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.