James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 22

Death of Goethe

By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

(Died March 22, 1832)

WHEN Goethe’s death was told, we said:

Sunk, then, is Europe’s sagest head.

Physician of the iron age,

Goethe has done his pilgrimage.

He took the suffering human race,

He read each wound, each weakness clear;

And struck his finger on the place,

And said: “Thou ailest here and here!”

He looked on Europe’s dying hour

Of fitful dream and feverish power;

His eye plunged down the weltering strife,

The turmoil of expiring life—

He said: “The end is everywhere,

Art still has truth, take refuge there!”

And he was happy, if to know

Causes of things, and far below

His feet to see the lurid flow

Of terror, and insane distress,

And headlong fate, be happiness.