Marienbad Elegy

The Marienbad Elegy is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

This poem, considered one of Goethe’s finest and most personal, reflects the devastating sadness the poet felt when Baroness Ulrike von Levetzow declined his proposal (Goethe did not propose to her personally, but via a friend, Carl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach). Goethe was 73 years old, she was 18. He started writing the poem on 5 September 1823 in a coach which carried him from Cheb to Weimar and by his arrival on 12 September, it was finished. He showed it only to his closest friends.

To me is all, I to myself am lost,
Who the immortals’ fav’rite erst was thought;
They, tempting, sent Pandoras to my cost,
So rich in wealth, with danger far more fraught;
They urged me to those lips, with rapture crown’d,
Deserted me, and hurl’d me to the ground.

— Goethe, Marienbad Elegy, the last stanza (translated)

Goethe never returned to Bohemia again. He died in Weimar in 1832.

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