Full text: Zeitungsausschnitte über Werke von Herman Grimm: Goethe

© Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg, Best. 340 Grimm Nr. Z 38 
I remember distinctly (he writes) one evening when we had been walking together in 
the flower garden talking of Goethe; the clouds were gathering in the west, foretelling 
bad weather, and a sighing wind was passing over the fields. I know not how it was 
that Goethe’s words from the “Westöstlichen Divan,” “ Ach, um deine feuchten 
Schwingen, West, wie sehr ich dich beneide,” came into my mind, and as we walked 
along I repeated them half to myself. Marianne stood still, looked at me for a while 
with her bright and moving grey-blue eyes, and said, “ Stop ; what makes you repeat 
that poem ? ” “ Oh, it just came to me so vividly,” I answered : “ it is one of Goethe’s 
most beautiful ones.” Marianne still continued to look at me, as if she wanted to say 
something, but could not make up her mind to do so. “I will tell you something,” I 
called out suddenly, without knowing how I came to do it : “ This poem is yours—you 
made it! ” This supposition was, after all, not so very much out of the way. That 
part of the “Divan ” is almost entirely kept up like a duet, and I knew besides what a 
large share Marianne had had, generally speaking', in the production of these 
poems. [Is not this delicious?] “You must not tell it to anybody,” she began 
again after a time, holding out her hand to me. “ Yes, I did make those verses.” 
And yet it was a surprise (!) to me. She then ended the conversation, and the next 
morning was the day of her departure. She was expected at Neuburg, near 
Heidelberg. From that place I had a letter, in which, for the first time, she 
expressed herself more openly upon her relations with Goethe. “ Frau von 
Stein,” she wrote, “I never knew; I was never in Weimar, and saw Goethe first 
at Frankfort in the year ’14. During a visit he paid us in the country, from the 
12th of August till the 6th of October, 1815,1 got to know him, and to love him, and till 
four weeks before his death I was in constant correspondence with him. But his letters 
were quite different to those he wrote to Fran von Stein, and it seems to me a fatal 
piece of indiscretion that they should have been printed. About six or eight weeks before 
Goethe’s death he sent me a neatly tied-up packet, and wrote to me at the same time most 
affectionately, saying that he sent me herewith my letters, and begged me to keep the 
packet unopened until the uncertain hour which, alas, must but too soon strike. In the 
very hour that I was told of his death I broke the seal, and found at once some lines in> 
his own handwriting. They are in the new edition, and I wish to impose upon you the 
task of finding them.” There was no difficulty about this. The poem is to be found 
among the posthumous ones (vii., 219): “Vor die Augen meiner Lieben,” &c. a 
Weimar, March 3, 1831. 
Remarkably enough (Marianne pointed this out to me) these lines were written after 
the death of Frau von Stein. “ You will be surprised,” she writes to me later 
(Feb. 18, 1852) that I do not possess Eckermann, and have not read him for a long time, 
but am just in the third volume of Goethe’s letters to the ‘ Stein.’ You will find at the end, 
on the last leaf, the last page but one, the beginning of those lines which Goethe sent me 
with my letters, and which were certainly written on the 3rd of March, 1831—therefore 
after the death of the * Stein.’ But this must remain, as always, between ourselves.” 
Marianne would, I aim sure, have approved its not remaining between ourselves (! !). 
She had intended to leave to me her correspondence with Goethe, though from the 
beginning I had begged her not to do so. I had apprehended the responsibility which 
would grow out of such a possession. Finally, she changed her mind about it, and the 
letters are to remain deposited at the Frankfort town library till the twentieth year after 
her death. 
In another letter she returned again to the subject of our conversation in the garden.’ 
“ In the ‘Divan’ (she writes, April 5, 1856) you must not sift anything; I have nothing 
on my conscience but the ‘Ost und Westwinde,’ ‘Hochbeglückt in deiner Liebe,’ andi 
‘ Sag du hast wohl viel gedichtet.’ But much of it I have inspired, suggested, and 
experienced. I think I promised you thejoriginal of the ‘ Westwind ; ’ it differs very 
little from the printed version, but still significantly. May this leaf be a leaf of spring 
to you, and greet you stormily, for such a storm blows here as we have not had for long.” 
On the 2ist of January, 1857, she writes still more to the point :— 
“ I send you with this letter the lines that you asked for ; after all there is only one 
which G. altered, and I really do not know why, for I think my own are really more 
beautiful; and so as not to disappoint your expectations too greatly, I also send you a 
few small bits which then formed the greatest charm of our correspondence, in which 
the secret could not but be an essential ingredient. Those which I have marked out are 
from the ‘Divan’ of Hafis. . . . Now when you read in the ‘ Divan’ the beautiful 
poem ‘Geheimschrift,’ ‘Lasst euch, 0 Diplomaten,’ it will no longer be a ‘secret writing’ to 
you, and I again have told you something more about the happiest time of my life. But 
why I should do so just this evening, when I have already been struggling for an hour 
with a bad pen and worse ink, is just because &c. This has excited me so much 
that I resolved to write to you at once, and send you this enclosure, which I looked for 
a few days ago. I am possessed with the feeling that I shall soon be no longer able to 
write to you, so I want to make up for lost time, and begin by sending you this sheet. 
Keep true to me, and be discreet, and remember the little grandmother, ‘ ‘ M. \V. 
“P. S.—As your having the Hafis is uncertain, I send you this little sheet, which 
contains the said passages by myself, and also some of Goethe’s. It is a trifle, I well 
know, and you must forgive me for troubling you with it. Good morning.” 
It seems to me (writes Grimm) no breach of faith to publish these innocent 
things now, almost ten years after Marianne’s death. She herself wishes that her 
letters to Goethe, which she showed to no one, should appear after twice 
that time. I do not know whether I should be able to write down these 
things later (?). Her wash for secrecy referred chiefly to judgments on living persons, 
which were contained in her letters, and which, if they had gone further, might have 
made mischief, and could now have been of no interest. Enclosed in this letter was a small 
sheet, on one side of which w r as written:—“ Östwind, Wiedersehn d. 6. October 15.” 
‘Was bedeutet die Bewegung ?’ See., the poem to be found in the original edition of 
the “ West östlichen Divan,” p. 161. Goethe has changed the fourth stanza, making 
it more passionate [did it never strike Herr Grimm that the process might have been 
reversed, and that Frau von Willemer made it into Goethe-and-water in her copy?], 
and not to its advantage either, to my thinking.

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