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Goethe's «Römische Elegien»

The Lover and the Poet


Eva Dessau Bernhardt

In restoring the two suppressed and neglected elegies to Goethe's first lyric cycle (1788-1790), the author makes clear that their inclusion alters its focus and tone, changes its emphases, and gives it greater continuity. While the protagonist is treated as a fictional persona of the author, art (the poet and creative activity) is posited as a major theme, while the themes of Rome and mythology support, enhance, ennoble, and give classical dimension to the central one, the creative process. Accordingly, a new scheme of organization emerges with Elegy XIII as the axis around which the poetic persona develops. Four elegies stand out as poetological elegies, poems of creative inspiration or artistic achievement.
Contents: Amor, Guide and Guardian: The Unselfoconscious Lover - Amor in the Background: The Expansive Lover - The Changing Face of Amor: Challenge to the Poet - Amor and Fama: Conflict and Resolutions.