West-östlicher Diwan

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For the orchestra, see West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Frontispiece and title page of the first edition, Cotta publishing house, Stuttgart, 1819

West-östlicher Diwan ("West-Eastern Diwan", original title: West-östlicher Divan) is a diwan, or collection of lyrical poems, by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It was inspired by the Persian poet Hafez.


West-Eastern Divan was written between 1814 and 1819, the year when it was first published. It was inspired by Goethe's correspondence with Marianne von Willemer and the translation of Hafez' poems by the orientalist Joseph von Hammer. An expanded version was printed in 1827. It is part of Goethe's late work and the last great cycle of poetry he worked on.

The initial issue consisted of twelve books:

  • Book of the Singer (Moganni Nameh)
  • Book of Hafiz (Hafis Nameh)
  • Book of Love (Uschk Nameh)
  • Book of Reflection (Tefkir Nameh)
  • Book of Ill Humour (Rendsch Nameh)
  • Book of Maxims (Hikmet Nameh)
  • Book of Timur (Timur Nameh)
  • Book of Zuleika (Suleika Nameh)
  • Book of the Cupbearer (Saki Nameh)
  • Book of Parables (Mathal Nameh)
  • Book of the Parsees (Parsi Nameh)
  • Book of Paradise (Chuld Nameh)

The work can be seen as a symbol for a stimulating exchange and mixture between Orient and Occident. The word "west-eastern" does not only refer to German-Middle-eastern, but also Latin-Persian and Christian-Muslim. The twelve books consist of poetry of all different kinds: parables, historical allusions, pieces of invective, politically or religiously inclined poetry mirroring the attempt to bring together Orient and Occident.

For a better understanding, Goethe added "Notes and Queries", in which he comments on historical figures, events, terms and places.


  • Hamid Tafazoli: Yadwareh-ye Hafis wa Goethe dar shahr-e Weimar,in: Iranshenasi 13/2 (2001), 422-426.
  • Hamid Tafazoli: Der deutsche Persien-Diskurs. Zur Verwissenschaftlichung und Literarisierung des Persien-Bildes im deutschen Schrifttum von der frühen Neuzeit bis in das neunzehnte Jahrhundert, Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2007.
  • Hamid Tafazoli: Der Alte Iran in Goethes Divan, in: XXX. Deutscher Orientalistentag, Ausgewählte Vorträge, Online-Publikation, Freiburg 2008, ISSN: 1866-2943.
  • Hamid Tafazoli: Goethes Persien-Bild im West-östlichen Divan und die Idee einer Selbstreflexion des Divan-Dichters, in: Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Goethe-Gesellschaft 111/112/113 (2010), 66-84.
  • Hamid Tafazoli: Heterotopie als Entwurf poetischer Raumgestaltung, in: Tafazoli, H.; Gray, Richard T.: (eds.): External Space – Co-Space – Internal Space, Heterotopia in Culture and Society, Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2012, 35-59.


Hafez-Goethe monument in Weimar, Germany

West-Eastern Divan influenced poets like Friedrich Rückert, who in 1822 issued his Östliche Rosen (Eastern Roses) collection of Oriental poetry, as well as Christian Morgenstern and Walter Benjamin. In 1924 the Persian poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal issued the Payam-e-Mashriq (The Message of the East) in reply to Goethe's salute.

Various poems were set to music by Franz Schubert (D 717 Suleika II, Op. 31; D 719 Geheimes, Op. 14 No. 2; D 720 Suleika I, Op. 14 No. 1), Robert Schumann (Op. 25 Myrthen No. 5, 6 and 9), Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Op. 34 No. 4 Suleika: Ach, um deine feuchten Schwingen; Op. 57 No. 3 Suleika: Was bedeutet die Bewegung?), Hugo Wolf (Goethe-Lieder), Richard Strauss (Op. 67 No. 4 Wer wird von der der Welt verlangen), Waldemar von Baußnern (Symphonic Cantata Hafis), Arnold Schönberg, and Othmar Schoeck.

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