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The Mailied (in early prints also May Day ) is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . Goethe probably wrote it in May 1771 as a law student. It was first published in 1774 in Iris magazine in January 1775, signed "P."

It is one of the " Sesenheimer Lieder " and is considered Goethe's first significant poem ( Erich Trunz , commentary in the Hamburg edition ), "The climax of Goethe's poetry during his time in Sesenheim" with Friederike Brion (Gerhard Sauder, commentary in the Munich edition ) and in the context of “ Sturm und Drang ” as a style-forming element for the further development of poetry.

The poem belongs to the genre of nature and love poetry and can therefore also be counted as adventure poetry. It is divided into nine stanzas of four verses each.

The lyrical self admires the creativity of nature. In the first stanzas, the love for nature is pictorially described. In verse six it becomes clear that it is also about love for a girl. Both the love for nature and the love for the girl form the creative inspiration through which art is created - here even the poem itself. God plays an omnipresent role in this.

The Mailied has been set to music many times, for example by Ludwig van Beethoven (Op. 52, No. 4) and Hans Pfitzner (Op. 26 No. 5).



  • Goethe's works , Hamburg edition in 14 volumes (edited by Erich Trunz), Munich 1974, volume 1
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Complete Works (edited by Karl Richter), Volume 1.1 (edited by Gerhard Sauder), Munich 1985
  • Emil Staiger : Goethe . Volume 1. Zurich 1952, pp. 55-61
  • Hilde Spiel : The cosmic in love . In: Marcel Reich-Ranicki : Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Linger , Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 44 ff.
  • Dorothea Hölscher-Lohmeyer : The development of Goethean thinking about nature as reflected in his poetry - using the example of the poems "Mailied" - "Blessed Sehnsucht" - "Eins und Alles" . In: Goethe-Jahrbuch , 99, 1982, pp. 11–31.

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