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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago











 My name is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but most people know me just as Goethe.

I would like to say that I am pretty famous in Europe especially in German speaking countries and Italy.

But let's start at the beginning: I was born 28th August 1749 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. My parents are Catharina

Elisabeth Textor (1731-1808) and Johann Caspar Goethe (1710-1782). My father Johann Casper gave me lessons in all 

common subjects especially in languages. I spoke Latin, Greek, French and English. I also received lessons in dancing, horseback riding and fencing. But my great passion was drawing. I quickly became interested in literature as well.

 Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and Homer were one of my early favourites.

As it was proper for my time period I studied law in Leipzig 1765 to 1768. I really hated to learn all the judicial rules by heart. Back then I didn't know that a lot of students would have to learn my poets by heart one day. However, back when I went to university I preferred to attend the poetry lessons of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. In Leipzig, I also fell in love with Käthchen Schönkopf and I wrote cheerful verses about her. I think that was the first time I  wrote poetry. My studies in law didn't progress so I had to go back to Frankfurt in August 1786.

When I returned to my hometown I became ill, and the relationship with my father got worse. He was mad at me because I didn't finish my studies, so after I felt better I went to Strasbourg to continue with my studies. I really liked the area and there I also met one of my closes friends Johann Gottfried Herder. I also fell in love again, but this time with Frederike Brion and I again wrote several poems for her.

At the end of August 1771 I was certified as a licensee in Frankfurt. But I lost my position in my first case in which I proceeded too vigorously.

After I had failed in my actual occupation I decided to concentrate on my writing.

Even my father supported me with my plans. I traveled to Italy in 1786 to 1788 and this was of great significance for my later æsthetical and philosophical development, as was my admission in 1782 when I decided to be a non-Christian. Well, I lived in Age of Enlightenment and many well-educated people decided to speak against the Catholic Church at that time period. In 1795 I became friends with Friedrich Schiller and our friendship lasted until Friedrich died in 1805. Nowadays we have a monument in Weimar because people think we are two of the most important German writers. In 1806 I married Christiane Vulpius who gave birth to my son August.




The most important works are Götz von Berlichingen (1773) which was the first work wich brought me fame. But one of my the best known novel is The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). In the years after Schiller died I published Faust, which is probably my most famous work.

Although my literary work has acquired the greatest amount of interest, I was also involved in studies of natural science. I wrote several works on plant morphology and colour theory.












  • 1836: Gespräche mit Goethe (Conversations with Goethe) also translated as: Conversations with Eckermann.
Now I would like to present you one of my most famous poems The Erlking or in German Der Erlkönig
Original German English Translation

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

"Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?"
"Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?"
"Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif."

"Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel' ich mit dir;
Manch' bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand."

"Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?"
"Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind."

"Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein."

"Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?"
"Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau."

"Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt."
"Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!"

Dem Vater grauset's, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Müh' und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Full sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,--
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.

Fischer-Dieskau sings Schubert - DerErlkönig
YouTube plugin error  
I wrote this ballad to face people with der ignorance.
The child represents someone who asks someone else for help in this case it is  his father, but he doesn't take him seriously and deemphasizes everything the son says.
In my opinion the ballad reflects the ignorance of our society.
Unfortunately I died on March 22, 1832....



"Mehr Licht!"





  • IMAGE GOETHE: <http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/image_not.jpg>
  • IIMAGE GOETHE & SCHILLER <http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Weimar/GoetheSchiller.jpg>
  • BIOGRAPHY: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Zusammenarbeit mit Weblexikon.de 10/29/07 <http://www.goehte.de/>
  • POEM: Der Erlkönig J.W.Goethe - Poetry bilingual poems for you <http://goethe.lingvisto.org/getpoem.php?id=29>
  • LIST OF PUBLICATIONS:  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_by_Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe>
edited by Saskia

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