Runeberg, Johan Ludwig (1804–1877)

Johan Ludvig Runeberg (born February 5 or February 7, 1804 in Jakobstad, † May 6, 1877 in Borgå) was a Finnish-Swedish writer. He is considered the national poet of Finland.

The most famous work by Runeberg is Fänrik Ståls sägner ("Fähnrich Stahl"), which appeared in two parts in 1848 and 1860. It consists of 35 poems, mainly heroic ballads, from the time of the Finnish war (1808-1809), which led to the cession of Finland to Russia by Sweden after the Treaty of Fredrikshamn. The first poem from it, Vårt land (“Our Country”), became the national anthem of Finland (with Swedish and translated Finnish text).

Runeberg translated Serbian folk songs into Swedish. Through this he found a simple, folksong-like tone, which particularly characterizes the two volumes of his collection of poems Idyll och epigram (Idylls and Epigrams). Runeberg also wrote hexameter idylls in Tegnér's succession and dramas.

Runeberg also worked as a teacher and lecturer, including for Greek, in Helsingfors and Borgå. He also wrote for the newspapers Helsingfors Morgonblad and Borgå Tidning.

In 2004 he was ranked 57th in a poll by the Finnish radio station YLE for the 100 biggest Finns.

To commemorate Runeberg, the city of Borgå has been awarding the Runeberg Prize annually on his birthday since 1987, the 150th year of his arrival in the city.

In Finland, Runeberg Day (Swedish Runeberg dygn, Finnish Runebergin päivä) is celebrated on February 5th. Runeberg tarts (Runebergstårta in Swedish, Runebergin torttuja in Finnish) are traditionally eaten on this day.

Runeberg himself composed his poems "Den övergivna" and "Vårt Land" (Our Country). He also made a choral arrangement for the latter.

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