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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe



August 30.

WRETCH that I am, do I not take pleasure in deceiving myself, and am I not without understanding? -- What will become of this ardent and unbounded passion? -- I address no prayers but to Charlotte; my imagination sees nothing but her; all that surrounds me is of no account, but as it relates to her. -- And in this state I enjoy some happy hours, till I am obliged to tear myself from her: and to that, alas! my heart often forces me. When I have been sitting by her for two or three hours, quite absorbed by her figure, her attitudes, her divine expressions, the sentiment by degrees takes possession of me, and is worked up to the highest excess: my sight is confused; my breathing is oppressed; I hear nothing; my veins swell; a palpitation seizes my heart, and I scarcely know where I am, or whe- {98} ther I exist. Then, if soft sensations do not prevail, as it sometimes happens, -- if Charlotte does not at least allow me the melancholy consolation to bathe her hand with my tears, I am obliged to leave her, and run and wander about the country. I climb steep rocks; I break my way through copses, amongst thorns and briars which tear me to pieces, and I feel a little relief. Sometimes I lie stretched on the ground, overcome with fatigue, and dying with thirst: sometimes, late in the night, when the moon shines upon my head, I lean against a bending tree in some sequestered forest, to ease my wrung feet; and, quite worn out and exhausted, I sleep till break of day. Oh, my friend! the dismal cell, the sackcloth, the girdle with sharp points of iron, would be indulgence and luxury in comparison of what I now suffer. -- Adieu. -- I see no end to these torments but the grave.