She spurts forth her creatures out of nothing, and tells them not whence they come and whither they go. They have only to go their way; she knows the path.
The drama she plays is always new, because she is always bringing new spectators. Life is her fairest invention, and Death is her device for having life in abundance.
She envelops man in darkness, and urges him constantly to the light. She makes him dependent on the earth, heavy and sluggish, and always rouses him up afresh.
She creates wants, because she loves movement. How marvelous that she gains it all so easily! Every want is a benefit, soon satisfied, soon growing again. If she gives more, it is a new source of desire; but the balance quickly rights itself.
She lets every child work at her, every fool judge of her, and thousands pass her by and see nothing; and she has her joy in them all, and in them all finds her account.
Man obeys her laws even in opposing them; he works with her even when he wants to work against her.
Speech or language she has none; but she creates tongues and hearts through which she feels and speaks.
Her crown is Love. Only through Love can we come near her. She puts gulfs between all things, and all things strive to be interfused. She isolates everything, that she may draw everything together. With a few draughts from the cup of Love she repays for a life full of trouble.
She is all things. She rewards herself and punishes herself; and in herself rejoices and is distressed. She is rough and gentle, loving and terrible, powerless and almighty. In her everything is always present. Past or Future she knows not. The present is her Eternity. She is kind. I praise her with all her works. She is wise and still. No one can force her to explain herself, or frighten her into a gift that she does not give willingly. She is crafty, but for a good end; and it is best not to notice her cunning.
She is whole, and yet never finished. As she works now, so can she work forever.
She has placed me in this world; she will also lead me out of it. I trust myself to her. She may do with me as she pleases. She will not hate her work. I did not speak of her. No! what is true and what is false, she has spoken it all. Everything is her fault, everything is her merit.
(Extracts from the Author’s Preface.) TRANSLATED BY JOHN OXENFORD
This collection of Conversations with Goethe took its rise chiefly from an impulse, natural to my mind, to appropriate to myself by writing any part of my experience which strikes me as valuable or remarkable.
Moreover, I felt constantly the need of instruction, not only when I first met with that extraordinary man, but also after I had lived with him for years; and I loved to seize on the import of his words, and to note it down, that I might possess them for the rest of my life.