The German newspaper Die Zeit is reporting that an erotic poem by the 18th century Prussian monarch Frederick the Great has been discovered in a Berlin archive. The poem, long believed to be lost, was written in French a few weeks after Frederick became king. It was not included in a 19th century publication of Frederick the Great’s verses, nor in a 1912 volume published to commemorate his 200th birthday.
This is big news to Frederick the Great scholars, but it’s also charming to see Bloomberg report this (which is the outlet where we heard the news). As you may know, Bloomberg isn’t exactly known for its eroticism. There’s only one of the classic Bloomberg subheads in this one: “Dissolving Kisses.” That’s where they succinctly sum up the poem’s plot like it’s breaking news.
Frederick appointed Algarotti the romantic hero of his poem, describing a steamy encounter with a woman he names as Chloris, a beautiful virgin of Greek mythology.
The hero is “beside himself with love, trembling with impatience” as he falls into her arms. Frederick describes “kisses dissolving into lust, sighs and death,” and “arising again in a kiss, to become lust once more.”
He concludes by observing that the next morning, it is all over, though “a moment of lust is worth as much to him who enjoys it as a century of honor.”
The poem is called “La Jouissance,” which according to Bloomberg “can refer to pleasure in the general sense or to a sexual climax.”