineteenth-century specimen texts from all European language areas are cordially requested; please get in touch.
It is also envisaged to reproduce some ancillary collections of verse in greater number, though possibly without English translation, e.g. national-patriotic songs from the German students’ songbooks (Commersbücher). Suggestions are welcome.