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THE poems of the "Divan " were composed during the years when nearly all the thought and passion of Germany, which existed beyond the limits of Goethe, were absorbed by the struggle with Napoleon's domination. The poet recoiled from this feeling of his own nation, and, as if to put as many degrees of longitude as possible between himself and the uproar of the times, he retreated into the study of the Chinese and other Oriental literatures: other important subjects also preoccupied his mind, but these were the most characteristic of his mood. Several verses in the first Book of the "Divan" express his relief at escaping from politics: they sound with the note of his dissatisfaction during that period.
The cause of this apparent indifference to his country's political welfare lay within his temperament and mental structure: it is interesting to observe that it was an organic exigency of his nature, as little to be modified or cancelled as was that devotion to knowledge, art, and culture which flourished by favor of this indifference. The genius instinctively submitted to its own law.