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Erotica Romana is a cycle of twenty-four poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. They reflect his Italian Journey 1786-88 and celebrate the sensuality and vigour of Italian and Classical culture. Written mainly after his return to Weimar, they contain poems on many sexual themes, and four of them were suppressed from publication during Goethe's lifetime due to fears of [censorship]; they were only published in 1914, together with a large body of the Venetian Epigrams, written during his second, shorter travel to Italy in 1790. The elegies are also a loving tribute to Goethe's companion, Christiane Vulpius, whom he met in 1788 on his return from Italy.
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ABOUT THE ELEGIES
HERE’S WHERE I’VE PLANTED MY garden and here I shall care for love’s blossoms— As I am taught by my muse, carefully sort them in plots: Fertile branches, whose product is golden fruit of my lifetime, Set here in happier years, tended with pleasure today. You, stand here at my side, good Priapus—albeit from thieves I’ve Nothing to fear. Freely pluck, whosoever would eat. —Hypocrites, those are the ones! If weakened with shame and bad conscience One of those criminals comes, squinting out over my garden, Bridling at nature’s pure fruit, punish the knave in his hindparts, Using the stake which so red rises there at your loins.
TELL ME YE STONES AND give me O glorious palaces answer. Speak O ye streets but one word. Genius, art thou alive? Yes, here within thy sanctified walls there’s a soul in each object, ROMA eternal. For me, only, are all things yet mute. Who will then tell me in whispers and where must I find just the window Where one day she’ll be glimpsed: creature who’ll scorch me with love? Can’t I divine yet the paths through which over and over To her and from her I’ll go, squandering valuable time? Visiting churches and palaces, all of the ruins and the pillars, I, a responsible man, profit from making this trip. With my business accomplished, ah, then shall only one temple, AMOR’s temple alone, take the initiate in. Rome, thou art a whole world, it is true, and yet without love this World would not be the world, Rome would cease to be Rome.
MORE THAN EVER I DREAMED,
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