Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sibylla Schwarz: A German "Sappho"

Sibylla Schwarz (died 31 July 1638)


Born on 14 February 1621 in the German city of Greifswald, on the Baltic sea, the poet Sibylla Schwarz was just seventeen years old when she died. Her father, Christian, was the mayor of the city; her mother's name was Regina Schwarz. 

Sibylla Schwarz, from the
1550 edition of her work
Little is written about Sibylla Schwarz in English--and, I am sorry to say, I do not read German. Even with the help of Google Translate, there is just not much information to be had about this young poet. 

Her poetry, collected in a volume titled Deutsche Po√ętische Gedichte (translated as German Poetic Verses), was published posthumously, in 1850, by a teacher. Included are sonnets about friendship and love, but her poetry also includes themes of war (she's writing during the Thirty Years War) and death. She also notes the jealousy of those who resent a woman writing poetry.

And, of course, like so many other women writers, she was compared to the poet Sappho, praised as the "German Sappho." 

The few works on Sibylla Schwarz are all in German. For the little I have included here, I'm relying on the now-classic Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature Throughout the World, published in 1992 and edited by Claire Buck. (Now out of print, but you can generally find a used copy. It's HUGE--there are more than 5,000 entries!)