Death and the Maiden

"Death and the Maiden" is a poem written by Matthias Claudius in 1775, which depicts a conversation between a young woman and death personified. The maiden is terrified of death and pleads with him to spare her, but death assures her that he is not a monster, but rather a natural part of life's cycle. The poem explores the themes of mortality, fear, and acceptance of death, which were prevalent in the late 18th century when the poem was written.

The female form is significant in the poem because the maiden represents youth, beauty, and the fragility of life. Her fear of death is a universal human experience, but it is particularly poignant in the context of a young woman whose life is just beginning. The maiden's vulnerability highlights the transience of life and the inevitability of death, which is a central theme of the poem.

The Maiden:
Pass me by! Oh, pass me by!
Go, fierce man of bones!
I am still young! Go, dear,
And do not touch me.
And do not touch me.

Give me your hand, you beautiful and tender form!
I am a friend, and come not to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
Softly shall you sleep in my arms!

- Der Tod und das Madchen, Matthias Claudius, 1775