In 1770-1771 Goethe, twenty-one years old, lived in Strasbourg as a law student. He had recently recovered from a near fatal illness, and in the flush of recovery he came to an understanding of his poetic genius.
This is a famous love poem that originated at that time of recovery and self-discovery.
“The substitution of literature for religion as the medium of Goethe’s self-understanding was achieved in 1770-1771 . . .”
— Nicholas Boyle, Goethe: The Poet and the Age, Vol. 1
In the video, Marion reads the poem in German, and the English translation appears while she speaks the lines. The music is by Catalan composer Fernando Sor (1778 – 1839). Translation © Bruce Donehower, 2021.