Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) wrote this letter to Charlotte von Stein Goethe and is regarded by many as a German literary genius. In 1774 he wrote the popular Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), which caused a sensation. From 1775 on he lived in Weimar, where he met and fell in love with Charlotte von Stein, inspiration for the heroine of his play Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787) and Natalie in his Wilhelm Meister novels. In 1808 he produced the first part of his most famous work, Faust.
June 17, 1784
My letters will have shown you how lovely I am. I don’t dine at Court, I see few people, and take my walks alone, and at every beautiful spot I wish you were there.
I can’t help loving you more than is good for me; I shall feel all the happier when I see you again. I am always conscious of my nearness to you, your presence never leaves me. In you I have a measure for every woman, for everyone; in your love a measure for all that is to be. Not in the sense that the rest of the world seems obscure tome, on the contrary, your love makes it clear; I see quite clearly what men are like and what they plan, wish, do and enjoy; I don’t grudge them what they have, and comparing is a secret joy to me, possessing as I do such an imperishable treasure.
You in your household must feel as I often do in my affairs; we often don’t notice objects simply because we don’t choose to look at them, but things acquire an interest as soon as we see clearly the way they are related to each other. For we always like to join in, and the good man takes pleasure in arranging, putting in order and furthering the right and its peaceful rule. Adieu, you whom I love a thousand times.
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