Heine moved to Paris in 1831, not intending an emigration at the time, but so it turned out. He delighted in the place. “When the fish in the sea ask each other how they feel, they answer, ‘like Heine in Paris,’” he said. But he missed Germany too and never stopped missing it. “German shirts and German hearts/ Don’t wear well in foreign parts” goes a couplet in one of his late poems. In 1848 he was literally struck down by a paralysis apparently syphilitic in origin. Never able to walk again, half-blinded by the illness, he lay doubled up in agony, an agony that morphine was less and less able to alleviate, on a bed of piled-up mattresses—his “mattress grave,” as he called it—till his death in 1856. The courage with which he bore his long affliction surprised himself. Yet in these eight pain-ridden, opium-dazed years, tended by his illiterate Norman wife, Mathilde, he composed some of his best...

 
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