576 - Jakob Lenz

Jakob Lenz had a virginity
of soul that fascinated Goethe.
though accused in time of assinity
that lad was best left to his omertà.

I have known spectators filled with a crowd
from Shakespeare. love’s labours are lost indeed
if a Lovelace like Goethe is allowed
to have his way with quiet unimpeded

and require the watcher also act
and not just observe the scene. Sturm und Drang
had its casualties from want of tact.
Lenz was one of them. reserve’s claws and fangs

were just that - reserved until too late.
what we thought quiet was violence bated.

Woodford Halse
8 September 2021

Jakob Lenz (1751-92) was one of Goethe’s Strasbourg friends. A poet from the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire, he developed schizophrenia. Goethe’s ” Torquato Tasso” might be based on a misdemeanour Lenz committed at the Weimar court - perhaps on Charlotte von Stein - for which Goethe condemned him for ” assinity”. Goethe reviews this friendship in “Dichtung und Wahrheit”.