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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


July 16.

HOW my heart beats, and my blood boils in my veins, when by accident I touch her finger! -- when my feet meet hers under the table, I draw them back with precipitation as from a furnace; but a secret power again presses me forward, and disorders all my senses.

Her innocent and easy heart does not know, that all these little marks of confidence and friendship make my torment. When she puts her hand upon mine, when {62} in the eagerness of conversation she comes close to me, and her balmy breath reaches my lips, the sudden effect of lightning is not stronger. Ah! this celestial confidence! -- if ever I should dare -- you understand me, my dear friend: -- my heart is not so corrupt; it is weak, very weak; and is not that a degree of corruption?

I look upon her as sacred, and in her presence I desire nothing; when I am near her I am all soul. There is a favourite air of hers, which she plays on the harpsichord with the energy of an angel; it is striking, touching, and yet simple. As soon as she begins it, care, sorrow, pain, all is forgotten. I believe I perfectly comprehend all that is related of the magic of ancient music. At times when I am ready to shoot myself, she plays that air, and the darkness which hung over me is dispersed, and I breathe freely again.