Rosenborg Castle, København, Denmark
Poor Linden Gunver. She was out wandering along the seashore lost in thought when she heard a man’s voice. It was a beautiful voice. Although it’s probably fair to say that Linden might have found many such voices beautiful, young and impressionable as she was. The voice told her how lovely she was, how pretty. Linden was flattered, and she wanted to her more so she edged closer to the water. The voice spoke again. This time, it said Linden was the heart’s desire of every man. Linden moved closer to the water still. And suddenly, from beneath the waves surfaced a merman. It was his voice Linden had heard, his flattery she’d listened to. At once he seized Linden. She cried out. But it was too late. The merman dragged her into the sea…and to her watery grave in its briny depths. Linden Gunvor’s life was every bit as tragic as that of the man who created her. Johannes Ewald published his poem Linden Gunver in 1779. He also wrote the words to royal anthem of Denmark, and many famous poems and plays. He was born in Copenhagen in 1743, trained as a soldier and studied theology. He’s considered one of 18th century Denmark’s most important poets. But he struggled throughout his life with depression and alcohol addiction. It was the alcohol that killed him in 1781 when he was just 38-years old. This statue by artist Theobald Stein was installed in the park at Rosenborg Castle back in 1909. The sadness in Linden’s face is not just for her own fate, but for that of the man who created her, who wrote her, and who bequeathed her story not just to Denmark, but to the world.