24 of the most beautiful sentences in German literature

From Goethe to Eschenbach, German authors have captured the imaginations of their readers for centuries. Here are a few of their most beautiful lines.

1. “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

2.  “The decision to kiss for the first time is the most crucial in any love story. It changes the relationship of two people much more strongly than even the final surrender; because this kiss already has within it that surrender.” – Emil Ludwig, Of Life and Love

3. “That which they call love, it is nothing except the pain of longing.” – Walther von der Vogelweide, Erotic Dawn-Songs of the Middle Ages

4. “I am a clown…and I collect moments.” – Heinrich Böll, The Clown (Translated by Leila Vennewitz)

5. “That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged — to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious, innate harmony.” – Hermann Hesse, Gertrude (Translated by Hilda Rosner)

6. “Skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony.” – Jacob Grimm

7. “Life went on, despite all the dying.” – Oliver Pötzsch, The Hangman’s Daughter (Translated by Lee Chadeayne)

8. “The world was a terrible place, cruel, pitiless, dark as a bad dream. Not a good place to live. Only in books could you find pity, comfort, happiness – and love. Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.” – Cornelia Funke, The Inkheart Trilogy (Translated by Anthea Bell )

9. “The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What’s left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.” – Bertolt Brecht

10. “Only one thing abides: an infinite beauty that passes from form to form, eternally changed and revealed afresh.” – Georg Buechner

11. “I’m not frightened. I’m not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, forgive its vice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.” – Bernhard Schlink, The Reader (Translated by Carol Brown Janeway)

12. “Love does not dominate, it cultivates. And that is more.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Das Märchen

13. “Live with your century, but do not be its creature.” – Friedrich Schiller

14. “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades (Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter)

15. “I remain restless and dissatisfied; what I knot with my right hand, I undo with my left, what my left hand creates, my right fist shatters” – Günter Grass, The Tin Drum (Translated by Breon Mitchell)

16. “I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in whose presence I seemed to be more than I really was, because I was all that I could be.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Translated by Nathan Haskell Dole)

17. “Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.” – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha (Translated by Hilda Rosner)

18. “Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.” – Cornelia Funke

19. “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” – Heinrich Heine

20. “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

21. “And, oh, my soul extended its wings through skies to roam: O’er quiet lands suspended, my soul was flying home.” –Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, Moonlit Night

22. “Great souls endure in silence.” – Friedrich Schiller, Don Carlos

23. “Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” – Thomas Mann

24. “Who rides, so late, through night and wind? It is the father with his child. He holds the boy in the crook of his arm; He holds him safe, he keeps him warm.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Der Erlkönig

Selected by Lauren Rogers.

Originally published on Buzzfeed.

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