Marx-Engels Correspondence 1852

Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer


Source: Marx Engels On Literature and Art, Progress Publishers, 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

January 16, 1852

On the other hand, I enclose a poem and a private letter from Freiligrath. I now request you to do the following: 1. Have the poem printed properly with reasonable spacing between the stanzas. Do not try to save space. Poems lose a great deal if they are printed in a cramped and conglomerate fashion. 2. Write Freiligrath a friendly letter. You do not have to be too sparing with compliments, for all poets, even the best ones, are plus au moins [more or less] courtisanes and il faut les cajoler, pour les faire chanter. [one must cajole them to make them sing] Our F[reiligrath] is the most amiable, unassuming man in private life, who beneath his real bonhomie conceals un esprit tres fin et tres railleur; [an extremely keen and scornful mind] his emotion is “truthful” and does not make him “uncritical” and “superstitious.” He is a genuine revolutionary and an honest man through and through — and this can be said of few men. Nevertheless, whatever kind of homme he is, the poet needs praise and admiration. I believe that the genre itself requires this. I am telling you all this simply to point out that in your correspondence with Freiligrath, you should not forget the difference between the “poet” and the “critic.”