The most famous phrase from Goethe's play Götz von Berlichingen is "er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" This is taken from the third act, when Götz von Berlichingen's castle is being besieged and a herald comes to tell him it were better to surrender. This leads to a response that made the play famous:
Mich ergeben! Auf Gnad und Ungnad! Mit wem redet Ihr! Bin ich ein Räuber! Sag deinem Hauptmann: Vor Ihro Kaiserliche Majestät hab ich, wie immer, schuldigen Respekt. Er aber, sag's ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!
[Schmeißt das Fenster zu.]
Translation (1885, hosted by The Online Library of Liberty):
Surrender—surrender at discretion. With whom speak you? Am I a robber? Tell your
captain, that for the emperor I entertain, as I have ever done, all due respect; but as for him, he may lick my arse!
[Shuts the window with violence.]
Many editions censored the last few words, for example:
- on Zeno.org: "Er aber, sag's ihm, er kann mich – –",
- on Wikisource: "Er aber, sag’s ihm, er kann mich – – –",
- in the above English translation, which actually said, "but as for him, he may—". (I added the missing words in the quote above.)
The words are so famous they are known in Germany as "schwäbischer Gruß" or "Swabian salute". Today, you can hear the phrase "leck mich am Arsch" in informal conversation, but it would be ill-advised to say it to someone of authority.