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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Poem & Song About Jesus,Quran & Muhammad

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    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German pronunciation: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə] ( listen), 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer, artist, and politician. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles, prose and verse dramas, memoirs, an autobiography, literary and aesthetic criticism, treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour, and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, and over 10,000 letters written by him are extant, as are nearly 3,000 drawings.


    "Jesus felt pure and calmly thought
    Only the One God;
    Who made himself to be a god
    Offends his holy will.
    And thus the right(ness) has to shine
    What Mahomet also achieved;
    Only by the term of the One
    He mastered the whole world"

    "Jesus f|hlte rein und dachte
    Nur den Einen Gott im Stillen;
    Wer ihn selbst zum Gotte machte
    Krdnkte seinen heil'gen Willen.
    Und so mu_ das Rechte scheinen
    Was auch Mahomet gelungen;
    Nur durch den Begriff des Einen
    Hat er alle Welt bezwungen."
    (WA I, 6, 288 ff)

    Song for Mohammed
    Language: English

    Behold this rocky spring,
    bright with joy
    like a twinkling star;
    above the clouds
    its youth was nourished
    by good spirits
    among the cliffs in the bushes.

    Fresh as a youth
    it dances out of the cloud
    down to the marble rocks,
    cheering again
    to the sky.

    Along mountainous paths
    it chases after colorful pebbles,
    and with the step of a young leader
    its companion-springs journey
    with it onward.

    Below in the valley
    flowers appear from its footprints,
    and the meadow
    derives life from its breath.

    But no shaded valley can stop it,
    no flower,
    clasping its knees
    and imploring it with loving eyes:
    toward the Plains it presses its course,
    twisting like a snake.

    Brooks nuzzle up
    sociably. Now it treads
    into the Plain, resplendent with silver,
    and the Plain grows silver too,
    and the rivers of the Plain
    and the brooks of the mountains
    cheer and shout: "Brother!
    Brother, take your brothers with,
    take them with you to your ancient father,
    to the eternal ocean,
    whose outstretched arms
    await us,
    who, ah! has opened them in vain
    to embrace his yearning children;
    for the bleak wasteland's
    greedy sand devours us; the sun above
    sucks up all our blood; a hill
    clogs us into a pool! Brother,
    take your brothers from this Plain,
    take your brothers from the mountains,
    take them with you to your ancient father!

    Come all of you! -
    and now [the spring] swells
    more grandly: an entire race
    lifts the prince up high!
    And in rolling triumph
    it gives names to the lands and cities
    that grow in its path.

    Irresistibly it rushes onward,
    leaving a wake of flaming-tipped towers
    and houses of marble - creations
    of its bounty.

    Like Atlas it bears cedar houses
    upon its giant's shoulders;
    over its head, the wind noisily
    blows a thousand flags
    as testimony of its glory.

    And so it brings its brothers,
    its treasures, its children,
    effervescent with joy,
    to the waiting parent's bosom.

    Mahomets Gesang
    Language: German

    Seht den Felsenquell,
    Wie ein Sternenblick;
    Über Wolken
    Nährten seine Jugend
    Gute Geister
    Zwischen Klippen im Gebüsch.

    Tanzt er aus der Wolke
    Auf die Marmorfelsen nieder,
    Jauchzet wieder
    Nach dem Himmel.

    Durch die Gipfelgänge
    Jagt er bunten Kieseln nach,
    Und mit frühem Führertritt
    Reißt er seine Bruderquellen
    Mit sich fort.

    Drunten werden in dem Tal
    Unter seinem Fußtritt Blumen,
    Und die Wiese
    Lebt von seinem Hauch.

    Doch ihn hält kein Schattental,
    Keine Blumen,
    Die ihm seine Knie umschlingen,
    Ihm mit Liebesaugen schmeicheln:
    Nach der Ebne dringt sein Lauf,

    Bäche schmiegen
    Sich gesellig an. Nun tritt er
    In die Ebne silberprangend,
    Und die Ebne prangt mit ihm,
    Und die Flüsse von der Ebne
    Und die Bäche von den Bergen
    Jauchzen ihm und rufen: Bruder!
    Bruder, nimm die Brüder mit,
    Mit zu deinem alten [ Vater,
    Zu dem ewgen Ozean,
    Der mit ausgespannten Armen
    Unser wartet,
    Die sich, ach! vergebens öffnen,
    Seine Sehnenden zu fassen;
    Denn uns frißt in öder Wüste
    Gierger Sand, die Sonne droben
    Saugt an unserm Blut, ein Hügel
    Hemmet uns zum Teiche! Bruder,
    Nimm die Brüder von der Ebne,
    Nimm die Brüder von den Bergen
    Mit, zu deinem Vater mit!

    Kommt ihr alle! -
    Und nun schwillt er
    Herrlicher: ein ganz Geschlechte
    Trägt den Fürsten hoch empor!
    Und im rollenden Triumphe
    Gibt er Ländern Namen, Städte
    Werden unter seinem Fuß.

    Unaufhaltsam rauscht er weiter,
    Läßt der Türme Flammengipfel,
    Marmorhäuser, eine Schöpfung
    Seiner Fülle, hinter sich.

    Zedernhäuser trägt der Atlas
    Auf den Riesenschultern; sausend
    Wehen über seinem Haupte
    Tausend Flaggen durch die Lüfte,
    Zeugen seiner Herrlichkeit.

    Und so trägt er seine Brüder,
    Seine Schätze, seine Kinder
    Dem erwartenden Erzeuger
    Freudebrausend an das Herz.]

    Goethe is fascinated by Saadi's metaphor of the "fly in love" flying into the light where it dies as the image for the Sufi. See here especially the poem of the "Divan" about the butterfly flying into the light "Blissful yearning / Selige Sehnsucht" whose earlier titles were "Sacrifice of the self / Selbstopfer" and "Perfection / Vollendung". In the chapter about Rumi, Goethe acknowledges the invocation of Allah and the blessing of it: "Already the so-called mahometan rosary [prayer-beeds] by which the name Allah is glorified with ninety-nine qualities is such a praise litany. Affirming and negating qualities indicate the inconceivable Being [Wesen]; the worshipper is amazed, submits and calms down." (WA I, 7, 59)

    As a young man Goethe wanted to study oriental studies - but his father finally wanted him to study law; he always admired the first travellers to Arabia (Michaelis, Niebuhr), he was fascinated by it and read everything they published about their trips. In 1814/15 at the time of his "Divan" Goethe trained himself with the professors for oriental studies Paulus, Lorsbach and Kosegarten (Jena) in reading and writing Arabic. After looking at his Arabic manuscripts and having known about the Qur'an, Goethe felt a great yearning to learn Arabic. He copied short Arabic Du'as by himself and wrote: "In no other language spirit, word and letter are embodied in such a primal way." (Letter to Schlosser, 23.1.1815, WA IV, 25, 165)

    At the age of 70 Goethe writes (Notes and Essays to the Divan, WA I, 17, 153) that he intends "to celebrate respectfully that night when the Prophet was given the Koran completely from above" He also wrote: "No one may wonder about the great efficiency of the Book. That is why it has been declared as uncreated by real admirers" and added to it: "This book will eternally remain highly efficacious/effective" (WA I, 7, 35/36)

    Still today we have the handwritten manuscripts of his first intensive Qur'an-studies of 1771/1772 and the later ones in the Goethe and Schiller-Archive in Weimar. Goethe read the German translation of Qur'an by J. v. Hammer (possibly as well from the more prosaic English translation of G. Sale) out loud in front of members of the Duke's family in Weimar and their guests. Being witnesses Schiller and his wife reported about the reading. (Schiller's letter to Knebel, 22.2.1815) Goethe always felt the shortcomings of all the translations (Latin, English, German and French) and was constantly looking for new translations. In his "Divan" Goethe says:

    "Whether the Koran is of eternity?
    I don't question that!...
    That it is the book of books
    I believe out of the muslim's duty."

    "Ob der Koran von Ewigkeit sei?
    Darnach frag' ich nicht ! ...
    Da_ er das Buch der B|cher sei
    Glaub' ich aus Mosleminen-
    (WA I, 6, 203)
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    Goethe was simply attempting to make Mohammedan culture accessible to Germans. Goethe already held an interest previously in Oriental studies, especially with regards to Persian literature. Goethe was an inter-culturalist rather than a religious believer.


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Updated: June 28, 2012
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