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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Dedication: To Goethe
By Bettina von Arnim (1785–1859)
 
From ‘Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child’

THOU, who knowest love, and the refinement of sentiment, oh how beautiful is everything in thee! How the streams of life rush through thy sensitive heart, and plunge with force into the cold waves of thy time, then boil and bubble up till mountain and vale flush with the glow of life, and the forests stand with glistening boughs upon the shore of thy being, and all upon which rests thy glance is filled with happiness and life! O God, how happy were I with thee! And were I winging my flight far over all times, and far over thee, I would fold my pinions and yield myself wholly to the domination of thine eyes.  1
  Men will never understand thee, and those nearest to thee will most thoroughly disown and betray thee; I look into the future, and I hear them cry, “Stone him!” Now, when thine own inspiration, like a lion, stands beside thee and guards thee, vulgarity ventures not to approach thee. Thy mother said recently, “The men to-day are all like Gerning, who always says, ‘We, the superfluous learned’;” and she speaks truly, for he is superfluous. Rather be dead than superfluous! But I am not so, for I am thine, because I recognize thee in all things. I know that when the clouds lift themselves up before the sun-god, they will soon be depressed by his fiery hand; I know that he endures no shadow except that which his own fame seeks; the rest of consciousness will overshadow thee. I know, when he descends in the evening, that he will again appear in the morning with golden front. Thou art eternal, therefore it is good for me to be with thee.  2
  When, in the evening, I am alone in my dark room, and the neighbors’ lights are thrown upon my wall, they sometimes light up thy bust; or when all is silent in the city, here and there a dog barks or a cock crows: I know not why, but it seems something beyond human to me; I know what I shall do to still my pain.  3
  I would fain speak with thee otherwise than with words; I would fain press myself to thy heart. I feel that my soul is aflame. How fearfully still is the air before the storm! So stand now my thoughts, cold and silent, and my heart surges like the sea. Dear, dear Goethe! A reminiscence of thee breaks the spell; the signs of fire and warfare sink slowly down in my sky, and thou art like the in-streaming moonlight. Thou art great and glorious, and better than all that I have ever known and experienced up to this time. Thy whole life is so good!  4
 
 
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