chapter  Chapter Four
29 Pages

Goethe

WithS. S. Prawer

Like so many of his contemporaries, Goethe had begun as a camp-follower of the anacreontics, writing, in his student days at Leipzig, elegantly turned verses in the manner of Gleim and Götz. But during his stay at Strassburg (1770-2), Goethe may be said to have found his true manner as a lyric poet; aided no doubt by his three great experiences of that time: the Sesenheim idyll (his love for Friederike Brion), recognition of the beauty of Gothic architecture (which he found to be, not formless, but a ‘characteristic’ art, fashioned according to organic, inner laws), and contact with J. G. Herder, the most powerful and original 1 mind of his generation. The first great example of this new manner is Willkommen und Abschied, which may be said to initiate a new phase, the great phase, of the modern German lyric.