Ewald, Johannes(yōhän`əs ā`väl), 1743–81, Danish poet. Ewald's elegant verse made him the leading poet of his time. He studied for the ministry but soon turned to writing. His lyrical tragic drama Adam and Eve (1769) showed the influence of Klopstock. A prose work, Rolf Krage (1770), was based on a Danish legend from Saxo Grammaticus. The verse tragedy Balder's Death (1774) was a landmark in the revival of interest in Scandinavian mythology. His operetta The Fishermen (1779) contains the Danish national anthem, King Christian Stood by the Lofty Mast. The central figure of the Danish Literary Society, Ewald exerted marked influence on later writers. His name also appears as Evald.
Born Nov. 18, 1743, in Copenhagen; died there Mar. 17,1781. Danish writer.
In his early works Ewald followed the examples of French classicism, for example, his tragedy Adam and Eve (1769). He later turned to themes drawn from Scandinavian mythology and history. Ewald’s dramas Rolf Krage (1770) and Balder’s Death (1775) prepared the way for the romantic national drama. The heroes of his tragedy The Fishermen (1779) are simple working men. Ewald wrote an autobiographical narrative The Life and Opinions of Johannes Ewald (1774–78). In his unfinished philosophical novel The History of Mr. Panthakak (begun 1771), he harshly criticized the concept of Enlightenment optimism. He also published odes and cantatas, as well as lyric poems. Ewald’s song “King Christian Stood by the Lofty Mast” became Denmark’s national anthem.