Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Frans Michael Franzén

FRANZÉN, Frans Michael (1772–1847), Swedish poet, was born at Uleåborg in Finland, 9th February 1772. At thirteen he entered the university of Åbo, where he graduated in 1789, and became “eloquentiæ docens” in 1792. Three years later he started on a tour through Denmark, Germany, France, and England, returning in 1796 to accept the office of university librarian at Åbo. In 1801 he became professor of history and ethics, and in 1808 was elected a member of the Swedish Academy. On the cession of Finland to Russia Franzén removed to Sweden, where he was successively appointed parish priest of Kumla in the diocese of Strengnäs (1810), minister of the Clara Church in Stockholm (1824), and bishop of Hernösand (1831). He died at Säbrå parsonage, 14th August 1847. From the autumn of 1793, when his Till en ung Flicka and Menniskans anlete were inserted by Kellgren in the Stockholmspost, Franzén grew in popular favour by means of many minor poems of singular simplicity and truth, as Till Selma, Den gamle knekten, Riddar St Göran, De Små, Blommorna, Modren vid vaggan, Nyårsmorgonen, and Stjernhimmelen. His songs Goda gosse glaset töm, Sörj ei den gryende dagen förut, Champagnevinet, and Bevaringssång were widely sung, and in 1797 he won the prize of the Swedish Academy by his Sång öfver grefve Filip Creutz. This noble lyric is the turning-point of Franzén's poetic life. Henceforth his muse, touched with the academic spirit, grew more reflective and didactic. His longer works, as Emili eller en afton i Lappland, and the epics Sven Sture eller mötet vid Alvastra, Kolumbus eller Amerikas upptäckt, and Gustaf Adolf i Tyskland (the last two incomplete), though rich in beauties of detail, are far inferior to his shorter pieces. Franzén was a true lyric poet, fixing with masterly art the fleeting traits of common life in a glorified and fascinating form. At a time when revolution shrieked against every traditional bond of society, the lyre of Franzén breathed innocence and peace. With gentle earnestness and naiveté he sang the sweetness of love and family life—his highest human type the prattling child, the flowery meadows his elysium. His innocence is his peculiar charm; “his very espièglerie” says Malmstrom, “is but the laugh of children's lips.”

The poetical works of Franzen are collected under the title Skaldestycken, (7 vols. , 1824-61; new ed., Samlade dikter, with a biography by A. A. Grafström, 1867-69). A selection is published in 2 vols. (1871). His prose writings, Om svenska drottningar (1823), Skrifter i obunden stil (vol. i., 1835), Predikningar (5 vols., 1841-45), and Minnesteckningar, prepared for the Academy (3 vols., 1848-60), are marked by faithful portraiture and purity of style. See Malmström, Inträdestal i Svenska Akademien (1859); Hollander, Minne af F. M. Franzén (1868); Cygnæus, Teckningar ur F. M. Franzéns lefnad (1872); and Gustaf Ljunggren, Svenska vitterhetens häfder efter Gustaf III.'s död, vol. ii. (1876).