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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes (765 Quotes)


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  • Wild dreams torment me as I lie. And though a god lives in my heart, though all my power waken at his word, though he can move my every inmost part - yet nothing in the outer world is stirred. thus by existence tortured and oppressed i crave for death, I long for rest.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Faust")

  • It is in vain that a man of sound mind and cool temper understands the condition of such a wretched being... He can no more communicate his own wisdom to him than a healthy man can instil his strength into the invalid by whose bedside he is seated.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • When I consider the narrow limits within which our active and inquiring faculties are confined; when I see how all our energies are wasted in providing for mere necessities, which again have no further end than to prolong a wretched existence; and then that all our satisfaction concerning certain subjects of investigation ends in nothing better than a passive resignation... when I consider all this... I am silent.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • And I like those authors best whose scenes describe my own situation in life-- and the friends who are about me whose stories touch me with interest, from resembling my own homely existence.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • It's true that nothing in this world makes us so necessary to others as the affection we have for them.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")


  • When she sees the leaves fall, they raise no other idea in her mind than that winter is approaching.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • Does not man lack the force at the very point where he needs it most? And when he soars upward in joy, or sinks down in suffering, is not checked in both, is he not returned again to the dull, cold sphere of awareness, just when he was longing to lose himself in the fullness of the infinite.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • Must it ever be thus-that the source of our happiness must also be the fountain of our misery? The full and ardent sentiment which animated my heart with the love of nature, overwhelming me with a torrent of delight, and which brought all paradise before me, has now become an insupportable torment, a demon which perpetually pursues and harrasses me.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • Would you require a wretched being, whose life is slowly wasting under a lingering disease, to despatch himself at once by the stroke of a dagger? Does not the very disorder which consumes his strength deprive him of the courage to effect his deliverance?
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • Every day I observe more and more the folly of judging of others by ourselves; and I have so much trouble with myself, and my own heart is in such constant agitation, that I am well content to let others pursue their own course, if they only allow me the same privilege.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • My days are as happy as those reserved by God for his elect; and whatever be my fate hereafter, I can never say that I have not tasted joy- the purest joy of life.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • He values my understanding and talents more highly than my heart, but I am proud of the latter only. It is the sole source of everything of our strength, happiness, and misery. All the knowledge I possess every one else can acquire, but my heart is exclusively my own.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • No doubt you are right... there would be far less suffering amongst mankind if men... did not employ their imaginations so assiduously in recalling the memory of past sorrow, instead of bearing their present lot with equanimity.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • How many kings are governed by their ministers, how many ministers by their secretaries? Who, in such cases, is really the chief?
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")

  • No one is willing to believe that adults too, like children, wander about this earth in a daze and, like children, do not know where they come from or where they are going, act as rarely as they do according to genuine motives, and are as thoroughly governed as they are by biscuits and cake and the rod.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther")


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