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?
5 You crowd so near! Well then, you shall endure,
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,
10 And many a loved shade rises to the eye:
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,
15 Naming the good, those that Fate has robbed
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,
20 Alas, it dies away, that first loud ringing!
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.
25 I feel a long and unresolved desire
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,
30 The firm heart feels weakened and remote:
What I possess seems far away from me,
And what is gone becomes reality.
(Director, Dramatist, Comedian)
You two, who’ve often stood by me,
In times of need, when trouble’s breaking,
35 Say what success our undertaking
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,
40 And they await our festivity.
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
45 That they’ve been used to the best, you see,
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,
50 When the waves drive them to our place,
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,
55 As if they’re at the baker’s, starving, nearly
Breaking their necks: just for a ticket. Oh!
Only poets can work this miracle on men
So various: the day is yours, my friend!
O, don’t speak to me of that varied crew,
60 The sight of whom makes inspiration fade.
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:
65 Where Love and Friendship too grace our hearts,
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,
70 Is swallowed in the fierce Moment’s violence.
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.
75 Don’t speak about posterity to me!
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
80 Is nice, I think, for everyone.
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.
85 Be brave, and show them what you’ve got,
Have Fantasy with all her chorus, yes,
Mind, Reason, Passion, Tears, the lot,
But don’t you leave out Foolishness.
Make sure, above all, plenty’s happening there!
90 They come to look, and then they want to stare.
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.
95 The mass are only moved by things en masse,
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!
100 With such a stew you’re destined for success.
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.
You don’t see how badly such work will do!
105 How little it suits the genuine creator!
Already, I see, it’s a principle with you.
The finest master is a sloppy worker.
Such a reproach leaves me unmoved:
The man who seeks to be approved,
110 Must stick to the best tools for it,
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,
115 Or, worst of all, he’s one arrives,
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,
120 Come and play their parts and ask no fee.
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.
125 After the show he hopes for card-play:
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,
130 So you’ll never stray far from the mark,
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?
Go, look for another scribbler by night!
135 Shall the poet throw away the highest right,
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?
140 Is that harmony nothing, from his breast unfurled,
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,
145 In their sullen discord, jar and jangle –
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?
150 Who lets the storm wind rage with passion,
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,
155 To honour work well done in every art?
What makes Olympus sure, joins deities?
The power of Man, revealed by the bard.
So use it then, all this fine energy,
And drive along the work of poetry,
160 To show how we are driven in Love’s play.
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:
165 Before you know it, there’s a novel brewing!
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.
170 In varied pictures there’s little light,
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,
175 To hear your words, and view the offering,
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.
180 They’re readily moved to weeping or to laughter,
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.
So give me back that time again,
185 When I was still ‘becoming’,
When words gushed like a fountain
In new, and endless flowing,
Then for me mists veiled the world,
In every bud the wonder glowed,
190 A thousand flowers I unfurled,
That every valley, richly, showed.
I had nothing, yet enough:
Joy in illusion, thirst for truth.
Give every passion, free to move,
195 The deepest bliss, filled with pain,
The force of hate, the power of love,
Oh, give me back my youth again!
Youth is what you need, dear friend,
When enemies jostle you, of course,
200 And girls, filled with desire, bend
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
205 Drinks until the night is old.
But to play that well-known lyre
With courage and with grace,
Moved by self-imposed desire,
At a sweet wandering pace,
210 That is your function, Age,
And our respect won’t lessen.
Age doesn’t make us childish, as they say,
It finds that we’re still children.
That’s enough words for the moment,
215 Now let me see some action!
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.
220 Since Poetry gave the gift of creation,
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!
225 Tomorrow won’t do what’s undone today,
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,
230 And work it about, because you must.
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.
235 Use heavenly lights, the big and small,
Squander stars in any number,
Rocky cliffs, and fire, and water,
Birds and creatures, use them all.
So in our narrow playhouse waken
240 The whole wide circle of creation,
And stride, deliberately, as well,
From Heaven, through the world, to Hell.
(God, the Heavenly Hosts, and then Mephistopheles.)
(The Three Archangels step forward.)
The Sun sings out, in ancient mode,
His note among his brother-spheres,
245 And ends his pre-determined road,
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,
250 As bright as on the primal day.
And swift, and swift, beyond conceiving,
The splendour of the Earth turns round,
A Paradisial light is interleaving,
With night’s awesome profound.
255 The ocean breaks with shining foam,
Against the rocky cliffs deep base,
And rock and ocean whirl and go,
In the spheres’ swift eternal race.
And storms are roaring in their race
260 From sea to land, and land to sea,
Their raging forms a fierce embrace,
All round, of deepest energy.
The lightning’s devastations blaze
Along the thunder-crashes’ way:
265 Yet, Lord, your messengers, shall praise
The gentle passage of your day.
The sight of it gives Angels power
Though none can understand the way,
And all your noble work is ours,
270 As bright as on the primal day.
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.
275 Forgive me: I can’t speak in noble style,
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.
280 How men torment themselves is all I see.
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:
285 He calls it Reason, but only uses it
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,
290 And in the grass the same old song he sings.
If he’d just lie there in the grass it wouldn’t hurt!
But he buries his nose in every piece of dirt.
Have you nothing else to name?
Do you always come here to complain?
295 Does nothing ever go right on the Earth?
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.
300 In truth! He serves you in a peculiar manner.
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,
305 And from the Earth, Joy’s highest art,
And all the near and all the far,
Fails to release his throbbing heart.
Though he’s still confused at how to serve me,
I’ll soon lead him to a clearer dawning,
310 In the green sapling, can’t the gardener see
The flowers and fruit the coming years will bring.
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.
315 As long as he’s alive on Earth,
So long as that I won’t forbid it,
For while man strives he errs.
My thanks: I’ve never willingly seen fit
To spend my time amongst the dead,
320 I much prefer fresh cheeks instead.
To corpses, I close up my house:
Or it’s too like a cat with a mouse.
Well and good, you’ve said what’s needed!
Divert this spirit from his source,
You know how to trap him, lead him,
325 On your downward course,
And when you must, then stand, amazed:
A good man, in his darkest yearning,
Is still aware of virtue’s ways.
330 That’s fine! There’s hardly any waiting.
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,
335 Like the snake my mother, known for sinning.
You can appear freely too:
Those like you I’ve never hated.
Of all the spirits who deny, it’s you,
The jester, who’s most lightly weighted.
340 Man’s energies all too soon seek the level,
He quickly desires unbroken slumber,
So I gave him you to join the number,
To move, and work, and play the devil.
But you the genuine sons of light,
345 Enjoy the living beauty bright!
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.)
350 I like to hear the Old Man’s words, from time to time,
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!
(In a high-vaulted Gothic chamber, Faust, in a chair at his desk,
Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,
355 I’ve finished Law and Medicine,
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:
360 Master, Doctor’s what they call me,
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!
365 It almost sets my heart burning.
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 –
370 Instead all Joy is snatched away,
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,
375 No worldly honour, or splendour hold:
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.
380 And no longer, with rancid sweat, so,
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,
385 Deal no more in words’ empty reeds.
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:
390 When over my books and paper,
Saddest friend, you appear!
Ah! If on the mountain height
I might stand in your sweet light,
Float with spirits in mountain caves,
395 Swim the meadows in twilight’ waves,
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,
400 Where even the lovely heavenly light
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,
405 Surrounded by smoke-blackened paper,
Glass vials, boxes round me, hurled,
Stuffed with Instruments thrown together,
Packed with ancestral lumber –
This is my world! And what a world!
410 And need you ask why my heart
Makes such tremors in my breast?
Why all my life-energies are
Choked by some unknown distress?
Smoke and mildew hem me in,
415 Instead of living Nature, then,
Where God once created Men,
Bones of creatures, and dead limbs!
Fly! Upwards! Into Space, flung wide!
Isn’t this book, with secrets crammed,
420 From Nostradamus’ very hand,
Enough to be my guide?
When I know the starry road,
And Nature, you instruct me,
My soul’s power, you shall flow,
425 As spirits can with spirits be.
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)
430 Ah! In a moment, what bliss flows
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,
435 Perhaps a god deigned to write,
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!
440 It seems the deepest works of Nature
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!
445 Rise, unwearied, disciple: bathe instead
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,
450 Golden vessels pass each other by!
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!
455 How then can I grasp you endless Nature?
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.)
460 How differently it works on me, this Sign!
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,
465 Into the pain and joy of Earth be hurled,
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 –
470 Now it dies! Crimson rays dart
Round my head – Horror
Flickers from the vault above,
475 I feel you float around me,
Spirit, I summon to appear, speak to me!
Ah! What tears now at the core of me!
All my senses reeling
480 I feel you draw my whole heart towards you!
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.)
Mightily you have drawn me to you,
Long, from my sphere, snatched your food,
485 Ah! Endure you, I cannot!
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
490 Grips you, the Superhuman! Where is your soul’s calling?
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
495 Drew towards me with all your force?
Are you he, who, breathing my breath,
Trembles in all your life’s depths,
A fearful, writhing worm?
Shall I fear you: you form of fire?
500 I am, I am Faust: I am your peer!
In Life’s wave, in action’s storm,
I float, up and down,
Over Time’s quivering loom intent,
Working the Godhead’s living garment.
510 You who wander the world, on every hand,
Active Spirit, how close to you I feel!
You’re like the Spirit that you understand
I, the image of the Godhead!
Oh, fate! I know that sound – it’s my attendant –
My greatest fortune’s ruined!
520 In all the fullness of my doing,
He must intrude, that arid pedant!
(Wagner enters, in gown and nightcap, lamp in hand. Faust turns to
Forgive me! But I heard you declaim:
Reading, I’m sure, from some Greek tragedy?
To profit from that art is my aim,
525 Nowadays it goes down splendidly.
I’ve often heard it claimed, you see
A priest could learn from the Old Comedy.
Yes, when the priest’s a comedian already:
Which might well seem to be the case.
530 Ah! When a man’s so penned in his study,
And scarcely sees the world on holidays,
And barely through the glass, and far off then,
How can he lead men, through persuading them?
You can’t, if you can’t feel it, if it never
535 Rises from the soul, and sways
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,
540 Blowing on a miserable fire,
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,
545 Unless it rises up from your heart’s space.
Still, lecturing brings orators success:
I feel that I am far behind the rest.
Seek to profit honestly!
Don’t be an empty tinkling fool!
550 Understanding, and true clarity,
Express themselves without art’s rule!
And if you mean what you say,
Why hunt for words, anyway?
Yes, your speech, that glitters so,
555 Where you gather scraps for Man,
Is dead as the mist-filled winds that blow
Through the dried-up leaves of autumn!
560 Often the studies that I’m working on
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,
565 The wretched devil has to die it seems.
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.
570 Pardon me, but it’s a great delight
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.
Oh yes, as widely as the constellations!
575 My friend, all of the ages that are gone
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.
580 And so often it’s all a mere misery
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,
585 Suitable when dolls’ mouths wax dramatic!
But, the world! Men’s hearts and minds!
Something of those, at least, I’d like to know.
Yes, what men choose to understand!
Who dares to name the child’s real name, though?
590 The few who knew what might be learned,
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,
595 We must break up this conversation.
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.
600 I’ve pursued my work, zealously studying:
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,
605 And rejoices at the worms for which it gropes!
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!
610 You’ve torn me away from that despair,
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,
615 Who thought the spirit of eternal truth so near,
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,
620 And, in creating, enjoy the life divine,
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,
625 But not the power to make you stay.
In that blissful moment, then
I felt myself so small, so great:
Cruelly you hurled me back again,
Into Man’s uncertain state.
630 What shall I learn from? Or leave?
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
635 On the splendour that the Mind conceives:
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.
640 If imagination flew with courage, once,
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,
645 Restless, she rocks there, spoiling joy and rest,
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:
650 Still we tremble for what never strikes us,
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,
655 It’s crushed and buried by the passing feet.
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?
660 Will I find here what I’m lacking else,
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?
665 Except that once your brain whirled like mine,
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:
670 I stand at the door: and you should be the key:
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,
675 Won’t by screws and levers be displayed.
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.
680 Better the little I had was squandered,
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,
685 But we can use what the Moment may create!
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?
690 I salute you, phial of rare potion,
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,
695 Show your master all his craft!
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,
700 A glassy flood gleams around my feet,
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
705 And reach new spheres of pure activity.
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!
710 Let me dare to throw those gates open,
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,
715 Imagination damns itself to pain,
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.
720 Come here to me, cup of crystal, clear!
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:
725 One man passing you to another here.
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.
730 Now I will never pass you to a friend,
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,
735 At last I drink, and with my soul I bid
A high and festive greeting to the Dawn!
(He puts the cup to his mouth.)
(Bells chime and a choir sings.)
Joy to the One, of us,
740 Ancestral, insidious,
What deep humming, what shining sound
Strikes the glass from my hand with power?
Already, do the hollow bells resound,
745 Proclaiming Easter’s festive course? Our
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?
760 Tested, and healed:
You heavenly sounds, powerful and mild,
Why, in the dust, here, do you seek me?
Ring out where tender hearts are reconciled.
765 I hear your message, but faith fails me:
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,
770 And I’m recalled to life once more.
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:
775 A sweet yearning, beyond my understanding,
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,
780 The joy of spring’s idle holiday:
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!
785 Has the buried one
Raised himself, alone,
Is he, in teeming air,
790 Near to creative bliss:
Ah! In sorrow, we’re
Here on Earth’s breast.
Out of corruption’s sea.
Tear off your bindings
Actively praising him,
Lovingly claiming him,
Fraternally aiding him,
805 Joyfully promising,
So is the Master near,
Scene II: In Front Of The City-Gate
(Passers-by of all kinds appear.)
So, then, where are you away to?
We’re away to the Hunting Lodge.
810 We’re off to saunter by the Mill.
Off to the Riverside Inn, I’d guess.
The way there’s not of the best.
I’m with the others, still.
Come to the Castle, you’ll find there
815 The prettiest girls, the finest beer,
And the best place for a fight.
You quarrelsome fool, are you looking
For a third good hiding?
Not for me, that place, I hate its very sight.
820 No, No! I’m going back to town.
We’ll find him by those poplar trees for sure.
Well that’s no joy for me, now:
He’ll walk by your side, of course,
He’ll dance with you on the green.
825 Where’s the fun in that for me, then!
I’m sure he’s not alone, he said
He’d bring along that Curly-head.
My how they strut those bold women!
Brother, come on! We’ll follow them.
830 Fierce tobacco, strong beer,
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,
835 And run after a painted face!
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.
840 They pass by with demure paces,
But in the end they’ll go with us.
Brother, no! I shouldn’t bother, anyway.
Quick! Before our quarry gets away.
The hand that wields a broom on Saturday,
845 Gives the best caress, on Sunday too, I say.
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?
850 As always it’s us who must obey,
And pay more money down.
Fine gentlemen, and lovely ladies,
Rosy-cheeked and finely dressed,
You could help me, for your aid is
855 Needed: see, ease my distress!
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!
860 On holidays there’s nothing I like better
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:
865 See the bright boats glide down the river,
Then you walk back home and bless
Its peacefulness, and peace, forever.
Neighbour, yes! I like that too:
Let them go and break their heads,
870 Make the mess they often do:
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!
875 And what you want, I’ll bring you.
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.
880 She showed me mine in a crystal ball,
A soldier, with lots of other brave men:
I look around: among them all,
Yet I can never find him.
Castles with towering
885 Ramparts and wall,
We want them to fall!
The action is brave,
890 And splendid the pay!
895 It’s a storm, blowing!
But it’s the life too!
The action is brave,
900 Splendid the pay!
Rivers and streams are freed from ice
By Spring’s sweet enlivening glance.
905 Valleys, green with Hope’s happiness, dance:
Old Winter, in his weakness, sighs,
Withdrawing to the harsh mountains.
From there, retreating, he sends down
Impotent showers of hail that show
910 In stripes across the quickening ground.
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,
915 He takes these gaudy people instead.
Turn round, and from this mountain height,
Look down, where the town’s in sight.
That cavernous, dark gate,
The colourful crowd penetrate,
920 All will take the sun today,
The Risen Lord they’ll celebrate,
And feel they are resurrected,
From low houses, dully made,
From work, where they’re constricted,
925 From the roofs’ and gables’ weight,
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
930 Crushing the gardens and meadows,
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,
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:
940 Here I am Man: here, dare to be!
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.
945 Shrieking, fiddlers, skittles flying,
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
950 His gaudy jacket, wreath, and ribbon,
Under the linden-tree, already,
Everyone was dancing madly.
So goes the fiddle-bow.
In his haste, in a whirl,
He stumbled against a girl,
With his elbow flailing:
960 Lively, she turned, and said:
Mind out, you wooden-head!
Just watch where you’re sailing!
965 Fast around the circle bright,
They danced to left and right,
Skirts and jackets flying.
They grew red: they grew warm,
They rested, panting, arm on arm
And hip, and elbow, lying.
Don’t be so familiar then!
That’s how many a lying man,
975 Cheated his wife so!
But he soon tempted her aside,
And from the linden echoed wide:
980 So goes the fiddle-bow.
Doctor, it’s good of you today
Not to shun the crowd,
So that among the folk, at play,
The learned man walks about.
985 Then have some from the finest jug
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
990 May it exceed your hours, all told.
I’ll take some of your foaming drink,
And offer you all, health and thanks.
(The people gather round him in a circle.)
Truly, it’s a thing well done:
You’re here on our day of happiness,
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,
1000 While the plague went past.
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.
1005 Many a hard trial you withstood,
A Helper helped by the Helper above.
Health to the man who’s proven true,
Long may he help me and you!
To Him above bow down instead,
1010 Who teaches help, and sends his aid.
(He walks off, with 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!
1015 The father shows you to his son, now
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:
1020 A little more and they’d bend the knee,
As if what they worshipped was holy.
Climb these few steps to that stone,
Here we’ll rest from our wandering.
Here I’ve sat often, thoughtful and alone,
1025 Tormenting myself with prayer and fasting.
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.
1030 The crowd’s approval now’s like scorn.
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,
1035 Who pondered Nature and the heavenly spheres,
Honestly, in his own fashion,
With eccentric studies it appears:
He, in his adepts’ company,
Locked in his dark workshop, forever
1040 Tried with endless recipes,
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
1045 Strained from one bride-bed into another,
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.
1050 So we roamed, with our hellish pills,
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
1055 How men praise a shameless murderer.
How can you grieve at that!
Isn’t it enough for an honest man
To exercise the skill he has,
Carefully, precisely, as given?
1060 Honour your father as a youth,
And receive his teaching in your soul,
As a man, then, add to scientific truth,
So your son can achieve a higher goal.
O happy the man who still can hope
1065 Though drowned in a sea of error!
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!
1070 In the evening glow, we see
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
1075 Me, closer and closer to it, striving!
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.
1080 The wild peaks with their deep clefts,
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:
1085 But in me a newer yearning wakes,
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.
1090 Ah! Wings of the mind, so weightless
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,
1095 The lark sings his piercing song,
When over the steep pine-filled peaks,
The eagle widely soars,
And across the plains and seas,
The cranes seek their home shores.
1100 I’ve often had strange moments, I know,
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
1105 Us on, from book to book, and page to page!
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!
1110 You only feel the one yearning at best,
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
1115 Clings to the world, tenaciously, grips tight,
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,
1120 Descend through the golden atmosphere,
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,
1125 For the mantle of a king, would I resign it!
Don’t call to that familiar crowd,
Streaming in misty circles, spreading,
Preparing a thousand dangers now,
On every side, for human beings.
1130 The North winds’ sharp teeth penetrate,
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,
1135 And fire on fire burns on your brow,
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:
1140 They make out they’re from heaven above,
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.
1145 What is it occupies your sight?
What troubles you so, in the evening?
Through corn and stubble, see that black dog running?
I saw him long ago: he seems a wretched thing.
Look at him closely! What do you make of him?
1150 A dog that, in the way they do,
Sniffs around to find his master.
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
1155 Twisting about, behind his track.
Perhaps your eyesight proves a liar,
I only see a dog, that’s black.
It seems to me that with a subtle magic,
He winds a fatal knot around our feet.
1160 I see his timid and uncertain antics,
It’s strangers, not his master, whom he meets.
The circle narrows: now he’s here!
You see a dog, there’s no spectre near!
He barks uncertainly, lies down and crawls,
1165 Wags his tail. Dogs’ habits, after all.
Come on! Here, now! Here, to me!
He’s a dogged hound, I agree.
Stand still and he holds his ground:
Talk to him, he dances round:
1170 What you’ve lost, he’ll bring to you:
Retrieve a stick from the water, too.
You’re right: and I see nothing
Like a Spirit there, it’s only training.
A wise man finds agreeable,
1175 A dog that’s learnt its lesson well.
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.)
Fields and meadows now I’ve left
Clothed in deepest night,
1180 Full of presentiments, a holy dread
Wakes the better soul in me to light.
Wild desires no longer stir
At every restless act of mine:
Love for Humanity is here,
1185 And here is Love Divine.
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.
1190 Since you amused us running, leaping,
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,
1195 The friendly lamp glows on the shelf,
Brightness burns in our inner gloom,
In the Heart, that knows itself.
Reason speaks with insistence,
And Hope once more appears,
1200 We see the River of Existence,
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.
1205 Men usually scorn the things, I’ve found,
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?
1210 Oh, yet now I can feel no contentment
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
1215 I could supply what’s missing, easily:
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.
1220 I yearn to render the first version,
With true feeling, once and for all,
Translate the sacred original
Into my beloved German.
(He opens the volume, and begins.)
It’s written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Word!’
1225 Here I stick already! Who can help me? It’s absurd,
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’.
1230 Let me consider that first sentence,
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,
1235 I’m warned: I’m no closer with these I’ve found.
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:
1240 Stop your yapping!
A fellow who’s always snapping,
I can’t allow too near me.
Must leave the other free.
1245 I’ve no more hospitality to show,
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?
1250 The dog’s growing big and tall.
He rises powerfully,
It’s no doglike shape I see!
What a spectre I brought home!
Like a hippo in the room,
1255 With fiery eyes, and fearful jaws.
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!
1260 Don’t follow it: stay outside!
Like a fox in a snare
An old lynx from hell trembles there.
Be careful what you’re about!
Float here: float there,
1265 Under and over,
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,
1270 Just for your pleasure.
First speak the Words of the Four
To encounter the creature.
Salamander, be glowing,
1275 Sylph, disappear,
1280 And properties,
1285 Rush together in foam,
Shine with meteor-gleam,
Bring help to the home,
1290 Incubus! Incubus!
Go before and end it thus!
Show in the creature.
He lies there quietly grinning at me:
1295 I’ve not stirred him enough it seems.
I’ll press him hard now.
My good fellow, are you
Exiled from Hell’s crew?
1300 Witness the Symbol
Before which they bow,
The dark crowd there!
Now it swells, with its bristling hair.
1305 Can you know what you’re seeing?
With name unexpressed,
Poured through Heaven,
Pierced without redress?
1310 Spellbound, behind the stove,
It fills the room, completely,
It will vanish like mist, I can see.
Don’t rise to the ceiling!
1315 Lie down at your master’s feet!
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!
(As the mist clears, Mephistopheles steps from behind the stove,
dressed as a wandering Scholar.)
Why such alarms? What command would my lord impart?
This was the dog’s core!
A wandering scholar? The fact makes me smile.
1325 I bow to the learned lord!
You certainly made me sweat, in style.
For one who so disdains the Word,
Is so distant from appearance: one
1330 Whom only the vital depths have stirred.
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.
1335 Well, what are you then?
Part of the Power that would
Always wish Evil, and always works the Good.
What meaning to these riddling words applies?
I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
1340 In turn deserves to be annihilated:
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.
You call yourself a part, yet seem complete to me?
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,
1350 Part of the darkness, from which Light, issuing,
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.
1355 It flows from bodies, which it beautifies,
And bodies block its way:
I hope the day’s not far away
When it, along with all these bodies, dies.
Now I see the plan you follow!
1360 You can’t destroy it all, and so
You’re working on a smaller scale.
And frankly it’s a sorry tale.
What’s set against the Nothingness,
The Something, World’s clumsiness,
1365 Despite everything I’ve tried,
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,
1370 It’s no use my owning any of that crew:
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,
1375 A thousand buds unfurl
In wet and dry, warm and cold!
And if I hadn’t kept back fire of old,
I’d have nothing left at all.
So you set the Devil’s fist
1380 That vainly clenches itself,
Against the eternally active,
Wholesome, creative force!
Strange son of Chaos, start
On something else instead!
1385 Truly I’ll think about it: more
Next time, on that head!
Might I be allowed to go?
I see no reason for you to ask it.
Since I’ve learnt to know you now,
1390 When you wish: then make a visit.
There’s the door, here’s the window,
And, of course, there’s the chimney.
I must confess, I’m prevented though
By a little thing that hinders me,
1395 The Druid’s-foot on your doorsill –
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?
1400 Look carefully! It’s not completed:
One angle, if you inspect it closely
Has, as you see, been left a little open.
Just by chance as it happens!
And left you prisoner to me?
1405 Success created by approximation!
The dog saw nothing, in his animation,
Now the affair seems inside out,
The Devil can’t get out of the house.
Why not try the window then?
1410 To devils and ghosts the same laws appertain:
The same way they enter in, they must go out.
In the first we’re free, in the second slaves to the act.
So you still have laws in Hell, in fact?
That’s good, since it allows a pact,
1415 And one with you gentlemen truly binds?
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,
1420 Yet, urgently, I beg of you
Let me go my way at last.
Tell me some good news first.
I’ll soon be back, just let me go:
1425 Then you can ask me what you wish.
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.
1430 I’m willing, if you so wish,
To stay here, in your company:
So long as we pass the time, and I insist,
On arts of mine, exclusively.
Gladly, you’re free to present
1435 Them, as long as they’re all pleasant.
My friend you’ll win more
For your senses, in an hour,
Than in a whole year’s monotony.
What the tender spirits sing,
1440 The lovely pictures that they bring,
Are no empty wizardry.
First your sense of smell’s invited,
Then your palate is delighted,
And then your touch, you see.
1445 Now, I need no preparation,
We’re all here, so let’s begin!
1450 The friendliest blue
Of aether, down here.
In lovely confusion,
Swaying and bending,
Their garments flowing
With fluttering ribbons,
1465 Cover the gardens,
Where with each other
In deep conversation
1470 Leaves on leaves!
Crushed in a stream,
1475 Crushed to fountain,
Through rocks divine,
Leaving the heights,
1480 Spreading beneath,
Round the green hills.
And the wings still,
1485 Blissfully drunk,
Fly to the brightness,
Towards the islands,
1490 Magically raised:
The choir of joy near,
See how they dance now,
Some of them climbing
1500 Over the ocean,
All towards distant,
Love of the stars, and
1505 Approval’s bliss.
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!
1510 Spellbind him with dream-forms, cast
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,
1515 One’s rustling here that will do well.
The Lord of Rats and Mice,
Of Flies, Frogs, Bugs and Lice,
Summons you to venture here,
And gnaw the threshold where
1520 He stains it with a little oil -
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 –
1525 Now Faust, dream deeply, till we meet.
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?
1530 A knock? Enter! Who’s plaguing me again?
Three times you must say it, then.
Ah, now, you please me.
I hope we’ll get along together:
To drive away the gloomy weather,
1535 I’m dressed like young nobility,
In a scarlet gold-trimmed coat,
In a little silk-lined cloak,
A cockerel feather in my hat,
With a long, pointed sword,
1540 And I advise you, at that,
To do as I do, in a word:
So that, footloose, fancy free,
You can experience Life, with me.
This life of earth, its narrowness,
1545 Pains me, however I’m turned out,
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!
1550 That’s the eternal song
That in our ears, forever, rings
The one, that, our whole life long,
Every hour, hoarsely, sings.
I wake in terror with the dawn,
1555 I cry, the bitterest tears, to see
Day grant no wish of mine, not one
As it passes by on its journey.
Even presentiments of joy
Ebb, in wilful depreciation:
1560 A thousand grimaces life employs
To hinder me in creation.
Then when night descends I must
Stretch out, worried, on my bed:
What comes to me is never rest,
1565 But some wild dream instead.
The God that lives inside my heart,
Can rouse my innermost seeing:
The one enthroned beyond my art,
Can’t stir external being:
1570 And so existence is a burden: sated,
Death’s desired, and Life is hated.
Yet Death’s a guest who’s visit’s never wholly celebrated.
Happy the man whom victory enhances,
Whose brow the bloodstained laurel warms,
1575 Who, after the swift whirling dances,
Finds himself in some girl’s arms!
If only, in my joy, then, I’d sunk down
Before that enrapturing Spirit power!
Yet someone, from a certain brown
1580 Liquid, drank not a drop, at midnight hour.
It seems that you delight in spying.
I know a lot: and yet I’m not all-knowing.
When sweet familiar tones drew me,
Away from the tormenting crowd,
1585 Then my other childhood feelings
Better times echoed, and allowed.
So I curse whatever snares the soul,
In its magical, enticing arms,
Banishes it to this mournful hole,
1590 With dazzling, seductive charms!
Cursed be those high Opinions first,
With which the mind entraps itself!
Then glittering Appearance curse,
In which the senses lose themselves!
1595 Curse what deceives us in our dreaming,
With thoughts of everlasting fame!
Curse the flattery of ‘possessing’
Wife and child, lands and name!
Curse Mammon, when he drives us
1600 To bold acts to win our treasure:
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!
1605 Cursed be Hope! Cursed be Faith,
And cursed be Patience most of all!
Choir of Spirits (Unseen)
You’ve destroyed it,
The beautiful world,
1610 With a powerful fist:
It tumbles, it’s hurled
To ruin! A demigod crushed it!
Fragments into the void,
Lament the Beauty that’s gone.
For all of Earth’s sons,
1620 Build it again,
Build, in your heart!
With senses washed clean,
1625 And sound, then,
They’re little, but fine,
These attendants of mine.
Precocious advice they give, listen,
1630 Regarding both action, and passion!
Into the World outside,
From Solitude, that’s dried
Your sap and senses,
1635 Stop playing with grief,
That feeds, a vulture, on your breast,
The worst society, you’ll find, will prompt belief,
That you’re a Man among the rest.
1640 To shove you into the mass.
Among ‘the greats’, I’m second-class:
But if you, in my company,
Your path through life would wend,
I’ll willingly condescend
1645 To serve you, as we go.
I’m your man, and so,
If it suits you of course,
I’m your slave: I’m yours!
And what must I do in exchange?
1650 There’s lots of time: you’ve got the gist.
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,
1655 Such servants are risks, in a house.
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.
1660 The ‘other side’ concerns me less:
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:
1665 If I must part from them tomorrow,
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,
1670 We’re given a below and an above.
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.
1675 Poor devil what can you give? When has ever
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
1680 Of quicksilver, melting in the hand,
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,
1685 That, like a meteor, dies?
Show me fruits then that rot, before they’re ready.
And trees grown green again, each day, too!
Such commands don’t frighten me:
With such treasures I can truly serve you.
1690 Still, my good friend, a time may come,
When one prefers to eat what’s good in peace.
When I lie quiet in bed, at ease.
Then let my time be done!
If you fool me, with flatteries,
1695 Till my own self’s a joy to me,
If you snare me with luxury –
Let that be the last day I see!
When, to the Moment then, I say:
1700 ‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’
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,
1705 The clocks may halt, the hands be still,
And time be past and done, for me!
Consider well, we’ll not forget.
You have your rights, complete:
I never over-estimate my powers.
1710 I’ll be a slave, in defeat:
Why ask whose slave or yours?
Today, likewise, at the Doctors’ Feast
I’ll do my duty as your servant.
One thing, though! – Re: life and death, I want
1715 A few lines from you, at the least.
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?
1720 The world never ceases to wear away,
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,
1725 And who’ll never deign to sacrifice it!
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.
1730 What do you want from me base spirit?
Will iron: marble: parchment: paper do it?
Shall I write with stylus, pen or chisel?
I’ll leave the whole decision up to you.
Why launch into oratory too?
1735 Hot-tempered: you exaggerate as well.
Any bit of paper’s just as good.
And you can sign it with a drop of blood.
If it will satisfy you, and it should,
Then let’s complete the farce in full.
1740 Blood is a quite special fluid.
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
1745 I belong in your ranks now.
The mighty Spirit scorns me
And Nature shuts me out.
The thread of thought has turned to dust,
Knowledge fills me with disgust.
1750 Let the depths of sensuality
Satisfy my burning passion!
And, its impenetrable mask on,
Let every marvel be prepared for me!
Let’s plunge into time’s torrent,
1755 Into the whirlpools of event!
Then let joy, and distress,
Frustration, and success,
Follow each other, as well they can:
Restless activity proves the man!
1760 No goal or measure’s set for you.
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!
1765 It’s not joy we’re about: you heard it.
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,
1770 And what is shared by all mankind,
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,
1775 That, in the end, their fate it shares.
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!
1780 Trust one of us, this Whole thing
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.
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,
1790 Let him roam in imagination,
You’ll gain every noble quality
From your honorary occupation,
The lion’s brave attitude
The wild stag’s swiftness,
1795 The Italian’s fiery blood,
The North’s persistence.
Let him find the mysterious
Meeting of generous and devious,
While you, with passions young and hot,
1800 Fall in love, according to the plot.
I’d like to see such a gentleman, among us,
And I’d call him Mister Microcosmus.
What am I then, if it’s a flight too far,
For me to gain that human crown
1805 I yearn towards with every sense I own?
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.
1810 All the treasures of the human spirit
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,
1815 And I’m no nearer to Infinity.
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.
1820 Hang it! Hands and feet, belong to you,
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,
1825 Isn’t their horsepower mine to use?
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!
1830 I say to you that scholarly fellows
Are like the cattle on an arid heath:
Some evil spirit leads them round in circles,
While sweet green meadows lie beneath.
How shall we begin then?
From here, we’ll first win free.
1835 What kind of a martyrs’ hole can this be?
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?
1840 The best things you can ever know,
You dare not tell the youngsters, ever.
I hear one of them arriving, too!
I’ve no desire to see him, though.
The poor lad’s waited hours for you.
1845 He mustn’t go away un-consoled.
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:
1850 Meanwhile get ready for our journey!
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,
1855 And I’ll have you, totally –
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.
1860 I’ll drag him through raw life,
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:
1865 In vain he’ll beg for consummation,
And if he weren’t the devil’s, why
He’d still go to his ruination!
I’m only here momentarily,
I’ve come, filled with humility,
1870 To speak to, and to stand before ,
One who’s spoken of with awe.
Your courtesy delights me greatly!
A man like other men you see.
Have you studied then, elsewhere?
1875 I beg you, please enrol me, here!
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.
1880 Then you’ve come to the right place, exactly.
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,
1885 You see no trees, no leaves of any kind,
And in the lectures, on the benches,
All thought deserts me, and my senses.
It will only come to you with habit.
So the child takes its mother’s breast
1890 Quite unwillingly at first, and yet it
Soon sucks away at her with zest.
So will you at Wisdom’s breast, here,
Feel every day a little zestier.
I’ll cling to her neck with pleasure:
1895 But only tell me how to find her.
Explain, before you travel on
What faculty you’ve settled on.
I want to be a true scholar,
I want to grasp, by the collar,
1900 What’s on earth, in heaven above,
In Science, and in Nature too.
Then here’s the very path for you,
But don’t allow yourself to wander off.
I’ll be present heart and soul:
1905 Of course I’ll want to play,
Have some fun and freedom, though,
On each sweet summer holiday.
Use your time well: it slips away so fast, yet
Discipline will teach you how to win it.
1910 My dear friend, I’d advise, in sum,
First, the Collegium Logicum.
There your mind will be trained,
As if in Spanish boots, constrained,
So that painfully, as it ought,
1915 It creeps along the way of thought,
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,
1920 Like eating now, and drinking, you’ll see
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,
1925 Here and there the shuttles go
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:
1930 The first was - so, the second - so,
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,
1935 But few of them ever turn to weaving.
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.
1940 ‘Natural treatment’, Chemistry calls it
Mocks at herself, and doesn’t know it.
I’m not sure that I quite understand.
You’ll soon know it all, as planned,
When you’ve learnt the science of reduction,
1945 And everything’s proper classification.
After all that, I feel as stupid
As if I’d a mill wheel in my head.
Next, before all else, you’ll fix
Your mind on Metaphysics!
1950 See that you’re profoundly trained
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
1955 To get yourself in order: start at once.
Five hours every day, lock
Yourself in, with a ticking clock!
Make sure you’re well prepared,
Study each paragraph with care,
1960 So afterwards you’ll be certain
Only what’s in the book, was written:
Then be as diligent when you pen it,
As if the Holy Ghost had said it!
You won’t need to tell me twice!
1965 I think, myself, it’s very helpful, too
That one can take back home, and use,
What someone’s penned in black and white.
But choose a faculty, any one!
I wouldn’t be comfortable with Law.
1970 I couldn’t name you anything more
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
1975 Dragged around from place to place.
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!
1980 That just strengthens my disgust.
Happy the student that you instruct!
I’ve nearly settled on Theology.
I wouldn’t wish to guide you erroneously.
In what that branch of knowledge concerns
1985 It’s so difficult to avoid a fallacious route,
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.
1990 On the whole, to words stick fast!
Through the safest gate you’ll pass
To the Temple of Certainty.
Yet surely words must have a sense.
Why, yes! But don’t torment yourself with worry,
1995 Where sense fails it’s only necessary
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,
2000 No word suffers a jot from thieving.
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?
2005 Three years, so little time applied,
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
2010 I really must play the devil, at once.
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
2015 Useless to roam round, scientifically:
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,
2020 You’re not short of courage too,
And when you’re easy with yourself,
Others will be easy with you.
Study, especially, female behaviour:
Their eternal aches and woes,
2025 All of the thousand-fold,
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
2030 Have skills that far exceed the others,
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,
2035 Grasp the slender hips, in haste,
To find out whether she’s tight-laced.
That sounds much better! The Where and How, I see.
Grey, dear friend, is all theory,
And green the golden tree of life.
2040 I swear it’s like a dream to me: may I
Trouble you, at some further time,
To expound your wisdom, so sublime?
As much as I can, I’ll gladly explain.
I can’t tear myself away,
2045 I must just pass you my album, sir,
Grant me the favour of your signature!
(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.)
Just follow the ancient text, and my mother the snake, too:
2050 And then your likeness to God will surely frighten you!
Where will we go, then?
The little world, and then the great, we’ll see.
With what profit and delight,
This term, you’ll be a parasite!
2055 Yet with my long beard, I’ll
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,
2060 It only means embarrassment.
My friend, just give yourself completely to it:
When you find yourself, you’ll soon know how to live it.
How shall we depart from here, then?
I see not one servant, coach, or horse.
2065 We’ll just spread this cloak wide open,
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,
2070 To lift us nimbly above the Earth,
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.)
Will none of you laugh? Nobody drink?
I’ll have to teach you to smile, I think!
2075 You’re all of you like wet straw today,
And usually you’re well away.
That’s up to you, you bring us nothing.
Nothing dumb, or dirty, nothing.
Frosch (Pouring a glass of wine over Brander’s head.)
2080 You wanted them both, so you got mine!
Out the door, whoever fights! Get out!
Let’s sing a heart-felt chorus, drink and shout!
Earplugs, here! This fellow’s deafened me.
2085 It’s only when it echoes in the tower,
You hear a bass voice’s real power.
Right, out with him who takes offence!
Our throats are tuned: commence.
2090 ‘Dear Holy Roman Empire,
How do you hold together?’
A lousy song! Bah! A political song -
A tiresome song! Thank God, every morning,
It isn’t you who must sit there worrying
2095 About the Empire! At least I’m better for
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
2100 Swing the vote, and elevate the man.
‘Sing away, sweet Nightingale,
Greet my girl, and never fail.’
Don’t greet my girl! I’ll not allow it!
Greet and kiss her! You’ll not stop it!
2105 ‘Slip the bolt in deepest night!
Slip it! Wake, the lover bright.
Slip it to! At break of dawn.’
Yes, sing in praise of her, and boast: sing on!
I’ll laugh later when it suits:
2110 She leads me a dance, she’ll lead you too.
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.
2115 An honest man, of flesh and blood,
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!
2120 I know about life, you lot, confess.
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!
2125 And you can shout out the refrain!
‘Once there was a cellar rat,
Who lived on grease, and butter:
He had a belly, round and fat,
Just like Doctor Luther.
2130 The cook set poison round about:
It brought on such a violent bout,
As if he’d love inside him.’
‘As if he’d love inside him!’
‘He ran here, and he ran there,
2135 And drank from all the puddles,
Gnawing, scratching, everywhere,
But nothing cured his shudders.
In torment, he leapt to the roof,
Poor beast, soon he’d had enough,
2140 As if he’d love inside him.’
‘As if he’d love inside him!’
‘Fear drove him to the light of day,
Into the kitchen then he ran,
Fell on the hearth and twitched away,
2145 Pitifully weak, and wan.
Then the murderess laughed with glee:
He’s on his last legs, I see,
As if he’d love inside him.’
‘As if he’d love inside him.’
2150 How pleased they are, the tiresome fools!
Spreading poison for wretched rats,
To me, that’s the right thing to do!
You’re in sympathy with them, perhaps?
That fat belly with a balding head!
2155 Bad luck makes him meek and mild:
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,
2160 To see how happily life slips away.
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,
2165 If the hangovers aren’t too intense,
If the landlord gives them credit,
They’re cheerful, and unworried by it.
They’re fresh from their travelling days,
You can tell by their foreign ways:
2170 They’ve not been back an hour: you see.
True, you’re right! My Leipzig’s dear to me!
It’s a little Paris, and educates its people.
Who do you think the strangers are?
Let me find out! I’ll draw the truth,
2175 From those two, with a brimming glass,
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.
They’re surely strolling players, I’d guess!
2180 Watch me screw it out of them, then!
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
These folk wouldn’t feel the devil, even
If he’d got them dangling by the neck.
Thank you, and greetings.
(He mutters away, inspecting Mephistopheles side-on.)
What’s wrong with his foot: why’s he limping?
2185 Allow us to sit with you, if you please.
Instead of fine ale that can’t be had,
We can still have good company.
You seem a choosy sort of lad.
Was it late when you started out from Rippach?
2190 Perhaps you dined with Hans there, first?
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!
2195 A shrewd customer!
Wait, I’ll have him soon, I’m sure!
If I’m not wrong, we heard
A tuneful choir singing?
I’m sure, with this vault, the words
2200 Must really set it ringing!
Are you by any chance a virtuoso?
No! Though my desire is great, my skill is only so-so.
If you wish it, a few.
So long as it’s a brand-new one!
2205 Well, it’s from Spain that we’ve just come,
The lovely land of wine, and singing too.
‘There was once a king, who
Listen! Did you get that? A flea.
2210 A flea’s an honest guest to me.
‘There was once a king, who
He loved him very much, oh,
He was like a son, you see.
2215 The king called for his tailor,
Now, measure up the lad for
A suit of clothes, I say!’
Make sure the tailor’s sharp,
2220 And cuts them out precisely,
And, since his son’s dear to his heart,
Make sure there’s never a crease to see.
‘All in silk and velvet,
He was smartly dressed,
2225 With ribbons on his coat,
A cross upon his chest.
He was the First Minister,
And so he wore a star:
His brothers and his sisters,
2230 He made noblest by far.
The lords and the ladies,
They were badly smitten,
The Queen and her maids,
They were stung and bitten.
2235 They didn’t dare to crush them,
Or scratch away, all night.
We smother them, and crush them,
The moment that they bite.’
‘We smother them, and crush them,
2240 The moment that they bite.’
Bravo! Bravo! That went sweetly!
So shall it be with every flea!
Sharpen your nails, and crush them fine!
Long live freedom, and long live wine!
2245 I’d love to drink a glass, in freedom’s honour,
If only the wine were a little better.
Not again, we don’t want to hear!
I fear the landlord might complain
Or I’d give these worthy guests,
2250 One of my cellar’s very best.
Just bring it on! He’ll accept it: I’ll explain.
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,
2255 I need a really big mouthful inside.
They’re from the Rhine, as I guessed.
Bring me a corkscrew!
Is it outside already, this cask?
There’s one in the landlord’s toolbox, for sure.
Mephistopheles (Takes the corkscrew. To Frosch.)
2260 Now, what would you like to try?
What? Is there a selection, too?
There’s a choice for every one of you.
Altmayer (To Frosch.)
Ah! You soon catch on: your lips are dry?
Good! When I’ve a choice, I drink Rhenish.
2265 The Fatherland grants those best gifts to us.
Mephistopheles (Boring a hole in the table-edge where Frosch is
Bring me a little wax, to make the seals, as well!
Ah, that’s for the conjuring trick, I can tell.
Mephistopheles (To 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.)
2270 We can’t always shun what’s foreign,
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,
2275 Give me a glass of the very sweetest!
Mephistopheles (Boring a hole.)
I’ll pour an instant Tokay for you, yes?
Now, gentlemen, look me in the eye!
I see you’ve had the better of us there.
Now! Now! With guests so rare,
2280 That would be far too much for me to dare.
Quick! Time for you to declare!
Which wine can I serve you with?
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!
2285 Horns, they are the he-goat’s:
Wine is juice: wood makes vines,
The wooden board shall give us wine.
Look deeper into Nature!
Have faith, and here’s a wonder!
2290 Now draw the stoppers, and drink up!
All (Draw the stoppers, and the wine they chose flows into each
O lovely fount, that flows for us!
But careful, don’t lose a drop!
(They drink repeatedly.)
‘We’re all of us cannibals now,
We’re like five hundred sows.’
2295 The folk are free, and we can go, you see!
I’d like to leave here now.
Watch first: their bestiality
Will make a splendid show.
(He drinks carelessly, wine pours on the ground and bursts into
Help! Fire! Hell burns bright!
Mephistopheles (Charming away the flame.)
2300 Friendly element, be quiet!
For this time, just a drop of Purgatory.
What’s that? You wait! You’ll pay dearly!
It seems you don’t quite see us right.
Try playing that trick a second time, on us!
2305 I think we should quietly send him packing.
What, sir? You think you’re daring,
Tricking us with your hocus-pocus?
Be quiet, old wine-barrel!
You broomstick! You’ll show us you’re ill bred?
2310 Just wait, it’ll rain blows, on your head!
Altmayer (Draws a stopper and fire blazes in his face.)
I’m burning! Burning!
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!
2315 Be here, and there!
(They look at each other, amazed.)
Where am I? What a lovely land!
Vineyards? Am I seeing straight?
And, likewise, grapes to hand!
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.)
2320 From their eyes, Error, take the iron band,
And let them see how the Devil plays a joke.
(He vanishes with Faust: the revellers separate.)
Brander (To Siebel.)
And I’ve still got your nose in my hand!
It was a tremor, that passed through every limb!
2325 Pass me a stool: I’m sinking in!
Tell me: what happened there, my friend?
Where is he? When I catch that fellow,
He won’t leave here alive again!
I saw him myself fly out of the cellar
2330 Riding on a barrel – and then –
I feel there’s lead still in my feet.
(He turns towards the table.)
Ah! Does the wine still flow as sweet?
It was deception, cheating, lying.
Still, it seemed that I drank wine.
2335 And what about all those grapes that hung there?
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.)
These magical wild beasts repel me, too!
Are you telling me I can be renewed,
Wandering around in this mad maze,
2340 Demanding help from some old hag:
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.
2345 Hasn’t some noble mind, or Nature,
Found some wondrous potion yet?
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,
2350 And in an odd chapter.
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,
2355 Maintain yourself, and constrain
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:
2360 Since that’s the best of ways, believe me,
To keep your youth for eighty years!
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.
2365 So you must call the witch then, after all.
Why is that old witch necessary!
Why can’t you, yourself, make the brew?
What a lovely occupation for me!
And build a thousand bridges, meanwhile, too.
2370 It’s not just art and science that tell,
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
2375 Is quite a peculiar show!
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!
2380 The mistress isn’t home, I say?
How long will she be swarming?
2385 As long as our paws are warming.
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
What do you think of these tender creatures?
As rude as any I ever saw!
Ah, but to me this kind of discourse
Shows the most delightful features!
2390 Accursed puppets, tell me true,
What are you stirring in that brew?
We’re cooking up thick beggars’ soup.
Then there’ll be thousands in the queue.
The He-Ape (Approaches and fawns on Mephistopheles.)
O, throw the dice quick,
2395 And let me be rich!
It’s all arranged badly,
2400 Why does the ape think he’d be lucky,
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.)
2405 Rings like glass,
It’s hollow at best.
2415 In pieces, lie.
The He-Ape (Lifting it down.)
I’d know you this minute.
(He runs to the She-Ape, and lets her look through the sieve.)
2420 Look through the sieve!
Can you see the thief,
But daren’t name him?
Mephistopheles (Approaching the fire.)
The He-Ape and She-Ape
2425 Not to know a kettle!
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
2430 Is this that the magic mirror brings!
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,
2435 I see as if through a mist, no clearer –
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?
2440 Can any such this earth deliver?
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:
2445 I’ll know how to fish that treasure out for you,
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.)
2450 Oh, with sweat and with blood,
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!
2455 We hear, and we rhyme -
Faust (In front of the mirror.)
Ah! I’ll go completely mad.
Mephistopheles (Pointing to the creatures.)
Now my head’s almost spinning.
If our luck’s not bad,
If there’s sense to be had,
2460 We must be thinking!
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.)
2465 Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!
Damned creature! Accursed sow!
You left the kettle: you’ve singed me now!
(Seeing Faust and Mephistopheles.)
2470 Who are you, here?
(She plunges the skimming-ladle into the cauldron, and scatters flame
towards Faust, Mephistopheles and the Creatures. The Creatures
Mephistopheles (Reversing the brush he holds in his hand, and striking
among the jars and glasses.)
There lies the brew!
There lies the glass!
2480 To your melody, too.
(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?
2485 Have you no respect for a scarlet coat?
Don’t you understand a cockerel’s feather?
Have I hidden my face, you old she-goat?
Have I to name myself, as ever?
Oh sir, forgive the rude welcome!
2490 I don’t see a single foot cloven.
And your two ravens - are where?
This once, you get away with it:
It’s truly a good while, isn’t it,
Since we’ve been seen together.
2495 And Civilisation makes men level,
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,
2500 That would harm me with the people.
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!
2505 Woman, I forbid that name!
Why? What harm is caused so?
It’s written in story books, always:
Men are no better for it, though:
The Evil One’s gone: the evil stays.
2510 Call me the Baron: that sounds good:
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.
2515 You’re the same rogue forever!
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
My friend, take note: learn that this is
The proper way to handle witches.
Now, gentlemen, say how I can be of use.
A good glass of your well-known juice!
2520 But I must insist on the oldest:
The years double what it can do.
Gladly! Here’s a flask, on the shelf:
I sometimes drink from it myself,
And it doesn’t really stink at all:
2525 I’ll gladly give him a glass or so.
If he drinks it unprepared, recall,
He won’t live a single hour, though.
He’s my good friend: it’ll go down well:
Don’t begrudge the best of your kitchen.
2530 Draw the circle: speak the speech, then
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,
2535 Is known, and hateful enough to me.
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.)
2540 You shall see, then!
2545 Take away four!
Make seven and eight,
So it’s full weight:
2550 And nine is one,
This is the Witch’s one-times-one!
I’m in the dark, the hag babbles with fever.
There’s still more she’s not gone over,
2555 I know it well, the whole book’s like this:
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,
2560 It’s like this in every age, with two
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?
2565 Men always believe, when they hear words,
There must be thought behind them, too.
The Witch (Continuing.)
Is hidden from the rabble!
2570 One who never thought,
To him it’s brought,
He owns it without trouble.
Why talk this nonsense to us?
My head’s near split in two.
2575 It seems I hear the chorus,
Of a hundred thousand fools.
Enough, enough, O excellent Sibyl!
Bring the drink along: and fill
The cup, quick, to the very brim:
2580 The drink will bring my friend no harm:
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.
2585 You’re hand in hand with the Devil:
Will you shrink before the fire?
(The Witch breaks the circle. Faust steps out.)
Now, quick, away! You may not rest.
Much good may that potion do you!
Mephistopheles (To the Witch.)
On Walpurgis Night you can tell me best,
2590 What favour I can return to you.
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
2595 The power to penetrate, through and through.
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.
Let me look quickly in the glass, once more!
2600 How lovely that woman’s form, I descried!
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.
(Faust. Margaret, passing by.)
2605 Lovely lady, may I offer you
My arm, and my protection, too?
Not lovely, nor the lady you detected,
I can go home, unprotected.
(She releases herself and exits.)
By Heavens, the child is lovely!
2610 I’ve never seen anything more so.
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!
2615 The way she cast down her eyes,
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!
2620 The girl who just went by.
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,
2625 She’s no need to sit confessing:
I’ve no power with such as those, I mean!
Yet, she’s older than fourteen.
Now you’re speaking like some Don Juan
Who wants every flower for himself alone,
2630 Conceited enough to think there’s no honour,
To be plucked except by him, nor favour:
But that’s never the case, you know.
Master Moraliser is that so?
With me, best leave morality alone!
2635 I’m telling you, short and sweet,
If that young heart doesn’t beat
Within my arms, tonight - so be it,
At midnight, then our pact is done.
Think, what a to and fro it will take!
2640 I need at least fourteen days, to make
Some kind of opportunity to meet her.
If I’d seven hours at my call,
I’d not need the Devil at all,
To seduce such a creature.
2645 You’re almost talking like a Frenchman:
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
2650 That little doll, with every passion,
Up and down, as yearning preaches,
And many a cunning rascal teaches.
I’ve enough appetite without all that.
Now, without complaint or jesting, what
2655 I’m telling you is, with this lovely child,
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.
Get me a part of the angels’ treasure!
2660 Lead me to where she lies at leisure!
Get me a scarf from her neck: aspire
To a garter, that’s my heart’s desire.
So you can see how I will strain
To help you, and ease your pain,
2665 We’ll not let an instant slip away,
I’ll lead you to her room today.
And shall I see her? And have her?
No! She has to visit a neighbour.
Meanwhile, you can be alone there,
2670 With every hope of future pleasure,
Enjoy her breathing space, at leisure.
Her room’s not yet free.
Look for a gift for her, from me!
A present? Good! He’s sure to work it!
2675 I know many a lovely place, up here,
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.)
I’d give anything if I could say
Who that gentleman was, today!
2680 He’s brave for certain, I could see,
And from some noble family:
That his face readily told –
Or he wouldn’t have been so bold.
(She exits.) (Mephistopheles and Faust appear.)
Come in: but quietly, I mean!
Faust (After a moment’s silence.)
2685 I’d ask you, now, to leave me be!
Mephistopheles (Poking about.)
Not every girl keeps thing so clean.
Welcome, sweet twilight glow,
That weaves throughout this shrine!
Sweet love-pangs grip my heart so,
2690 That on hope’s dew must live, and pine!
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.)
2695 Accept me now, you, who with open arms
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,
2700 Grateful for all the gifts of Christmas fare,
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,
2705 The tablecloth to lie smooth, at your say,
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!
2710 Here I could stand, slowly lingering.
Here, Nature, in its gentlest dreaming,
Formed an earthly angel within this.
Here the child lay! Life, warm,
Filled her delicate breast,
2715 And here, in pure and holy form,
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?
2720 Poor Faust! I no longer know who you are.
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?
2725 And if she appeared at this instant,
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.
2730 Away! Away! I’ll not return again.
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:
2735 I’ve put in some trinkets, and the rest,
For you to win another, if you please.
Truly, a child’s a child, and play is play.
I don’t know, shall I?
Are you asking, pray?
Perhaps you’d like to keep the treasure, too?
2740 Then I’d advise your Lustfulness,
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.)
2745 Now off we go, and go quickly!
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
2750 Standing there grey-faced, in front of you,
Physics, and Metaphysics too!
(Margaret with a lamp.)
It’s so close and sultry, here,
(She opens the window.)
And yet it’s not warm outside.
2755 It troubles me so, I don’t know why –
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
2760 Was faithful, to the grave,
To whom his dying lady
A golden goblet gave.
He valued nothing greater:
At every feast it shone:
2765 His tears were brimming over,
When he drank there-from.
When he himself was dying
No towns did he with-hold,
No wealth his heir denying,
2770 Except the cup of gold.
He gave a royal banquet,
His knights around him, all,
In his sea-girt turret,
In his ancestral hall.
2775 There the old king stood, yet,
Drinking life’s last glow:
Then threw the golden goblet
Into the waves below.
He saw it falling, drowning,
2780 Sinking in the sea,
Then, his eyelids closing,
Never again drank he.’
(She opens the chest in order to arrange her clothes, and sees the
How can this lovely casket be here? I’m sure
I locked the chest when I was here before.
2785 It’s quite miraculous! What can it hold in store?
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.
2790 What’s here? Heavens! What a show,
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
2795 Of splendour: who owns it, it’s so fine?
(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,
2800 But it’s discounted, in the end,
They praise us half in pity.
All things! Oh, poverty!
(Faust walking about pensively. Mephistopheles appears.)
2805 Scorned by all love! And by hellfire! What’s worse?
I wish I knew: I could use it in a curse!
What’s wrong? What’s pinching you so badly?
I never, in all my life, saw such a face!
I’d pack myself off to the Devil, in disgrace,
2810 If I weren’t a Devil myself already!
Is something troubling your brain?
It’s fitting that you’ve a raging pain.
To think, the priest should get his hands on
Jewellery that was meant for Gretchen!
2815 Her mother snatched it up, to see,
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,
2820 To see if they’re holy or profane:
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.
2825 We’ll dedicate it to the Virgin,
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,
2830 He who left these fine things here.’
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,
2835 Who overcome themselves are winners.
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
2840 Always digest ill-gotten goods.’
That’s a universal custom, too, my friend,
With all those who rule, and those who lend.
Then he took the bangles, chains and rings,
As if they were merely trifling things,
2845 Thanked her too, no less nor more
Than if it were a sack of nuts one wore.
Promised them their reward when they died,
And left them suitably edified.
Sits there, restlessly, still
2850 Not knowing what she should do, or will,
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!
2855 Those first were not so fine, I’d say.
Oh yes, to gentlemen it’s child’s play!
Fix it: arrange it, as I want you to,
Attach yourself to her neighbour, too!
Don’t be a devil made of clay,
2860 Get her fresh jewels straight away!
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 some diversion.
Scene X: The Neighbour’s House
2865 God forgive that man I love so well,
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,
2870 I gave him, God knows, fine loving.
Perhaps, he’s even dead! – Yet, oh!
If I’d only his death certificate to show!
My little Gretchen, what’s happened?
My legs are giving way beneath me!
2875 I’ve found another box of jewellery
In the chest: it’s of ebony, fashioned,
Full of quite splendid things,
And richer than the first, I think.
You’d better not tell your mother:
2880 She’ll give it to the Church, like the other.
Ah, See now! See what a show!
Martha (Dressing her with jewels.)
O you’re a lucky creature, though!
I can’t wear them in the street, alas,
Nor be seen like this, at Mass.
2885 Come often then, to me, as before:
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,
2890 When people can see a fraction of them.
A chain first, then a pearl in the ear: your
Mother won’t know, say you’d them before.
Who could have left the second casket?
There’s something not proper about it!
2895 Good God! Is it my mother, then?
Martha (Looking through the shutter.)
It’s a stranger, a gentleman – Come in!
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!
2900 I’m she, what do you wish with me?
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.
2905 To think, child: of all things: just fancy!
The gentleman takes you for a lady.
I’m a poor young thing he’ll find:
Heavens! The gentleman’s far too kind:
The jewels and trinkets aren’t mine.
2910 Ah, it’s not just the jewellery, mind:
The look: the manner: she has a way!
I’m pleased that I’m allowed to stay.
What brings you here? I wish that you –
I wish I brought you happier news! –
2915 This news I hope you’ll forgive me repeating:
Your husband’s dead, but sends a greeting.
He’s dead? That true heart! Oh!
My man is dead! I’ll die, also!
Ah! Dear lady, don’t despair!
2920 Hear the mournful tale I bear!
That’s why I’ll never love while I’ve breath,
Such a loss would grieve me to death.
Joy must have sorrows: sorrow its joys, too.
Tell me of his last hours: ah tell me!
2925 He’s buried in Padua, close to
The blessed Saint Anthony,
In a consecrated space,
A cool eternal resting place.
Have you brought nothing else, from him?
2930 Yes a request, it’s large and heavy:
For you to sing a hundred masses for him!
Otherwise, no, my pocket’s empty.
What? No piece of show? No jewellery?
What every workman has in his purse,
2935 And keeps with him as his reserve,
Rather than having to starve or beg!
Madam, it’s a heavy grief to me:
But truly his money wasn’t wasted.
And then, he felt his errors greatly,
2940 Yes, and bemoaned his bad luck lately.
Ah! How unlucky all men are! I’ll
Be sure to offer many a prayer for him.
You’re worthy of soon marrying:
You’re such a kindly child.
2945 Oh, no! That wouldn’t do as yet.
If not a husband, a lover, while you wait.
It’s heaven’s greatest charm,
To have a dear one on one’s arm.
That’s not the custom of the country.
2950 Custom or not! It seems to be.
Go on with your tale!
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.
2955 ‘Alas,’ he cried, ‘I hate myself, with good reason,
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.
2960 ‘Although, God knows, she was more to blame than me.’
The liar! What! At death’s door, lies he was telling!
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:
2965 First children, then bread for them each day,
And I mean bread in the wider sense:
And couldn’t even eat my share in silence.’
Did he forget the love, the loyalty,
My drudgery, night and day!
2970 Not at all, he thought of it deeply, in his way.
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,
2975 Carrying the great Sultan’s treasure.
There was a reward for bravery,
And I received, in due measure,
The generous share that fell to me.’
What? And where? Has he buried it by chance?
2980 Who can tell: the four winds know the circumstance.
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.
2985 He stole from his children, and his wife!
The rogue! All the pain and misery he met,
Couldn’t keep him from that shameful life!
Ah, but: now he’s died of it!
If I were truly in your place,
2990 I’d mourn him quietly for a year,
And look, meanwhile, for a dear new face.
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.
2995 Only he loved roaming too much, at last,
And foreign women, and foreign wine,
And the rolling of those cursed dice.
Well, that would have still been fine,
If, with you, he’d followed that line,
3000 And noticed nothing, on your side.
I swear that, with that same condition,
I’d swap rings with you, no question!
O, the gentleman’s pleased to jest!
Mephistopheles (To himself.)
I must fly from here, swift as a bird!
3005 She might hold the Devil to his word.
How does your heart feel? At rest?
What does the gentleman mean?
Mephistopheles (To himself.)
Sweet, innocent child!
Oh, speak to me yet, a while!
I’d like a witness, as to where, how, and when
3010 My darling man died and was buried: then,
As I’ve always been a friend of tradition,
Put his death in the paper, the weekly edition.
Yes, dear lady, two witnesses you need
To verify the truth, or so all agree:
3015 I’ve a rather fine companion,
He can be your second man.
I’ll bring him here.
That young lady will be here, too?
He’s a brave youth! Travelled, yes,
3020 And with ladies he’s all politeness.
I’d be shamed before the gentleman.
Not before any king on earth, madam.
Behind the house, then, in my garden,
Tonight: we’ll expect you gentlemen.
Scene XI: The Street
3025 How goes it? Will it be? Will it soon be done?
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,
3030 For procuring and for gipsying!
But, she needs something from us, too.
One good turn deserves another, true.
We only have to bear a valid witness,
That her husband’s outstretched members bless
3035 A consecrated place in Padua.
Brilliant! We must first make the journey there!
Sacred Simplicity! There’s no need to do that.
Just testify, without saying too much to her.
If you can’t do better than that, your pact I’ll tear.
3040 O holy man! Now I see you there!
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,
3045 What moves them, in mind and breast?
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?
3050 You are, and you’ll remain, a Liar and a Sophist.
Yes when no one’s the wiser for it.
This coming morn, in all honour though,
Won’t you beguile poor Gretchen so:
And swear you love her with all your soul?
3055 Well, and good!
And will your eternal Truth and Love,
Your one all-powerful Force, above –
Flow from your heart, too, as it should?
Stop! Stop! It will! If I but feel,
3060 For that emotion, for that throng,
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,
3065 Endless, eternal, everlasting –
Does that to some devil’s game of lies belong?
Yet, I’m still right!
Hear one thing more,
I beg you, and spare my breath – the one
Who wants to hold fast, and has a tongue,
3070 He’ll hold for sure.
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
I know the gentleman flatters me,
Lowers himself, and shames me, too.
3075 A traveller is used to being
Content, out of courtesy, with any food.
I know too well, so learned a man,
Can’t feed himself on my poor bran.
A glance, a word from you, feeds me more,
3080 Than all the world’s wisest lore.
(He kisses her hand.)
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.
3085 And you, sir, you’re always travelling?
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!
In youth it’s fine, up and down,
3090 Flitting about, the whole world over:
Then harsher days come round,
And lonely bachelors small joy discover,
In sliding towards their hole in the ground.
I view the prospect with horror.
3095 Then take advice in time, dear sir.
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.
3100 Dearest, believe me, what men call sense,
Is often just vanity and short-sightedness.
Ah, that simplicity and innocence never know
Themselves, or their heavenly worth!
That humble meekness, the highest grace
3105 That Nature bestows so lovingly –
It’s only for a moment that you think of me,
I’ve plenty of time to dream about your face.
You’re often alone, then?
Yes, our household’s a little one,
3110 Yet it has to be cared for by someone.
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.
3115 Not that she has to be quite so economical:
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:
3120 My brother is a soldier: I’d
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.
An angel, if like you.
3125 I raised her, and she loved me too.
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.
3130 She couldn’t think of feeding
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,
3135 It charmed me, tumbling, and grew fat.
You found your greatest happiness there, for sure.
But also truly many a weary hour.
The baby’s cradle stood at night
Beside my bed: and if it hardly stirred
3140 I woke outright:
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:
3145 Then the market and the kitchen, oh,
And every day just like tomorrow.
One sometimes lacks the courage, sir, and yet
One appreciates one’s food and rest.
Women have the worst of it: it’s true:
3150 A bachelor is hard to change, you see.
That just depends on the likes of you,
The right teacher might improve me.
Say, have you never found anyone, dear sir?
Has your heart never been captured, anywhere?
3155 The proverb says: A hearth of your own,
And a good wife, are worth pearls and gold.
I mean: have you never felt desire, even lightly?
I’ve everywhere been treated most politely.
I meant to say: were you never seriously smitten?
3160 With ladies, one should never dare be flippant.
Ah, you won’t understand me!
I am sorry! Yet you’ll find
I understand – that you are very kind.
And, Angel, did you recognise me again,
As soon as I appeared in the garden?
3165 Didn’t you see my gaze drop then?
And you forgive the liberty I’ve taken,
The impertinence of it all,
Just as you were leaving the Cathedral?
I was flustered, such a thing’s never happened to me:
3170 ‘Ah’, I thought, ‘has he seen, in your behaviour,
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’.
3175 I confess, I didn’t know what it was, though,
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.
(She picks a Marguerite and pulls the petals off one by one.)
What’s that for, a bouquet?
3180 No, you’ll laugh if I say!
(She pulls off the petals, murmuring to herself.)
What are you whispering?
Margaret (Half aloud.)
He loves me – he loves me not.
You sweet face that Heaven forgot!
Loves me – Not – Loves me – Not
(She plucks the last petal with delight.)
Yes, my child! Let this flower-speech
3185 Be heaven’s speech to you. He loves you!
Do you know what that means? He loves you!
(He grasps her hands.)
Don’t tremble, let this look,
Let this clasping of hands tell you
3190 What’s inexpressible:
To give oneself wholly, and feel
A joy that must be eternal!
Eternal! – Its end would bring despair.
(Margaret presses his hand, frees herself, and runs away. He stands a
moment in thought: then follows her.)
Martha (Coming forward.)
3195 Yes, and we must away.
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
3200 But watching their neighbours’ to-ing and fro-ing,
And whatever one does, insults are hurled.
And our couple, now?
Flown up the passage, there.
Wilful little birds!
He seems keen on her.
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.)
3205 Ah, rascal, you tease me so! I’ve got you!
Margaret (Clasping him, and returning the kiss.)
Dearest man! With all my heart I love you!
Faust (Stamping his foot in frustration.)
Yes, sir, it’s late!
May I keep company with you, though?
My mother would tell me, – Farewell!
3210 And soon to meet again!
(Faust and Mephistopheles exit.)
Dear God! That one man, by thinking,
Can know everything, oh, everything!
I stand in front of him, ashamed
And just say yes to all he says.
3215 I’m such a poor, ignorant child, and he -
I can’t understand what he sees in me.
Scene XIV: Forest and Cavern
Sublime spirit, you gave me all, all,
I asked for. Not in vain have you
Revealed your face to me in flame.
3220 You gave me Nature’s realm of splendour,
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.
3225 You lead the ranks of living creatures
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,
3230 Crushing nearby branches in their fall,
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.
3235 And when the pure Moon, to my eyes,
Rises, calming me, the silvery visions
Of former times, drift all around me,
From high cliffs, and moist thickets,
Tempering thought’s austere delight.
3240 Oh, I know now that nothing can be
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,
3245 Degrades me in my own eyes, and with
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,
3250 And in enjoyment pine to feel desire.
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!
3255 I wish you’d something else to do,
Than plague me on a good day.
Now, now! I’d gladly ignore you,
You don’t really mean it anyway.
You’d be little loss to me,
3260 A rude, mad, sour companion.
One’s hands are full all day, and see,
What pleases you, or what to let be,
No one can tell from your expression.
So that’s the tone he takes!
3265 I’m to thank him, for boring me.
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,
3270 If I weren’t here, you’d certainly
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,
3275 Sucking your nourishment, like a toad?
Spend your time sweeter, better!
Your body’s still stuck there with the Doctor.
Do you understand the new power of being
That a walk in the wilderness can bring?
3280 But then, if you were able to guess,
You’re devil enough to begrudge my happiness.
An other-worldly pleasure.
Night and day, mountains for leisure.
Clasping heaven and earth, blissfully,
3285 Inflating yourself, becoming a deity.
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,
3290 Vanishing, the Earthly Son,
And into some deep Intuition –
I can’t say how – passing inside.
Ah, you don’t like it from me!
You’ve the right, to say ‘fie’ to me, politely.
3295 Before chaste ears men daren’t speak aloud,
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.
3300 You’re already over-driven,
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,
3305 She can’t get you out of her mind,
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,
3310 Your stream again is shallow.
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.
3315 Her days seem pitifully long:
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.
3320 Sometimes lively, mostly not,
Sometimes crying out, in tears,
Then quiet again, it appears,
You snake! You snake, you!
3325 A touch! That caught you!
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!
3330 Well, what then? She thinks you’ve flown away,
And, half and half, you already have, I’d say.
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,
3335 When her lips touch it at the altar.
Quite so, my friend! My envy often closes
On that pair of twins that feed among the roses.
Away from me, procurer!
Fine, you curse and I must smile.
The god who made both man and woman,
3340 He likewise knew the noblest profession,
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.
3345 Where is the heavenly joy in her arms?
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,
3350 A torrent in the rocks, still thundering down,
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,
3355 Hidden there in that little world.
And I, the god-forsaken,
Was not great enough,
To grasp the cliffs, and take them,
And crush them into dust!
3360 I still must undermine her peaceful life!
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,
3365 And she and I rush to ruin!
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.
3370 Praise him who keeps his courage fresh!
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.)
3375 My heart is sore:
I’ll find it, never,
3380 The world is all,
3385 Seems dazed to me.
I’ll find it, never,
3390 Only to see him
3395 His noble figure,
His eyes: their power.
3400 His fingers’ touch,
I’ll find it, never,
Scene XVI: Martha’s Garden
Promise me, Heinrich!
3415 Say, as regards religion, how you feel.
I know that you are a dear, good man,
Yet, for you, it seems, it has no appeal.
Leave that alone, child! You feel I’m kind to you:
For Love I’d give my blood, my life too.
3420 I’ll rob no man of his church and faith.
That’s not right, we must have faith.
Ah, if in this I was only fluent!
You don’t respect the Holy Sacrament.
Without wanting it, though. You’ve passed
3425 So many years without confession, or mass.
Do you believe in God?
My darling, who dare say:
Choose priest to ask, or sage,
The answer would seem a joke, would it not,
Played on whoever asks?
3430 So, you don’t believe?
Sweetest being, don’t misunderstand me!
Who dares name the nameless?
Or who dares to confess:
3435 Yet who, in feeling,
Says: ‘I don’t believe’?
3440 Does it not clasp, uphold,
Don’t the heavens arch above us?
Doesn’t earth lie here under our feet?
And don’t the eternal stars, rising,
3445 Look down on us in friendship?
Are not my eyes reflected in yours?
And don’t all things press
On your head and heart,
And weave, in eternal mystery,
3450 Visibly: invisibly, around you?
Fill your heart from it: it is so vast,
And when you are blessed by the deepest feeling,
Call it then what you wish,
Joy! Heart! Love! God!
For it! Feeling is all:
Names are sound and smoke,
Veiling Heaven’s bright glow.
That’s all well and good, I know,
3460 The priest says much the same,
Only, in slightly different words.
It’s what all hearts, say, everywhere
Under the heavenly day,
Each in its own speech:
3465 And why not I in mine?
Listening to you, it almost seems quite fine,
Yet something still seems wrong, to me,
Since you don’t possess Christianity.
I’ve long been grieved
3470 To see you in such company.
That man who hangs round you so,
I hate him in my innermost soul:
Nothing in all my life has ever
Given my heart such pain, no, never,
3475 As his repulsive face has done.
Don’t be afraid of him, sweet one!
His presence here, it chills my blood.
To every other man I wish good:
But much as I’m longing to see you
3480 I’ve a secret horror of seeing him, too,
I’ve thought him a rogue, all along!
God forgive me, if I do him wrong!
There have to be such odd fellows.
I’d rather not live with such as those!
3485 Once he’s inside the door, again,
He looks around in a mocking way,
You can see he’s not at all in sympathy:
It’s written on his forehead even,
3490 That there’s no spirit of love within.
I’m so happy in your arms,
Free, untroubled, and so warm,
Yet I’m stifled in his presence.
You angel, full of presentiments!
3495 It oppresses me, so deeply, too,
That when he meets with us, wherever,
I feel that I no longer love you.
Ah I can’t pray when he’s there,
And that gnaws inside me: oh,
3500 Heinrich, for you too, surely it’s so.
It’s merely an antipathy!
Ah, will there never be
An hour where I can clasp you to my heart,
And heart to heart, and soul, to soul impart?
3505 Ah, if I only slept alone!
For you, I’d gladly draw the bolt tonight:
But my mother hears the slightest tone,
And if we were caught outright,
I’d die on the selfsame spot!
3510 You angel: no need for that.
Here is a little phial to keep!
Three drops of this, in her drink, she’ll take,
And Nature will favour her with deepest sleep.
What would I not do for your sake?
3515 I hope that it won’t harm her though!
Would I advise it, Love, if it were so?
Ah, I only have to see you, dearest man,
And something bends me to your will,
For you, so much, I have already done,
3520 Little remains for me to do for you still.
The little monkey! Has it gone?
Spying again, are you?
I’ve heard in infinite detail, how
The Doctor works his catechism through,
And I hope it does you good, now.
3525 Girls are always so keen to review
Whether one’s virtuous, and sticks to the rules.
They think if a man can be led, he’ll follow too.
Monster, you can’t see
How this true loving soul,
3530 Full of a belief,
Her salvation, torments herself so,
In case her lover should be lost indeed.
You sensual wooer, beyond the sensual,
3535 A Magdalen leads you by the nose, I see.
Abortion, of the filth and fire of hell!
And how well she reads one’s physiognomy:
In my presence, senses, without knowing how,
The hidden mind behind the mask: she feels
3540 That I’m an evil genius, at least, and now
Perhaps, that it’s the Devil it conceals.
I take my pleasure in it too!
Scene XVII: At The Fountain
(Gretchen and Lisbeth.)
Have you not heard from Barbara?
3545 Not a word. I go out so seldom.
It’s certain, Sibyl told me: well then,
She finally fell to that seducer.
There’s a lady for you!
She’s feeding two when she eats and drinks.
Serves her right then, finally.
She clung to that fellow, oh so tightly!
That was a fine to-ing and fro-ing,
Round the village, and dance-going,
3555 Ahead of us all, they had to shine,
Him treating her always to cakes and wine:
She the picture of loveliness, oh so fine,
So low after all, then, and so shameless,
And the gifts she took from him, nameless.
3560 It was all kissing and carrying on:
But now the flower is gone!
Why are you so pitying?
When each of us was at our spinning,
When mother never let us out,
3565 She and her lover hung about:
On the bench, in a dark alley,
Forgetting the time, he and she.
She can’t raise her head again,
In a sinner’s shift now, penitent.
3570 Surely he’ll take her for his wife.
He’d be a fool! A lively fellow
Can ply his trade elsewhere, and so -
Oh, that’s not nice!
If she gets him, she’ll reap ill in a trice,
3575 The lads will tear at her wreath, what’s more
We’ll scatter chaff in front of her door!
Gretchen (Walking home.)
How proudly I’d revile her, then,
Whenever some poor girl had fallen!
I couldn’t find words enough, I mean,
3580 To pour out scorn for another’s sin!
Black as it seemed, I made it blacker,
Not black enough for me: oh never.
It blessed its own being, that proud self,
Yet now I’m the image of sin, myself!
3585 Yet all that drove me on to do it,
God! Was so fine! Oh, so sweet!
Scene XVIII: A Tower
(In a niche of its wall a shrine, and image of the Mater Dolorosa,
with flowers in front of it. Gretchen sets out fresh flowers. )
Your kind face, to my affliction!
3590 A sword in your heart,
Where a thousand pains start,
You look up, at your dead Son.
You look up to the Father,
You send Him your sighs, there,
3595 For His, and for your, affliction.
Is the pain inside my bones?
What my poor heart fears for,
3600 What it quakes for, and longs for
You know, and you alone!
How sore, sore, sore now
How sore my heart must be!
3605 Ah, when I’m alone here,
I moan, moan, moan here:
My heart it breaks in me.
The pots before my window!
My tears bedewed them so,
3610 In the early dawn, when
I picked the flowers below.
The sun it shone so brightly,
And early, in my room,
Where I sat already,
3615 On my bed, in deepest gloom.
Help me! Oh, save me, from shame and destruction!
Your kind face, to my affliction!
(The Street in front of Gretchen’s door.)
Valentine (A soldier, Gretchen’s brother.)
3620 When I have sat, and heard the toasts,
Where everyone makes good his boasts,
And comrades praised, to me, the flower
Of maidenhood, and loud the hour,
With brimming glass that blurred the praise,
3625 And elbows sticking out all ways,
I sat in my own peace secure,
Listening to the boastful roar,
And as I stroked my beard, I’d smile
And take a full glass in my hand,
3630 Saying: ‘Each to his own, but I’ll
Ask if there’s any in this land,
Who, to my Gretel, can compare
Whose worth can ever equal hers?’
Hear! Hear! Clink! Clang! Went around:
3635 Some cried out: ‘He’s quite correct,
She’s an ornament to all her sex.’
There sat the boasters, not a sound.
And now! – I could tear my hair out, bawl,
And dash my head against the wall! –
3640 With jeers, they now turn up their noses:
Every rogue can taunt me, he supposes!
Like a bankrupt debtor, when I’m sitting,
A casual word can start me sweating!
And though I thrash them all together,
3645 I’ve still no right to call them liars.
Who goes there? What’s creeping by?
If I’m not wrong, there’s two I spy.
If it’s him, I’ll have him by the skin,
Alive he’ll not leave the place he’s in!
3650 How the glow of the eternal light
Shines from the Sacristy window, there,
On either side grows fainter, fainter,
And all around draws in the night!
Now it seems as dark within my heart.
3655 And I’ve a little of the tom-cat’s art,
That creeps around the fire escape,
Then slinks along the wall, a silent shape,
I’m quite virtuous in my way,
A little prone to thieve, and stray.
3660 The splendour of Walpurgis Night,
Already haunts all my members,
It’s the day after tomorrow’s light:
There, why one watches, one remembers.
Meanwhile you’ll bring that wealth to view,
3665 That I see there, glimmering, behind you?
You’ll soon experience the delight
Of holding this cauldron to the light.
I recently had a squint inside –
Where splendid silver dollars hide.
3670 And not a jewel, or a ring,
To adorn my darling girl?
Among the rest I saw a thing,
A sort of necklace, made of pearl.
That’s good! It’s painful to me,
3675 To take no gift for her to see.
You shouldn’t find it so annoying,
To get something now, for nothing.
Now the sky glows, filled with stars,
You’ll hear the work of a master:
3680 I’ll sing a few moralising bars,
All the better to seduce her.
(Sings to the zither.)
3685 At your lover’s door?
Let out a maid no more!
3690 Take care: for once
Goodnight to you, poor thing!
3695 From every thief,
Unless you’ve a wedding ring.’
Whom do you lure? By every element!
You evil-tongued rat-catcher!
3700 To the devil, with your instrument!
To the devil, too, with the singer!
The zither’s broken! There’s nothing left of it.
There’s a still a skull left I’ll need to split!
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
Look lively, Doctor! Don’t give ground.
3705 Stand by: I’ll command this thing.
Out with your fly-whisk, now.
You lunge! I’m parrying.
And why not, indeed?
The devil opposes me!
3710 What’s this? My hand’s already maimed.
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
Now, the lout is tamed!
Away, we must go! Swiftly, of course,
Soon the cries of murder will begin,
With the police, now, I’m well in:
3715 But not so much so with the courts.
(He exits with Faust.)
Martha (At the window.)
Come here! Come here!
Gretchen (At the window.)
Hear how they swear and struggle, yell and fight.
Here’s one dead already!
Martha (Leaving the house.)
Where have the murderers gone?
Gretchen (Leaving the house.)
Who is it, lying there?
3720 Your mother’s son.
Almighty God! What misery!
I’m dying! That’s soon spoken,
And, sooner still, it will be done.
Why stand there, crying, woman?
3725 Come, hear me everyone!
(They gather round him.)
You’re still young, my Gretchen, see!
And still haven’t sense enough, to be
Effective in your occupation.
I’ll tell you confidentially:
3730 Now that you’re a whore indeed,
Be one, by proclamation!
My brother! God! Why speak to me so?
In this business, leave God alone!
Sadly, what is done is done,
3735 And what will come: will come.
Begin with one, in secret, then,
Soon you’ll gather other men,
And, when a dozen of them have had you,
All the town can have you too.
3740 When Shame herself appears,
She’s first brought secretly to light,
Then they draw the veil of night
Over both her eyes and ears:
Men would gladly kill her, I say,
3745 But they let her walk about and prosper,
So she goes nakedly by day,
Yet isn’t any lovelier.
She’s the uglier to our sight,
The more it is she seeks the light.
3750 Truly I can see the day
When all honest people
Will turn aside from you, girl,
As from a corpse with plague.
Your heart’s flesh will despair,
3755 When they look you in the face,
You’ll have no golden chain to wear!
At the altar, there, you’ll have no place!
You’ll not be dancing joyfully
In all your lovely finery!
3760 In some wretched gloomy corner, you
Will hide, with cripples and beggars too,
And, though God may still forgive,
Be damned on earth while you live!
Commend your soul to God’s mercy!
3765 Will you end your life with blasphemy?
If I could destroy your withered body,
Shameless, bawd, I’d hope to see
A full measure of forgiveness
For me, and all my sinfulness.
3770 My brother! These are the pains of hell!
I said, leave off weeping, girl!
When you and honour chose to part,
That was the sword-thrust in my heart.
I go, through a sleep within the grave,
3775 To God, as a soldier, true and brave.
Scene XX: The Cathedral
(A Mass, with organ and choir.)
(Gretchen among a large congregation: the Evil Spirit behind
How different it was, Gretchen,
When you, still innocent,
Came here to the altar,
And from that well-thumbed Book,
3780 Babbled your prayers,
Half, a childish game,
Half, God in your heart!
What’s in your mind?
Do you pray for your mother’s soul, who
Through you, fell asleep to long, long torment?
Whose blood is on your doorstep?
3790 And beneath your heart,
Does not something stir and swell,
And trouble you, and itself,
A presence full of foreboding?
3795 Would I were free of the thoughts
That rush here and there inside me,
Choir (Singing the Requiem Mass, the verses of Thomas of Celano, which
commence: ‘That day, the day of wrath, will dissolve the world to
‘Dies Irae, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla!’
3800 Wrath grasps you!
3805 To fiery torment
Would I were not here!
It seems to me as if the organ
3810 Steals my breath,
My heart in the abyss.
(Verse 6:‘So when the Judge takes the chair, whatever is hidden will
appear, nothing is left unpunished there.’)
‘Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet adparebit,
3815 Nil unultum remanebit.’
The pillars of the walls
3820 Crush me! – Air!
Hide yourself! Sin and shame
Choir (Verse 7: ‘What shall I say in that misery, who shall I ask to
speak for me, when the righteous will be saved, and barely?’)
3825 ‘Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix Justus sit securus?’
The transfigured, turn
Their faces from you.
3830 The pure, shudder
To offer you their hand.
Choir (Repeats: ‘What shall I say in that misery?’)
‘Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?’
Neighbour! Your restorative!
(She falls, fainting.)
Scene XXI: Walpurgis Night
(The Hartz Mountains, in the region of Schierke and Elend.)
3835 Don’t you just long for a broomstick?
I wish I’d the sturdiest goat to ride.
Like this, the journey’s not so quick.
So long as my legs can do the trick,
This knotted stick will do me fine.
3840 Why do we need a shorter way! –
To wander this labyrinth of valleys,
Climb all these cliffs and gullies,
From which the waters ever spray,
That’s a delight enchants the day!
3845 Spring stirs already in the birches,
And even the fir tree knows it now:
Shouldn’t our limbs feel it search us?
Truly, I don’t feel a thing!
It’s winter in my body, still,
3850 On my path I want it frosty, snowing.
How sadly the Moon’s imperfect circle
With its red belated glow, is rising,
So dim its light that at every step
You scrape a rock, or else a tree!
3855 Ah, there, a will o’ the wisp leapt!
It’s burning fiercely, now, I see.
Hey! My friend! May I ask your aid?
Would you like to give us a blaze?
Be so good as to light us up the hill!
3860 With respect, I hope I’ll still be able,
To keep my Natural light quite stable:
We usually zig-zag here, at will.
Ha, ha! He thinks to play the human game.
Go straight along now, in the Devil’s name!
3865 Or I’ll blow out your flickering spark!
You’re master of the house, I’ll remark,
And yes, I’ll serve you willingly.
But think! The mount is magically mad today,
And if a will o’ the wisp should lead the way,
3870 You mustn’t judge things too precisely.
Faust, Mephistopheles, The Will O’ The Wisp (In alternating song.)
We it seems, now find ourselves.
In the sphere of dreams and magic,
Do us honour, guide us well
So our journey will be quick,
3875 Through the wide, deserted spaces!
Tree on tree now shift their places,
See how fast they open to us
And the cliffs bow down before us,
And their long and rocky noses,
3880 How they whistle and blow, for us!
Through the stones, and through the grasses,
Stream and streamlet, downward, hurrying.
Is that rustling? Is that singing?
Do I hear sweet lovers’ sighing,
3885 Heavenly days, is that their babbling?
What we hope for, what we love!
And the echoes, like the murmuring
Of those other days, are ringing.
‘Too-wit! Too-woo!’ sounding nearer,
3890 Owl there, and jay, and plover,
Are they all awake above?
A salamander in the scrub, he’s
Long of leg, and fat of belly!
And every root like a snake,
3895 Over sand and rock all bent,
Stretches with a strange intent,
To scare us, of us prisoners make:
From the gnarled and living mass,
Stretching towards those who pass,
3900 Fibrous tentacles. And mice
In the moss and in the heather!
And all the fire-flies glowing,
Crushed together, tightly crowding,
3905 In their tangled cohorts gather.
Tell me, are we standing still,
Or are we climbing up the hill?
All seems spinning like a mill,
Rocks and trees, with angry faces
3910 Lights, now, wandering in spaces,
Massing: swelling at their will.
Grasp me bravely by the coat-tail!
Here’s a summit in the middle,
Where, astonished you can see,
3915 Mammon glowing furiously.
How strangely, through the hollow, glows
A sort of dull red morning light!
Into the deepest gorge it flows,
Scenting abysses in their night.
3920 There vapour rises: here cloud sweeps,
Here the glow burns through the haze,
Now like a fragile thread it creeps,
Now like a coloured fountain plays.
Here a vast length winds its way,
3925 In a hundred veins, down the vales,
And here in a corner, locked away,
All at once, now lonely, fails.
Nearby the sparks pour down,
Like showers of golden sand,
3930 But see! On all the heights around,
The cliffs, now incandescent, stand.
Has Mammon not lit his palace
Splendidly, for this festivity?
It’s fortunate you’re here to see,
3935 I already sense the eager guests.
How the wind roars through the air!
And whips around my head!
Grasp the ancient stony bed,
Lest you’re thrown in the abyss, there.
3940 Mist dims the night to deepest black.
Hear the forest timbers crack!
The owls are flying off in terror.
Hear, how the columns shatter,
In the vast, evergreen halls.
3945 Now the boughs groan and fall!
All the tree-trunks are thrumming!
All their roots are creaking, gaping!
Sinking in a tangled horror,
Crashing down on each other,
3950 And through the ruined gorges
The wind howls and surges.
Hear the voices on the heights?
Far away, and then nearby?
Yes, a furious magic song
3955 Sweeps the mountain, all along!
Witches (In chorus.)
To Brocken’s tip the witches stream,
The stubble’s yellow, the seed is green.
There the crowd of us will meet.
Lord Urian has the highest seat.
3960 So they go, over stone and sticks,
The stinking goat, the farting witch.
Old Baubo comes, alone, and how:
She’s riding on a mother-sow.
So honour then, where honour’s due!
3965 Baubo, goes first! Then, all the crew!
A tough old sow, a mother proud,
Then follow, all the witches’ crowd.
Which way did you come?
I gazed at the owl in her nest alone.
3970 What a pair of Eyes she made!
O, all you who to Hell’s gate go!
Why ride there so quickly though?
She’s driven me hard: oh, see,
The wounds, all over me!
The way is broad: the way is long.
Where is this mad yearning from?
The fork will prick, the broom will scratch,
The child will smother: the mother crack.
Like snails in their shells, we’re crawlers,
All the women are there before us.
3980 At the House of Evil, when we’re callers,
Woman’s a thousand steps before us.
We don’t measure with so much care,
In a thousand steps a Woman’s there.
But make whatever speed she can,
3985 A single leap, and there is Man.
Come now: come now from stony mere!
We’d like to climb the heights from here.
We’re as bright and clean as ever,
But we’re unfruitful still, forever.
3990 The wind is quiet: a star shoots by,
The shadowy Moon departs the sky.
The magic choir’s a rush of sparks,
Thousands shower through the dark.
3995 Who calls there, from the stony vault?
Take me with you! Take me with you!
Climbing for three hundred years,
I haven’t reached the summit yet,
I long to be where my peers are met.
4000 Here’s the broom: and here’s the stick,
The ram is here, the fork to prick.
Tonight, whoever can’t deliver
There’s a man is lost forever.
I’ve stumbled round so long, down here:
4005 How far ahead the rest appear!
I get no peace around the house,
And get none either hereabouts.
An ointment makes the witches hale:
A rag will do them for a sail,
4010 A trough’s a goodly ship, and tight:
He’ll fly not who flies not tonight.
And once we’ve soared around,
So, alight then, on the ground,
Cover the heather, far and wide,
4015 With your swarming witches’ tide.
(They let themselves fall.)
They push and shove, they roar and clatter!
They whistle and whirl, jostle and chatter!
They glimmer and sparkle, stink and flare!
The genuine witch-element’s there!
4020 We’ll soon be parted, so stay near!
Faust (In the distance.)
What! Nearly out of sight?
Then I’ll have to use a master’s right.
Ground! Sir Voland comes. Sweet folk, give ground!
Here, Doctor, hold tight! In a single bound,
4025 Far from the crowd, we’ll soon be free:
It’s too much, even for the likes of me.
Something burned there with a special light,
In that thicket, as far then as I could see,
Come on! We can slip inside, all right.
4030 You spirit of contradiction! Go on! I follow you.
I think after all it’s worked out quite cleverly:
We walk the Brocken on Walpurgis Night, yet we
Are as isolated now, as we ever could choose.
See now, what colours flare!
4035 A lively mob club together there.
In little groups one’s not alone.
I’d still rather be higher, though!
I can see fire and whirling smoke.
There the crowd stream, to the Evil One:
4040 There many a puzzle finds solution.
But many a puzzle’s knotted so.
Let the whole world have its riot,
Here we’ll house ourselves in quiet.
It’s a long and well-established tradition,
4045 From the great one makes a smaller edition.
I see young witches, naked, bare,
And old ones, veiled cunningly.
For my sake, be a little friendly.
The trouble’s slight, the fun is rare.
4050 I hear instruments being tuned, too!
A cursed din, you’ll soon get used to.
Come, with me! There’s no way otherwise,
I’ll step ahead, lead you to their eyes,
And earn your fresh gratitude, so.
4055 What say you? There’s lots of room, my friend.
Look over there! You can’t see its end.
A hundred fires burning, in a row,
They love, and drink, and dance, and chat,
Tell me where you’ll find better than that?
4060 Will you, as we make our bow,
Play the devil, or wizard now?
To be sure I’m used to travelling incognito,
But on formal occasions rank’s allowed to show.
I’ve no Knight’s garter to mark me out,
4065 But the cloven foot’s honoured in this house.
Do you see how that snail there crawls to me:
With those delicate feelers on its head,
It’s already scented me, you see,
I can’t deny myself, if I wished.
4070 Come! We’ll go from fire to fire,
I’m the broker: you’re the suitor.
(To some, sitting by dying embers.)
Old sirs, what do you sit at the edge for?
I’d praise you, in the middle, more,
Among the youthful buzz, and shout.
4075 You’re alone enough inside the house.
Who would trust the Nation!
One’s toiled so long for it:
With the people, as with women,
Youth’s always the best fit.
4080 From every rule they’ve gone astray,
Me, I praise the good old days,
Then, truly, we were all the rage,
That was a real golden age.
We weren’t so stupid, you’d have found,
4085 And often did, what wasn’t right:
But now it all turns round and round,
Just as we’d like to grasp it tight.
Who writes anything good these days,
Or reads with moderate intelligence!
4090 And what the dear young folk all praise,
I’ve never seen such stupid nonsense.
Mephistopheles (Suddenly looking old.)
I feel folk are ripe for Judgement Day,
Of Witches’ Mount, I’ve made my last ascent.
And now my cask runs cloudy, anyway,
4095 The world itself is all as good as spent.
Gentlemen: don’t pass me by!
Don’t lose the opportunity!
Inspect my wares attentively,
I’ve a selection for your eye.
4100 There’s nothing on my stall, here,
On Earth, it’s equal you’ll not find,
That hasn’t caused some harm somewhere,
To the world itself, and then, mankind.
No knife that isn’t dyed in gore,
4105 No cup that, through some healthy body,
Hot, gnawing venom hasn’t poured,
No gems that haven’t bought some kindly
Girl, no sword that’s not cut ties that bind,
Or, perhaps, struck an enemy from behind.
4110 Granny! You misunderstand the age.
What’s gone: is done! What’s done: is gone!
Get novelties they’re all the rage!
Now it’s novelties that lead us on.
Don’t let me lose myself in here!
4115 Now, this is what I call a fair!
This whole whirlpool’s trying to climb above,
You think you’re shoving, and you’re being shoved!
4120 Pay attention to her lovely hair,
The only adornment she need wear.
When she traps a young man in her snare,
She won’t soon let him from her care.
Those two, the old and young one, sitting,
4125 They’ve leapt about more than is fitting!
No rest tonight for anyone.
Let’s grasp them. There’s a new dance, come!
Faust (Dancing with the lovely young witch.)
A lovely dream once came to me,
And there I saw an apple-tree,
4130 Two lovely apples, there, did shine,
Tempting me so, I had to climb.
Apples you love a lot, I know,
That once in Paradise did grow.
I’m deeply moved with joy to feel,
4135 That such my garden does reveal.
Mephistopheles (Dancing with the old witch.)
A vile dream once came to me,
In it, I saw an old cleft tree,
A monstrous crack there met my eyes,
It pleased me, though, despite its size.
4140 I offer my best greetings to
The knight of the cloven shoe!
He’ll need to have a real stopper,
If he’s not scared of that whopper.
A Rationalist (Nicolai)
Cursed Folk! How do you dare to?
4145 Haven’t we shown, for many a season,
Spirits can’t exist: it stands to reason?
Yet you dance around, just as we do!
The Lovely Witch (Dancing.)
Why’s he here then, at our ball?
Oh! He’s everywhere, and into all.
4150 While others dance, he must reflect.
If he can’t discuss every last step,
It’s as good as if it didn’t happen.
He’s angriest at a forward pattern.
But if you turn around in circles,
4155 As he does in his ancient mills,
He’ll call it excellent, least ways
If you greet with interest what he says.
You’re still there! Oh, it’s quite unheard of.
We’re enlightened now, so take yourselves off!
4160 The Devil’s crew’s discounted by every rule:
Yet though clever, still we’re haunted, in Tegel, too.
Well listen: here we’re bored with it!
4165 I tell you, Spirit, to your face:
For me, spirit-rule has no place:
Because my spirit can’t exercise it.
(The dance continues.)
I see, tonight, I’ll have no success:
But I get a bit from every trip,
4170 And hope, before the final step,
I’ll defeat the devils and the poets.
Now he’ll sit in some wet sump,
And console himself, like that, about you,
And if he sticks leeches on his rump,
4175 He’s cured of the Spirit, and Spirits, too.
(To Faust, who has left the dance.)
Why have you deserted that lovely girl,
Who sang so sweetly in the dancing?
Ugh! Right in the middle of her singing
A red mouse sprang out of her mouth.
4180 That’s fine: don’t brood on it, anyway:
Enough, that the mouse wasn’t grey.
At harvest time who queries a mouse?
Mephisto, can you see
4185 That lovely child, far off, alone there,
Travelling slowly, so painfully,
As if her feet were chained together.
I must admit, without question
She’s the image of my sweet Gretchen.
Forget all that! It benefits no one.
4190 It’s a lifeless magic form, a phantom.
Encountering it will do you no good:
Its fixed stare freezes human blood,
And then one’s almost turned to stone:
Medusa’s story is surely known.
4195 Those are the eyes of the dead, truly,
No loving hand has closed their void.
That’s the breast Gretchen offered to me:
That’s the sweet body I enjoyed.
It’s magic, fool: you’re an easy one to move!
4200 She comes to all, as if she were their love.
What delight! What pain!
I can’t turn from her, again.
Strange, around her lovely throat,
A single scarlet cord adorns her,
4205 Like a knife-cut, and no wider!
That’s right! I see it too: and note,
She can carry her head under her arm,
Since Perseus did her that fatal harm.
Always desire for that illusion!
4210 Come on, climb this bit of mountain:
It’s as lively as the Vienna Prater,
And if no one’s deceiving me,
I’m looking at a genuine theatre.
It’ll be on again shortly.
4215 A fresh performance: last of seven.
That number, for us, is traditional.
An amateur’s written it, and then
It’s amateurs who perform it all.
Forgive me, sir, if I break off here,
4220 Since I’m the amateur curtain-raiser.
That I find you on the Blocksberg’s good,
Since I find you exactly where I should.
Scene XXII: A Walpurgis Night’s Dream
Oberon and Titania’s Golden Wedding.
An Interlude (Intermezzo)
You brave stagehands, of Weimar,
Take a rest, at least for today.
4225 Ancient mountains, misty vales are,
All the scenery for our play.
Fifty years we’ve passed by,
To make this wedding golden,
But let some argument arise:
4230 There’s gold in it, for me, then.
Spirits, where I am, be seen:
Appear, all, at this moment:
Fairy King, and Fairy Queen,
Renew their old intent.
4235 Puck comes shooting through the air,
And moves his feet, in time:
After him a hundred, there,
Share his joyful rhyme.
Ariel conducts his singing
4240 In pure and heavenly tones:
Ugly faces greet its ringing,
But also lovely ones.
Partners if you’d get along,
Learn then from the two of us!
4245 If we in pairs would love for long,
Someone needs to separate us.
The sulky man, the wilful wife,
So they might know each other,
I’d show him all the Northern ice,
4250 And show her the Equator.
The Whole Orchestra (Tutti. Very loud.)
From fly-snout and midge-nose,
And all of their relations,
Frog and cricket, too, there flow
These musical vibrations!
4255 See, the bagpipes on their way!
Made from a soap-bubble.
Hear the snail’s-twaddle play
Through its stumpy nozzle.
Spirit (Newly formed.)
Spider’s-feet and toad’s-belly,
With useless winglets to ’em!
A little creature, it can’t be
But it makes a little poem.
Little steps and high leaps,
Through honeydew and fragrance here,
4265 You still won’t do enough it seems,
To climb into the atmosphere.
A masquerade of mockery?
Do I dare to trust my eyes?
Oberon, that fair divinity,
4270 Do I see him here, tonight?
He’s no tail, and not a claw!
And yet it’s him, it’s true:
Like the gods of Greece, I’m sure,
He must be a devil too.
4275 What I capture here today,
In truth is only sketchy:
Yet I prepare myself, someday
For my Italian journey.
Ah! My bad luck brings me here:
4280 Since I haven’t been invited!
Of all the witches to appear,
Only two are powdered.
Powder like a petticoat
On an old, grey witch you’ll see,
4285 While I sit naked on my goat,
And show a fine young body.
We have too much experience,
To moan about you, here, then!
Yet, as young and tender you are, once,
4290 So, I hope you will be, rotten.
Fly-snout and midge-nose,
Don’t swarm around the naked!
Frog and cricket, too, all know
Your time, and don’t mistake it!
A Wind-Vane (Swinging to one side.)
4295 Society, as one would like it done:
True pure brides along the slope!
And young fellows, one for one,
People quite brimful of hope!
The Wind-Vane (Swinging to the other side.)
And if the ground doesn’t split,
4300 And swallow everyone,
I’ll be so amazed at it,
I’ll leap into hell at once.
Xenies (Barbed verses: Greek – gifts exchanged.)
As insects we appear,
With little claws we’re nipping,
4305 To do Satan, our Papa,
Due honour as is fitting.
Hennings (August Von Hennings, a literary enemy.)
See them, packed in a crowd,
Naïve, together, poking fun!
At last, they’ll even say, aloud,
4310 Their hearts were blameless ones.
Musagete (Controller of the Muses: Greek – epithet of Apollo)
Among this witches’ crew,
I’d gladly lose my way:
They’re easier to manage, too
Than Muses, any day.
Former ‘Genius of the Age’
4315 One was someone, among real folk.
Come on, then: I can hold my end up!
Like Germany’s Parnassus, look,
The Blocksberg’s summit’s broad enough.
Curious Traveller (Nicolai)
Say, who’s that haughty man?
4320 He walks with such proud steps.
He sniffs as only a sniffer-out can.
‘He smells out Jesuits.’
I like to fish among the clear
And the muddy levels:
4325 So the pious man appears
Mixing with the devils.
A Child of This World (Goethe himself.)
To the pious man, as I’m aware,
Every place is fitting,
So you build, on the Blocksberg here,
4330 Many a house of meeting.
Does some new choir succeed?
I hear a distant drum.
‘No! It’s the booming in the reeds,
Of bitterns, in unison.’
4335 How they lift their legs, this lot!
As best they can, they all take flight!
The cripples skip, the clumsy hop,
And don’t care at all what they look like.
The ragged mob all hate so much,
4340 They’d gladly crush the others.
Here the bagpipe draws them, just
As Orpheus’ lyre the creatures.
I won’t declare it’s madness, now,
Or show myself too critical.
4345 The devil must exist somehow,
Or how could we act the devil?
The fantasy in my mind,
For once, is too despotic.
Truly, if I am all, I find
4350 Today I’m idiotic!
Here’s real pain, at hand,
It annoys me so to see it:
For the first time, here I stand,
Unsteady, on my feet.
A Believer in the Supernatural
4355 It’s very pleasant to be here,
And this crowd too has merit:
Since from the devil I infer
Some much more virtuous spirit.
These little flames a-hunting go,
4360 And think they’re near the treasure:
But Devil rhymes with doubtful: so
My being here’s a pleasure.
Frog on leaf, and cricket, oh
You amateur editions!
4365 Fly-snout and midge-nose,
Remember you’re musicians!
Carefree, is what they call
This band of happy creatures:
When we can’t go on foot at all
4370 Our head it is that features.
We picked up many a titbit once,
But now, God orders things so,
Our shoes are ragged from the dance,
And we travel on naked soles.
4375 From the swamps we’ve come,
Where we first arose:
In the ranks here, we, at once,
As glittering gallants pose.
I shoot here from the sky
4380 And star- and firelight meet.
Now across the grass I lie -
Who’ll help me to my feet?
Room, round about us, room!
We crush the grasses under.
4385 Spirits come, and spirits too
Have their bulky members.
Don’t tread so heavily,
Like elephantine calves: let
Puck himself, the sturdy, be,
4390 On this night, the stoutest.
Loving nature winged your backs,
You spirits, one supposes,
Follow, then, on my light track,
To the hill of roses!
Orchestra (Quietly: pianissimo)
4395 Trailing cloud, and misted trees,
Brighten with the day.
Breeze in leaves, and wind in reeds,
And all have flown away.
Scene XXIII: Gloomy Day
(A Field. Faust, Mephistopheles.)
In misery! Despair! Wandering wretchedly on the face of the earth,
for ages, and now imprisoned! That kind, unfortunate creature, locked
up in prison as a criminal, and lost in torment! To this! This! –
Treacherous, worthless spirit, you hid it from me! – Stand there,
then! Roll the devil’s eyes in your head, in anger! Stand there, and
defy me with your unbearable presence! Imprisoned! In irredeemable
misery! Delivered up to evil spirits, and the judgement of unfeeling
men! And you’ve troubled me meanwhile with tasteless diversions,
concealed her growing misery from me, and left her helpless in the
She is not the first.
Dog! Loathsome Monster! – Change him, infinite Spirit! Change the
worm into his dog-form, in which he often liked to scamper in front of
me, at night, rolling at the feet of the unsuspecting traveller, and
clambering on his shoulders when he fell. Change him into his
favourite likeness, so he can crawl on his belly in the sand in front
of me, and I can trample him, depraved thing, under my feet! – ‘Not
the first!’ – Misery! Misery! That no human spirit can grasp. That
more than one being should sink into the depth of this wretchedness:
that the first, writhing in its death-pangs, under the eyes of Eternal
Forgiveness, did not expiate the guilt of all the others! It pierces
to the marrow of my bones, the misery of this one being – and you
smile calmly at the fate of thousands!
Now we’re out of our wits again, already, at the point where men’s
brains are cracked. Why did you enter into partnership with us, if
you can’t go through with it? Would you take wing, and yet be free of
dizziness? Did we thrust ourselves on you, or you on us?
Don’t gnash your greedy jaws at me! It disgusts me! – Great and
glorious Spirit, you who revealed yourself to me, nobly, who know my
heart and soul, why shackle me to this disgraceful companion, who
feeds on injury, and at the last on ruin?
Save her, or woe to you! May the weightiest curse fall on you for a
I can’t undo the bonds of the Avenger, nor loose his bolts. – ‘Save
Who was it dragged her to ruin? I or you?
(Faust looks around, wildly.)
Would you grasp the lightning? A good thing it has not been allowed
you miserable mortals! To crush the innocent one who replies is the
tyrant’s way to free oneself of an embarrassment.
Take me to her! She shall be freed!
And the danger you expose yourself to? Be aware, the guilty blood
from your hands lies on the town. Avenging spirits hover over the
place of death, and lie in wait for the murderer’s return.
And not from yours, too? Murder, and death in this world, be on you,
monster! Take me there, I say, and free her.
I’ll take you: listen to what I can do! Have I all the powers of
heaven and earth? I’ll confuse the jailor’s mind: you take possession
of the key, and bring her out, hand in human hand! I’ll keep watch:
magic horses are ready: I’ll carry you away. That, I can do.
(An open field. Faust and Mephistopheles flying onwards on black
What do they weave, round the Ravenstone?
4400 I don’t know what they’re cooking and brewing.
Soaring up, diving down, bending and bowing.
They scatter, they consecrate.
Scene XXV: A Dungeon
(Faust, with a bunch of keys and a lamp, in front of an iron door.)
4405 A long-forgotten shudder grips me,
I’m gripped by all of Mankind’s misery,
Here behind these damp walls, she
Lives: and all her guilt’s illusory.
Do I tremble, then, to free her!
4410 Do I dread, once more, to see her!
On! Fear adds to death’s proximity.
(He grips the lock. She sings within.)
My mother, the whore
My father, the rogue,
In the cool of the clay:
Then I was a sweet bird on the stone.
4420 Fly away! Fly away!
Faust (Unlocking the door.)
She doesn’t know her lover’s listening,
Hears the chains, the straw’s rustling.
Margaret (Hiding herself in the bed of straw.)
Woe! Woe! It comes. Bitterest Death!
Hush! Hush! It’s I who come, to free you.
Margaret (Throwing herself down in front of him.)
4425 Are you a man? Then pity my distress.
Your cries will wake the jailors, too!
(He grasps the chains, to loose them.)
Margaret (On her knees.)
Who gives the executioner
At midnight you’re already here.
4430 Let me live, have mercy on me!
Won’t it be soon enough when dawn should come?
I’m still so young, so young!
I was lovely too, that was my
4435 Ruin. My love was near, now he’s gone:
The garland’s torn: the flowers are done.
Don’t grip me, now, so violently!
What harm have I done you? Spare me!
Don’t let me beg for mercy, in vain,
4440 I’ve never seen you before today!
How shall I endure this misery, say!
I’m wholly in your power. Oh,
Let me feed my baby first.
I caressed it all night, though,
4445 They told me I caused it hurt,
And now they say I killed it, so,
And now I’ll never be happy again.
They sing songs of me! It’s wicked of folk!
There’s an old story ends this way,
4450 Who told them to tell it so?
Faust (Falling on his knees.)
A lover lies at your feet,
Who’ll end your painful slavery.
Margaret (Throwing herself down next to him.)
O let’s kneel, the saints will bless!
See here! Under these steps,
4455 Under this sill,
4460 Gretchen! Gretchen!
Margaret (Listening closely.)
The voice of my lover!
(She leaps to her feet: the chains fall away.)
Where? I heard him call me.
I’m free! No one holds me.
To his neck, I shall fly,
4465 On his breast, I shall lie!
He called Gretchen! Stood at the sill.
Among the howls and cries of Hell,
Among the devil’s, scornful groans,
I knew his sweet, dear tones.
4470 Here! O, say it once again!
It’s he! It’s he! Where now is all the pain?
Where now the chains, the dungeon’s misery?
You’re here! You come to save me.
4475 Already the street is there again,
Where I first saw you plain,
And the joyful garden,
Where Martha and I waited, then.
Faust (Struggling to move.)
Margaret (Caressing him.)
4480 I’ll gladly stay, if you are with me.
What? You can no longer kiss?
4485 My dear, so short a time to miss me,
And you’ve forgotten how to kiss me?
Why am I so anxious on your breast?
When, once, at your words, your gaze,
With a whole heaven I was blessed,
4490 And you kissed me, enough to suffocate.
Oh! How cold and silent,
4495 Where has your passion
Who brought me this?
(She turns away from him.)
Come! Follow me! Darling, be bold!
I’ll clasp you with a thousand-fold
4500 Warmth: now follow me! I beg you!
Margaret (Turning to him.)
And is it you? Is it really you?
It is! Come, with me!
You’ll loose the chains,
And take me to your breast, again.
How is it you don’t shrink from me?
4505 Do you know, friend, whom you free?
Come! Come! The night will soon be over.
I’ve killed my mother,
I’ve drowned my child.
Was it not given to you and I?
4510 You too. - You here! I scarce believe.
Give me your hand! This is no dream.
Your dear hand! – Ah, but it’s damp!
Wipe it clean! Why do I think,
4515 Ah God! What have you done?
Put your sword away,
Let past be past I say!
You’re destroying me!
4520 No you must live on: must do.
I’ll describe our graves to you.
The best one is for my mother,
4525 Then, by her, my brother,
Myself, a little further, lay,
But not too far away!
And the little one, at my right breast.
No one else by me will lie! –
4530 Ah, to nestle at your side,
That was a sweet, a darling bliss!
But no more will I achieve it:
It’s as if I must force you to it,
As if you turn aside my kiss:
4535 And yet it’s you, so good, so sweet to see!
You know it is, so come with me!
If the grave is there,
Death waiting, then I come!
4540 From here to everlasting rest,
And not a step further would
You go now? O Heinrich, if I could!
You can! Just will it! The door is open!
I dare not: there’s no hope for me then.
4545 What use is flight? They lie in wait for me.
To be forced to beg is a bitter existence,
And cursed too with an evil conscience!
To wander among strangers, bitter,
And even then I’d still be captured!
4550 I’ll stay beside you.
Away! Down the ridge,
4555 Over the bridge,
Left, where the plank is,
4560 It’s trying to rise,
Only one step, and then you’re free!
4565 If we were on the mountain, only!
There my mother sits, on a stone,
And oh, the cold, it grips me!
There my mother sits on a stone,
And wags her head, so heavy.
4570 No sign, no nod, for me, I’m sure
Her sleep’s so long: she’ll wake no more.
She slept, while we took our pleasure.
That was such a time to treasure!
Here all’s useless, speech or prayer:
4575 I’ll take you from this place: I’ll dare.
Let me alone! No, no force!
Don’t grip me so murderously, oh,
I’ve done all else to please you so.
The day breaks! Dearest! Dearest!
4580 Day! Yes, it’s dawn! The last I’ll see:
My wedding day, that was to be!
Tell no one you’ve been with Gretchen. Ah, bright glance!
It’s done with: all in vain!
4585 We two will meet again:
But not in the dance.
The crowd gather, without speech.
The streets, the square,
Can’t hold them, there.
4590 The bell tolls, the wand breaks.
Now, they seize and tie me!
I’m dragged already to the block.
The blade that quivers over me,
Has quivered before over every neck.
4595 Silent the world, now, as the grave!
Oh, would that I’d never seen the light!
Mephistopheles (Appears outside.)
Away! Or you’ll be lost, tonight.
Useless staying and praying! Chattering!
The horses are shivering,
4600 The dawn breaks, clear.
What rises in the doorway, here?
Him! Him! Send him away!
Why is he here in this holy place?
4605 God of Judgement! To you, myself I give!
Mephistopheles (To Faust)
Come! Now! Or I leave you both to stew.
Father, save me! I belong to you!
Angels! In Holy Company,
Draw round me: guard me!
4610 Heinrich! For you, I fear.
A Voice (From above.)
Mephistopheles (To Faust.)
(He vanishes, with Faust.)
A Voice (From within, dying away.)