Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Goethe was in the circle of the mother of Ulrike von Levetzow, the daughter of the owner of Groß Markow, in the glamorous Marienbad. There he met Ulrike. Despite being 72 years old, he immediately fell in love with the 17-year-old lady and then, when she was 18 years old, proposed marriage to her.
Still in the summer of 1823 he writes to Ulrike:
“If one criticizes that we love each other, we must not deceive ourselves. Reprimand is of no strength; it may apply to other things. No failure, no scolding, makes love reprehensible.”
The marriage proposal that Goethe had Grand Duke Carl August von Weimar make to her in the summer of 1823 was at first seen by her as a joke, although Carl August generously cushioned it by offering him a high widow’s pension of 10,000 Taler a year. Amalie von Levetzow advised her daughter in this unusual and delicate situation maternally wisely without paternalism and recommended careful consideration. Ulrike, however, “still had no desire to get married” and found that she did not need time to think about it. She loved Goethe like a father, but he was cared for by his son August and his wife Ottilie in Weimar and therefore did not need her. As unbiased as she was with Goethe, as unbiased as she was in rejecting his application, she remained unmarried.
Goethe’s courtship of Ulrike’s hand became one of the great social affairs of his time. Posterity owes his feelings for Ulrike to the “Marienbader Elegie,” a shocking testimony to his pain at the loss of Ulrike.
The room downstairs in the manor house where Ulrike von Lewentzow lived is now furnished as it was then. History to touch – possible at any time in the manor house Groß Markow!