The Sorrows of Young Werther

I implore your attention. It is all over with me. I can support this state no longer. To-day I was sitting by Charlotte. She was playing upon her piano a succession of delightful melodies, with such intense expression! Her little sister was dressing her doll upon my lap. The tears came into my eyes. I leaned down, and looked intently at her wedding-ring: my tears fell — immediately she began to play that favourite, that divine, air which has so often enchanted me. I felt comfort from a recollection of the past, of those bygone days when that air was familiar to me; and then I recalled all the sorrows and the disappointments which I had since endured. I paced with hasty strides through the room, my heart became convulsed with painful emotions. At length I went up to her, and exclaimed With eagerness, “For Heaven’s sake, play that air no longer!” She stopped, and looked steadfastly at me. She then said, with a smile which sunk deep into my heart, “Werther, you are ill: your dearest food is distasteful to you. But go, I entreat you, and endeavour to compose yourself.” I tore myself away. God, thou seest my torments, and wilt end them!

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (translated by R.D. Boylan)