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Poems of the West and East- West-Eastern Divan - West-Östlicher Divan

Bi-Lingual Edition of the Complete Poems


Joachim Whaley

This English verse translation of Goethe's West-Eastern Divan aims to give English-readers a fair indication of the themes, quality and flavour of Goethe's major cycle of lyric poetry. As far as possible it remains faithful to Goethe's metrical and rhyming patterns. The Divan's wealth of earnest depth and passion is conveyed with an often casual simplicity of vocabulary and expression. It moves through changing moods from which wit and grace and good humour are never long absent when the mind is, as in these poems, at play and in command. Goethe described this complexity as «Unconditional submission to the unfathomable will of God, serene conspectus of the activities of this earth, mobile and always in circles and spirals, love, inclination hovering between two worlds, all the real purified, dissolving in symbol». The English translation seeks to keep to the poetic tones in Goethe's seemingly effortless words.
Contents: This bilingual edition contains in verse all twelve books of Goethe's West-Eastern Divan. It has a German and an English Index to the poems and an English Glossary of key Arabic names and terms. A Translator's note follows an extensive Introduction by Katharina Mommsen. She points to the many themes and motifs of the work, examines them in the political and cultural context of the time, and presents them as a summation of Goethe's experience, feeling and thought throughout a long life, as a work affirming Goethe's conviction of the spiritual meaning of a fully earthly life.