Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe by Tischbein

Goethe in the Campagna (1786)
by Wilhelm Tischbein
Goethe Museum, Frankfurt

Goethe's Rebirth in Rome—
Inspired by Michelangelo

I cannot tell you how much I wished you were here, for until you have seen the Sistine Chapel, you can have no adequate conception of what man is capable of accomplishing. One hears and reads of so many great and worthy people, but here, above one's head and before one's eyes, is living evidence of what one man has done. I hold conversations with you constantly in my head; I only wish I could put them all down on this piece of paper. You say you want to hear about me. If I were really to tell you how I have been reborn, how renewed and fulfilled I feel, how fortified in all my faculties, it would take pages. Let me merely say that I shall hope to accomplish something. For some time, I have been seriously preoccupied with landscape and architecture and I now see what will come out of my efforts and how far I can go.

At long last the alpha and omega of all things known to us— the human figure— has come to grips with me and I with it, so that I say: Lord, I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me, even though I wrestle until I am lame.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Italian Journey (1786-1788), August 23, 1787

translated by W. H. Auden & Elizabeth Mayer
Schocken Books, NY, 1968

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