Treasure Island

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832 / Frankfurt am Main)

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After-Sensations


WHEN the vine again is blowing,

Then the wine moves in the cask;
When the rose again is glowing,

Wherefore should I feel oppress'd?

Down my cheeks run tears all-burning,

If I do, or leave my task;
I but feel a speechless yearning,

That pervades my inmost breast.

But at length I see the reason,

When the question I would ask:
'Twas in such a beauteous season,

Doris glowed to make me blest!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004
Edited: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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  • Michelle Claus (4/30/2014 11:18:00 PM)

    I don't have much to add after Daniel Brick's great commentary, except to say that I enjoyed Mr. Brick's back story on Goethe more than I enjoyed the poem itself. The poem strikes me as okay, but not amazing. Without the back story to give the poem heft, it's just... okay. (Report) Reply

  • Daniel Brick (4/30/2014 7:42:00 PM)

    The first volume of the biography of Goethe by the contemporary English scholar Nicholas Boyle is called THE POETRY OF DESIRE; it covers his life up to age 41 in 1790. The second volume is called REVOLUTION AND RENUNCIATION, and it only covers 13 years until age 54. In those years of explosive political upheaval, Goethe was reassessing his life, ultimately rejecting the life of pervasive desire, which had nourished him body and soul from youth to early middle age, and replacing desire with a heightened awareness of friendship, fidelity and felicity. I hope my alliteration makes this sound attractive. It is so hard to give up our desires, but that is also the essential teaching of Buddhism, where desire is called attachment and the goal is freedom from attachments of all kinds. Goethe did not aspire to achieve that extreme of renunciation, and in fact struggled for the rest of his long life with the real presence of desires. That is probably the reason for the bittersweet notes of this poem and it's curious inability to either fully embrace or deny the pleasures of spring. Wisdom really complicates life. doesn't it? Oh, for a life of sensations, cried the very young John Keats. I'm with you on that one, John! (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/30/2014 9:32:00 AM)

    Goethe's poems while reading it is thought that the super genius thinker's thoughts came into words and poems an ordinary mind cannot go indepth of it. However the poem in its general essence and recitation felt very nice. (Report) Reply

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