Linnaeus in poetry: a journey through the history of ideas
Carolus Linnaeus. Portrait by Lafrensen 1748 in Tycho Tullberg, Linnéporträtt (Linnaeus Portraits) (1907)
|It’s not only that
Linnaeus has inspired many poets to describe nature.
His own person has also prompted a great many poems.
Ever since he became famous, poetry has been written
about him and to him. We find him even in our own day
in the poetry of Werner Aspenström, for example.
What’s so exciting about all of these poems is that by reading them we can come into contact with history. Since they are all about Linnaeus in some way, we can compare what they contain and thereby travel through hundreds of years.
What is found in a poem depends, of course, on who wrote it. But because authors address those living in their own time, we can pick up a great deal about what life was like at that time: what people thought was good, how it was felt that people should live, what people were interested in and noticed in general.
These poems (in Swedish) are available in an anthology compiled by Gunnar Broberg and Ulf Marken: Linné i dikten (Linnaeus in Poetry) (1990). It contains many more poems about and to Linnaeus.