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Unforgettable Ulrika

7.2.2024 | History

On 4 February, the famous Geoth muse and love of Baroness Theodora Ulrika Sofia von Levetzow would have celebrated 220 years since her birth.

She was born in 1804 in Leipzig to Joachim and Amalia von Levetzow. Ulrika first met the famous writer as a toddler in her mother's company in the spa town of Teplice. When Ulrika was seventeen years old, they met again during a stay in Marienbad in 1821. Their meeting in Marienbad was fateful and remains a mystery to this day. The age difference of 55 years precluded the outbreak of love between the two. For the poet and writer, Goethe's poem "Elegy of Mariánské Lázně" was clear evidence of his love affair. The poem reflects Goethe's deep emotions and longing for Ulrica. It is considered one of the greatest expressions of unfulfilled love in German literature.

Ulrika, however, refused Goethe's proposal of marriage and did not marry again. And so she remains a symbol of her loyal relationship with a man she held in high regard, even though throughout her life she claimed that there was never any love connection between them. For more than a century and a half, literary scholars have searched for evidence of their feelings, and the more Baroness Ulrika, then still living in Trebivlice, dismissed these suspicions, the more excited they became about this ancient drama. Strangely enough, there is only one version of their relationship, the literary version - the love version. No one has ever attempted another explanation, another version, however unlikely, such as the father-daughter relationship.

Ulrika did not understand Goethe's greatness until much later, when they were no longer seeing each other, and probably not until after Goethe's death. She remained unmarried, reportedly rejecting twelve marriage proposals, as if for her awareness of her affiliation with Goethe. To him alone she owed the high and respectful attention of the general public. From an insignificant girl she became a well-known admired person - after all, she was the last love of the great Goethe! The glare of his fame fell on her all her life. The meeting of Goethe and Ulrika in Marienbad is just one example of the historical importance of our spa town.

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