“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.”
“Man soll alle Tage wenigstens ein kleines Lied hören, ein gutes Gedicht lesen, ein treffliches Gemälde sehen und, wenn es möglich zu machen wäre, einige vernünftige Worte sprechen.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It is impossible to walk through Frankfurt and not see Goethe – he was born there and spoke the dialect of the town (the giveaway are rhymes in some poems which only work as rhymes in this dialect). The silhouette is on the side of a hotel in a part of Frankfurt called Bergen-Enkheim but the sculpture stands in Weimar, where Goethe and the other great German poet, Friedrich Schiller lived and for a while worked together.
In an area of Frankfurt which is a mixture of commercial and industrial buildings this quote by Goethe can be seen on the side of a house. It is the combination of a line taken from “The sorrows of Young Werther”, which Goethe wrote when just 24 years old and which was extremely influential at the time, and the words with which he signed a letter to his wife years later (in English). The quote is a a variation on 1 Corinthians 15; 55: “Death, where is they sting?” Werther (or rather Goethe) continues not: “Grave, where is thy victory?” but “Love, where is thy victory? You are leaving, I’ll remain …”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe combined many different aspects in his life: he was a highly successful author of poems, plays, and novels, he wrote academic papers, undertook research in various fields and made a few scientific discoveries, he was a trained lawyer, a politician at the court of Sachsen-Weimar, a theatre director, a man who lived for a few years fairly openly with a lover well below his social standing before marrying her. By all accounts, he was also a very worldly man who enjoyed food and drink. So it is only befitting that Frankfurt displays his likeness on a special tram, the so-called Äppelwoi-Express (a tram which can be booked by groups to party and drink Frankfurt style cider while driving through the city).
This is linked to Travel with intent: one little song.