Editorial censorship has long obscured the true from and content of the Elegies, which were inspired by Goethe’s sexual liberation in Italy and his love for the woman he took as his unofficial wife on his return to Germany. They are here presented as Goethe boldly conceived them together with the long-suppressed narrative poem known as The Diary. Superficially the story of a failed sexual adventure by a man of 60, at another level this is a profound study of the psychology of desire and the nature of fidelity, as well as being one of the most beautiful and good-humoured poems in the German language. Completing the edition is a selection from Goethe’s more light-hearted and much censored cycle of erotica, the Venetian Epigrams. David Luke’s translations do full justice to Goethe’s aim of liberating German poetry and restoring sexual love to its central position in human life. Hans Vaget’s fine Introduction provides the background to these poems, as well as showing some of the profound and little-known connections between them.