• Germany edition
 
Lost Friedrich der Große sex poem uncovered
Photo: DPA

Lost Friedrich der Große sex poem uncovered

Published: 15 Sep 2011 16:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Sep 2011 16:02 GMT+02:00

A poem about passionate sex written by Prussia's Friedrich der Große (Frederick the Great) has been unearthed after being archived and - perhaps deliberately - lost for hundreds of years.

It was just a few weeks after he had reluctantly accepted the crown and become king that Friedrich wrote the poem. Dated July 20, 1740, a note accompanying it said it was the only one he had had time to compose since becoming ruler.

The poem was unearthed by Vanessa de Senarclens, a teacher of French literature at Berlin’s Humboldt University.

Writing in Die Zeit weekly paper, she said that a copy of the poem found its way from Italy to Berlin in 1894 and was quickly put into the royal archive where it was buried.

Even in 1912, when much was done to mark what would have been Friedrich’s 200th birthday, the poem was excluded from a new ten-book edition of his collected works.

“A poem which praised sexual desire as the ruler of the world was difficult to reconcile with the image of the great commander, high patriotic duty and the ideal Prussian monarch, in a time of deepest national seriousness,” wrote Senarclens.

Friedrich had sent the verse to his friend and mentor, the French philosopher Voltaire, having written it in French - the king's preferred idiom and the language of many royal courts of the time. Yet it was written for and about an Italian friend Francesco Algarotti.

“Algarotti prompted it,” Friedrich wrote to Voltaire.

“Its topic is desire. The Italian thought he knew that the inhabitants of the north are not in a position to feel things as our neighbours do on Lake Garda. I have felt, and have and have described it as well as I can in order to show him that despite our constitution, we are capable of feelings.”

He pleaded with Voltaire to review the poem, adding, “Remember, there are moments that are as difficult to describe as the sun in its splendour.”

The rather excited start to the poem describes how Algarotti swims in a sea of pleasures, where he finds his love Chloris, whose perfectly formed body, “increases the new passion of his senses,” and into whose arms he sinks.

The love which joins them heats their kisses,

And leaves them entwined even closer,

Heavenly sensuality! Ruler of the world!

Mother of her pleasures, always fertile springs,

Witness in my verses with your voice,

Her fire, her conduct, the ecstasy of her senses!

Our happy lovers, in their most extreme passion,

In the exuberance of love they knew only themselves,

Kisses, which dissolve in passion, sighing and die,

Arise again in a kiss and become passion again.

And finally, in a passage which Senarclens suggested illustrated the dichotomy felt by Friedrich between his royal duties and his personal desires, he wrote,

Happy, he whose spirit is never decayed by the pomp of power,

And who knew pleasure,

A moment of passion is, for those who enjoy it,

Worth as much as a century of honour whose appearance deceives.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

14:11 September 16, 2011 by germinator
what drivel.
14:00 September 18, 2011 by tychonaut
I thought it was a pretty popular theory that Frederich was gay? Anyone want to .. er.. "enlighten".. me?
18:18 September 19, 2011 by kodok
It would be interesting to have the verses in French , as written by Freddy. I have read he hardly spoke German , only enough to give orders to his servants?

He made quite a fuss when Voltaire left Berlin, accusing him of taking his poems to show them in Paris and make people laugh.

De la nature et des amours

Peux-tu condamner la tendresse

Toi qui ne connais l¦#39;ivresse

Que dans les bras de tes tambours.

Famous verses about Friedrich, but written -perhaps- by Choiseul, French Foreign Secretary. "Tambours" stands for Drummers, not Drums.

The French monarch prefered to rime Amour with Pompadour .
18:59 September 23, 2011 by ErnestPayne
Teutonic sec poetry? Erotic in the way that German stand up comedy is funny. Doesn't exist.
18:38 September 28, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Although comedy is not one of our strong points, I believe that love isn't just something Germans feel, but it is a German virtue. Listen to Bach, Handel, Brahms, Beethoven, Loewe, and so on.
Today's headlines
Budget flight prices rise with airline expansion
Lufthansa's daughter company Germanwings is one of the faster-growing budget airlines in Germany. Photo: DPA

Budget flight prices rise with airline expansion

Budget airlines are expanding their range of routes from Germany but ticket prices are climbing along with them, a report from the German Aeronautics Centre (DLR) revealed on Thursday. READ () »

Ecclestone lawyers: Bribes never happened
Bernie Ecclestone with his lawyers in a Munich court on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

Ecclestone lawyers: Bribes never happened

UPDATE: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Germany on Thursday, denying charges of bribery that threaten to land the British billionaire in jail. READ () »

Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'
Photo: DPA

Minister praises Erasmus 'success story'

A revamped version of European student exchange programme Erasmus officially launched in Berlin on Thursday with Germany's education minister praising the scheme as a Europe-wide “success story”. READ () »

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid
Photo: DPA

Turkey tourists lose call to prayer refund bid

A German couple has lost their legal fight to get a refund for a Turkish holiday which they said was ruined by the calls to prayer from a nearby mosque. It is just one of a series of court claims by picky German tourists. READ () »

Germany halts arms sales to Russia
Russian troops surround a Ukrainian base in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany halts arms sales to Russia

Germany has stopped selling arms to Russia due to the current “political situation”, according to reports on Thursday. The sale of military equipment to Russia by German firms has been criticized by the country’s Nato allies. READ () »

Truck kills man lying in middle of road
Photo: DPA

Truck kills man lying in middle of road

Police were searching for witnesses on Wednesday morning following a mysterious road accident in which a 25-year-old man was killed as he lay in the middle of the road. READ () »

Where are Germany's smartest towns?
Germany's cleverest town. Photo: DPA

Where are Germany's smartest towns?

A brain training website released scores on Wednesday showing which German towns performed best and worst in a range of cognitive tests - with some surprising results. READ () »

April wraps up with stormy week ahead
Lightning over Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

April wraps up with stormy week ahead

The end of April is looking stormy for Germany with hot and cold air mixing and making for wild spring weather over the coming few days, state forecasters DWD said on Wednesday. READ () »

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia
Russian troops pictured in March in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia

Germany arms sales to Russia have come under fire following the crisis in Ukraine. In 2012 Germany sold €40 million worth of rifles, pistols and armoured vehicles to the country. READ () »

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline in the shape of a new hotel dubbed 'the Tetris cube'. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
National
Girls find live ammunition in Easter bonfire
Photo: Facebook/screenshot
Berlin
Germany's most viral advert for an apartment?
Gallery
11 things you need to know about German beer
Photo: DPA
Politics
Interview with AfD - 'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Photo: DPA
National
Police damage own water cannon with eggs
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Advertisement:
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,077
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd