And Loewen's giving Goethe a Very Good Idea is one of his main claims to (very minor) fame. He also was a theater critic and writer, though ultimately not a very successful one, since he ended his career as a minor government employee in the city of Rostock. All of which is a roundabout way of telling you that this frontispiece got me thinking both about my forays into translating and reading German - and about Walpurgis Night, which will be coming up on the 30th of April, the night, that is, before May Day.
It was celebrated in northern Europe mainly - Scandanavia, Germany, Scotland and England, so is not known as much in North America. In Germany the celebrations are especially associated with the Harz Mountains, in particular the Brockenberg or Brocken Mountain - which is where Loewen was born and grew up, in the town of Clausthal. Perhaps Lowen learned about the Walpurgis legends as a child.
In his 1888 translation of Faust*, Bayard Taylor notes that:
Johann Friedrich Lowen, a native of Clausthal, in the Hartz, published in 1756 a comical epic entitled 'The Walpurgis-Night," wherein, apparently for the first time in literature, Faust appears on the Blocksberg. I quote the following lines as a specimen: -
'At Beezlebub's left hand there Doctor Faust was sitting;
He filled his glass and drank most bravely, as was fitting,
And when the nectar made their spirits warm and strong,
The spectres cried 'Hurrah!' Faust sang a drinking song.'"
To make May Wine, one 1883 cookbook** suggests that you put a bottle of hock (Rhine wine) into a punch-bowl, and add to this a glass of sherry, a sliced lemon, a sliced orange, and some sliced strawberries. Then add sugar to sweeten and 12 sprays of woodruff, an aromatic herb. And I am sure that a glass of May Wine, and the fires of Walpurgisnacht, will inspire me to brush up my college German and start translating.
*You can see it on Google Books, right here.
**Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, p. 411.
Pedantic accent-related note: Loewen's surname is often spelled with an umlaut over the o (the e following the o is an accepted substitute). I wasn't able to get my computer to comply with typing an o-umlaut so I'm using the oe spelling instead - but when I quote Taylor I just leave it off altogether. So there you go.