I know that is far away in time and space but sometimes we have to do a bit of planning and now I’m asking you whether you are interested in doing something for this. An Installation of Artwork? An online exhibition? A book Series (24 for the hours in the day) A Faust focused art happening? I will be going to a workshop where the city will be talking about the Festival Faust and want to know what you are interested in doing.
If you have not read Goethe’s Faust, here is the translation in English below or download the PDF from the Poetry in Translation Website.
Faust: Parts I & II
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A Translation into English by
by A. S. KLINE
Published with Illustrations by EUGÈNE DELACROIX
POETRY IN TRANSLATION
© Copyright 2003 A. S. Kline
Cover design by Poetry in Translation
Digital reproductions of art in the main text are courtesy of the public domain collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (www.lacma.org) and the Yale University Art Gallery (artgallery.yale.edu). Identifications of works are provided beneath each image
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About This Work
Goethe’s two-part dramatic work, Faust, based on a traditional theme, and finally completed in 1831, is an exploration of that restless intellectual and emotional urge which found its fullest expression in the European Romantic movement, to which Goethe was an early and major contributor. Part I of the work outlines a pact Faust makes with the devil, Mephistopheles, and encompasses the tragedy of Gretchen, whom Faust seduces. Part II, developed over a long period of Goethe’s later life, reflects Goethe’s own transition from a predominantly Romantic to a wider world-view and explores more extensive themes, including the values of the Classical past, as it moves towards the work’s resolution.
The protagonist, Faust, is presented in a complex manner, and Goethe’s treatment of the subject matter raises ethical and spiritual issues, many of which are not resolved within the drama itself. Goethe’s stress is on Faust’s striving towards the good, and on the nature of human error, rather than on the traditional Christian view of sin and redemption, and the play’s opening sections and its conclusion can be seen as humanist allegory or metaphor rather than an expression of orthodox religious belief. It is left to the reader to draw their own conclusion about Faust’s everyman character, and the extent to which he earns his ultimate spiritual salvation.
The play had an enormous influence on later German thought and literature, and together with his lyric poetry has ensured Goethe’s place among the great European writers.
Prelude On Stage
Prologue In Heaven
Scene I: Night
Scene II: In Front Of The City-Gate
Scene III: The Study
Scene IV: The Study
Scene V: Auerbach’s Cellar in Leipzig
Scene VI: The Witches’ Kitchen
Scene VII: A Street
Scene VIII: Evening
Scene IX: Promenade
Scene X: The Neighbour’s House
Scene XI: The Street
Scene XII: The Garden
Scene XIII: An Arbour in the Garden
Scene XIV: Forest and Cavern
Scene XV: Gretchen’s Room
Scene XVI: Martha’s Garden
Scene XVII: At The Fountain
Scene XVIII: A Tower
Scene XIX: Night
Scene XX: The Cathedral
Scene XXI: Walpurgis Night
Scene XXII: A Walpurgis Night’s Dream
Scene XXIII: Gloomy Day
Scene XXIV: Night
Scene XXV: A Dungeon
Act I Scene I: A Pleasant Landscape
Act I Scene II: The Emperor’s Castle: The Throne Room
Act I Scene III: A Spacious Hall with Adjoining Rooms
Act I Scene IV: A Pleasure Garden in the Morning Sun
Act I Scene V: A Gloomy Gallery
Act I Scene VI: Brilliantly Lit Halls
Act I Scene VII: The Hall of the Knights, Dimly Lit
Act II Scene I: A High-Arched, Narrow, Gothic Chamber
Act II Scene II: A Laboratory
Act II Scene III: Classical Walpurgis Night
Act II Scene IV: On The Upper Peneus Again
Act II Scene V: Rocky Coves in the Aegean Sea
Act II Scene VI: The Telchines of Rhodes
Act III Scene I: Before the Palace of Menelaus in Sparta
Act III Scene II: The Inner Court of The Castle
Act IV Scene I: High Mountains
Act IV Scene II: On the Headland
Act IV Scene III: The Rival Emperor’s Tent
Act V Scene I: Open Country
Act V Scene II: In the Little Garden
Act V Scene III: The Palace
Act V Scene IV: Dead of Night
Act V Scene V: Midnight
Act V Scene VI: The Great Outer Court of the Palace
Act V Scene VII: Mountain Gorges, Forest, Rock, Desert
Faust in His Studio, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
‘Faust in His Studio’ – Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (The Netherlands, 1606 – 1669), Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Again you show yourselves, you wavering Forms,
Revealed, as you once were, to clouded vision.
Shall I attempt to hold you fast once more?
Heart’s willing still to suffer that illusion?
You crowd so near! Well then, you shall endure, 5
And rouse me, from your mist and cloud’s confusion:
My spirit feels so young again: it’s shaken
By magic breezes that your breathings waken.
You bring with you the sight of joyful days,
And many a loved shade rises to the eye: 10
And like some other half-forgotten phrase,
First Love returns, and Friendship too is nigh:
Pain is renewed, and sorrow: all the ways,
Life wanders in its labyrinthine flight,
Naming the good, those that Fate has robbed 15
Of lovely hours, those slipped from me and lost.
They can no longer hear this latest song,
Spirits, to whom I gave my early singing:
That kindly crowd itself is now long gone,
Alas, it dies away, that first loud ringing! 20
I bring my verses to the unknown throng,
My heart’s made anxious even by their clapping,
And those besides delighted by my verse,
If they still live, are scattered through the Earth.
I feel a long and unresolved desire 25
For that serene and solemn land of ghosts,
It quivers now, like an Aeolian lyre,
My stuttering verse, with its uncertain notes,
A shudder takes me: tear on tear, entire,
The firm heart feels weakened and remote: 30
What I possess seems far away from me,
And what is gone becomes reality.
Prelude On Stage
(Director, Dramatist, Comedian)
Director You two, who’ve often stood by me,
In times of need, when trouble’s breaking,
Say what success our undertaking 35
Will meet with, then, in Germany?
I’d rather like the crowd to enjoy it,
Since they live and let live, truly.
The stage is set, the boards complete,
And they await our festivity. 40
They’re seated already, eyebrows raised,
Calmly hoping they’ll be amazed.
I know how to make the people happy:
But I’ve never been so embarrassed: not
That they’ve been used to the best, you see, 45
Yet they’ve all read such a dreadful lot.
How can we make it all seem fresh and new,
Weighty, but entertaining too?
I’d love to see a joyful crowd, that’s certain,
When the waves drive them to our place, 50
And with tremendous and repeated surging,
Squeeze them through the narrow gate of grace:
In the light of day they’re there already,
Pushing, till they’ve reached the window,
As if they’re at the baker’s, starving, nearly 55
Breaking their necks: just for a ticket. Oh!
Only poets can work this miracle on men
So various: the day is yours, my friend!
Dramatist O, don’t speak to me of that varied crew,
The sight of whom makes inspiration fade. 60
Veil, from me, the surging multitude,
Whose whirling will drives us everyway.
No, some heavenly silence lead me to,
Where for the poet alone pure joy’s at play:
Where Love and Friendship too grace our hearts, 65
Created and inspired by heavenly arts.
Ah! What springs here from our deepest being,
What the shy trembling lips in speaking meant,
Now falling awry, and now perhaps succeeding,
Is swallowed in the fierce Moment’s violence. 70
Often, when the first years are done, unseeing,
It appears at last, complete, in deepest sense.
What dazzles is a Momentary act:
What’s true is left for posterity, intact.
Comedian Don’t speak about posterity to me! 75
If I went on about posterity,
Where would you get your worldly fun?
Folk want it, and they’ll still have some.
The presence of a fine young man
Is nice, I think, for everyone. 80
Who, comfortably, shares his wit,
And to their moods takes no exception:
He’ll make himself a greater hit,
And win a more secure reception.
Be brave, and show them what you’ve got, 85
Have Fantasy with all her chorus, yes,
Mind, Reason, Passion, Tears, the lot,
But don’t you leave out Foolishness.
Director Make sure, above all, plenty’s happening there!
They come to look, and then they want to stare. 90
Spin endlessly before their faces,
So the people gape amazed,
You’ve won them by your many paces,
You’ll be the man most praised.
The mass are only moved by things en masse, 95
Each one, himself, will choose the bit he needs:
Who brings a lot, brings something that will pass:
And everyone goes home contentedly.
You’ll give a piece, why then give it them in pieces!
With such a stew you’re destined for success. 100
Easy to serve, it’s as easy to invent.
What use to bring them your complete intent?
The Public will soon pick at what you’ve dressed.
Dramatist You don’t see how badly such work will do!
How little it suits the genuine creator! 105
Already, I see, it’s a principle with you.
The finest master is a sloppy worker.
Director Such a reproach leaves me unmoved:
The man who seeks to be approved,
Must stick to the best tools for it, 110
Think, soft wood’s the best to split,
and have a look for whom you write!
See, this is one that boredom drives,
Another’s from some overloaded table,
Or, worst of all, he’s one arrives, 115
Like most, fresh from the daily paper.
They rush here mindlessly, as to a Masque,
And curiosity inspires their hurry:
The ladies bring themselves, and in their best,
Come and play their parts and ask no fee. 120
What dream of yours is this, exalted verse?
Doesn’t a full house make you happy?
Have a good look at your patrons first!
One half are coarse, the rest are chilly.
After the show he hopes for card-play: 125
He hopes for a wild night, and a woman’s kiss.
Why then do so many poor fools plague,
The sweet Muse, for such a goal as this?
I tell you, just give them more and more,
So you’ll never stray far from the mark, 130
Just seek to confuse them, in the dark:
To keep them happy, that’s hard – for sure.
And now what’s wrong? Delight or Pain?
Dramatist Go, look for another scribbler by night!
Shall the poet throw away the highest right, 135
The right of humanity, that Nature gave,
Carelessly, so that you might gain!
How will he move all hearts again?
How will each element be his slave?
Is that harmony nothing, from his breast unfurled, 140
That draws back into his own heart, the world?
When Nature winds the lengthened filaments,
Indifferently, on her eternal spindle,
When all the tuneless mass of elements,
In their sullen discord, jar and jangle – 145
Who parts the ever-flowing ranks of creation,
Stirs them, so rhythmic measure is assured?
Who calls the One to general ordination,
Where it may ring in marvellous accord?
Who lets the storm wind rage with passion, 150
The sunset glow the senses move?
Who scatters every lovely springtime blossom
Beneath the footsteps of the one we love?
Who weaves the slight green wreath of leaves,
To honour work well done in every art? 155
What makes Olympus sure, joins deities?
The power of Man, revealed by the bard.
Comedian So use it then, all this fine energy,
And drive along the work of poetry,
To show how we are driven in Love’s play. 160
By chance we meet, we feel, we stay,
And bit by bit we’re tightly bound:
Happiness grows, and then it’s fenced around:
We’re all inflamed then comes the sorrowing:
Before you know it, there’s a novel brewing! 165
Why don’t we give such a piece!
Grasp the life of man complete!
Everyone lives, though it’s seldom confessed,
And wherever you grasp, there’s interest.
In varied pictures there’s little light, 170
A lot of error, and a gleam of right,
So the best of drinks is brewed,
So the world’s cheered and renewed.
Then see the flower of lovely youth collect,
To hear your words, and view the offering, 175
And every tender nature will extract
A melancholy food from what you bring,
They’ll gain now this and that from your art,
So each sees what is present in their heart.
They’re readily moved to weeping or to laughter, 180
They’ll admire your verve, and enjoy the show:
What’s finished you can never alter after:
Minds still in growth will be grateful though.
Dramatist So give me back that time again,
When I was still ‘becoming’, 185
When words gushed like a fountain
In new, and endless flowing,
Then for me mists veiled the world,
In every bud the wonder glowed,
A thousand flowers I unfurled, 190
That every valley, richly, showed.
I had nothing, yet enough:
Joy in illusion, thirst for truth.
Give every passion, free to move,
The deepest bliss, filled with pain, 195
The force of hate, the power of love,
Oh, give me back my youth again!
Comedian Youth is what you need, dear friend,
When enemies jostle you, of course,
And girls, filled with desire, bend 200
Their arms around your neck, with force,
When the swift-run race’s garland
Beckons from the hard-won goal,
When from the swirling dance, a man
Drinks until the night is old. 205
But to play that well-known lyre
With courage and with grace,
Moved by self-imposed desire,
At a sweet wandering pace,
That is your function, Age, 210
And our respect won’t lessen.
Age doesn’t make us childish, as they say,
It finds that we’re still children.
Director That’s enough words for the moment,
Now let me see some action! 215
While you’re handing out the compliments,
You should also make things happen.
Why talk so much of inspiration?
Delay won’t make it flow, you see.
Since Poetry gave the gift of creation, 220
Take your orders then from Poetry.
You know what’s wanted here,
We need strong ale to appear:
So brew me a barrel right away!
Tomorrow won’t do what’s undone today, 225
We shouldn’t waste a minute, so
Decide what’s possible, and just
Grasp it firmly like a hoe,
Make sure that you let nothing go,
And work it about, because you must. 230
On the German stage, you see,
Everyone tries out what he can:
Don’t fail to show me, I’m your man,
Your trap-doors, and your scenery.
Use heavenly lights, the big and small, 235
Squander stars in any number,
Rocky cliffs, and fire, and water,
Birds and creatures, use them all.
So in our narrow playhouse waken
The whole wide circle of creation, 240
And stride, deliberately, as well,
From Heaven, through the world, to Hell.
Prologue In Heaven
(God, the Heavenly Hosts, and then Mephistopheles.)
(The Three Archangels step forward.)
Raphael The Sun sings out, in ancient mode,
His note among his brother-spheres,
And ends his pre-determined road, 245
With peals of thunder for our ears.
The sight of him gives Angels power,
Though none can understand the way:
The inconceivable work is ours,
As bright as on the primal day. 250
Gabriel And swift, and swift, beyond conceiving,
The splendour of the Earth turns round,
A Paradisial light is interleaving,
With night’s awesome profound.
The ocean breaks with shining foam, 255
Against the rocky cliffs deep base,
And rock and ocean whirl and go,
In the spheres’ swift eternal race.
Michael And storms are roaring in their race
From sea to land, and land to sea, 260
Their raging forms a fierce embrace,
All round, of deepest energy.
The lightning’s devastations blaze
Along the thunder-crashes’ way:
Yet, Lord, your messengers, shall praise 265
The gentle passage of your day.
All Three The sight of it gives Angels power
Though none can understand the way,
And all your noble work is ours,
As bright as on the primal day. 270
Mephistopheles Since, O Lord, you near me once again,
To ask how all below is doing now,
And usually receive me without pain,
You see me too among the vile crowd.
Forgive me: I can’t speak in noble style, 275
And since I’m still reviled by this whole crew,
My pathos would be sure to make you smile,
If you had not renounced all laughter too.
You’ll get no word of suns and worlds from me.
How men torment themselves is all I see. 280
The little god of Earth sticks to the same old way,
And is as strange as on that very first day.
He might appreciate life a little more: he might,
If you hadn’t lent him a gleam of Heavenly light:
He calls it Reason, but only uses it 285
To be more a beast than any beast as yet.
He seems to me, saving Your Grace,
Like a long-legged grasshopper: through space
He’s always flying: he flies and then he springs,
And in the grass the same old song he sings. 290
If he’d just lie there in the grass it wouldn’t hurt!
But he buries his nose in every piece of dirt.
God Have you nothing else to name?
Do you always come here to complain?
Does nothing ever go right on the Earth? 295
Mephistopheles No, Lord! I find, as always, it couldn’t be worse.
I’m so involved with Man’s wretched ways,
I’ve even stopped plaguing them, myself, these days.
God Do you know, Faust?
Mephistopheles The Doctor?
God My servant, first!
Mephistopheles In truth! He serves you in a peculiar manner. 300
There’s no earthly food or drink at that fool’s dinner.
He drives his spirit outwards, far,
Half-conscious of its maddened dart:
From Heaven demands the brightest star,
And from the Earth, Joy’s highest art, 305
And all the near and all the far,
Fails to release his throbbing heart.
God Though he’s still confused at how to serve me,
I’ll soon lead him to a clearer dawning,
In the green sapling, can’t the gardener see 310
The flowers and fruit the coming years will bring.
Mephistopheles What do you wager? I might win him yet!
If you give me your permission first,
I’ll lead him gently on the road I set.
God As long as he’s alive on Earth, 315
So long as that I won’t forbid it,
For while man strives he errs.
Mephistopheles My thanks: I’ve never willingly seen fit
To spend my time amongst the dead,
I much prefer fresh cheeks instead. 320
To corpses, I close up my house:
Or it’s too like a cat with a mouse.
God Well and good, you’ve said what’s needed!
Divert this spirit from his source,
You know how to trap him, lead him,
On your downward course, 325
And when you must, then stand, amazed:
A good man, in his darkest yearning,
Is still aware of virtue’s ways.
Mephistopheles That’s fine! There’s hardly any waiting. 330
My wager’s more than safe I’m thinking.
When I achieve my goal, in winning,
You’ll let me triumph with a swelling heart.
He’ll eat the dust, and with an art,
Like the snake my mother, known for sinning. 335
God You can appear freely too:
Those like you I’ve never hated.
Of all the spirits who deny, it’s you,
The joker, who’s most lightly weighted.
Man’s energies all too soon seek the level, 340
He quickly desires unbroken slumber,
So I gave him you to join the number,
To move, and work, and pass for the devil.
But you the genuine sons of light,
Enjoy the living beauty bright! 345
Becoming, that works and lives forever,
Embrace you in love’s limits dear,
And all that may as Appearance waver,
Fix firmly with everlasting Idea!
(Heaven closes, and the Archangels separate.)
I like to hear the Old Man’s words, from time to time, 350
And take care, when I’m with him, not to spew.
It’s very nice when such a great Gentleman,
Chats with the devil, in ways so human, too!
Mephistopheles in the Skies
‘Mephistopheles in the Skies’
Scene I: Night
(In a high-vaulted Gothic chamber, Faust, in a chair at his desk, restless.)
Faust Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,
I’ve finished Law and Medicine, 355
And sadly even Theology:
Taken fierce pains, from end to end.
Now here I am, a fool for sure!
No wiser than I was before:
Master, Doctor’s what they call me, 360
And I’ve been ten years, already,
Crosswise, arcing, to and fro,
Leading my students by the nose,
And see that we can know – nothing!
It almost sets my heart burning. 365
I’m cleverer than all these teachers,
Doctors, Masters, scribes, preachers:
I’m not plagued by doubt or scruple,
Scared by neither Hell nor Devil –
Instead all Joy is snatched away, 370
What’s worth knowing, I can’t say,
I can’t say what I should teach
To make men better or convert each.
And then I’ve neither goods nor gold,
No worldly honour, or splendour hold: 375
Not even a dog would play this part!
So I’ve given myself to Magic art,
To see if, through Spirit powers and lips,
I might have all secrets at my fingertips.
And no longer, with rancid sweat, so, 380
Still have to speak what I cannot know:
That I may understand whatever
Binds the world’s innermost core together,
See all its workings, and its seeds,
Deal no more in words’ empty reeds. 385
O, may you look, full moon that shines,
On my pain for this last time:
So many midnights from my desk,
I have seen you, keeping watch:
When over my books and paper, 390
Saddest friend, you appear!
Ah! If on the mountain height
I might stand in your sweet light,
Float with spirits in mountain caves,
Swim the meadows in twilight’ waves, 395
Free from the smoke of knowledge too,
Bathe in your health-giving dew!
Alas! In this prison must I stick?
This hollow darkened hole of brick,
Where even the lovely heavenly light 400
Shines through stained glass, dull not bright.
Hemmed in, by heaps of books,
Piled to the highest vault, and higher,
Worm eaten, decked with dust,
Surrounded by smoke-blackened paper, 405
Glass vials, boxes round me, hurled,
Stuffed with Instruments thrown together,
Packed with ancestral lumber –
This is my world! And what a world!
And need you ask why my heart 410
Makes such tremors in my breast?
Why all my life-energies are
Choked by some unknown distress?
Smoke and mildew hem me in,
Instead of living Nature, then, 415
Where God once created Men,
Bones of creatures, and dead limbs!
Fly! Upwards! Into Space, flung wide!
Isn’t this book, with secrets crammed,
From Nostradamus’ very hand, 420
Enough to be my guide?
When I know the starry road,
And Nature, you instruct me,
My soul’s power, you shall flow,
As spirits can with spirits be. 425
Useless, this dusty pondering here
To read the sacred characters:
Soar round me, Spirits, and be near:
If you hear me, then answer!
(He opens the Book, and sees the Symbol of the Macrocosm.)
Ah! In a moment, what bliss flows 430
Through my senses from this Sign!
I feel life’s youthful, holy joy: it glows,
Fresh in every nerve and vein of mine.
This symbol now that calms my inward raging,
Perhaps a god deigned to write, 435
Filling my poor heart with delight,
And with its mysterious urging
Revealing, round me, Nature’s might?
Am I a god? All seems so clear to me!
It seems the deepest works of Nature 440
Lie open to my soul, with purest feature.
Now I understand what wise men see:
“The world of spirits is not closed:
Your senses are: your heart is dead!
Rise, unwearied, disciple: bathe instead 445
Your earthly breast in the morning’s glow!”
(He gazes at the Symbol.)
How each to the Whole its selfhood gives,
One in another works and lives!
How Heavenly forces fall and rise,
Golden vessels pass each other by! 450
Blessings from their wings disperse:
They penetrate from Heaven to Earth,
Sounding a harmony through the Universe!
Such a picture! Ah, alas! Merely a picture!
How then can I grasp you endless Nature? 455
Where are your breasts that pour out Life entire,
To which the Earth and Heavens cling so,
Where withered hearts would drink? You flow
You nourish, yet I languish so, in vain desire.
(He strikes the book indignantly, and catches sight of the Symbol of the Earth-Spirit.)
How differently it works on me, this Sign! 460
You, the Spirit of Earth, are nearer:
Already, I feel my power is greater,
Already, I glow, as with fresh wine.
I feel the courage to engage the world,
Into the pain and joy of Earth be hurled, 465
And though the storm wind is unfurled,
Fearless, in the shipwreck’s teeth, be whirled.
There’s cloud above me –
The Moon hides its light –
The lamp flickers!
Now it dies! Crimson rays dart 470
Round my head – Horror
Flickers from the vault above,
And grips me tight!
I feel you float around me, 475
Spirit, I summon to appear, speak to me!
Ah! What tears now at the core of me!
All my senses reeling
With fresh feeling!
I feel you draw my whole heart towards you! 480
You must! You must! Though my Life’s lost, too!
(He grips the book and speaks the mysterious name of the Spirit. A crimson flame flashes, the Spirit appears in the flame.)
Spirit Who calls me?
Faust (Looking away.)
Terrible to gaze at!
Spirit Mightily you have drawn me to you,
Long, from my sphere, snatched your food,
And now –
Faust Ah! Endure you, I cannot! 485
Spirit You beg me to show myself, you implore,
You wish to hear my voice, and see my face:
The mighty prayer of your soul weighs
With me, I am here! – What wretched terror
Grips you, the Superhuman! Where is your soul’s calling? 490
Where is the heart that made a world inside, enthralling:
Carried it, nourished it, swollen with joy, so tremulous,
That you too might be a Spirit, one of us?
Where are you, Faust, whose ringing voice
Drew towards me with all your force? 495
Are you he, who, breathing my breath,
Trembles in all your life’s depths,
A fearful, writhing worm?
Faust Shall I fear you: you form of fire?
I am, I am Faust: I am your peer! 500
Spirit In Life’s wave, in action’s storm,
I float, up and down,
I blow, to and fro!
Birth and the tomb,
An eternal flow, 505
A woven changing,
A glow of Being.
Over Time’s quivering loom intent,
Working the Godhead’s living garment.
Faust You who wander the world, on every hand, 510
Active Spirit, how close to you I feel!
Spirit You’re like the Spirit that you understand
Who then? 515
I, the image of the Godhead!
Not even like you?
Oh, fate! I know that sound – it’s my attendant –
My greatest fortune’s ruined!
In all the fullness of my doing, 520
He must intrude, that arid pedant!
(Wagner enters, in gown and nightcap, lamp in hand. Faust turns to him impatiently.)
Wagner Forgive me! But I heard you declaim:
Reading, I’m sure, from some Greek tragedy?
To profit from that art is my aim,
Nowadays it goes down splendidly. 525
I’ve often heard it claimed, you see
A priest could learn from the Old Comedy.
Faust Yes, when the priest’s a comedian already:
Which might well seem to be the case.
Wagner Ah! When a man’s so penned in his study, 530
And scarcely sees the world on holidays,
And barely through the glass, and far off then,
How can he lead men, through persuading them?
Faust You can’t, if you can’t feel it, if it never
Rises from the soul, and sways 535
The heart of every single hearer,
With deepest power, in simple ways.
You’ll sit forever, gluing things together,
Cooking up a stew from other’s scraps,
Blowing on a miserable fire, 540
Made from your heap of dying ash.
Let apes and children praise your art,
If their admiration’s to your taste,
But you’ll never speak from heart to heart,
Unless it rises up from your heart’s space. 545
Wagner Still, lecturing brings orators success:
I feel that I am far behind the rest.
Faust Seek to profit honestly!
Don’t be an empty tinkling fool!
Understanding, and true clarity, 550
Express themselves without art’s rule!
And if you mean what you say,
Why hunt for words, anyway?
Yes, your speech, that glitters so,
Where you gather scraps for Man, 555
Is dead as the mist-filled winds that blow
Through the dried-up leaves of autumn!
Wagner Oh, God! Art is long
And life is short.
Often the studies that I’m working on 560
Make me anxious, in my head and heart.
How hard it is to command the means
By which a man attains the very source!
Before a man has travelled half his course,
The wretched devil has to die it seems. 565
Faust Parchment then, is that your holy well,
From which drink always slakes your thirst?
You’ll never truly be refreshed until
It pours itself from your own soul, first.
Wagner Pardon me, but it’s a great delight 570
When, moved by the spirit of the ages, we have sight
Of how a wiser man has thought, and how
Widely at last we’ve spread his word about.
Faust Oh yes, as widely as the constellations!
My friend, all of the ages that are gone 575
Now make up a book with seven seals.
The spirit of the ages, that you find,
In the end, is the spirit of Humankind:
A mirror where all the ages are revealed.
And so often it’s all a mere misery 580
Something we run away from at first sight.
A pile of sweepings, a lumber room, maybe
At best, a puppet show, that’s bright
With maxims, excellent, pragmatic,
Suitable when dolls’ mouths wax dramatic! 585
Wagner But, the world! Men’s hearts and minds!
Something of those, at least, I’d like to know.
Faust Yes, what men choose to understand!
Who dares to name the child’s real name, though?
The few who knew what might be learned, 590
Foolish enough to put their whole heart on show,
And reveal their feelings to the crowd below,
Mankind has always crucified and burned.
I beg you, friend, it’s now the dead of night,
We must break up this conversation. 595
Wagner I would have watched with you, if I might
Speak with you still, so learned in oration.
But tomorrow, on Easter’s first holy day,
I’ll ask my several questions, if I may.
I’ve pursued my work, zealously studying: 600
There’s much I know: yet I’d know everything.
That mind alone never loses hope,
That keeps to the shallows eternally,
Grabs, with eager hand, the wealth it sees,
And rejoices at the worms for which it gropes! 605
Dare such a human voice echo, too,
Where this depth of Spirit surrounds me?
Ah yet! For just this once, my thanks to you,
You sorriest of all earth’s progeny!
You’ve torn me away from that despair, 610
That would have soon overwhelmed my senses.
Ah! The apparition was so hugely there,
It might have truly dwarfed my defences.
I, image of the Godhead, already one,
Who thought the spirit of eternal truth so near, 615
Enjoying the light, both heavenly and clear,
Setting to one side the earthbound man:
I, more than Angel, a free force,
Ready to flow through Nature’s veins,
And, in creating, enjoy the life divine, 620
Pulsing with ideas: must atone again!
A word like thunder swept me away.
I dare not measure myself against you.
I possessed the power to summon you,
But not the power to make you stay. 625
In that blissful moment, then
I felt myself so small, so great:
Cruelly you hurled me back again,
Into Man’s uncertain state.
What shall I learn from? Or leave? 630
Shall I obey that yearning?
Ah! Our actions, and not just our grief,
Impede us on life’s journey.
Some more and more alien substance presses
On the splendour that the Mind conceives: 635
And when we gain what this world possesses,
We say the better world’s dream deceives.
The splendid feelings that give us life,
Fade among the crowd’s earthly strife.
If imagination flew with courage, once, 640
And, full of hope, stretched out to eternity,
Now a little room is quite enough,
When joy on joy has gone, in time’s whirling sea.
Care has nested in the heart’s depths,
Restless, she rocks there, spoiling joy and rest, 645
There she works her secret pain,
And wears new masks, ever and again,
Appears as wife and child, fields and houses,
As water, fire, or knife or poison:
Still we tremble for what never strikes us, 650
And must still cry for what has not yet gone.
I am no god: I feel it all too deeply.
I am the worm that writhes in dust: see,
As in the dust it lives, and seeks to eat,
It’s crushed and buried by the passing feet. 655
Is this not dust, what these vaults hold,
These hundred shelves that cramp me:
This junk, and all the thousand-fold
Shapes, of a moth-ridden world, around me?
Will I find here what I’m lacking else, 660
Shall I read, perhaps, as a thousand books insist,
That Mankind everywhere torments itself,
So, here and there, some happy man exists?
What do you say to me, bare grinning skull?
Except that once your brain whirled like mine, 665
Sought the clear day, and in the twilight dull,
With a breath of truth, went wretchedly awry.
For sure, you instruments mock at me,
With cylinders and arms, wheels and cogs:
I stand at the door: and you should be the key: 670
You’re deftly cut, but you undo no locks.
Mysterious, even in broad daylight,
Nature won’t let her veil be raised:
What your spirit can’t bring to sight,
Won’t by screws and levers be displayed. 675
You, ancient tools, I’ve never used
You’re here because my father used you,
Ancient scroll, you’ve darkened too,
From smoking candles burned above you.
Better the little I had was squandered, 680
Than sweat here under its puny weight!
What from your father you’ve inherited,
You must earn again, to own it straight.
What’s never used, leaves us overburdened,
But we can use what the Moment may create! 685
Yet why does that place so draw my sight,
Is that flask a magnet for my gaze?
Why is there suddenly so sweet a light,
As moonlight in a midnight woodland plays?
I salute you, phial of rare potion, 690
I lift you down, with devotion!
In you I worship man’s art and mind,
Embodiment of sweet sleeping draughts:
Extract, with deadly power, refined,
Show your master all his craft! 695
I see you, and my pain diminishes,
I grasp you, and my struggles grow less,
My spirit’s flood tide ebbs, more and more,
I seem to be where ocean waters meet,
A glassy flood gleams around my feet, 700
New day invites me to a newer shore.
A fiery chariot sweeps nearer
On light wings! I feel ready, free
To cut a new path through the ether
And reach new spheres of pure activity. 705
This greater life, this godlike bliss!
You, but a worm, have you earned this?
Choosing to turn your back, ah yes,
On all Earth’s lovely Sun might promise!
Let me dare to throw those gates open, 710
That other men go creeping by!
Now’s the time, to prove through action
Man’s dignity may rise divinely high,
Never trembling at that void where,
Imagination damns itself to pain, 715
Striving towards the passage there,
Round whose mouth all Hell’s fires flame:
Choose to take that step, happy to go
Where danger lies, where Nothingness may flow.
Come here to me, cup of crystal, clear! 720
Free of your ancient cover now appear,
You whom I’ve never, for many a year,
Considered! You shone at ancestral feasts,
Cheering the over-serious guests:
One man passing you to another here. 725
It was the drinker’s duty to explain in rhyme
The splendour of your many carved designs
Or drain it at a draught, and breathe, in time:
You remind me of those youthful nights of mine.
Now I will never pass you to a friend, 730
Or test my wits on your art again.
Here’s a juice will stun any man born:
It fills your hollow with a browner liquid.
I prepared it, now I choose the fluid,
At last I drink, and with my soul I bid 735
A high and festive greeting to the Dawn!
(He puts the cup to his mouth.)
(Bells chime and a choir sings.)
Choir of Angels Christ has arisen!
Joy to the One, of us,
Who the pernicious,
Ancestral, insidious, 740
Fault has unwoven.
Faust What deep humming, what shining sound
Strikes the glass from my hand with power?
Already, do the hollow bells resound,
Proclaiming Easter’s festive course? Our 745
Choirs, do you already sing the hymn of consolation,
Which once rang out, in deathly night, in Angels’ oration,
That certainty of a new testament’s hour?
Chorus of Women With pure spices
We embalmed him, 750
We his faithful
We entombed him:
Linen and bindings,
We unwound there,
Ah! Now we find 755
Christ is not here.
Choir of Angels Christ has arisen!
Out of what grieved,
Tested, and healed: 760
His trial is won.
Faust You heavenly sounds, powerful and mild,
Why, in the dust, here, do you seek me?
Ring out where tender hearts are reconciled.
I hear your message, but faith fails me: 765
The marvellous is faith’s dearest child.
I don’t attempt to rise to that sphere,
From which the message rings:
Yet I know from childhood what it sings,
And I’m recalled to life once more. 770
In other times a Heavenly kiss would fall
On me, in the deep Sabbath silence:
The bell notes filled with presentiments,
And a prayer was pleasure’s call:
A sweet yearning, beyond my understanding, 775
Set me wandering through woods and fields,
And while a thousand tears were burning
I felt a world around me come to be.
Love called out the lively games of youth,
The joy of spring’s idle holiday: 780
Memory’s childish feelings, in truth,
Hold me back from the last sombre way.
O, sing on you sweet songs of Heaven!
My tears flow, Earth claims me again!
Chorus of Disciples Has the buried one 785
Raised himself, alone,
Is he, in teeming air,
Near to creative bliss: 790
Ah! In sorrow, we’re
Here on Earth’s breast.
Lacking Him, we
Languish, and sigh.
Ah! Master we 795
Cry for your joy!
Choir of Angels Christ has arisen
Out of corruption’s sea.
Tear off your bindings
Joyfully free! 800
Actively praising him,
Lovingly claiming him,
Fraternally aiding him,
Joyfully promising, 805
So is the Master near,
So is he here!
Scene II: In Front Of The City-Gate
(Passers-by of all kinds appear.)
Several Apprentices So, then, where are you away to?
Others We’re away to the Hunting Lodge.
The Former We’re off to saunter by the Mill. 810
An Apprentice Off to the Riverside Inn, I’d guess.
A Second Apprentice The way there’s not of the best.
The Others What about you?
A Third I’m with the others, still.
A Fourth Come to the Castle, you’ll find there
The prettiest girls, the finest beer, 815
And the best place for a fight.
A Fifth You quarrelsome fool, are you looking
For a third good hiding?
Not for me, that place, I hate its very sight.
A Maidservant No, No! I’m going back to town. 820
Another We’ll find him by those poplar trees for sure.
The First Well that’s no joy for me, now:
He’ll walk by your side, of course,
He’ll dance with you on the green.
Where’s the fun in that for me, then! 825
The Other I’m sure he’s not alone, he said
He’d bring along that Curly-head.
A Student My how they strut those bold women!
Brother, come on! We’ll follow them.
Fierce tobacco, strong beer, 830
And a girl in her finery, I prefer.
A Citizen’s Daughter They are handsome boys there, I see!
But it’s truly a disgrace:
They could have the best of company,
And run after a painted face! 835
Second Student (To the first.)
Not so fast! Those two behind,
They walk about so sweetly,
One must be that neighbour of mine:
I could fall for her completely.
They pass by with demure paces, 840
But in the end they’ll go with us.
The First Brother, no! I shouldn’t bother, anyway.
Quick! Before our quarry gets away.
The hand that wields a broom on Saturday,
Gives the best caress, on Sunday too, I say. 845
Citizen No, the new mayor doesn’t suit me!
Now he’s there he’s getting cocky.
And what’s he done to help the town?
Isn’t it getting worse each day?
As always it’s us who must obey, 850
And pay more money down.
A Beggar (Sings.)
Fine gentlemen, and lovely ladies,
Rosy-cheeked and finely dressed,
You could help me, for your aid is
Needed: see, ease my distress! 855
Don’t let me throw my song away,
Only he who gives is happy.
A day when all men celebrate,
Will be a harvest day for me!
Another Citizen On holidays there’s nothing I like better 860
Than talking about war and war’s display,
When in Turkey far away,
People one another batter.
You sit by the window: have a glass:
See the bright boats glide down the river, 865
Then you walk back home and bless
Its peacefulness, and peace, forever.
Third Citizen Neighbour, yes! I like that too:
Let them go and break their heads,
Make the mess they often do: 870
So long as we’re safe in our beds.
An Old Woman (To the citizen’s daughter.)
Ah! So pretty! Sweet young blood!
Who wouldn’t gaze at you?
Don’t be so proud! I’m very good!
And what you want, I’ll bring you. 875
The Citizen’s Daughter Agatha, come away! I must go carefully:
No walking freely with such a witch as her:
For on Saint Andrew’s Night she really
Showed me who’ll be my future Lover.
The Other She showed me mine in a crystal ball, 880
A soldier, with lots of other brave men:
I look around: among them all,
Yet I can never find him.
The Soldiers Castles with towering
Ramparts and wall, 885
Proud girls showing
Disdain for us all,
We want them to fall!
The action is brave,
And splendid the pay! 890
So let the trumpet,
Do our recruiting,
Calling to joy
Calling to ruin.
It’s a storm, blowing! 895
But it’s the life too!
Girls and castles
We must win you.
The action is brave,
Splendid the pay! 900
And the soldiers
Go marching away.
(Faust and Wagner)
Faust Rivers and streams are freed from ice
By Spring’s sweet enlivening glance.
Valleys, green with Hope’s happiness, dance: 905
Old Winter, in his weakness, sighs,
Withdrawing to the harsh mountains.
From there, retreating, he sends down
Impotent showers of hail that show
In stripes across the quickening ground. 910
But the sun allows nothing white below,
Change and growth are everywhere,
He enlivens all with his colours there,
And lacking flowers of the fields outspread,
He takes these gaudy people instead. 915
Turn round, and from this mountain height,
Look down, where the town’s in sight.
That cavernous, dark gate,
The colourful crowd penetrate,
All will take the sun today, 920
The Risen Lord they’ll celebrate,
And feel they are resurrected,
From low houses, dully made,
From work, where they’re constricted,
From the roofs’ and gables’ weight, 925
From the crush of narrow streets,
From the churches’ solemn night
They’re all brought to the light.
Look now: see! The crowds, their feet
Crushing the gardens and meadows, 930
While on the river a cheerful fleet
Of little boats everywhere it flows.
And over-laden, ready to sink,
The last barge takes to the stream.
From far off on the mountain’s brink, 935
All the bright clothing gleams.
I hear the noise from the village risen,
Here is the people’s true Heaven,
High and low shout happily:
Here I am Man: here, dare to be! 940
Wagner Doctor, to take a walk with you,
Is an honour and a prize:
Alone I’d have no business here, true,
Since everything that’s coarse I despise.
Shrieking, fiddlers, skittles flying, 945
To me it’s all a hateful noise:
They rush about possessed, crying,
And call it singing: and call it joy.
(Farm-workers under the lime tree. Dance and Song.)
The shepherd for the dance, had on
His gaudy jacket, wreath, and ribbon, 950
Making a fine show,
Under the linden-tree, already,
Everyone was dancing madly.
Hurrah! Hurray! 955
So goes the fiddle-bow.
In his haste, in a whirl,
He stumbled against a girl,
With his elbow flailing:
Lively, she turned, and said: 960
Mind out, you wooden-head!
Just watch where you’re sailing!
Fast around the circle bright, 965
They danced to left and right,
Skirts and jackets flying.
They grew red: they grew warm,
They rested, panting, arm on arm
Hey! Hey! 970
And hip, and elbow, lying.
Don’t be so familiar then!
That’s how many a lying man,
Cheated his wife so! 975
But he soon tempted her aside,
And from the linden echoed wide:
So goes the fiddle-bow. 980
An Old Farmer Doctor, it’s good of you today
Not to shun the crowd,
So that among the folk, at play,
The learned man walks about.
Then have some from the finest jug 985
That we’ve filled with fresh ale first,
I offer it now and wish it would,
Not only quench your thirst:
But the count of drops it holds
May it exceed your hours, all told. 990
Faust I’ll take some of your foaming drink,
And offer you all, health and thanks.
(The people gather round him in a circle.)
The Old Farmer Truly, it’s a thing well done:
You’re here on our day of happiness, 995
Since in evil times now gone,
You’ve eased our distress!
Many a man stands here alive,
Whom your father, at the last,
Snatched from the fever’s rage,
While the plague went past. 1000
And you, only a young man, went,
Into every house of sickness, then,
Though many a corpse was carried forth,
You walked safely out again.
Many a hard trial you withstood, 1005
A Helper helped by the Helper above.
All Health to the man who’s proven true,
Long may he help me and you!
Faust To Him above bow down instead,
Who teaches help, and sends his aid. 1010
(He walks off, with Wagner.)
Wagner How it must feel, O man of genius,
To be respected by the crowd!
O happy he whose gifts endow
Him with such advantages!
The father shows you to his son, now 1015
Each one asks and pushes near,
The fiddle halts, and the dancers there:
You pass: in ranks they stop to see,
And throw their caps high in the air:
A little more and they’d bend the knee, 1020
As if what they worshipped was holy.
Faust Climb these few steps to that stone,
Here we’ll rest from our wandering.
Here I’ve sat often, thoughtful and alone,
Tormenting myself with prayer and fasting. 1025
Rich in hope, and firm of faith,
Wringing my hands, with sighs even,
Tears, to force the end of plague
From the very God of Heaven.
The crowd’s approval now’s like scorn. 1030
O if you could read within me
How little the father and the son
Deserve a fraction of their glory.
My father was a gloomy, honourable man,
Who pondered Nature and the heavenly spheres, 1035
Honestly, in his own fashion,
With eccentric studies it appears:
He, in his adepts’ company,
Locked in his dark workshop, forever
Tried with endless recipes, 1040
To make things opposite flow together.
The fiery Lion, a daring suitor,
Wed the Lily, in a lukewarm bath, there
In a fiery flame, both of them were
Strained from one bride-bed into another, 1045
Until the young Queen was descried,
In a mix of colours, in the glass:
There was the medicine: the patient died.
And who recovered? No one asked.
So we roamed, with our hellish pills, 1050
Among the valleys and the hills,
Worse than the pestilence itself we were.
I’ve poisoned a thousand: that’s quite clear:
And now from the withered old must hear
How men praise a shameless murderer. 1055
Wagner How can you grieve at that!
Isn’t it enough for an honest man
To exercise the skill he has,
Carefully, precisely, as given?
Honour your father as a youth, 1060
And receive his teaching in your soul,
As a man, then, add to scientific truth,
So your son can achieve a higher goal.
Faust and Wagner
‘Faust and Wagner’
Faust O happy the man who still can hope
Though drowned in a sea of error! 1065
Man needs the things he doesn’t know,
What he knows is useless, forever.
But don’t let such despondency
Spoil the deep goodness of the hour!
In the evening glow, we see 1070
The houses gleaming, green-embowered.
Mild it retreats, the day that’s left,
It slips away to claim new being.
Ah, that no wing from earth can lift
Me, closer and closer to it, striving! 1075
I’d see, in eternal evening’s light,
The silent Earth beneath my feet, forever,
The heights on fire, each valley quiet
While silver streams flow to a golden river.
The wild peaks with their deep clefts, 1080
Would cease to bar my godlike way,
Already the sea with its warm depths,
Opens to my astonished gaze.
At last the weary god sinks down to night:
But in me a newer yearning wakes, 1085
I hasten on, drinking his endless light:
The dark behind me: and ahead the day.
Heaven above me: and the waves below,
A lovely dream, although it vanishes.
Ah! Wings of the mind, so weightless 1090
No bodily wings could ever be so.
Yet it’s natural in every spirit, too,
That feeling drives us, up and on,
When over us, lost in the vault of blue,
The lark sings his piercing song, 1095
When over the steep pine-filled peaks,
The eagle widely soars,
And across the plains and seas,
The cranes seek their home shores.
Wagner I’ve often had strange moments, I know, 1100
But I’ve never felt yearnings quite like those:
The joys of woods and fields soon fade
I wouldn’t ask the birds for wings: indeed,
How differently the mind’s raptures lead
Us on, from book to book, and page to page! 1105
Then winter nights are beautiful, and sweet,
A blissful warmth steals through your limbs, too
When you’ve unrolled some noble text, complete,
Oh, how heaven’s light descends on you!
Faust You only feel the one yearning at best, 1110
Oh, never seek to know the other!
Two souls, alas, exist in my breast,
One separated from another:
One, with its crude love of life, just
Clings to the world, tenaciously, grips tight, 1115
The other soars powerfully above the dust,
Into the far ancestral height.
Oh, let the spirits of the air,
Between the heavens and Earth, weaving,
Descend through the golden atmosphere, 1120
And lead me on to new and varied being!
Yes, if a magic cloak were mine, that
Would carry me off to foreign lands,
Not for the costliest garment in my hands,
For the mantle of a king, would I resign it! 1125
Wagner Don’t call to that familiar crowd,
Streaming in misty circles, spreading,
Preparing a thousand dangers now,
On every side, for human beings.
The North winds’ sharp teeth penetrate, 1130
Down here, and spit you with their fangs:
Then the East’s drying winds are at the gate,
To feed themselves on your lungs.
If, from the South, the desert sends them,
And fire on fire burns on your brow, 1135
The West brings a swarm to quench them,
And you and field and meadow drown.
They hear us, while they’re harming us,
Hear us, while they are betraying:
They make out they’re from heaven above, 1140
And lisp like angels when they’re lying.
Let’s go on! The world has darkened,
The air is cool: the mists descend!
Man values his own house at night.
What is it occupies your sight? 1145
What troubles you so, in the evening?
Faust Through corn and stubble, see that black dog running?
Wagner I saw him long ago: he seems a wretched thing.
Faust Look at him closely! What do you make of him?
Wagner A dog that, in the way they do, 1150
Sniffs around to find his master.
Faust See how he winds in wide spirals too,
Round us here, yet always coming nearer?
And if I’m right, I see a swirl of fire
Twisting about, behind his track. 1155
Wagner Perhaps your eyesight proves a liar,
I only see a dog, that’s black.
Faust It seems to me that with a subtle magic,
He winds a fatal knot around our feet.
Wagner I see his timid and uncertain antics, 1160
It’s strangers, not his master, whom he meets.
Faust The circle narrows: now he’s here!
Wagner You see a dog, there’s no spectre near!
He barks uncertainly, lies down and crawls,
Wags his tail. Dogs’ habits, after all. 1165
Faust Come on! Here, now! Here, to me!
Wagner He’s a dogged hound, I agree.
Stand still and he holds his ground:
Talk to him, he dances round:
What you’ve lost, he’ll bring to you: 1170
Retrieve a stick from the water, too.
Faust You’re right: and I see nothing
Like a Spirit there, it’s only training.
Faust, Mephistopheles, and the Water Spaniel
‘Faust, Mephistopheles, and the Water Spaniel’
Wagner A wise man finds agreeable,
A dog that’s learnt its lesson well. 1175
Yes, he deserves all your favour,
Among the students, the true scholar!
(They enter the City gate.)
Scene III: The Study
(Faust enters, with the dog.)
Faust Fields and meadows now I’ve left
Clothed in deepest night,
Full of presentiments, a holy dread 1180
Wakes the better soul in me to light.
Wild desires no longer stir
At every restless act of mine:
Love for Humanity is here,
And here is Love Divine. 1185
Quiet, dog! Stop running to and fro!
Why are you snuffling at the door?
Lie down now, behind the stove,
There’s my best cushion on the floor.
Since you amused us running, leaping, 1190
Out on the mountainside, with zest,
Now I take you into my keeping,
A welcome, and a silent guest.
Ah, when in our narrow room,
The friendly lamp glows on the shelf, 1195
Brightness burns in our inner gloom,
In the Heart, that knows itself.
Reason speaks with insistence,
And Hope once more appears,
We see the River of Existence, 1200
Ah, the founts of Life, are near.
Don’t growl, dog! With this holy sound
Which I, with all my soul, embrace,
Your bestial noise seems out of place.
Men usually scorn the things, I’ve found, 1205
That, by them, can’t be understood,
Grumbling at beauty, and the good,
That to them seems wearisome:
Can’t a dog, then, snarl like them?
Oh, yet now I can feel no contentment 1210
Flow through me, despite my best intent.
Why must the stream fail so quickly,
And once again leave us thirsty?
I’ve long experience of it, yet I think
I could supply what’s missing, easily: 1215
We learn to value what’s beyond the earthly,
We yearn to reach revelation’s brink,
That’s nowhere nobler or more excellent
Than where it burns in the New Testament.
I yearn to render the first version, 1220
With true feeling, once and for all,
Translate the sacred original
Into my beloved German.
(He opens the volume, and begins.)
Faust in His Study
‘Faust in His Study’
It’s written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Word!’
Here I stick already! Who can help me? It’s absurd, 1225
Impossible, for me to rate the word so highly
I must try to say it differently
If I’m truly inspired by the Spirit. I find
I’ve written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Mind’.
Let me consider that first sentence, 1230
So my pen won’t run on in advance!
Is it Mind that works and creates what’s ours?
It should say: ‘In the beginning was the Power!’
Yet even while I write the words down,
I’m warned: I’m no closer with these I’ve found. 1235
The Spirit helps me! I have it now, intact.
And firmly write: ‘In the Beginning was the Act!’
If I’m to share my room with you,
Dog, you can stop howling too:
Stop your yapping! 1240
A fellow who’s always snapping,
I can’t allow too near me.
One of us you see,
Must leave the other free.
I’ve no more hospitality to show, 1245
The door’s open, you can go.
But what’s this I see!
Can this happen naturally?
Is it a phantom or is it real?
The dog’s growing big and tall. 1250
He rises powerfully,
It’s no doglike shape I see!
What a spectre I brought home!
Like a hippo in the room,
With fiery eyes, and fearful jaws. 1255
Oh! Now, what you are, I’m sure!
The Key of Solomon is good
For conjuring your half-hellish brood.
Spirits (In the corridor.)
Something’s trapped inside!
Don’t follow it: stay outside! 1260
Like a fox in a snare
An old lynx from hell trembles there.
Be careful what you’re about!
Float here: float there,
Under and over, 1265
And he’ll work his way out.
If you know how to help him,
Don’t let yourself fail him!
Since it’s all done for sure,
Just for your pleasure. 1270
Faust First speak the Words of the Four
To encounter the creature.
Salamander, be glowing,
Undine, flow near,
Sylph, disappear, 1275
Gnome, be delving.
Who does not know
The Elements so,
Their power sees,
And properties, 1280
Cannot lord it
Over the Spirits.
Vanish in flame,
Rush together in foam, 1285
Shine with meteor-gleam,
Bring help to the home,
Incubus! Incubus! 1290
Go before and end it thus!
None of the Four
Show in the creature.
He lies there quietly grinning at me:
I’ve not stirred him enough it seems. 1295
But you’ll hear how
I’ll press him hard now.
My good fellow, are you
Exiled from Hell’s crew?
Witness the Symbol 1300
Before which they bow,
The dark crowd there!
Now it swells, with its bristling hair.
Can you know what you’re seeing? 1305
The uncreated One
With name unexpressed,
Poured through Heaven,
Pierced without redress?
Spellbound, behind the stove, 1310
An elephant grows.
It fills the room, completely,
It will vanish like mist, I can see.
Don’t rise to the ceiling!
Lie down at your master’s feet! 1315
You see I don’t threaten you lightly.
I’ll sting you with fire that’s holy!
Don’t wait for the bright
Triple glowing Light!
Don’t wait for 1320
My highest art!
(As the mist clears, Mephistopheles steps from behind the stove, dressed as a wandering Scholar.)
Mephistopheles Why such alarms? What command would my lord impart?
Faust This was the dog’s core!
A wandering scholar? The fact makes me smile.
Mephistopheles I bow to the learned lord! 1325
You certainly made me sweat, in style.
Faust How are you named?
Mephistopheles A slight question
For one who so disdains the Word,
Is so distant from appearance: one
Whom only the vital depths have stirred. 1330
Mephistopheles Appearing to Faust
‘Mephistopheles Appearing to Faust’
Faust We usually gather from your names
The nature of you gentlemen: it’s plain
What you are, we all too clearly recognise
One who’s called Liar, Ruin, Lord of the Flies.
Well, what are you then? 1335
Mephistopheles Part of the Power that would
Always wish Evil, and always works the Good.
Faust What meaning to these riddling words applies?
Mephistopheles I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
In turn deserves to be annihilated: 1340
Better if nothing came to be.
So all that you call Sin, you see,
Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
By Evil is my true element.
Faust You call yourself a part, yet seem complete to me? 1345
Mephistopheles I’m speaking the truth to you, and modestly.
Even if Man’s accustomed to take
His small world for the Whole, that’s his mistake:
I’m part of the part, that once was – everything,
Part of the darkness, from which Light, issuing, 1350
Proud Light, emergent, disputed the highest place
With its mother Night, the bounds of Space,
And yet won nothing, however hard it tried,
Still stuck to Bodily Things, and so denied.
It flows from bodies, which it beautifies, 1355
And bodies block its way:
I hope the day’s not far away
When it, along with all these bodies, dies.
Faust Now I see the plan you follow!
You can’t destroy it all, and so 1360
You’re working on a smaller scale.
Mephistopheles And frankly it’s a sorry tale.
What’s set against the Nothingness,
The Something, World’s clumsiness,
Despite everything I’ve tried, 1365
Won’t become a nothing: though I’d
Storms, quakes, and fires on every hand,
It deigned to stay as sea and land!
And those Men and creatures, all the damned,
It’s no use my owning any of that crew: 1370
How many I’ve already done with too!
Yet new fresh blood is always going round.
So it goes on, men make me furious!
With water, earth and air, of course,
A thousand buds unfurl 1375
In wet and dry, warm and cold!
And if I hadn’t kept back fire of old,
I’d have nothing left at all.
Faust So you set the Devil’s fist
That vainly clenches itself, 1380
Against the eternally active,
Wholesome, creative force!
Strange son of Chaos, start
On something else instead!
Mephistopheles Truly I’ll think about it: more 1385
Next time, on that head!
Might I be allowed to go?
Faust I see no reason for you to ask it.
Since I’ve learnt to know you now,
When you wish: then make a visit. 1390
There’s the door, here’s the window,
And, of course, there’s the chimney.
Mephistopheles I must confess, I’m prevented though
By a little thing that hinders me,
The Druid’s-foot on your doorsill – 1395
Faust The Pentagram gives you pain?
Then tell me, you Son of Hell,
If that’s the case, how did you gain
Entry? Are spirits like you cheated?
Mephistopheles Look carefully! It’s not completed: 1400
One angle, if you inspect it closely
Has, as you see, been left a little open.
Faust Just by chance as it happens!
And left you prisoner to me?
Success created by approximation! 1405
Mephistopheles The dog saw nothing, in his animation,
Now the affair seems inside out,
The Devil can’t get out of the house.
Faust Why not try the window then?
Mephistopheles To devils and ghosts the same laws appertain: 1410
The same way they enter in, they must go out.
In the first we’re free, in the second slaves to the act.
Faust So you still have laws in Hell, in fact?
That’s good, since it allows a pact,
And one with you gentlemen truly binds? 1415
Mephistopheles What’s promised you’ll enjoy, and find,
There’s nothing mean that we enact.
But it can’t be done so fast,
First we’ll have to talk it through,
Yet, urgently, I beg of you 1420
Let me go my way at last.
Faust Wait a moment now,
Tell me some good news first.
Mephistopheles I’ll soon be back, just let me go:
Then you can ask me what you wish. 1425
Faust I didn’t place you here, tonight.
You trapped yourself in the lime.
Who snares the devil, holds him tight!
He won’t be caught like that a second time.
Mephistopheles I’m willing, if you so wish, 1430
To stay here, in your company:
So long as we pass the time, and I insist,
On arts of mine, exclusively.
Faust Gladly, you’re free to present
Them, as long as they’re all pleasant. 1435
Mephistopheles My friend you’ll win more
For your senses, in an hour,
Than in a whole year’s monotony.
What the tender spirits sing,
The lovely pictures that they bring, 1440
Are no empty wizardry.
First your sense of smell’s invited,
Then your palate is delighted,
And then your touch, you see.
Now, I need no preparation, 1445
We’re all here, so let’s begin!
Spirits Vanish, you shadowy
The friendliest blue 1450
Of aether, down here.
Would that shadowy
Clouds had gone!
Milder sun 1455
In lovely confusion,
Swaying and bending,
Drifting past. 1460
Their garments flowing
With fluttering ribbons,
Cover the gardens, 1465
Cover the leaves,
Where with each other
In deep conversation
Lover meets lover.
Leaves on leaves! 1470
Crushed in a stream,
Pressed to extreme,
Crushed to fountain, 1475
Of foaming wine,
Through rocks divine,
Leaving the heights,
Spreading beneath, 1480
Broad as the seas,
Valleys it fills
Round the green hills.
And the wings still,
Blissfully drunk, 1485
Fly to the sun,
Fly to the brightness,
Towards the islands,
Out of the waves
Magically raised: 1490
Now we can hear
The choir of joy near,
Over the meadow,
See how they dance now,
All in the air 1495
Some of them climbing
Over the mountains,
Others are swimming
Over the ocean, 1500
Others take flight:
All towards Life,
All towards distant,
Love of the stars, and
Approval’s bliss. 1505
Mephistopheles He’s asleep! Enough, you delicate children of air!
You’ve sung to him faithfully, I declare!
I’m in your debt for all this.
He’s not yet the man to hold devils fast!
Spellbind him with dream-forms, cast 1510
Him deep into illusions’ sea:
Now, for the magic sill I must pass,
I could use rat’s teeth: no need for me
To conjure up a lengthier spell,
One’s rustling here that will do well. 1515
The Lord of Rats and Mice,
Of Flies, Frogs, Bugs and Lice,
Summons you to venture here,
And gnaw the threshold where
He stains it with a little oil – 1520
You’ve hopped, already, to your toil!
Now set to work! The fatal point,
Is at the edge, it’s on the front.
One more bite, then it’s complete –
Now Faust, dream deeply, till we meet. 1525
Am I cheated then, once again?
Does the Spirit-Realm’s deep yearning fade:
So a mere dream has conjured up the devil,
And only a dog, it was, that ran away?
Scene IV: The Study
Faust A knock? Enter! Who’s plaguing me again? 1530
Mephistopheles I am
Mephistopheles Three times you must say it, then.
Faust So! Enter!
Mephistopheles Ah, now, you please me.
I hope we’ll get along together:
To drive away the gloomy weather,
I’m dressed like young nobility, 1535
In a scarlet gold-trimmed coat,
In a little silk-lined cloak,
A cockerel feather in my hat,
With a long, pointed sword,
And I advise you, at that, 1540
To do as I do, in a word:
So that, footloose, fancy free,
You can experience Life, with me.
Faust This life of earth, its narrowness,
Pains me, however I’m turned out, 1545
I’m too old to play about,
Too young, still, to be passionless.
What can the world bring me again?
Abstain! You shall! You must! Abstain!
That’s the eternal song 1550
That in our ears, forever, rings
The one, that, our whole life long,
Every hour, hoarsely, sings.
I wake in terror with the dawn,
I cry, the bitterest tears, to see 1555
Day grant no wish of mine, not one
As it passes by on its journey.
Even presentiments of joy
Ebb, in wilful depreciation:
A thousand grimaces life employs 1560
To hinder me in creation.
Then when night descends I must
Stretch out, worried, on my bed:
What comes to me is never rest,
But some wild dream instead. 1565
The God that lives inside my heart,
Can rouse my innermost seeing:
The one enthroned beyond my art,
Can’t stir external being:
And so existence is a burden: sated, 1570
Death’s desired, and Life is hated.
Mephistopheles Yet Death’s a guest who’s visit’s never wholly celebrated.
Faust Happy the man whom victory enhances,
Whose brow the bloodstained laurel warms,
Who, after the swift whirling dances, 1575
Finds himself in some girl’s arms!
If only, in my joy, then, I’d sunk down
Before that enrapturing Spirit power!
Mephistopheles Yet someone, from a certain brown
Liquid, drank not a drop, at midnight hour. 1580
Faust It seems that you delight in spying.
Mephistopheles I know a lot: and yet I’m not all-knowing.
Faust When sweet familiar tones drew me,
Away from the tormenting crowd,
Then my other childhood feelings 1585
Better times echoed, and allowed.
So I curse whatever snares the soul,
In its magical, enticing arms,
Banishes it to this mournful hole,
With dazzling, seductive charms! 1590
Cursed be those high Opinions first,
With which the mind entraps itself!
Then glittering Appearance curse,
In which the senses lose themselves!
Curse what deceives us in our dreaming, 1595
With thoughts of everlasting fame!
Curse the flattery of ‘possessing’
Wife and child, lands and name!
Curse Mammon, when he drives us
To bold acts to win our treasure: 1600
Or straightens out our pillows
For us to idle at our leisure!
Curse the sweet juice of the grape!
Curse the highest favours Love lets fall!
Cursed be Hope! Cursed be Faith, 1605
And cursed be Patience most of all!
Choir of Spirits (Unseen.)
You’ve destroyed it,
The beautiful world,
With a powerful fist: 1610
It tumbles, it’s hurled
To ruin! A demigod crushed it!
Fragments into the void,
And sadly 1615
Lament the Beauty that’s gone.
For all of Earth’s sons,
Build it again, 1620
Build, in your heart!
Life’s new start,
With senses washed clean,
And sound, then, 1625
A newer art!
Mephistopheles They’re little, but fine,
These attendants of mine.
Precocious advice they give, listen,
Regarding both action, and passion! 1630
Into the World outside,
From Solitude, that’s dried
Your sap and senses,
They tempt us.
Stop playing with grief, 1635
That feeds, a vulture, on your breast,
The worst society, you’ll find, will prompt belief,
That you’re a Man among the rest.
Not that I mean
To shove you into the mass. 1640
Among ‘the greats’, I’m second-class:
But if you, in my company,
Your path through life would wend,
I’ll willingly condescend
To serve you, as we go. 1645
I’m your man, and so,
If it suits you of course,
I’m your slave: I’m yours!
Faust And what must I do in exchange?
Mephistopheles There’s lots of time: you’ve got the gist. 1650
Faust No, no! The Devil is an egotist,
Does nothing lightly, or in God’s name,
To help another, so I insist,
Speak your demands out loud,
Such servants are risks, in a house. 1655
Mephistopheles I’ll be your servant here, and I’ll
Not stop or rest, at your decree:
When we’re together, on the other side,
You’ll do the same for me.
Faust The ‘other side’ concerns me less: 1660
Shatter this world, in pieces,
The other one can take its place,
The root of my joy’s on this Earth,
And this Sun lights my sorrow:
If I must part from them tomorrow, 1665
What can or will be, that I’ll face.
I’ll hear no more of it, of whether
In that future, men both hate and love,
Or whether in those spheres, forever,
We’re given a below and an above. 1670
Mephistopheles In that case, you can venture all.
Commit yourself: today, you shall
View my arts with joy: I mean
To show you what no man has seen.
Faust Poor devil what can you give? When has ever 1675
A human spirit, in its highest endeavour,
Been understood by such a one as you?
You have a never-satiating food,
You have your restless gold, a slew
Of quicksilver, melting in the hand, 1680
Games whose prize no man can land,
A girl, who while she’s on my arm,
Snares a neighbour, with her eyes:
And Honour’s fine and godlike charm,
That, like a meteor, dies? 1685
Show me fruits then that rot, before they’re ready.
And trees grown green again, each day, too!
Mephistopheles Such commands don’t frighten me:
With such treasures I can truly serve you.
Still, my good friend, a time may come, 1690
When one prefers to eat what’s good in peace.
Faust When I lie quiet in bed, at ease.
Then let my time be done!
If you fool me, with flatteries,
Till my own self’s a joy to me, 1695
If you snare me with luxury –
Let that be the last day I see!
That bet I’ll make!
Faust And quickly!
When, to the Moment then, I say:
‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’ 1700
Then you can grasp me: then you may,
Then, to my ruin, I’ll go gladly!
Then they can ring the passing bell,
Then from your service you are free,
The clocks may halt, the hands be still, 1705
And time be past and done, for me!
Mephistopheles Consider well, we’ll not forget.
Faust You have your rights, complete:
I never over-estimate my powers.
I’ll be a slave, in defeat: 1710
Why ask whose slave or yours?
Mephistopheles Today, likewise, at the Doctors’ Feast
I’ll do my duty as your servant.
One thing, though! – Re: life and death, I want
A few lines from you, at the least. 1715
Faust You pedant, you demand it now in writing?
You still won’t take Man’s word for anything?
It’s not enough that the things I say,
Will always accord with my future?
The world never ceases to wear away, 1720
And shall a promise bind me, then, forever?
Yet that’s the illusion in our minds,
And who then would be free of it?
Happy the man, who pure truth finds,
And who’ll never deign to sacrifice it! 1725
Still a document, written and signed,
That’s a ghost makes all men fear it.
The word is already dying in the pen,
And wax and leather hold the power then.
What do you want from me base spirit? 1730
Will iron: marble: parchment: paper do it?
Shall I write with stylus, pen or chisel?
I’ll leave the whole decision up to you.
Mephistopheles Why launch into oratory too?
Hot-tempered: you exaggerate as well. 1735
Any bit of paper’s just as good.
And you can sign it with a drop of blood.
Faust If it will satisfy you, and it should,
Then let’s complete the farce in full.
Mephistopheles Blood is a quite special fluid. 1740
Faust Have no fear I’ll break this pact!
The extreme I can promise you: it is
All the power my efforts can extract.
I’ve puffed myself up so highly
I belong in your ranks now. 1745
The mighty Spirit scorns me
And Nature shuts me out.
The thread of thought has turned to dust,
Knowledge fills me with disgust.
Let the depths of sensuality 1750
Satisfy my burning passion!
And, its impenetrable mask on,
Let every marvel be prepared for me!
Let’s plunge into time’s torrent,
Into the whirlpools of event! 1755
Then let joy, and distress,
Frustration, and success,
Follow each other, as well they can:
Restless activity proves the man!
Mephistopheles No goal or measure’s set for you. 1760
Do as you wish, nibble at everything,
Catch at fragments while you’re flying,
Enjoy it all, whatever you find to do.
Now grab at it, and don’t be stupid!
Faust It’s not joy we’re about: you heard it. 1765
I’ll take the frenzy, pain-filled elation,
Loving hatred, enlivening frustration.
Cured of its urge to know, my mind
In future, will not hide from any pain,
And what is shared by all mankind, 1770
In my innermost self, I’ll contain:
My soul will grasp the high and low,
My heart accumulate its bliss and woe,
So this self will embrace all theirs,
That, in the end, their fate it shares. 1775
Mephistopheles Believe me, many a thousand year
They’ve chewed hard food, and yet
From the cradle to the bier,
Not one has ever digested it!
Trust one of us, this Whole thing 1780
Was only made for a god’s delight!
In eternal splendour he is dwelling,
He placed us in the darkness quite,
And only gave you day and night.
Faust But, I will! 1785
Mephistopheles That’s good to hear!
Yet I’ve a fear, just the one:
Time is short, and art is long.
I think you need instruction.
Join forces with a poet: use poetry,
Let him roam in imagination, 1790
You’ll gain every noble quality
From your honorary occupation,
The lion’s brave attitude
The wild stag’s swiftness,
The Italian’s fiery blood, 1795
The North’s persistence.
Let him find the mysterious
Meeting of generous and devious,
While you, with passions young and hot,
Fall in love, according to the plot. 1800
I’d like to see such a gentleman, among us,
And I’d call him Mister Microcosmus.
Faust What am I then, if it’s a flight too far,
For me to gain that human crown
I yearn towards with every sense I own? 1805
Mephistopheles In the end, you are – what you are.
Set your hair in a thousand curlicues
Place your feet in yard-high shoes,
You’ll remain forever, what you are.
Faust All the treasures of the human spirit 1810
I feel that I’ve expended, uselessly.
And wherever, at the last, I sit,
No new power flows, in me.
I’m not a hair’s breadth taller, as you see,
And I’m no nearer to Infinity. 1815
Mephistopheles My dear sir, you see the thing
Exactly as all men see it: why,
We must re-order everything,
Before the joys of life slip by.
Hang it! Hands and feet, belong to you, 1820
Certainly, a head, and a backside,
Yet everything I use as new
Why is my ownership of it denied?
When I can count on six stallions,
Isn’t their horsepower mine to use? 1825
I drive behind, and am a proper man,
As though I’d twenty-four legs, too.
Look lively! Leave the senses be,
And plunge into the world with me!
I say to you that scholarly fellows 1830
Are like the cattle on an arid heath:
Some evil spirit leads them round in circles,
While sweet green meadows lie beneath.
Faust How shall we begin then?
Mephistopheles From here, we’ll first win free.
What kind of a martyrs’ hole can this be? 1835
What kind of a teacher of life is he,
Who fills young minds with ennui?
Let your neighbours do it, and go!
Do you want to thresh straw forever?
The best things you can ever know, 1840
You dare not tell the youngsters, ever.
I hear one of them arriving, too!
Faust I’ve no desire to see him, though.
Mephistopheles The poor lad’s waited hours for you.
He mustn’t go away un-consoled. 1845
Come: give me your cap and gown.
The mask should look delicious. So!
(He disguises himself.)
Now I’ve lost what wit’s my own!
I want fifteen minutes with him, only:
Meanwhile get ready for our journey! 1850
Mephistopheles (In Faust’s long gown.)
Reason and Science you despise,
Man’s highest powers: now the lies
Of the deceiving spirit must bind you
With those magic arts that blind you,
And I’ll have you, totally – 1855
Fate gave him such a spirit
It urges him ever onwards, wildly,
And, in his hasty striving, he has leapt
Beyond all earth’s ecstasies.
I’ll drag him through raw life, 1860
Through the meaningless and shallow,
I’ll freeze him: stick to him: keep him ripe,
Frustrate his insatiable greed, allow
Food and drink to drift before his eyes:
In vain he’ll beg for consummation, 1865
And if he weren’t the devil’s, why
He’d still go to his ruination!
(A student enters.)
Student I’m only here momentarily,
I’ve come, filled with humility,
To speak to, and to stand before, 1870
One who’s spoken of with awe.
Mephistopheles Your courtesy delights me greatly!
A man like other men you see.
Have you studied then, elsewhere?
Student I beg you, please enrol me, here! 1875
I come to you strong of courage,
Lined in pocket, healthy for my age:
My mother didn’t want to lose me: though,
I’d like to learn what it’s right for me to know.
Mephistopheles Then you’ve come to the right place, exactly. 1880
Student To be honest, I’d like to go already:
There’s little pleasure for me at all,
In these walls, and all these halls.
It’s such a narrow space I find,
You see no trees, no leaves of any kind, 1885
And in the lectures, on the benches,
All thought deserts me, and my senses.
Mephistopheles Receiving the Student
‘Mephistopheles Receiving the Student’
Mephistopheles It will only come to you with habit.
So the child takes its mother’s breast
Quite unwillingly at first, and yet it 1890
Soon sucks away at her with zest.
So will you at Wisdom’s breast, here,
Feel every day a little zestier.
Student I’ll cling to her neck with pleasure:
But only tell me how to find her. 1895
Mephistopheles Explain, before you travel on
What faculty you’ve settled on.
Student I want to be a true scholar,
I want to grasp, by the collar,
What’s on earth, in heaven above, 1900
In Science, and in Nature too.
Mephistopheles Then here’s the very path for you,
But don’t allow yourself to wander off.
Student I’ll be present heart and soul:
Of course I’ll want to play, 1905
Have some fun and freedom, though,
On each sweet summer holiday.
Mephistopheles Use your time well: it slips away so fast, yet
Discipline will teach you how to win it.
My dear friend, I’d advise, in sum, 1910
First, the Collegium Logicum.
There your mind will be trained,
As if in Spanish boots, constrained,
So that painfully, as it ought,
It creeps along the way of thought, 1915
Not flitting about all over,
Wandering here and there.
So you’ll learn, in many days,
What you used to do, untaught, as in a haze,
Like eating now, and drinking, you’ll see 1920
The necessity of One! Two! Three!
Truly the intricacy of logic
Is like a master-weaver’s fabric,
Where the loom holds a thousand threads,
Here and there the shuttles go 1925
And the threads, invisibly, flow,
One pass serves for a thousand instead.
Then the philosopher steps in: he’ll show
That it certainly had to be so:
The first was – so, the second – so, 1930
And so, the third and fourth were – so:
If first and second had never been,
Third and fourth would not be seen.
All praise the scholars, beyond believing,
But few of them ever turn to weaving. 1935
To know and note the living, you’ll find it
Best to first dispense with the spirit:
Then with the pieces in your hand,
Ah! You’ve only lost the spiritual bond.
‘Natural treatment’, Chemistry calls it 1940
Mocks at herself, and doesn’t know it.
Student I’m not sure that I quite understand.
Mephistopheles You’ll soon know it all, as planned,
When you’ve learnt the science of reduction,
And everything’s proper classification. 1945
Student After all that, I feel as stupid
As if I’d a mill wheel in my head.
Mephistopheles Next, before all else, you’ll fix
Your mind on Metaphysics!
See that you’re profoundly trained 1950
In what never stirs in a human brain:
You’ll learn a splendid word
For what’s occurred or not occurred.
But for the present take six months
To get yourself in order: start at once. 1955
Five hours every day, lock
Yourself in, with a ticking clock!
Make sure you’re well prepared,
Study each paragraph with care,
So afterwards you’ll be certain 1960
Only what’s in the book, was written:
Then be as diligent when you pen it,
As if the Holy Ghost had said it!
Student You won’t need to tell me twice!
I think, myself, it’s very helpful, too 1965
That one can take back home, and use,
What someone’s penned in black and white.
Mephistopheles But choose a faculty, any one!
Student I wouldn’t be comfortable with Law.
Mephistopheles I couldn’t name you anything more 1970
Vile, I know how dogmatic it’s become.
Laws and rights are handed down
It’s an eternal disgrace:
They’re moved round from town to town
Dragged around from place to place. 1975
Reason is nonsense, kindness a disease,
If you’re a grandchild it’s a curse!
The rights we are born with,
To those, alas, no one refers!
Student That just strengthens my disgust. 1980
Happy the student that you instruct!
I’ve nearly settled on Theology.
Mephistopheles I wouldn’t wish to guide you erroneously.
In what that branch of knowledge concerns
It’s so difficult to avoid a fallacious route, 1985
There’s so much poison hidden in what you learn,
And it’s barely distinguishable from the antidote.
The best thing here’s to make a single choice,
Then simply swear by your master’s voice
On the whole, to words stick fast! 1990
Through the safest gate you’ll pass
To the Temple of Certainty.
Student Yet surely words must have a sense.
Mephistopheles Why, yes! But don’t torment yourself with worry,
Where sense fails it’s only necessary 1995
To supply a word, and change the tense.
With words fine arguments can be weighted,
With words whole Systems can be created,
With words, the mind does its conceiving,
No word suffers a jot from thieving. 2000
Student Forgive me, I delay you with my questions,
But I must trouble you again,
On the subject of Medicine,
Have you no helpful word to say?
Three years, so little time applied, 2005
And, God, the field is rather wide!
If only you had some kind of pointer,
You would feel so much further on.
I’m tired of this desiccated banter
I really must play the devil, at once. 2010
To grasp the spirit of Medicine’s easily done:
You study the great and little world, until,
In the end you let it carry on
Just as God wills.
Useless to roam round, scientifically: 2015
Everyone learns only what he can:
The one who grasps the Moment fully,
He’s the proper man.
You’re quite a well-made fellow,
You’re not short of courage too, 2020
And when you’re easy with yourself,
Others will be easy with you.
Study, especially, female behaviour:
Their eternal aches and woes,
All of the thousand-fold, 2025
Rise from one point, and have one cure.
And if you’re half honourable about it
You shall have them in your pocket.
A title first: to give them comfort you
Have skills that far exceed the others, 2030
Then you’re free to touch the goods, and view
What someone else has prowled around for years.
Take the pulse firmly, you understand,
And then, with sidelong fiery glance,
Grasp the slender hips, in haste, 2035
To find out whether she’s tight-laced.
Student That sounds much better! The Where and How, I see.
Mephistopheles Grey, dear friend, is all theory,
And green the golden tree of life.
Student I swear it’s like a dream to me: may I 2040
Trouble you, at some further time,
To expound your wisdom, so sublime?
Mephistopheles As much as I can, I’ll gladly explain.
Student I can’t tear myself away,
I must just pass you my album, sir, 2045
Grant me the favour of your signature!
Mephistopheles Very well.
(He writes and gives the book back.)
Student (Reading Mephistopheles’ Latin inscription which means: ‘You’ll be like God, acquainted with good and evil’.)
Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum.
(He makes his bows, and takes his leave.)
Mephistopheles Just follow the ancient text, and my mother the snake, too:
And then your likeness to God will surely frighten you! 2050
Faust Where will we go, then?
Mephistopheles Where you please.
The little world, and then the great, we’ll see.
With what profit and delight,
This term, you’ll be a parasite!
Faust Yet with my long beard, I’ll 2055
Lack life’s superficial style.
My attempt will come to nothing:
I know, in this world, I don’t fit in.
I feel so small next to other men,
It only means embarrassment. 2060
Mephistopheles My friend, just give yourself completely to it:
When you find yourself, you’ll soon know how to live it.
Faust How shall we depart from here, then?
I see not one servant, coach, or horse.
Mephistopheles We’ll just spread this cloak wide open, 2065
Then through the air we’ll take our course.
For a daring trip like this we’re on,
Better not take much baggage along.
A little hot air I’ll ready, first,
To lift us nimbly above the Earth, 2070
And as we’re light we’ll soon get clear:
Congratulations on your new career!
Scene V: Auerbach’s Cellar in Leipzig
(Friends happily drinking.)
Frosch Will none of you laugh? Nobody drink?
I’ll have to teach you to smile, I think!
You’re all of you like wet straw today, 2075
And usually you’re well away.
Brander That’s up to you, you bring us nothing.
Nothing dumb, or dirty, nothing.
Frosch (Pouring a glass of wine over Brander’s head.)
You can have both!
Brander Rotten swine!
Frosch You wanted them both, so you got mine! 2080
Siebel Out the door, whoever fights! Get out!
Let’s sing a heart-felt chorus, drink and shout!
Up! Hurray! Ha!
Altmayer Ah! I’m in agony!
Earplugs, here! This fellow’s deafened me.
Siebel It’s only when it echoes in the tower, 2085
You hear a bass voice’s real power.
Frosch Right, out with him who takes offence!
Ah! Do, re, me!
Altmayer Ah! Do, re, me!
Fosch Our throats are tuned: commence.
‘Dear Holy Roman Empire, 2090
How do you hold together?’
Brander A lousy song! Bah! A political song –
A tiresome song! Thank God, every morning,
It isn’t you who must sit there worrying
About the Empire! At least I’m better for 2095
Not being a King or a Chancellor.
But we should have a leader, so
We’ll choose a Pope of our own.
You know the qualities that can
Swing the vote, and elevate the man. 2100
‘Sing away, sweet Nightingale,
Greet my girl, and never fail.’
Siebel Don’t greet my girl! I’ll not allow it!
Frosch Greet and kiss her! You’ll not stop it!
‘Slip the bolt in deepest night! 2105
Slip it! Wake, the lover bright.
Slip it to! At break of dawn.’
Siebel Yes, sing in praise of her, and boast: sing on!
I’ll laugh later when it suits:
She leads me a dance, she’ll lead you too. 2110
She should have a dwarf for a lover!
At the crossroads, let him woo her:
An old goat from Blocksberg, galloping over,
Can bleat goodnight, as it passes by her.
An honest man, of flesh and blood, 2115
For a girl like that’s far too good.
I’m not bothered even to say hello
Except perhaps to break her window.
Brander (Pounding on the table.)
Quiet! Quiet! Or you won’t hear!
I know about life, you lot, confess. 2120
Besotted persons sit among us,
As fits their status, then, I must
Give them, tonight, of my very best.
Listen! A song in the newest strain!
And you can shout out the refrain! 2125
‘Once there was a cellar rat,
Who lived on grease, and butter:
He had a belly, round and fat,
Just like Doctor Luther.
The cook set poison round about: 2130
It brought on such a violent bout,
As if he’d love inside him.’
‘As if he’d love inside him!’
Brander ‘He ran here, and he ran there,
And drank from all the puddles, 2135
Gnawing, scratching, everywhere,
But nothing cured his shudders.
In torment, he leapt to the roof,
Poor beast, soon he’d had enough,
As if he’d love inside him.’ 2140
Chorus ‘As if he’d love inside him!’
Brander ‘Fear drove him to the light of day,
Into the kitchen then he ran,
Fell on the hearth and twitched away,
Pitifully weak, and wan. 2145
Then the murderess laughed with glee:
He’s on his last legs, I see,
As if he’d love inside him.’
Chorus ‘As if he’d love inside him.’
Siebel How pleased they are, the tiresome fools! 2150
Spreading poison for wretched rats,
To me, that’s the right thing to do!
Brander You’re in sympathy with them, perhaps?
Altmayer That fat belly with a balding head!
Bad luck makes him meek and mild: 2155
From a swollen rat, he sees, with dread,
His own natural likeness is compiled.
(Faust and Mephistopheles appear.)
First of all, I had to bring you here,
Where cheerful friends sup together,
To see how happily life slips away. 2160
For these folk every day’s a holiday.
With lots of leisure, and little sense,
They revolve in their round-dance,
Chasing their tails as kittens prance,
If the hangovers aren’t too intense, 2165
If the landlord gives them credit,
They’re cheerful, and unworried by it.
Brander They’re fresh from their travelling days,
You can tell by their foreign ways:
They’ve not been back an hour: you see. 2170
Frosch True, you’re right! My Leipzig’s dear to me!
It’s a little Paris, and educates its people.
Siebel Who do you think the strangers are?
Frosch Let me find out! I’ll draw the truth,
From those two, with a brimming glass, 2175
As easily as you’d pull a child’s tooth.
It seems to me they’re of some noble house,
They look so discontented and so proud.
Brander They’re surely strolling players, I’d guess!
Frosch Watch me screw it out of them, then! 2180
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
These folk wouldn’t feel the devil, even
If he’d got them dangling by the neck.
Faust Greetings, sirs!
Siebel Thank you, and greetings.
(He mutters away, inspecting Mephistopheles side-on.)
What’s wrong with his foot: why’s he limping?
Mephistopheles Allow us to sit with you, if you please. 2185
Instead of fine ale that can’t be had,
We can still have good company.
Altmayer You seem a choosy sort of lad.
Frosch Was it late when you started out from Rippach?
Perhaps you dined with Hans there, first? 2190
Mephistopheles We passed straight by, today, without a rest!
We spoke to him last some time back,
When he talked a lot about his cousins,
And he sent to each his kind greetings.
(He bows to Frosch.)
He did you, there! He’s smart!
Siebel A shrewd customer! 2195
Frosc Wait, I’ll have him soon, I’m sure!
Mephistopheles If I’m not wrong, we heard
A tuneful choir singing?
I’m sure, with this vault, the words
Must really set it ringing! 2200
Frosch Are you by any chance a virtuoso?
Mephistopheles No! Though my desire is great, my skill is only so-so.
Altmayer Give us a song!
Mephistopheles If you wish it, a few.
Siebel So long as it’s a brand-new one!
Mephistopheles Well, it’s from Spain that we’ve just come, 2205
The lovely land of wine, and singing too.
‘There was once a king, who
Had a giant flea’ –
Frosch Listen! Did you get that? A flea.
A flea’s an honest guest to me. 2210
‘There was once a king, who
Had a giant flea,
He loved him very much, oh,
He was like a son, you see.
The king called for his tailor, 2215
He came right away:
Now, measure up the lad for
A suit of clothes, I say!’
Brander Make sure the tailor’s sharp,
And cuts them out precisely, 2220
And, since his son’s dear to his heart,
Make sure there’s never a crease to see.
Mephistopheles ‘All in silk and velvet,
He was smartly dressed,
With ribbons on his coat, 2225
A cross upon his chest.
He was the First Minister,
And so he wore a star:
His brothers and his sisters,
He made noblest by far. 2230
The lords and the ladies,
They were badly smitten,
The Queen and her maids,
They were stung and bitten.
They didn’t dare to crush them, 2235
Or scratch away, all night.
We smother them, and crush them,
The moment that they bite.’
‘We smother them, and crush them,
The moment that they bite.’ 2240
Frosch Bravo! Bravo! That went sweetly!
Siebel So shall it be with every flea!
Brander Sharpen your nails, and crush them fine!
Altmayer Long live freedom, and long live wine!
Mephistopheles I’d love to drink a glass, in freedom’s honour, 2245
If only the wine were a little better.
Siebel Not again, we don’t want to hear!
Mephistopheles I fear the landlord might complain
Or I’d give these worthy guests,
One of my cellar’s very best. 2250
Siebel Just bring it on! He’ll accept it: I’ll explain.
Frosch Make it a good glass and we’ll praise it.
But don’t make it so small we can’t taste it.
Because if I’m truly going to decide,
I need a really big mouthful inside. 2255
They’re from the Rhine, as I guessed.
Mephistopheles Bring me a corkscrew!
Brander What for?
Is it outside already, this cask?
Altmayer There’s one in the landlord’s toolbox, for sure.
Mephistopheles (Takes the corkscrew. To Frosch.)
Now, what would you like to try? 2260
Frosch What? Is there a selection, too?
Mephistopheles There’s a choice for every one of you.
Ah! You soon catch on: your lips are dry?
Frosch Good! When I’ve a choice, I drink Rhenish.
The Fatherland grants those best gifts to us. 2265
Mephistopheles (Boring a hole in the table-edge where Frosch is sitting.)
Bring me a little wax, to make the seals, as well!
Altmayer Ah, that’s for the conjuring trick, I can tell.
Mephistopheles (To Brander.)
Brander Champagne for me is fine:
Make it a truly sparkling wine!
(Mephistopheles bores the holes: one of the others makes the wax stoppers and stops the holes with them.)
We can’t always shun what’s foreign, 2270
Things from far away are often fine.
Real Germans can’t abide a Frenchman,
And yet they gladly drink his wine.
Siebel (As Mephistopheles approaches his seat.)
I must confess I do dislike the dry,
Give me a glass of the very sweetest! 2275
Mephistopheles (Boring a hole.)
I’ll pour an instant Tokay for you, yes?
Altmayer Now, gentlemen, look me in the eye!
I see you’ve had the better of us there.
Mephistopheles Now! Now! With guests so rare,
That would be far too much for me to dare. 2280
Quick! Time for you to declare!
Which wine can I serve you with?
Altmayer Any at all! Don’t make us ask forever.
(Now all the holes have been stopped and sealed.)
Mephistopheles (With a strange gesture.)
Grapes, they are the vine’s load!
Horns, they are the he-goat’s: 2285
Wine is juice: wood makes vines,
The wooden board shall give us wine.
Look deeper into Nature!
Have faith, and here’s a wonder!
Now draw the stoppers, and drink up! 2290
All (Draw the stoppers, and the wine they chose flows into each glass.)
O lovely fount, that flows for us!
Mephistopheles But careful, don’t lose a drop!
(They drink repeatedly.)
‘We’re all of us cannibals now,
We’re like five hundred sows.’
Mephistopheles The folk are free, and we can go, you see! 2295
Faust I’d like to leave here now.
Mephistopheles Watch first: their bestiality
Will make a splendid show.
Siebel(He drinks carelessly, wine pours on the ground and bursts into flame.)
Help! Fire! Hell burns bright!
Mephistopheles in the Students’ Tavern
‘Mephistopheles in the Students’ Tavern’
Mephistopheles (Charming away the flame.)
Friendly element, be quiet! 2300
(To the drinkers.)
For this time, just a drop of Purgatory.
Siebel What’s that? You wait! You’ll pay dearly!
It seems you don’t quite see us right.
Frosch Try playing that trick a second time, on us!
Altmayer I think we should quietly send him packing. 2305
Siebel What, sir? You think you’re daring,
Tricking us with your hocus-pocus?
Mephistopheles Be quiet, old wine-barrel!
Siebel You broomstick! You’ll show us you’re ill bred?
Brander Just wait, it’ll rain blows, on your head! 2310
Altmayer (Draws a stopper and fire blazes in his face.)
I’m burning! Burning!
Siebel It’s magic, strike!
The man’s a rascal! Kick him as you like!
(They draw knives and rush at Mephistopheles.)
Mephistopheles (With solemn gestures.)
Word and Image, ensnare!
Alter, senses and air!
Be here, and there! 2315
(They look at each other, amazed.)
Altmayer Where am I? What a lovely land!
Frosch Vineyards? Am I seeing straight?
Siebel And, likewise, grapes to hand!
Brander Deep in this green arbour, here,
See, the vines! What grapes appear!
(He grasps Siebel by the nose: the others do the same reciprocally, and raise their knives.)
Mephistopheles From their eyes, Error, take the iron band, 2320
And let them see how the Devil plays a joke.
(He vanishes with Faust: the revellers separate.)
Siebel What’s happening?
Altmayer And how?
Frosch Was that your nose?
Brander (To Siebel.)
And I’ve still got your nose in my hand!
Altmayer It was a tremor, that passed through every limb!
Pass me a stool: I’m sinking in! 2325
Frosch Tell me: what happened there, my friend?
Siebel Where is he? When I catch that fellow,
He won’t leave here alive again!
Altmayer I saw him myself fly out of the cellar
Riding on a barrel – and then – 2330
I feel there’s lead still in my feet.
(He turns towards the table.)
Ah! Does the wine still flow as sweet?
Siebel It was deception, cheating, lying.
Frosch Still, it seemed that I drank wine.
Brander And what about all those grapes that hung there? 2335
Altmayer Tell me, now, we shouldn’t believe in wonders!
Scene VI: The Witches’ Kitchen
(A giant cauldron stands on a low hearth, with a fire under it. Various shapes appear in the fumes from the cauldron. A She-Ape sits next to it, skimming it, watching to see it doesn’t boil over. The He-Ape, with young ones, sits nearby warming himself. The ceiling and walls are covered with the Witches’ grotesque instruments.)
Faust These magical wild beasts repel me, too!
Are you telling me I can be renewed,
Wandering around in this mad maze,
Demanding help from some old hag: 2340
That her foul cookery will spirit away
Thirty years from my age, just like that?
It’s sad, if you know of nothing better!
The star of hope has quickly set.
Hasn’t some noble mind, or Nature, 2345
Found some wondrous potion yet?
Mephistopheles My friend, what you say, again, is intelligent!
There’s a natural means to make you younger:
But it’s written, in a book quite different,
And in an odd chapter. 2350
Faust I’ll know it, then.
Mephistopheles Fine! You’ve a method here that needs
No gold, no doctor, no magician:
Take yourself off to the nearest field,
To scratch around, and hoe, and dig in,
Maintain yourself, and constrain 2355
Your senses in a narrow sphere:
Feed yourself on the purest fare,
Be a beast among beasts: think it no robbery,
To manure the fields you harvest, there:
Since that’s the best of ways, believe me, 2360
To keep your youth for eighty years!
Faust I’m not used to it, can’t condescend,
To take a spade in hand, and bend:
That narrow life wouldn’t suit me at all.
Mephistopheles So you must call the witch then, after all. 2365
Faust Why is that old witch necessary!
Why can’t you, yourself, make the brew?
Mephistopheles What a lovely occupation for me!
And build a thousand bridges, meanwhile, too.
It’s not just art and science that tell, 2370
Patience is needed in the work as well.
A calm mind’s busy years in its creation,
Only time strengthens the fermentation
And everything about it
Is quite a peculiar show! 2375
It’s true the Devil taught it:
The Devil can’t make it though.
(Seeing the creatures.)
See what a dainty race I hail!
This is the female: this is the male!
(To the creatures.)
The mistress isn’t home, I say? 2380
The Creatures Feasting away,
The Chimney way!
Mephistopheles How long will she be swarming?
The Creatures As long as our paws are warming. 2385
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
What do you think of these tender creatures?
Faust As rude as any I ever saw!
Mephistopheles Ah, but to me this kind of discourse
Shows the most delightful features!
(To the creatures.)
Accursed puppets, tell me true, 2390
What are you stirring in that brew?
The Creatures We’re cooking up thick beggars’ soup.
Mephistopheles Then there’ll be thousands in the queue.
The He-Ape (Approaches and fawns on Mephistopheles.)
O, throw the dice quick,
And let me be rich! 2395
I’ll be the winner!
It’s all arranged badly,
And if I had money,
I’d be a thinker.
Mephistopheles Why does the ape think he’d be lucky, 2400
If he’d only a chance to try the lottery!
(Meanwhile the young apes have been playing with a large ball, and they roll it forward.)
The He-Ape The world’s a ball
It lifts to fall,
Rolls without rest:
Rings like glass, 2405
And breaks as fast!
It’s hollow at best.
It’s shining here,
Here, what’s more:
‘I am living!’ 2410
A place dear son,
To keep far from!
You must die!
Its clay will soon
In pieces, lie. 2415
Mephistopheles Why the sieve?
The He-Ape (Lifting it down.)
If you were a thief
I’d know you this minute.
(He runs to the She-Ape, and lets her look through the sieve.)
Look through the sieve! 2420
Can you see the thief,
But daren’t name him?
Mephistopheles (Approaching the fire.)
And this pot?
The He-Ape and She-Ape What a silly lot!
Not to know a pot,
Not to know a kettle! 2425
Mephistopheles Rude creature!
The He-Ape Take this brush here,
And sit on the settle.
(He invites Mephistopheles to sit down.)
Faust (Who all this time has been standing in front of a mirror, alternately approaching it and distancing himself from it.)
What do I see? What heavenly form
Is this that the magic mirror brings! 2430
Love, lend me your swiftest wings,
Then bear me to fields she adorns!
Ah, if I do not stand still here,
If I dare to venture nearer,
I see as if through a mist, no clearer – 2435
The loveliest form of Woman, there!
Is it possible: can Woman be so lovely?
Must I, in her outspread body, declare
The incarnation of all that’s heavenly?
Can any such this earth deliver? 2440
Mephistopheles Naturally, if a God torments himself six days,
And says to himself, Bravo, at last,in praise,
He must have made something clever.
See, this time, what will satisfy you, forever:
I’ll know how to fish that treasure out for you, 2445
Happy, the one who finds good fortune in her,
And carries her home again, as his bride, too.
(Faust gazes endlessly in the mirror. Mephistopheles stretches himself on the settle, plays with the brush, and continues to speak.)
Here I sit like a king on his throne,
The sceptre’s here, but where’s the crown?
The Creatures (Who up till now have been making all kinds of grotesque movements together, bring Mephistopheles a crown, with great outcry.)
Oh, with sweat and with blood, 2450
If you’ll be so good,
Glue on this crown, sublime!
(They are awkward with the crown, and snap it in two pieces, with which they leap about.)
Now that’s out of the way!
We see, and we say,
We hear, and we rhyme – 2455
Faust (In front of the mirror.)
Ah! I’ll go completely mad.
Mephistopheles (Pointing to the creatures.)
Now my head’s almost spinning.
The Creatures If our luck’s not bad,
We must be thinking! 2460
Faust (As before.)
My heart pains me with its burning! Quick,
Let’s leave this place, forego it!
Mephistopheles (Still in the same position.)
Well, at least one must admit
That they’re honest poets.
(The cauldron that the She-Ape has forgotten to keep a watch on, now boils over: a great flame flares from the chimney. The Witch comes careering down through the flames, with horrendous cries.)
Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! 2465
Damned creature! Accursed sow!
You left the kettle: you’ve singed me now!
(Seeing Faust and Mephistopheles.)
What have we here?
Who are you, here? 2470
What do you want?
Who creeps unknown?
The fire’s pain own
In all your bone!
(She plunges the skimming-ladle into the cauldron, and scatters flame towards Faust, Mephistopheles and the Creatures. The Creatures whimper.)
Mephistopheles (Reversing the brush he holds in his hand, and striking among the jars and glasses.)
One, two! One, two! 2475
There lies the brew!
There lies the glass!
A joke at last,
In time, she-ass,
To your melody, too. 2480
(As the Witch starts back in Anger and Horror.)
Do you know me? Skeleton! Scarecrow!
Do you know your lord and master?
What stops me from striking you, so,
Crushing you, and your ape-creatures?
Have you no respect for a scarlet coat? 2485
Don’t you understand a cockerel’s feather?
Have I hidden my face, you old she-goat?
Have I to name myself, as ever?
The Witch Oh sir, forgive the rude welcome!
I don’t see a single foot cloven. 2490
And your two ravens – are where?
Mephistopheles This once, you get away with it:
It’s truly a good while, isn’t it,
Since we’ve been seen together.
And Civilisation makes men level, 2495
It even sticks to the Devil:
That Northern demon is no more:
Who sees horns now, or tail or claw?
As for the feet, which I can’t spare,
That would harm me with the people. 2500
So like many a youth, now, I wear,
False calves and false in-steps, as well.
The Witch (Dancing.)
Sense and reason flee my brain,
I see young Satan here again!
Mephistopheles Woman, I forbid that name! 2505
The Witch Why? What harm is caused so?
Mephistopheles It’s written in story books, always:
Men are no better for it, though:
The Evil One’s gone: the evil stays.
Call me the Baron: that sounds good: 2510
I’m a gentleman, like the other gentlemen.
Perhaps you doubt my noble blood:
See, here’s the crest I carry, then!
(He makes an indecent gesture.)
The Witch (Laughing immoderately.)
Ha! Ha! That’s your way, as ever.
You’re the same rogue forever! 2515
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
My friend, take note: learn that this is
The proper way to handle witches.
The Witch Now, gentlemen, say how I can be of use.
Mephistopheles A good glass of your well-known juice!
But I must insist on the oldest: 2520
The years double what it can do.
The Witch Gladly! Here’s a flask, on the shelf:
I sometimes drink from it myself,
And it doesn’t really stink at all:
I’ll gladly give him a glass or so. 2525
If he drinks it unprepared, recall,
He won’t live a single hour, though.
Mephistopheles He’s my good friend: it’ll go down well:
Don’t begrudge the best of your kitchen.
Draw the circle: speak the speech, then 2530
Offer him a glass full!
(The Witch draws a circle with fantastic gestures, and places mysterious articles inside it: meanwhile the glasses start to ring, and the cauldron to echo, and make music. Finally she brings a large book, sits the Apes in a ring, who serve as a reading desk and hold torches. She beckons Faust to approach.)
Faust (To Mephistopheles.)
Tell me, now, what’s happening?
These wild gestures, crazy things,
All of this tasteless trickery,
Is known, and hateful enough to me. 2535
Mephistopheles A farce! You should be laughing:
Don’t be such a serious fellow!
This hocus-pocus she, the doctor’s, making,
So you’ll be aided by the juice to follow.
(He persuades Faust to enter the circle.)
The Witch (Begins to declaim from the book, with much emphasis.)
You shall see, then! 2540
From one make ten!
Let two go again,
Make three even,
You’re rich again.
Take away four! 2545
From five and six,
So says the Witch,
Make seven and eight,
So it’s full weight:
And nine is one, 2550
And ten is none.
This is the Witch’s one-times-one!
Faust I’m in the dark, the hag babbles with fever.
Mephistopheles There’s still more she’s not gone over,
I know it well, the whole book’s like this: 2555
I’ve wasted time on it before, though,
A perfect contradiction in terms is
Ever a mystery to the wise: fools more so.
My friend, the art’s both old and new,
It’s like this in every age, with two 2560
And one, and one and two,
Scattering error instead of truth.
Men prattle, and teach it undisturbed:
Who wants to be counted with the fools?
Men always believe, when they hear words, 2565
There must be thought behind them, too.
The Witch (Continuing.)
The highest skill,
The science, still
Is hidden from the rabble!
One who never thought, 2570
To him it’s brought,
He owns it without trouble.
Faust Why talk this nonsense to us?
My head’s near split in two.
It seems I hear the chorus, 2575
Of a hundred thousand fools.
Mephistopheles Enough, enough, O excellent Sibyl!
Bring the drink along: and fill
The cup, quick, to the very brim:
The drink will bring my friend no harm: 2580
He’s a man of many parts, and him
Many a noble draught has charmed.
(The Witch, ceremoniously, pours the drink into a cup: as Faust puts it to his lips, a gentle flame rises.)
Down it quickly! Every time! It’ll
Likewise, warm your heart, entire.
You’re hand in hand with the Devil: 2585
Will you shrink before the fire?
(The Witch breaks the circle. Faust steps out.)
Now, quick, away! You may not rest.
The Witch Much good may that potion do you!
Mephistopheles (To the Witch.)
On Walpurgis Night you can tell me best,
What favour I can return to you. 2590
The Witch Here’s a song! Sing it sometimes, and you,
Will feel a peculiar effect: don’t ask me how.
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
Come on, quickly, run about now:
You need to sweat, that will allow
The power to penetrate, through and through. 2595
Later, I’ll teach you to value leisure,
And soon you’ll find with deepest pleasure,
How Cupid stirs, and, now and then, leaps, too.
Faust Let me look quickly in the glass, once more!
How lovely that woman’s form, I descried! 2600
Mephistopheles No! No! The paragon of all women, you’re
About to see before you, personified.
With that drink in your body, well then,
All women will look to you like Helen.
Scene VII: A Street
(Faust. Margaret, passing by.)
Faust Lovely lady, may I offer you 2605
My arm, and my protection, too?
Faust Seeking to Seduce Marguerite
‘Faust Seeking to Seduce Marguerite’
Margaret Not lovely, nor the lady you detected,
I can go home, unprotected.
(She releases herself and exits.)
Faust By Heavens, the child is lovely!
I’ve never seen anything more so. 2610
She’s virtuous, yet innocently
Pert, and quick-tongued though.
Her rosy lips, her clear cheeks,
I’ll not forget them in many a week!
The way she cast down her eyes, 2615
Deep in my heart, imprinted, lies:
How curt in her speech she was,
Well that was quite charming, of course!
Listen, you must get that girl for me!
Mephistopheles Which one?
Faust The girl who just went by. 2620
Mephistopheles That one, there? She’s come from the priest,
Absolved of all her sins, while I
Crept into a stall nearby:
She is such an innocent thing,
She’s no need to sit confessing: 2625
I’ve no power with such as those, I mean!
Faust Yet, she’s older than fourteen.
Mephistopheles Now you’re speaking like some Don Juan
Who wants every flower for himself alone,
Conceited enough to think there’s no honour, 2630
To be plucked except by him, nor favour:
But that’s never the case, you know.
Faust Master Moraliser is that so?
With me, best leave morality alone!
I’m telling you, short and sweet, 2635
If that young heart doesn’t beat
Within my arms, tonight – so be it,
At midnight, then our pact is done.
Mephistopheles Think, what a to and fro it will take!
I need at least fourteen days, to make 2640
Some kind of opportunity to meet her.
Faust If I’d seven hours at my call,
I’d not need the Devil at all,
To seduce such a creature.
Mephistopheles You’re almost talking like a Frenchman: 2645
But don’t let yourself get all annoyed:
What’s the use if she’s only part enjoyed?
Your happiness won’t be as prolonged,
As if you were to knead and fashion
That little doll, with every passion, 2650
Up and down, as yearning preaches,
And many a cunning rascal teaches.
Faust I’ve enough appetite without all that.
Mephistopheles Now, without complaint or jesting, what
I’m telling you is, with this lovely child, 2655
Once and for all, you mustn’t be wild.
She won’t be taken by storm, I said:
We’ll need to use cunning instead.
Faust Get me a part of the angels’ treasure!
Lead me to where she lies at leisure! 2660
Get me a scarf from her neck: aspire
To a garter, that’s my heart’s desire.
Mephistopheles So you can see how I will strain
To help you, and ease your pain,
We’ll not let an instant slip away, 2665
I’ll lead you to her room today.
Faust And shall I see her? And have her?
Mephistopheles No! She has to visit a neighbour.
Meanwhile, you can be alone there,
With every hope of future pleasure, 2670
Enjoy her breathing space, at leisure.
Faust Can we go?
Mephistopheles Her room’s not yet free.
Faust Look for a gift for her, from me!
Mephistopheles A present? Good! He’s sure to work it!
I know many a lovely place, up here, 2675
And many an ancient buried treasure:
I must have a look around for a bit.
Scene VIII: Evening, A small well-kept room
(Margaret, plaiting and fastening the braids of her hair.)
Margaret I’d give anything if I could say
Who that gentleman was, today!
He’s brave for certain, I could see, 2680
And from some noble family:
That his face readily told –
Or he wouldn’t have been so bold.
(Mephistopheles and Faust appear.)
Mephistopheles Come in: but quietly, I mean!
Faust (After a moment’s silence.)
I’d ask you, now, to leave me be! 2685
Mephistopheles (Poking about.)
Not every girl keeps thing so clean.
Faust Welcome, sweet twilight glow,
That weaves throughout this shrine!
Sweet love-pangs grip my heart so,
That on hope’s dew must live, and pine! 2690
How a breath of peace breathes around,
Its order, and contentment!
In this poverty, what wealth is found!
In this prison, what enchantment!
(He throws himself into a leather armchair near the bed.)
Accept me now, you, who with open arms 2695
Gathered joy and pain, in past days, where,
How often, ah, with all their childish charms
The little flock hung round their father’s chair!
There my beloved, perhaps, cheeks full, stands,
Grateful for all the gifts of Christmas fare, 2700
Kissing her grandfather’s withered hands.
Sweet girl, I feel your spirit, softly stray,
Through the wealth of order, all around me,
That with motherliness instructs, each day,
The tablecloth to lie smooth, at your say, 2705
And even the wrinkled sand beneath your feet.
O beloved hand, so goddess-like!
This house because of you is Heaven’s like.
(He lifts one of the bed curtains.)
What grips me with its bliss!
Here I could stand, slowly lingering. 2710
Here, Nature, in its gentlest dreaming,
Formed an earthly angel within this.
Here the child lay! Life, warm,
Filled her delicate breast,
And here, in pure and holy form, 2715
A heavenly image was expressed!
And I! What leads me here?
Why do I feel so deeply stirred?
What do I seek? Why such a heavy heart?
Poor Faust! I no longer know who you are. 2720
Is there a magic fragrance round me?
I urged myself on, to the deepest delight,
And feel myself melt in Love’s dreaming flight!
Are we the sport of every lightest breeze?
And if she appeared at this instant, 2725
How to atone for being so indiscreet?
The great man, alas, of little moment!
Would lie here, melting, at her feet.
Quick! I see her coming, there.
Faust Away! Away! I’ll not return again. 2730
Mephistopheles Here’s a casket fairly loaded, then,
I’ve taken it from elsewhere.
Put it just here on the chest,
I swear it’ll dazzle her, when she sees:
I’ve put in some trinkets, and the rest, 2735
For you to win another, if you please.
Truly, a child’s a child, and play is play.
Faust I don’t know, shall I?
Mephistopheles Are you asking, pray?
Perhaps you’d like to keep the treasure, too?
Then I’d advise your Lustfulness, 2740
To spare the sweet hours of brightness,
And spare me a heap of trouble over you.
I hope that you’re not full of meanness!
I scratch my head: I rub my hands –
(He places the casket in the chest, and shuts it again.)
Now off we go, and go quickly! 2745
Through this you’ll bend the child, you see,
To your wish and will: as any fool understands:
Yet now you seem to me
As if you were heading for the lecture hall, and see
Standing there grey-faced, in front of you, 2750
Physics, and Metaphysics too!
(Margaret with a lamp.)
Margaret It’s so close and sultry, here,
(She opens the window.)
And yet it’s not warm outside.
It troubles me so, I don’t know why – 2755
I wish that Mother were near.
A shudder ran through my whole body –
I’m such a foolish girl, so timid!
(She begins to sing, while undressing.)
‘There was a king in Thule, he
Was faithful, to the grave, 2760
To whom his dying lady
A golden goblet gave.
He valued nothing greater:
At every feast it shone:
His tears were brimming over, 2765
When he drank there-from.
When he himself was dying
No towns did he with-hold,
No wealth his heir denying,
Except the cup of gold. 2770
He gave a royal banquet,
His knights around him, all,
In his sea-girt turret,
In his ancestral hall.
There the old king stood, yet, 2775
Drinking life’s last glow:
Then threw the golden goblet
Into the waves below.
He saw it falling, drowning,
Sinking in the sea, 2780
Then, his eyelids closing,
Never again drank he.’
(She opens the chest in order to arrange her clothes, and sees the casket.)
How can this lovely casket be here? I’m sure
I locked the chest when I was here before.
It’s quite miraculous! What can it hold in store? 2785
Perhaps someone brought it as security,
And my mother’s granted a loan on it?
There’s a ribbon hanging from it, there’s a key,
I’m quite determined to open it.
What’s here? Heavens! What a show, 2790
More than I’ve ever seen in all my days!
A jewel box! A noble lady might glow
With all of these on high holidays!
How would this chain look? This display
Of splendour: who owns it, it’s so fine? 2795
(She puts the jewellery on and stands in front of the mirror.)
If only the earrings were mine!
At once one looks so different.
What makes us beautiful, young blood?
All that’s fine and good,
But it’s discounted, in the end, 2800
They praise us half in pity.
To gold they tend,
On gold depend,
All things! Oh, poverty!
Scene IX: Promenade
(Faust walking about pensively. Mephistopheles appears.)
Mephistopheles Scorned by all love! And by hellfire! What’s worse? 2805
I wish I knew: I could use it in a curse!
Faust What’s wrong? What’s pinching you so badly?
I never, in all my life, saw such a face!
Mephistopheles I’d pack myself off to the Devil, in disgrace,
If I weren’t a Devil myself already! 2810
Faust Is something troubling your brain?
It’s fitting that you’ve a raging pain.
Mephistopheles To think, the priest should get his hands on
Jewellery that was meant for Gretchen!
Her mother snatched it up, to see, 2815
And was gripped by secret anxiety.
That woman’s a marvellous sense of smell,
From nosing round in her prayer-book too well,
And sniffs things, ever and again,
To see if they’re holy or profane: 2820
And about the jewels, she felt, that’s clear,
There’s not much of a blessing here.
‘My child,’ she said, ‘ill-gotten goods
Snare the soul, and dissipate the blood.
We’ll dedicate it to the Virgin, 2825
She’ll repay us with manna from Heaven!’
Margaret, grimacing wryly, was quite put out:
Thinking: ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,
He’s not a godless man, nor one to fear,
He who left these fine things here.’ 2830
Her mother let the parson in:
He’d scarcely let the game begin
Before his eyes filled with enjoyment.
He said: ‘So we see aright, we sinners,
Who overcome themselves are winners. 2835
The Church has a healthy stomach, when,
It gobbles up lands, and don’t forget,
It’s never over-eaten yet.
The Church alone, dear lady, could
Always digest ill-gotten goods.’ 2840
Faust That’s a universal custom, too, my friend,
With all those who rule, and those who lend.
Mephistopheles Then he took the bangles, chains and rings,
As if they were merely trifling things,
Thanked her too, no less nor more 2845
Than if it were a sack of nuts, one wore.
Promised them their reward when they died,
And left them suitably edified.
Faust And Gretchen?
Mephistopheles Sits there, restlessly, still
Not knowing what she should do, or will, 2850
Thinks of the jewels night and day,
But more of him who placed them in her way.
The dear girl’s sadness brings me pain.
Find some jewels for her, again!
Those first were not so fine, I’d say. 2855
Mephistopheles Oh yes, to gentlemen it’s child’s play!
Faust Fix it: arrange it, as I want you to,
Attach yourself to her neighbour, too!
Don’t be a devil made of clay,
Get her fresh jewels straight away! 2860
Mephistopheles Yes, gracious sir, gladly, with all my heart.
Such a lovesick fool would blow up the Sun,
High up in the air, with the Moon and Stars,
To provide his sweetheart with a diversion.
Scene X: The Neighbour’s House
God forgive that man I love so well, 2865
He hasn’t done right by me at all!
Off into the world he’s gone,
And left me here, in the dust, alone.
Truly I did nothing to grieve him,
I gave him, God knows, fine loving. 2870
Perhaps, he’s even dead! – Yet, oh!
If I’d only his death certificate to show!
Martha My little Gretchen, what’s happened?
Margaret My legs are giving way beneath me!
I’ve found another box of jewellery 2875
In the chest: it’s of ebony, fashioned,
Full of quite splendid things,
And richer than the first, I think.
Martha You’d better not tell your mother:
She’ll give it to the Church, like the other. 2880
Margaret Ah, See now! See what a show!
Martha (Dressing her with jewels.)
O you’re a lucky creature, though!
Margaret I can’t wear them in the street, alas,
Nor be seen like this, at Mass.
Martha Come often then, to me, as before: 2885
You can put them on, here, secretly:
Stand, for an hour, in front of the mirror,
We’ll take delight in them privately.
Then give us a holiday, an occasion,
When people can see a fraction of them. 2890
A chain first, then a pearl in the ear: your
Mother won’t know, say you’d them before.
Margaret Who could have left the second casket?
There’s something not proper about it!
Good God! Is it my mother, then? 2895
Martha (Looking through the shutter.)
It’s a stranger, a gentleman – Come in!
Mephistopheles Presents Himself in Martha’s Home
‘Mephistopheles Presents Himself in Martha’s Home’
Mephistopheles In introducing myself so freely,
I ask you ladies to excuse me.
(He steps back reverently on seeing Margaret.)
It’s Martha Schwerdtlein I seek!
Martha I’m she, what do you wish with me? 2900
Mephistopheles (Aside to her.)
I know you now: that’s enough for me:
You’ve a distinguished visitor there, I see.
Pardon the liberty I’ve taken, pray,
I’ll return this afternoon, if I may.
To think, child: of all things: just fancy! 2905
The gentleman takes you for a lady.
Margaret I’m a poor young thing he’ll find:
Heavens! The gentleman’s far too kind:
The jewels and trinkets aren’t mine.
Mephistopheles Ah, it’s not just the jewellery, mind: 2910
The look: the manner: she has a way!
I’m pleased that I’m allowed to stay.
Martha What brings you here? I wish that you –
Mephistopheles I wish I brought you happier news! –
This news I hope you’ll forgive me repeating: 2915
Your husband’s dead, but sends a greeting.
Martha He’s dead? That true heart! Oh!
My man is dead! I’ll die, also!
Margaret Ah! Dear lady, don’t despair!
Mephistopheles Hear the mournful tale I bear! 2920
Margaret That’s why I’ll never love while I’ve breath,
Such a loss would grieve me to death.
Mephistopheles Joy must have sorrows: sorrow its joys, too.
Martha Tell me of his last hours: ah tell me!
Mephistopheles He’s buried in Padua, close to 2925
The blessed Saint Anthony,
In a consecrated space,
A cool eternal resting place.
Martha Have you brought nothing else, from him?
Mephistopheles Yes a request, it’s large and heavy: 2930
For you to sing a hundred masses for him!
Otherwise, no, my pocket’s empty.
Martha What? No piece of show? No jewellery?
What every workman has in his purse,
And keeps with him as his reserve, 2935
Rather than having to starve or beg!
Mephistopheles Madam, it’s a heavy grief to me:
But truly his money wasn’t wasted.
And then, he felt his errors greatly,
Yes, and bemoaned his bad luck lately. 2940
Margaret Ah! How unlucky all men are! I’ll
Be sure to offer many a prayer for him.
Mephistopheles You’re worthy of soon marrying:
You’re such a kindly child.
Margaret Oh, no! That wouldn’t do as yet. 2945
Mephistopheles If not a husband, a lover, while you wait.
It’s heaven’s greatest charm,
To have a dear one on one’s arm.
Margaret That’s not the custom of the country.
Mephistopheles Custom or not! It seems to be. 2950
Martha Go on with your tale!
Mephistopheles I stood beside his death-bed,
Hardly better than a rubbish-tip, poor man,
Of half-rotten straw: yet he died a Christian,
And found that he was even further in debt.
‘Alas,’ he cried, ‘I hate myself, with good reason, 2955
For leaving, as I did, my wife and my occupation!
Ah the memory of that is killing me,
Would in this life I might be forgiven, though!’
The dear man! I forgave him long ago.
Mephistopheles ‘Although, God knows, she was more to blame than me.’ 2960
Martha The liar! What! At death’s door, lies he was telling!
Mephistopheles In his last wanderings, he was rambling,
If I’m any judge myself of the thing.
‘I had,’ he said, ‘no time to gaze in play:
First children, then bread for them each day, 2965
And I mean bread in the wider sense:
And couldn’t even eat my share in silence.’
Martha Did he forget the love, the loyalty,
My drudgery, night and day!
Mephistopheles Not at all, he thought of it deeply, in his way. 2970
He said: ‘As I was leaving Malta
I prayed hard for my wife and children:
And favour came to me from heaven,
Since our ship took a Turkish cutter,
Carrying the great Sultan’s treasure. 2975
There was a reward for bravery,
And I received, in due measure,
The generous share that fell to me.’
Martha What? And where? Has he buried it by chance?
Mephistopheles Who can tell: the four winds know the circumstance. 2980
A lovely girl there took him on,
As he, a stranger, roamed round Naples:
She gave him loyalty, and loved the man,
And he felt it so, till his last hour fell.
Martha He stole from his children, and his wife! 2985
The rogue! All the pain and misery he met,
Couldn’t keep him from that shameful life!
Mephistopheles Ah, but: now he’s died of it!
If I were truly in your place,
I’d mourn him quietly for a year, 2990
And look, meanwhile, for a dear new face.
Martha Ah, sweet God! I’ll not easily find another,
In all the world, such as my first one was!
There never was a dearer fool than mine.
Only he loved roaming too much, at last, 2995
And foreign women, and foreign wine,
And the rolling of those cursed dice.
Mephistopheles Well, that would have still been fine,
If, with you, he’d followed that line,
And noticed nothing, on your side. 3000
I swear that, with that same condition,
I’d swap rings with you, no question!
Martha O, the gentleman’s pleased to jest!
Mephistopheles (To himself.)
I must fly from here, swift as a bird!
She might hold the Devil to his word. 3005
How does your heart feel? At rest?
Margaret What does the gentleman mean?
Mephistopheles (To himself.)
Sweet, innocent child!
Martha Oh, speak to me yet, a while!
I’d like a witness, as to where, how, and when
My darling man died and was buried: then, 3010
As I’ve always been a friend of tradition,
Put his death in the paper, a weekly edition.
Mephistopheles Yes, dear lady, two witnesses you need
To verify the truth, or so all agree:
I’ve a rather fine companion, 3015
He can be your second man.
I’ll bring him here.
Martha Oh yes, please do!
Mephistopheles That young lady will be here, too?
He’s a brave youth! Travelled, yes,
And with ladies he’s all politeness. 3020
Margaret I’d be shamed before the gentleman.
Mephistopheles Not before any king on earth, madam.
Martha Behind the house, then, in my garden,
Tonight: we’ll expect you gentlemen.
Scene XI: The Street
Faust How goes it? Will it be? Will it soon be done? 3025
Mephistopheles Ah, bravo! Do I find you all on fire?
In double-quick time you’ll have your desire.
You’ll meet tonight, at her neighbour Martha’s home:
There’s a woman, who’s the thing,
For procuring and for gipsying! 3030
Faust All right!
Mephistopheles But, she needs something from us, too.
Faust One good turn deserves another, true.
Mephistopheles We only have to bear a valid witness,
That her husband’s outstretched members bless
A consecrated place in Padua. 3035
Faust Brilliant! We must first make the journey there!
Mephistopheles Sacred Simplicity! There’s no need to do that.
Just testify, without saying too much to her.
Faust If you can’t do better than that, your pact I’ll tear.
Mephistopheles O holy man! Now I see you there! 3040
Is it the first time in your life, come swear,
That you’ve ever born false witness?
Haven’t you shown skill in definition
Of God, the World, what’s in it, Men,
What moves them, in mind and breast? 3045
With impudent brow, and swollen chest?
And if you look at it more deeply, oh yes,
Did you know as much now – confess,
As you do about Herr Schwerdtlein’s death?
Faust You are, and you’ll remain, a Liar and a Sophist. 3050
Mephistopheles Yes when no one’s the wiser for it.
The coming morn, in all honour though,
Won’t you beguile poor Gretchen so:
And swear you love her with all your soul?
Faust From my heart.
Mephistopheles Well, and good! 3055
And will your eternal Truth and Love,
Your one all-powerful Force, above –
Flow from your heart, too, as it should?
Faust Stop! Stop! It will! If I but feel,
For that emotion, for that throng, 3060
Seek the name, that none reveal,
Roam, with senses, through the world.
Seize on every highest word,
And call the fire, that I’m tasting,
Endless, eternal, everlasting – 3065
Does that to some devil’s game of lies belong?
Mephistopheles Yet, I’m still right!
Faust Hear one thing more,
I beg you, and spare my breath – the one
Who wants to hold fast, and has a tongue,
He’ll hold for sure. 3070
Come, chattering fills me with disgust,
And then you’re right, especially since I must.
Scene XII: The Garden
(Margaret on Faust’s arm, Martha and Mephistopheles walking up and down.)
Margaret I know the gentleman flatters me,
Lowers himself, and shames me, too.
A traveller is used to being 3075
Content, out of courtesy, with any food.
I know too well, so learned a man,
Can’t feed himself on my poor bran.
Faust A glance, a word from you, feeds me more,
Than all the world’s wisest lore. 3080
(He kisses her hand.)
Margaret Don’t trouble yourself! How could you kiss it?
It’s such a nasty, rough thing!
What work haven’t I done with it!
My mother’s so exacting.
(They move on.)
Martha And you, sir, you’re always travelling? 3085
Mephistopheles Ah, work and duty are such a bother!
There’s many a place one’s sad at leaving,
And daren’t stay a moment longer!
Martha In youth it’s fine, up and down,
Flitting about, the whole world over: 3090
Then harsher days come round,
And lonely bachelors small joy discover,
In sliding towards their hole in the ground.
Mephistopheles I view the prospect with horror.
Martha Then take advice in time, dear sir. 3095
(They move on.)
Margaret Yes, out of sight is out of mind!
Politeness comes naturally to you:
But you’ll meet friends, often, who,
Are more sensible than me, you’ll find.
Faust Dearest, believe me, what men call sense, 3100
Is often just vanity and short-sightedness.
Margaret How so?
Faust Ah, that simplicity and innocence never know
Themselves, or their heavenly worth!
That humble meekness, the highest grace
That Nature bestows so lovingly – 3105
Margaret It’s only for a moment that you think of me,
I’ve plenty of time to dream about your face.
Faust You’re often alone, then?
Margaret Yes, our household’s a little one,
Yet it has to be cared for by someone. 3110
We have no servant: I sweep, knit, sew,
And cook, I’m working early and late:
And in everything my mother is so
Strict, and straight.
Not that she has to be quite so economical: 3115
We could be more generous than others:
My father left a little fortune for us:
A house and garden by the town-wall.
But now my days are spent quietly:
My brother is a soldier: I’d 3120
A younger sister who died.
The trouble I had with that child:
Yet I’d take it on again, the worry,
She was so dear to me.
Faust An angel, if like you.
Margaret I raised her, and she loved me too. 3125
After my father died, she was born,
We gave mother up for lost, so worn
And wretchedly she lay there then,
And slowly, day by day, grew well again.
She couldn’t think of feeding 3130
It herself: that poor little thing,
And so I nursed it all alone,
On milk and water, as if it were my own,
In my arms, in my lap,
It charmed me, tumbling, and grew fat. 3135
Faust You found your greatest happiness there, for sure.
Margaret But also truly many a weary hour.
The baby’s cradle stood at night
Beside my bed: and if it hardly stirred
I woke outright: 3140
Now I nursed it, now laid it beside me: heard
When it cried, and left my bed, and often
Danced it back and forth, in the room: and then,
At break of dawn stood at the washtub, again:
Then the market and the kitchen, oh, 3145
And every day just like tomorrow.
One sometimes lacks the courage, sir, and yet
One appreciates one’s food and rest.
(They move on.)
Martha Women have the worst of it: it’s true:
A bachelor is hard to change, you see. 3150
Mephistopheles That just depends on the likes of you,
The right teacher might improve me.
Martha Say, have you never found anyone, dear sir?
Has your heart never been captured, anywhere?
Mephistopheles The proverb says: A hearth of your own, 3155
And a good wife, are worth pearls and gold.
Martha I mean: have you never felt desire, even lightly?
Mephistopheles I’ve everywhere been treated most politely.
Martha I meant to say: were you never seriously smitten?
Mephistopheles With ladies, one should never dare to be flippant. 3160
Martha Ah, you won’t understand me!
Mephistopheles I am sorry! Yet you’ll find
I understand – that you are very kind.
(They move on.)
Faust And, Angel, did you recognise me again,
As soon as I appeared in the garden?
Margaret Didn’t you see my gaze drop then? 3165
Faust And you forgive the liberty I’ve taken,
The impertinence of it all,
Just as you were leaving the Cathedral?
Margaret I was flustered, such a thing’s never happened to me:
‘Ah’, I thought, ‘has he seen, in your behaviour, 3170
Something that’s impertinent or improper?
No one could ever say anything bad about me.
He seems to be walking suddenly, with you,
As though he dealt with a girl of easy virtue’.
I confess, I didn’t know what it was, though, 3175
That I began to feel, and to your advantage too,
But certainly I was angry with myself, oh,
That I could not be angrier with you.
Faust Sweet darling!
Margaret Wait a moment!
(She picks a Marguerite and pulls the petals off one by one.)
Faust What’s that for, a bouquet?
Margaret No, it’s a game.
Margaret No, you’ll laugh if I say! 3180
(She pulls off the petals, murmuring to herself.)
Faust What are you whispering?
Margaret (Half aloud.)
He loves me – he loves me not.
Faust You sweet face that Heaven forgot!
Loves me – Not – Loves me – Not
(She plucks the last petal with delight.)
He loves me!
Faust Yes, my child! Let this flower-speech
Be heaven’s speech to you. He loves you! 3185
Do you know what that means? He loves you!
(He grasps her hands.)
Margaret I’m trembling!
Faust Don’t tremble, let this look,
Let this clasping of hands tell you
What’s inexpressible: 3190
To give oneself wholly, and feel
A joy that must be eternal!
Eternal! – Its end would bring despair.
No, no end! No end!
(Margaret presses his hand, frees herself, and runs away. He stands a moment in thought: then follows her.)
Martha (Coming forward.)
Night is falling.
Mephistopheles Yes, and we must away. 3195
Martha I’d ask you to remain here longer,
But this is quite a wicked place.
It’s as if they had nothing to do yonder,
And no work they should be doing
But watching their neighbours’ to-ing and fro-ing, 3200
And whatever one does, insults are hurled.
And our couple, now?
Mephistopheles Flown up the passage, there.
Wilful little birds!
Martha He seems keen on her.
Mephistopheles And she on him. It’s the way of the world.
Scene XIII: An Arbour in the Garden
(Margaret comes in, hides behind the door of the garden-house, holds her fingers to her lips, and peeps through the gaps.)
Margaret He’s coming.
Ah, rascal, you tease me so! I’ve got you! 3205
(He kisses her.)
Margaret (Clasping him, and returning the kiss.)
Dearest man! With all my heart I love you!
Faust (Stamping his foot in frustration.)
Mephistopheles A dear friend!
Faust A creature!
Mephistopheles It’s time to go.
Yes, sir, it’s late!
Faust May I keep company with you, though?
Margaret My mother would tell me, – Farewell!
Faust Must I go, then?
Martha Goodbye, now!
Margaret And soon to meet again! 3210
(Faust and Mephistopheles exit.)
Margaret Dear God! That one man, by thinking,
Knows everything, oh, everything!
I stand in front of him, ashamed
And just say yes to all he says.
I’m such a poor, ignorant child, and he – 3215
I can’t understand what he sees in me.
Scene XIV: Forest and Cavern
Faust Sublime spirit, you gave me all, all,
I asked for. Not in vain have you
Revealed your face to me in flame.
You gave me Nature’s realm of splendour, 3220
With the power to feel it, and enjoy.
Not merely as a cold, awed stranger,
But allowing me to look deep inside,
Like seeing into the heart of a friend.
You lead the ranks of living creatures 3225
Before me, showing me my brothers
In the silent woods, the air, the water.
And when the storm roars in the forest,
When giant firs fell their neighbours,
Crushing nearby branches in their fall, 3230
Filling the hills with hollow thunder,
You lead me to the safety of a cave,
Show me my own self, and reveal
Your deep, secret wonders in my heart.
And when the pure Moon, to my eyes, 3235
Rises, calming me, the silvery visions
Of former times, drift all around me,
From high cliffs, and moist thickets,
Tempering thought’s austere delight.
Oh, I know now that nothing can be 3240
Perfect for Mankind. You gave me,
With this joy, that brings me nearer,
Nearer to the gods, a companion,
Whom I can no longer do without,
Though he is impudent, and chilling,
Degrades me in my own eyes, and with 3245
A word, a breath, makes your gifts nothing.
He fans a wild fire in my heart,
Always alive to that lovely form.
So I rush from desire to enjoyment,
And in enjoyment pine to feel desire. 3250
Mephistopheles Haven’t you had enough of this life yet?
How can you be happy all this time?
It’s fine for a man to try it for a bit,
But then you need a newer clime!
Faust I wish you’d something else to do, 3255
Than plague me on a good day.
Mephistopheles Now, now! I’d gladly ignore you,
You don’t really mean it anyway.
You’d be little loss to me,
A rude, mad, sour companion. 3260
One’s hands are full all day, and see,
What pleases you, or what to let be,
No one can tell from your expression.
Faust So that’s the tone he takes!
I’m to thank him, for boring me. 3265
Mephistopheles Poor Son of Earth, how could you make
Your way through life without me?
I’ve cured you for a while at least
Of your twitches of imagination,
If I weren’t here, you’d certainly 3270
Have walked right off this earthly station.
In rocky hollows, in a hole,
Why sit around here, like an owl?
From soaking moss and dripping stone,
Sucking your nourishment, like a toad? 3275
Spend your time sweeter, better!
Your body’s still stuck there with the Doctor.
Faust Do you understand the new power of being
That a walk in the wilderness can bring?
But then, if you were able to guess, 3280
You’re devil enough to begrudge my happiness.
Mephistopheles An other-worldly pleasure.
Night and day, mountains for leisure.
Clasping heaven and earth, blissfully,
Inflating yourself, becoming a deity. 3285
With expectant urge burrowing through earth’s core,
Feeling all that six days’ work, in yours,
To taste who knows what, in power’s pride,
Overflowing, almost, with the joy of life,
Vanishing, the Earthly Son, 3290
And into some deep Intuition –
(With a gesture.)
I can’t say how – passing inside.
Faust Fie, on you!
Mephistopheles Ah, you don’t like it from me!
You’ve the right, to say ‘fie’ to me, politely.
Before chaste ears men daren’t speak aloud, 3295
That which chaste hearts can’t do without:
Short and sweet, I begrudge the pleasure you get
From occasionally lying to yourself, about it.
But you won’t hold out for long, I’m sure.
You’re already over-driven, 3300
Sooner or later you’ll be given
To madness, or to fear and horror.
Enough! Your lover sits inside,
All is dull, oppressive to her,
She can’t get you out of her mind, 3305
Her deep love overwhelms her.
First your love’s flood round her flowed,
As a stream pours from melted snow:
You’ve so filled her heart, and now,
Your stream again is shallow. 3310
Instead of enthroning yourself in the wood,
Let the great gentleman do some good,
To that poor little ape of flesh and blood,
And reward her, I think, for her love.
Her days seem pitifully long: 3315
She sits at the window, cloud drifting
Over the old City wall, sees it lifting.
‘Would I were a little bird!’ runs her song,
All day long, and all night long.
Sometimes lively, mostly not, 3320
Sometimes crying out, in tears,
Then quiet again, it appears,
And always in love.
Faust You snake! You snake, you!
Mephistopheles A touch! That caught you! 3325
Faust Wretch! Be gone from my presence:
Don’t name that lovely girl to me!
Don’t bring desire for that sweet body
Before every half-maddened sense!
Mephistopheles Well, what then? She thinks you’ve flown away, 3330
And, half and half, you already have, I’d say.
Faust I’m near her, and were I still far,
I can’t lose her or forget her,
I even envy the body of our Lord,
When her lips touch it at the altar. 3335
Mephistopheles Quite so, my friend! My envy often closes
On that pair of twins that feed among the roses.
Faust Away from me, procurer!
Mephistopheles Fine, you curse and I must smile.
The god who made both man and woman,
He likewise knew the noblest profession, 3340
So made the opportunity as well.
Go on, it’s a crying shame!
Since you’re bound, all the same
For your lover’s room, not death.
Faust Where is the heavenly joy in her arms? 3345
Let me warm myself with her charms!
Do I not always feel her absent breath?
Am I not the fugitive? The homeless one?
The creature without aim or rest,
A torrent in the rocks, still thundering down, 3350
Foaming eagerly into the abyss?
And she beside it, with vague childlike mind,
In a hut there, on a little Alpine field,
So, her first homely life you’d find,
Hidden there in that little world. 3355
And I, the god-forsaken,
Was not great enough,
To grasp the cliffs, and take them,
And crush them into dust!
I still must undermine her peaceful life! 3360
You, Hell, must have your sacrifice.
Help, Devil, curtail the anxious moment brewing.
What must be, let it be, and swiftly!
Let her fate also fall on me,
And she and I rush to ruin! 3365
Mephistopheles Again it glows: again it seethes!
Go in and comfort her, you fool!
When a brain, like yours, no exit sees,
It calls it the end of all things, too.
Praise him who keeps his courage fresh! 3370
Or you’ll soon get quite be-devilled, there.
I find nothing in the world so tasteless,
As a Devil, in despair.
Scene XV: Gretchen’s Room
(Gretchen alone at the spinning wheel.)
Gretchen at her Spinning Wheel
‘Gretchen at her Spinning Wheel’
Gretchen ‘My peace is gone,
My heart is sore: 3375
I’ll find it, never,
When he’s not here,
My grave is near,
The world is all, 3380
A bitter gall.
My poor head
Feels crazed to me.
My poor brain
Seems dazed to me. 3385
My peace is gone,
My heart is s