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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at age 69, by Joseph Karl Stieler.


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust" Illustrations by Eugene Delacroix and Harry Clarke




Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Aug. 28, 1749, Frankfurt am Main [Germany]
died March 22, 1832, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar

German poet, novelist, playwright, andnatural philospoher, the greatest figure of the German Romantic period and of German literature as a whole.

One of the giants of world literature, Goethe was perhaps the last European to attempt the mastery and many-sidedness of the great Renaissance personalities: critic, journalist, painter, theatre manager, statesman, educationalist, natural philosopher. The bulk and diversity of his output is in itself phenomenal: his writings on science alone fill about 14 volumes. In the lyric vein he displayeda command of a unique variety of theme and style; in fiction he ranged from fairy tales, which have proved a quarry for psychoanalysts, through the poetic concentration of his shorter novels and Novellen (novellas) to the “open,” symbolic form of Wilhelm Meister; in the theatre, from historical, political, or psychological plays in prose through blank-verse drama to his Faust , one of the masterpieces of modern literature. He achieved in his 82 years a wisdom often termed Olympian, even inhuman; yet almost to the end he retained a willingness to let himself be shaken to his foundations by love or sorrow. He disciplined himself to a routine that might armour him against chaos; yet he never lost the power of producing magical short lyrics in which the mystery of living,loving, and thinking was distilled into sheer transparency.

And at the last there was granted him a gift, uncanny even to himself, of tapping at will the springs of creativity in order to complete the work he had carried with him for 60 years. When, a few months before his death, he sealed his Faust, he bequeathed it with ironic resignation to the critics of posterity to discover its imperfections. Its final couplet, “Das Ewig-Weibliche/Zieht uns hinan” (“Eternal Womanhead/Leads us on high”), epitomizes his own feeling about the central polarity of human existence: woman was to him at once man's energizer and his civilizer, source of creative life and focus of the highest endeavours of both mind and spirit.

There was in Goethe a natural, if not always painless, swing between poles of existence often thought to be mutually exclusive and an innate commitment to change and process.And, in the last letter he was to write, he rounded off what has sometimes been called his greatest work, his life, by setting the seal of his approval on a mode of growth that sees the art of living as the intensification of inborn talents through a judicious surrender to the natural rhythm of opposing tendencies.

Early life and influences

Goethe came of middle-class stock, the Bürgertum that he never ceased to praise as a breeding ground of the finest culture. His father, Johann Kaspar Goethe, was of north German extraction. A retired lawyer, he was able to lead a life of cultured leisure, travelling in Italy and amassing a well-stocked library and picture gallery in his handsomely furnished house. Goethe's mother, Katharine Elisabeth Textor, was the daughter of a Bürgermeister (mayor) of Frankfurt; she opened up to her son valued connections with the patriciate of the free city. Thus even in his heredity Goethe unites those opposing tendencies that have always prevailed in German lands: the intellectual and moral rigour of the north and the easygoing artistic sensuousness of the south. Of eight children, only Wolfgang, the firstborn, and his sister, Cornelia, survived.

In his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit (“Poetry and Truth”), Goethe left an unforgettable picture of a happy childhood. Here are set out with acute psychological insight the emotional complexities of his bond with Cornelia, which found expression in numerous portrayals of the brother–sister relationship in his works; his passionate attachment to a barmaid, Gretchen, which foreshadowed the rejection pattern of many of his loves; the broadening of outlook that came with French occupation during the Seven Years' War; the coronation of Joseph II in the Frankfurt Römer, with its indelible impressions of medieval pageantry;and the fervent religiosity of Pietistic circles, which led him to declaim F.G. Klopstock's Messias (“Messiah”) as a kind of Lenten exercise, to write a prose epic on Joseph and a poem on Christ's descent into hell. The French army had brought itsown troupe of actors, and their performances intensified a passion for the stage, first kindled in him by his grandmother's gift of a puppet theatre, and inspired a lifelong devotion to Racine. A love of things English was fostered by friendship with a young clothier from Leeds (Goethe's paternal grandfather was a fashionable tailor) with whom Cornelia, seeing herself as the heroine of a Richardsonian novel, fell hopelessly in love. Wolfgang's reaction was the inception of a novel in letters, a kind of linguistic exercise in which four brothers correspond in different languages.

In October 1765 Goethe was sent to study law at his father'sold University of Leipzig, though he himself would have preferred to read classics in the newly founded university at Göttingen, where English influence prevailed. In Leipzig, or “little Paris” as he calls it in Faust, by contrast, a world of elegance and fashion made the young provincial feel like a fish out of water. The Frenchifying influence of the critic J.C. Gottsched still dominated the theatre and provided a repertory of the best plays of contemporary Europe. But C.F. Gellert, poet and author of fables and hymns, now in the heyday of his fame, presented the new sensibility of Edward Young, Laurence Sterne, and Samuel Richardson. Goethe praised Gellert's lectures as “the foundation of German moral culture” and learned from them invaluable lessons in epistolary style and in social conduct. Gellert's literary influence was reinforced by the robust elegance and ironic sagacity of the novels, tales, and epics of C.M. Wieland. Wieland's work was brought to Goethe's notice by A.F. Oeser, a friend and teacher of the archaeologist and art historian J.J. Winckelmann, who profoundly influenced European fashions in art. From Oeser, Goethe learned a loveof Greek art and two things that stood him in good stead all his life: to use his eyes and to master the craft of whatever he undertook. A visit to Dresden, “the Florence of the north,” as the poet and critic J.G. Herder called it, opened his eyes to the splendours of Rococo architecture as well as classical statuary. Nor was music neglected in his education; a new 18th-century concert society, under the direction of the musician and composer J.A. Hiller, provided splendid performances, which became world famous as the Gewandhaus concerts.

The literary harvest of Goethe's Leipzig period manifested itself in a songbook written in the prevailing Rococo mode—songs praising love and wine in the manner of the Greek poet Anacreon. Appropriately titled Das Leipziger Liederbuch (The Leipzig Song Book), it was ostensibly inspired by the daughter of the wine merchant at whose tavern he took his midday meal. But neither his 1766–67 poems Das Buch Annette (“The Book Annette”; as he called her in Rococo fashion) nor the Neue Lieder (“New Songs”) of 1769 made any pretense of real passion. Yet it was in connection with these literary trifles that he subsequently made the famous and much abused statement that all his works were “fragments of a great confession.” The same note is struck in two plays written in alexandrine verse (a 12-syllable iambic line borrowed from the French), Die Launedes Verliebten (“The Mood of the Beloved”) and a more sombre farce, Die Mitschuldigen (“The Accomplices”), which foreshadows the psychological preoccupations of later works. From then on, Rococo was one element in Goethe's repertoire, to be drawn on as occasion demanded. It was to reappear in the setting of Torquato Tasso and Die Wahlverwandtschaften (Elected Affinities); he was to pay tribute to its charm in Anakreons Grab (“Anacreon's Grave”; 1806) and amalgamate it with Eastern influence in enchanting poems of the West-östlicher Divan (“Divan of East and West”).

Works of the storm and stress period

Goethe's stay in Leipzig was cut short by severe illness, andby the autumn of 1768 he was back home. A long convalescence fostered introspection and religious mysticism. He played with alchemy, astrology, and occult philosophy, all of which left their mark on Faust. On his recovery it was decided that he should pursue legal studies in Strassburg as a first stage on the way to Paris and the Grand Tour (never actually completed). His stay there proved a turning point for his whole life and work. In this German capital of a French province, he experienced a reaction against the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Leipzig and under the impact of the great cathedral proclaimed his conversion to the Gothic German ideal. More decisive still was the influence of J.G. Herder, who spent the winter of 1770–71 there undergoing treatment for his eyes. From him Goethe learned the role played by touch, the haptic sense, in the growth of the mind; a new view of the artist as a creator fashioning forms expressive of feeling; a new theoryof poetry as the original and most vital language of man; the virtues of a new style, that of the Volkslied (folk song) and the poetry of “primitive” peoples as enshrined in the Bible, the epics of Homer, and the poems attributed (falsely) to Ossian, a 3rd-century Celtic poet. It is this new sense of felt immediacy, and of the plasticity of his linguistic medium, that informs the lyrics Goethe wrote to one of his early loves, Friederike Brion, the pastor's daughter of Sesenheim. They mark the beginning of a new epoch in the German lyric. Such poems as “Mailied” (“May Song”) and “Willkommen und Abschied” (“Welcome and Farewell”) are still the most popular, though not the greatest, of his Lieder. The latter, especially in its revised form of 1790, touchingly expresses the guilt he felt that this time he himself had the role of deserter and rejecter, and the whole idyll as recounted in Dichtung und Wahrheit reveals that cross-fertilization of life and literature that he increasingly saw as a potent factor in human development.

If, as Herder maintained, energy was one of the marks of poetry, it was clearly in the passions acted out on the stage that it could find its most vital expression. And where more vital than in the colossal figures of the “Gothic Shakespeare”? In writing the Geschichte Gottfriedens von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand dramatisiert (1771; “TheDramatized History of Gottfried von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand”), Goethe was deliberately vying with Shakespeare. For the real Götz, who died two years before Shakespeare was born, was near enough in time to represent that bustling spacious 16th century, the animal vitality of which contrasted so forcibly with the straitlaced affectations of Goethe's own day. With the publication in 1773 of Götz von Berlichingen , a radically tautened version of that “History,” the Shakespeare cult was launched, and the Sturm und Drang(storm and stress) movement was provided with its first major work of genius. The manifesto of the movement, heralded by Goethe's enthusiastic Rede zum Schakespears Tag (“Conversation from Shakespeare's Day”), had appeared after Goethe's return to Frankfurt in August 1771. “Von deutscher Art und Kunst” (“Concerning German Natureand Art”), as it was called, contained a defense of German nationality by the historian J.M. Möser, two essays by Herder championing Ossian and Shakespeare, and a rhapsody on Gothic architecture by Goethe.

Though ostensibly in practice as a lawyer, the young poet now found himself caught up in a whirl of literary and social duties—helping to edit the Frankfurter Gelehrte Anzeigen (“Frankfurt Scholarly Reviews”), for instance—and it was to break loose from this that he left for Wetzlar, seat of the supreme court of the Empire. But again literature won the day over law, and an impassioned yet self-ironic ode in free verse, “Wandrers Sturmlied” (“Wanderer's Storm Song”), is testimony both to a recently inspired admiration for Pindar, the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece, and to a hesitant certainty that he himself might be destined for greatness. And in Wetzlar he experienced a new passion, this time for a girl safely out of reach from the start, Charlotte Buff. Her betrothed, Johann Christian Kestner, showed great understanding until, as it seemed to him, he found the affair exposed to public gaze in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther; 1774).

But much besides the Wetzlar experience had gone into the making of this novel: Herder's scathing comments on his young pupil's lack of formal- and self-mastery; the recent indictment by G.E. Lessing of the Neoplatonic doctrine of artistic creation in Emilia Galotti; a passing attraction to Maximiliane, the daughter of the German novelist Sophie von La Roche, who probably endowed his heroine with her black eyes. And it was only when Kestner reported the suicide of a Wetzlar acquaintance who had killed himself out of hopeless love that all this was precipitated into a plot. If Werther took the world by storm it was because, in Thomas Carlyle's words, it gave expression to “the nameless unrest and longing discontent which was then agitating every bosom.” But this first novel is no sentimental tearjerker. Nor is disappointed love its real theme. It is rather what the 18th century called Enthusiasm: the fatal effects of a predilectionfor absolutes, whether in love, art, society, or the realm of thought. The mind that conceived its symmetry, wove its intricate linguistic patterns, and handled the subtle differentiation of hero and narrator was moved by a formal as well as a personal passion. Even the title has been trivialized in translation: Sorrows (instead of “Sufferings”) obscures the allusion to the Passion of Christ and individualizes what Goethe himself thought of as a “general confession,” in a tradition going back to St. Augustine.

Besides Werther and Götz, the period 1771–75 saw the appearance of a number of magnificent hymns—lyrical or dramatic, according to whether the influence of Pindar or Shakespeare prevailed—“Cäsar,” “Mahomets Gesang” (“Mahomet's Singing”), “Der Ewige Jude” (“The Eternal Jew”), “Prometheus,” “Sokrates,” “Satyros,” “Der Wandrer” (“The Wanderer”); the inception of Egmont and Faust (this so-called Urfaust, or “original” version of Faust, was discovered by a lucky chance in 1887); the completion of Clavigo , a play of more “regular” form on a theme of the French playwright Beaumarchais, and of Stella (1775), with its conciliatory ending of a mariage à trois, subsequently conventionalized into tragedy. Two operettas, Erwin und Elmire and Claudine von Villa Bella, reflect a return to the elegance of Rococo inspired by Goethe's betrothal to Lili Schönemann, daughter of a rich banker, who moved in fashionable circles that were soon to prove unbearably restrictive to the young Stürmer und Dränger. From the conflicts of this love he took refuge, as so often, in nature; and in a poem written on the lake of Zürich, “Auf dem See” (“On the Lake”), created the first of those many short lyrics in which language of radiant simplicity is made the vehicle of inexhaustible significance. With his departure for Weimar in November 1775, the engagement was allowed to lapse.

The mature years at Weimar

Going to Weimar was the major turning point of Goethe's life. He went on a visit to the reigning duke, Charles Augustus. It remained his home—despite Napoleon's invitation to Paris—until his death there on March 22, 1832. From now on, mastery of life became his chief concern; and Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship ; 1824), the title he eventually gave his next novel (1795–96), suggests the long apprenticeship such mastery involves. He served his own in the innumerable and ever increasing official duties the young duke heaped on his willing shoulders until, as indispensable minister of the little state, he was inspecting mines, superintending irrigation schemes, and even organizing the issue of uniforms to its tiny army.

He served his apprenticeship, too, in his passionate devotionto the wife of a court official, Charlotte von Stein. For the first time he found himself in love with a woman who could also meet him on the intellectual plane. From the 1,500 or so letters he wrote her we can see her become the guiding principle of his life, teaching him the graces of society, dominating the details of his daily existence, engaging his imagination and desire, yet insisting on a relation governed by decorum and conventional virtue. She would be his sister and nothing more, and the sublimation she increasingly enforced on him, though irksome, could inspire the almost psychoanalytical probings of “Warum gabst du uns die tiefen Blicke?” (“Why did you give us the deep glances?”), the tortures of Orestes and their assuagement by Iphigenie, the delicate one-act play, Die Geschwister (“Brother and Sister”; 1776), and such well-loved lyrics as “An den Mond” (“To the Moon”), “Der Becher” (“The Cup”), “Jägers Abendlied” (“Hunter's Evening Song”), “Seefahrt” (“Sea Journey”), and the two exquisite “Wandrers Nachtlieder” (“Wanderer's Night Songs”).

In these and other poems of this period—“Grenzen der Menschheit” (“Limits of Mankind”), “Gesang der Geister über den Wassern” (“Singing of the Spirits over the Water”), “Das Göttliche” (“The Divine”), “Harzreise im Winter” (“Journey in the Harz Mountains in Winter”), “Ilmenau”—nature has ceased to be a mere reflection of man's moods and has become something existing in its own right, a setting for an idea or a force indifferent, even hostile to him. This new “objectivity” is in tune with Goethe's growing scientific preoccupations. Yet such is his versatility that he could, when he chose, revert to the temper of “Der König in Thule” (“The King in Thule”; written in 1774) and compose ballads such as “Erlkönig” (“King of the Elves”) or “Der Fischer” (“The Fisherman”), in which nature bears the projection of unconscious forces; while a number of Singspiele, or musical plays, betoken his readiness and ability to provide light entertainment for the court. Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit (“The Triumph of Sensibility”) even satirizes the sensibility his own Werther had helped to foster.

But neither the cares of state nor those of a frustrating love affair were conducive to the peace and leisure required to complete works of such magnitude as Egmont, Faust, Tasso, and Iphigenie (a prose version of this last was sufficiently advanced to be put on before the court in 1779 with Goethe himself in the role of Orestes). And in September 1786, in dramatic secrecy and with the haste of one pursued, he set out on his long-postponed Italian journey. This flight was at once a death and a rebirth. And it was in these terms that he wrote of it in his letters. He sought the renewal of himself, both as man and artist, and so deliberately cut himself off from his emotional, literary, and cultural past, scorning the “Gothic follies” he had once acclaimed, rejecting Juliet's tomb in Verona in favour of the Greek steles in the museum, finding delight in Palladio's churches rather than in San Marco or the doge's palace, devoting barely three hours to Florence, and ignoring completely the medieval glories of Assisi for the sake of its temple of Minerva, feverishly bent on arriving in Rome, “capital of the ancient world,” but seeing even that as a prelude to Magna Graecia, to the temples of Paestum, and the revelation of classical grandeurin Sicily, “key to the whole,” a prelude to the world of Homer, which he recaptured in a glorious dramatic fragment, Nausikaa (1787). And just as he sought and found the Urmensch, or archetypal man, in the forms of Greek antiquity, so in these landscapes there came to his mind the extension of this idea to plants as well. In his literary work these pursuits led to the creation of beings who are individual manifestations but of a clearly discernible type; tothemes that are universal and timeless but treated in a highly differentiated way; to the measured cadences of verse that are yet vibrant with personal passion.

This new conception of form is apparent in the revision of the four plays he had taken with him to Italy. Faust, Ein Fragment (“Faust, a Fragment”), published in 1790, is quite clearly, by its excisions as well as its additions, a step in the direction of the stupendous cultural symbol the play would eventually become rather than any attempt to weld into dramatic unity the sharply individualized episodes of the original version, the Urfaust. Egmont, though not actually cast into verse, is raised to the level of poetic drama not by virtue of its frequent iambic rhythms but by a thickening of the verbal texture, so that when music finally takes over it seems the inevitable culmination of a gradual convergence and sudden contraction of themes rather than the “salto mortale (i.e., somersault) into the world of opera” Schiller was to dub it. By such means, the personal and the political aspects of the problem become completely interfused—Egmont and his beloved Klärchen, the most lovable characters Goethe ever created, are embodiments of an inner freedom that is a heightened form of the easygoing independence of the Netherlands people—and what had started as a dramatic portrayal of a daemonic individual is transformed into a tragedy of the very idea of freedom, of its fate in a world ruled not just by calculation or intrigue but by unpredictable conjunctures of persons and events.

In Torquato Tasso such linguistic density is carried to lengths possible only in verse. Goethe spoke of having expended a positively “unlawful care” on it. But this is not inappropriate to a play about a poet, an artist whose mediumis the ordinary vehicle of communication between men. The tragic conflict here arises from misunderstandings about the various modes of language, and the temperamental clashes are presented as concomitants of this rather than as the prime focus of interest (though there is enough psychology to justify the description by the French writer Mme de Staël of Goethe as “le Racine de l'Allemagne”). The slightness of the outward action in Torquato Tasso has been much criticized, but it can be justified in a study of the “poetical character” per se—a creature for whom “any little vexation grows in five minutes into a theme for Sophocles.” By placing him in a society that, far from being indifferent or hostile, cherishes him and values his work, Goethe has thrown into sharpest relief the incurable “discrepancy” between poet and world, and this rift is not healed by Tasso'sdiscovery that even the extremes of anguish can be transmuted into imperishable verse.

But it was perhaps Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787) that benefitted most from his encounter with classical antiquity. And yet Schiller was right in calling it “astonishingly modern and un-Greek.” Like Tasso, it too treats of the problems of communication: of the unforeseeable power of words once they are released into the world; of the double face of language, which conceals as much as it reveals; of truth, whose opposite is not just an outright lie but the withholding of self. But it treats, too, of man's power to free himself from his myths by recognizing them as projections of his own unconscious, of his power to break the chain of events that seems to determine his present (symbolized in the monotonously regular crime sequence of the race of Tantalus) by a reorientation of outlook. The conciliatory ending, which Euripides contrived by the sudden appearanceof the goddess Athena, here comes with the apparent suddenness of new insight: the words of the oracle are susceptible to a different interpretation. In its synthesis of Greek and Christian values, its elevation of the physical to the spiritual through the identification of Iphigenie with the divine sister, Diana, this play represents the highest achievement of 18th-century humanism.

The chief lyrical product of the Italian journey was the Römische Elegien (“Roman Elegies”; written 1788–89). In their plastic beauty and unabashed sensuality, their blending of erotic tenderness with an enhanced sense of our cultural heritage, these pagan, highly civilized poems are unique in any modern language. Had they been written in themetre of Byron's Don Juan, Goethe acknowledged, they might easily have been offensive; but the classical distichs (couplets) lend them that veil of aesthetic distance that reveals even as it shrouds. The true begetter of these elegies was not some passing Roman amour but Christiane Vulpius, daughter of a humble official, whom Goethe had taken into heart and home soon after his return from Italy in April 1788. Christiane bore him several children; but it was not until 1806, when life and property were threatened by the French invasion, that the nonconformist eventually conformed and in grateful recognition of its indissoluble bonds regularized their union in the eyes of society.

His first Italian journey finally brought home to Goethe that,for all his interest and talent, he was not destined to be a painter. Despite diligent practice with his artist friends in Rome, he was never able to master this medium to the point at which it became expressive of his deepest feeling, and with rare exceptions his numerous drawings have no more than the charm of a sensitive amateur. But his abiding preoccupation with the visual arts left an indelible mark on his literary as well as his scientific work and gave added precision to his many critical and aesthetic essays. And it was on this first visit to Italy, too, that he finally reached the decision that he must shed his administrative duties and devote himself henceforth to his true vocation of literature and science.

A return visit to Italy in 1790 brought nothing but disappointment, and a restlessness aggravated by the revolutionary events in the outer world. The Epigramme. Venedig 1790. (“Venetian Epigrams of 1790”) reflect something of this discontent. In 1792 Goethe accompanied his duke on the disastrous campaign into France, was present at the battle of Valmy, and wrote up his experiences in two still very readable war books, Campagne in Frankreich 1792 and Belagerung von Mainz (“Siege of Mainz”). His liberal-conservative attitudes found expression in Reineke Fuchs (“Reynard the Fox”), a recasting of the Low German satire, the Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten (“Conversations of German Emigrants”), and three plays. Der Gross-Cophta, Die Aufgeregten (“The Agitated”), and Der Bürgergeneral (“The Citizen General”), which, though artistically unsuccessful, are of interest in being among the few examples of political literature produced by German poets. But it was only as the French Revolution receded that he was able to transmute its overwhelming actuality into timeless poetry. It still forms the background of his Homeric treatment of the refugee problem, Hermann und Dorothea (1797). It fills the whole canvas of Die Natürliche Tochter (“The Natural Daughter”; 1804). Planned as a trilogy but never completed, this was Goethe's final reckoning with the greatest event of his time. Beneath the coolness of its formalperfection there stirs a profound concern with revolutionary phenomena, with the role of death and destruction in the perpetuation of social and cultural, no less than of natural, forms of life.

Schiller and the classical ideal

The human and spiritual isolation in which Goethe found himself on his return from Italy was unexpectedly relieved by the development of a friendship with Schiller. His acceptance of a formal invitation to contribute to a new journal, Die Horen (1795–97; “The Horae”), called forth Schiller's now-famous letter of August 23, 1794, in which, with marvelous insight, he summed up Goethe's whole existence. Here, it seemed to him, was the very embodiment of the naive poet—but consciously naive, moving from feeling to reflection and then transforming reflection back into feeling, concepts of the mind back into percepts of the senses. It was this conscious assent to a mode of thinking different from Schiller's own more abstractive reflection thatmade possible their immensely fruitful partnership, and the four volumes of their daily correspondence offer not only an invaluable commentary on the ideals and achievements of the greatest period of German literature but astonishing insight into the processes of artistic creation. Some of the works Goethe produced during the next few years are embodiments of their classical ideal. Hermann und Dorothea, one of the best loved, is his attempt to “produce a Greece from within.” In it he claimed to have “separated the purely human from the dross.” The characters are types—except forthe hero and heroine, they have no proper names, and even theirs are symbolic—and like those of the Odyssey they vindicate peace and home and the domestic virtues. Yet, as always in Goethe's works, these are shown as never secure for long, as constantly in need of being fostered by man's efforts to be human and humane. In the Helena act of Faust, Part II, in which the meeting and mating of Faust and Helen ofTroy marks the synthesis of paganism and Christianity, of Greece and Germany, he captured the Greek spirit so successfully that competent critics hold that if translated into Attic Greek it might well pass for a lost fragment of the Athenian stage.

A never completed epic, Achilleis, is his last attempt to “be a Greek after his own fashion.” Other works of this period are in tune with Schiller's growing conviction that the only future for literature in a world that increasingly clamoured for the naturalistic and the tendentious lay in a hermetic closing of the poetic world by a frank introduction of symbolic devices. Wilhelm Meisters Theatralische Sendung (“Wilhelm Meister'sTheatrical Mission”; a manuscript of this version turned up in1910) is now widened to a vocation for life, a theme dear to the heart of Schiller, who had himself just completed a treatise Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (1795; “On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters”) and wholly in tune with their joint conviction that art, though not the handmaid of either truth or morality, has nevertheless its own peculiar part to play in making better men and better citizens. Fictional realism is now blended with abstraction; characterization, however psychologically acute, subordinated to an overall poetic significance; and the presence in a novel of contemporary society of such mysteriously compelling figures as the Harper and Mignon seems to justify Goethe's claim that his novel is “thoroughly symbolic.”

It was Schiller, too, who turned his thoughts to the continuation of Faust and discerned the difficulties involved in reconciling this “barbarous composition” with their classical ideal, in blending the evident seriousness of its “idea” with that element of “play” that was the prerequisite of the art of the future. By his insistence on such problems, he inspired the fictional framework of Faust's “Prelude on the Stage” no less than the philosophical framework of the “Prologue in Heaven.” If, in spite of such indications, the world insisted on reading Faust, Part I (1808) as a love story, which stamped its author as a Romantic, it was because at this stage the almost unbearable pathos of the Gretchen tragedy had not yet found its place in the wider tragedy of Western man.

Goethe and Schiller blamed the failure of the journals in which they strove to propagate their ideals of art and literature (Goethe's Propyläen, 1798–1800, was a quasi-successor to Schiller's Horen) on the indifference of anuncultivated public and vented their disappointment in Xenien, approximately 400 mordant distichs in the manner of Martial. A more positive reply to their detractors was a wonderful harvest of ballads. Goethe's own—“Der Schatzgräber” (“The Treasure Digger”), “Die Braut von Korinth” (“The Bride from Corinth”), “Der Zauberlehrling” (“The Sorcerer's Apprentice”)—differ from his earlier ones in that man rather than nature now holds sway. The “white” magic of reflection is consciously, even ironically, introduced. And in the ballad, with its blend of lyric, epic, and dramatic elements, Goethe now discerned the Urei, or archetypal form, of poetry by analogy with the Urpflanze (archetypal plants) he had discovered in the vegetable world.

Goethe's relation to the Romantics

With Schiller's death in 1805, Goethe felt he had lost “the half of his existence,” and he wrote a magnificent tribute to his great friend in Epilog zu Schillers Glocke (“Epilogue to Schiller's Bells”). His intellectual loneliness was eased in some measure by his relations to the new school of Romantics then flourishing in Jena, for they had much in common. Friedrich von Schlegel had begun his career with a book extolling Greek culture and gone on to praise the Orientas the summit of Romantic thought and poetry. His brother Wilhelm's absorption in form and metre was after Goethe's own heart, and he could not be indifferent to their enthusiastic praise of Wilhelm Meister or to Novalis' description of him as “the viceregent of poetry upon earth.” In Bettina Brentano, daughter of his old love, Maximiliane von La Roche, he found an ardent response to both his genius and his humanity, and her Briefwechsel Goethes mit einem Kinde (1835; “Goethe's Correspondence with a Child”) remains one of the most readable books in German literature, whatever doubts may be cast on its reliability. Though Goethe decried the Romantics as “forced talents,” amateurishly oblivious of the virtues of form, though he deplored their catholicizing tendencies, their uncritical addiction to all things medieval, their attempts to blur the literary genres and confuse the boundaries between art and life, he yet remained open to many of their enthusiasms, even letting himself be moved to a renewed interest in Gothic architecture. And in Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809) he drew heavily for his thematic material upon their preoccupation with “the night-side of nature,” with the animal, magnetic affinities that attract human beings to each other, as elements are attracted in the chemical world.

But this novel offers no support at all for a superstitious surrender to forces natural or supernatural, for a subhuman abdication of moral responsibility. Catastrophe follows inexorably upon the arbitrary interpretation of signs and portents; the heroine enters upon a path of renunciation thatbrings her near sainthood; marriage may be presented with ruthless realism as “a synthesis of impossibilities,” but it remains nevertheless “the beginning and end of all civilization.” The Romantics were here taught a lesson of social behaviour—and of artistic form. The narrative is conducted with a serene impartiality, and all the classical values of plasticity, restraint, and symmetry are brought to bear on a subject that is sensational to the point of improbability.

By their translations—Romanticism is translation, Clemens Brentano declared—the Romantics were opening up the literary treasures of the world, and Weltliteratur was to become one of Goethe's most treasured concepts. Its aim was, as he put it, to advance civilization by encouraging mutual understanding and respect—whether through translation or criticism (his own attempts to interpret Serbianpoetry to the Germans is an excellent example of this latter) or through the blending of different literary traditions. Two great ballads, “Der Gott und die Bajadere” (“God and the Dancing Girl”) and “Paria” (“Outcast”), and two exquisite cycles, the late and lesser known Chinesisch-Deutsche Jahres- und Tageszeiten (“Chinese-German Hours and Seasons”; 1830) and the West-östlicher Divan (1819), are hisown outstanding attempts to marry East with West. This latter is a book of love in all its aspects—tender, playful, sensuous, ironic, wise, and wanton—all of it irradiated by that quality of Geist—of intellect, spirit, wit—which he discerned as “the predominant passion” of Persian poetry. His living muse this time, Marianne, the young wife of his friend von Willemer, was perhaps the most completely satisfying of all his loves, so attuned to him in spirit that she could even take a hand in the creation of some of these poems.

The last decade

But the world vision of the aging poet did not only find expression in a silent communing with the past. In his last years, Goethe found himself a world figure, and little Weimar became a Mecca that drew a constant stream of pilgrims from both the Old World and the New. Reports of his stiffness and reserve in the face of almost daily invasions are far outweighed by the testimony of those to whom he showed warmth, understanding, an insatiable curiosity aboutwhat was going on in the outside world, and an abiding openness to the present and the future. This is nowhere moreapparent than in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (1821–29; “Wilhelm Meister's Travels”), with its commitment to social and technological progress (what he would most like to see before he died, Goethe once said, was the completion of thePanama and Suez canals), to a type of education better adapted to modern specialization than the old humanistic studies, to a world no longer centred wholly in Europe—a major “complication” of his plot is a resettlement plan for emigrants in the land of the future (“Amerika, du hast es besser!” [“America, you are better off!”]). Wilhelm Meister points the truth that mastery of life is not conferred at the end of the “apprentice years” and henceforth an inalienable possession, but a ceaseless wandering in which the goal turns out to be the way, and the way the goal.

At first sight the subtitle, Die Entsagenden (“The Renunciants”), seems curiously at odds with such purposefulunrest. But renunciation for Goethe implies no passive resignation to the status quo. It is a growing acceptance of the limits imposed by life itself, limits arising from the nature of space and time and from the conflict of interests and potentialities. The apparent formlessness of the novel reflects the duality of its title. It meanders, its narrative interspersed with tales, anecdotes, episodes and maxims, having but the loosest connection with the plot but a formal, if often subterranean, connection with the poetic significance. These interpolations, like the increasingly symbolic characters, display the whole spectrum of human modes of renunciation. The “whole man” is here representednot by any single individual but by a constellation of many, and the informing principle is the spatial one of configuration rather than the temporal one of succession.

Faust, too, is often decried as formless, though the climate ofcriticism is now more propitious to the discovery of its “law.”The array of lyric, epic, dramatic, operatic, and balletic elements, of almost every known metre, from doggerel through terza rima (an Italian form of iambic verse consisting of stanzas of three lines) to six-foot trimeter (a line of verse consisting of three measures), of styles ranging from Greek tragedy through medieval mystery, baroque allegory, Renaissance masque, commedia dell'arte, and the “temerities of the English stage,” to something akin to the modern revue, all suggest a deliberate attempt to make these various forms a vehicle of cultural comment rather than any failure to create a coherent form of his own. And thecontent with which Goethe invests his forms bears this out. He draws on an immense variety of cultural material—theological, mythological, philosophical, political, economic, scientific, aesthetic, musical, literary—for the more realistic Part I no less than for the more symbolic Part II(first published posthumously in 1832): if Faust's wooing of Helena in the “Classic-Romantic Phantasmagoria” (as the first publication of the scene in 1827 called it) is accomplished by teaching her the unfamiliar delights of rhymed verse, his seduction of Gretchen is firmly set in the long tradition of erotic mysticism going back to the Song of Solomon. The Faust myth is here made the medium of a profoundly serious but highly ironic commentary on our cultural heritage, presented not as historical pageant—Faust's “progress” from his 18th- to 16th-century beginnings back through the Middle Ages and classical antiquity to the origins of life, and beyond that to the “Mothers,” timeless source of all forms of being, annuls the historical time sequence—but as a drama of the diverse potentialities that coexist in Western civilization.

This Faust, unlike his creator, is the very type of Western man, with two souls warring within his breast and a restlesslyinquiring spirit. To the 19th century his ceaseless striving seemed a good thing in itself. To a generation shocked into doubts about progress and the value of action, the disastrous consequences of his attempts to experience “the weal and woe of all mankind” (the libido sciendi of Marlowe'sFaustus is here but briefly indulged and as swiftly transcended) loom larger than the quotable “message” of any of the speeches, and his ultimate “salvation” becomes correspondingly suspect. Yet the love that bears his mortal remains to “higher spheres” does not mitigate the ironic defeat of his highest mortal endeavour. If the seal of approval is set on a spirit that has eluded Mephisto's every effort to lull him into sloth, the evil into which it led him is notcondoned. It needs the combined intercession of human wisdom and human suffering, human innocence and human experience, before compassionate verdict is passed on the erring and straying of this soul “in ferment.” Indeed, none of Goethe's conciliatory endings, except that of Iphigenie, really removes the sting of tragedy. Critics have tended to excuse or deplore them by reference to his own konziliante Natur (his “conciliatory nature”). But at least as relevant is his preoccupation with the form of Greek trilogies and tetralogies and his unorthodox interpretation of Aristotle's catharsis as an effect only likely to be produced in the spectator if there is a corresponding element of “reconciliation” in the structure of the play itself. The apotheosis of the hero, whether Faust's, Egmont's, or Ottilie'sin the Wahlverwandtschaften, is always set in a context reminiscent of a theophany and of the ritual origins of tragedy.

Nor can his interest in the cathartic effect of music be ignored. Unlike the German Romantic poet Novalis, for whommusic was “the key to the universe,” Goethe was profoundly aware of its dual nature and as suspicious as Plato of its orgiastic power. As in every art he looked for the taming of the Dionysiac by the Apolline, nowhere more movingly symbolized than by the taming of the lion through the piping of the little child in his Novelle of 1828, a theme he had already discussed with Schiller as far back as 1797. And increasingly he turned to music for assuagement of his own suffering. His Trilogie der Leidenschaft (“Trilogy of Passion”; 1823–27) is at once the lyrical precipitate of an oldman's anguished love for a girl of 18 and a tribute to the cathartic effect of this “heavenly art,” which restores to life even as it soothes. His Zauberflöte, Zweiter Teil is a tribute to his favourite Mozart's Magic Flute: Mozart would, he thought, have been the ideal composer for Faust. And one of the comforts of his later years was an intimate friendship with the composer K.F. Zelter, whose most brilliant pupil, the young Mendelssohn, afforded him hours of musical delight and deepened his musical understanding—though he never succeeded in reconciling him to the daemonic aspects of Beethoven's music.

By common consent, Faust is one of the supreme, if as yet unclassified, achievements of literature. But there were moments when Goethe rated his scientific work higher than all his poetry. His predilection for his Farbenlehre (“Theory of Colour”; 1805–10) has something of the love of a parent for a problem child, and nothing is easier than for the physicist to pick holes in his systematic attempt to prove Newton wrong, or for the psychologist to find the cause of hisstubbornness in his sense of mathematical inadequacy or in his neurotic attachment to the doctrine that light is one and indivisible and never to be explained by any theory of particles. On the other hand, the usefulness of the Psycho-Physiological Section, together with his study Entoptische Farben (“Entoptic Images”), is generally acknowledged, while the Historical Section is something of a pioneer work in the writing of the history of science. His work in botany and biology is less controversial. His Metamorphose der Pflanzen (“Attempt to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants”; 1790) is a model of presentation, and the drawings in it are a botanist's delight. His main thesis, that all the parts of the plant are modifications of a type-leaf, has met with a measure of acceptance, though his categorical neglect of the root is regarded as an unscientific exclusion of a possible area of relevance. His hypothesis of atype-plant, by contrast, commands no interest among orthodox botanists today. His discovery in 1784, arrived at independently even if he was not the first to make it, of a recognizable os intermaxillare (the premaxilla of modern anatomists) in the human species was yet another result of his sustained quest for unity and continuity in nature and caused Darwin to hail him as a forerunner.

But what makes for the continuing interest of Goethe's science is not his discoveries: he could not always claim priority for them at the time, nor was he in the least interested in doing so. It is his insight into his methods of arriving at them. Few have been as aware of the mental processes involved in the study of natural phenomena; few have been more alive to the hazards that beset the scientist,at every level, from sheer observation to the construction of a theory; and few have been more conscious of the unwittingtheorizing involved in even the simplest act of perception. And no one has argued more convincingly that the only way of coping with this inescapable involvement of the observer in the phenomena to be observed is to let “knowledge of self” develop with “knowledge of world.”

Such scrupulous awareness of his own mental operations was, of course, of paramount importance in morphology, the science Goethe founded and named. Morphology, as he understood it, was the systematic study of formation and transformation—whether of rocks, clouds, colours, plants, animals, or the cultural phenomena of human society—as these present themselves to sentient experience. He did not propose it as a substitute for the quantitative sciences, which break down forms as we know them and by converting them into mathematical terms ensure a measure of prediction and control. He was not, contrary to common belief, opposed to analysis—one of his favourite maxims was that analysis and synthesis must alternate as naturally as breathing in and breathing out—and his only objection to physics was its increasing tendency to claim monopoly of understanding. What he was aiming at was rather a humanizing supplement, an understanding of nature in all itsqualitative manifestations; and one of his most impassionedpleas is for a concert of all the sciences, a cooperation of all types of method and mind.

This impulse, to find a scientific as well as an aesthetic corrective to the inevitably esoteric tendencies of specialization, is nowhere more apparent than in his two elegies on plant and animal metamorphosis in which he tries to present to imagination and feeling what has been understood by the mind. They eventually took their place in a cycle of philosophical poems entitled Gott und Welt (“God and World”). Though no orthodox believer, Goethe was by no means the pure pagan the 19th-century critics liked to imagine. Spinoza's pantheism certainly struck a sympatheticchord, for the Deist idea of a God who, having created the world, then left it to revolve, was repugnant to him. But he was and remained a grateful heir of the Christian tradition—bibelfest, rooted in the Bible—as his language constantly proclaims. And it was from this centre that he extended sympathetic understanding to all other religions, seeking their common ground without destroying their individual excellences, seeing them as different manifestations of an Ur, or archetypal, religion and thus giving expression, in this field as elsewhere, to the essentially morphological temper of his mind. “Panentheism” has been proposed as a more exact term for his belief in a divinity at once immanent and transcendent, and he rebuked those who tried to confine him to one mode of thought by saying that as poet he was polytheist, as scientist pantheist, and that when, as a moral being, he had need of a personal God, “that too had been taken care of.” This was one of the meanings he attached to the biblical text: “In my father's house are many mansions.”


A day will come, Carlyle predicted in a letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, when “you will find that this sunny-looking courtly Goethe held veiled in him a Prophetic sorrow deep as Dante's.” And since World War II there have been many attempts to replace the image of the serene optimist by that of the tortured skeptic. The one is as inadequate as the other—as inadequate as T.S. Eliot's conclusion that he was sage rather than poet—though this is perhaps inevitable when a writer is such a master of his own medium that even his prose proves resistant to translation. Even his Werther knew that the realities of existence are rarely to be grasped by Either-Or. And the reality of Goethe himself certainly eludes any such attempt. If he was a skeptic, and he often was, he was a hopeful skeptic. He looked deep into the abyss, but he deliberately emphasized life and light. He livedlife to the full at every level, but never to the detriment of the civilized virtues. He remained closely in touch with the richness of his unconscious mind, but he shed on it the light of reflection without destroying the spontaneity of its processes. He was, as befits a son of the Enlightenment, wholly committed to the adventure of science; but he stood in awe and reverence before the mystery of the universe. Goethe nowhere formulated a system of thought. He was asimpatient of the sterilities of logic chopping as of the inflations of metaphysics, though he acknowledged his indebtedness to many philosophers, including Kant. But here again he was not to be confined. Truth for him lay not in compromise but in the embracing of opposites. And this is expressed in the form of his Maximen (“maxims”), which, together with his Gespräche (“conversations”), contain the sum of his wisdom. As with proverbs, one can always find among them a twin that expresses the complementary opposite. And they have something of the banality of proverbs too. But it is, as André Gide observed, “une banalitésupérieure.” What makes it “superior” is that the thought hasbeen felt and lived and that the formulation betrays this. Andfor all his specialized talents, there was a kind of “superior banality” about Goethe's life. If he himself felt it was “symbolic” and worth presenting as such in a series of autobiographical writings, it was not from arrogance but from a realization that he was an extraordinarily ordinary man in whom ordinary men might see themselves reflected. Not an ascetic, a mystic, a saint, or a recluse, not a Don Juan or a poet's poet but one who to the best of his ability had tried to achieve the highest form of l'homme moyen sensuel—which is perhaps what Napoleon sensed when aftertheir meeting in Erfurt he uttered his famous “Voilà un homme!”

Elizabeth M. Wilkinson


Goethe in the Roman Campagna (1786) by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein.


The Sorrows of Young Werther

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther, the novel which first made Goethe internationally famous, tells a story of a young man afflicted by a rather extreme dose of eighteenth-century sensibility: Werther is a case study of over-reliance on emotion, imagination, and close introspection. Our hero is sent to the fictional village of Walheim on family business where he meets and promptly falls in love with Lotte. This attractive young woman, meanwhile, is engaged to another, the rational and rather dull local official Albert. Once established, this triangle places Werther at a complete impasse, and the impossibility of a happy resolution drives him to take his own life. Part of the novel's intrigue has always been its loose relation to actual events: Goethe's relationship with Charlotte Buff, who was engaged to his close friend Kestner, and the love-related suicide of another friend, Karl Jerusalem (who borrowed pistols from an unsuspecting Kestner for the deed). Another element of the novel's success was its effective use of the epistolary form. The narrative unfolds initially through Werther's letters to a single correspondent. When Werther's psychological state deteriorates, a fictive editor steps in, and the last part of the novel is his arrangement of Werther's final scraps and notes. The novel struck a powerful chord in its own time, and its appearance was followed by what can only be called Werther mania: would-be Werthers wore his trademark bluejacket and yellow waistcoat, there was even Werther eau-de-cologne and china depicting scenes from the novel. Legend also has it that there were copy-cat suicides, which alarmed Goethe, since his depiction of Werther was more critical than laudatory. The novel was extensively revised in 1787 for a second version, which has become the basis for most modern editions.



Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Despite Goethe's forbidding stature, this is a delightful novel. Goethe is engagingly worldly and wry, telling a story of intellectual development and education with warmth, in what is often considered the classic example of the bildungsroman.
Initially disillusioned by unrequited love, Wilhelm Meister travels forth on various adventures, and joins a group of itinerant players which affords him apprenticeship in life. Offering a group portrait of the life of theater, much imbued with Shakespeare, the novel celebrates and then undermines the theatrical vocation. The humane realism of the early parts of the novel deepens and modulates into something altogether more unusual once the surfaces of theatricality and social performance are penetrated, and mysterious characters hint at a different kind of literary symbolism and intellectual purpose.Goethe builds a richly ironic account of human self-development across its knowingly flimsy plot structure, somehow combining the ironizing good humor of Fielding's Tom Jones with something more philosophical. Not to be confused with Wilhelm Meister's Travels, this novel is especially recommended reading for deluded thespians and wannabe aesthetes.



Elective Affinities

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The phrase "elective affinities" is both precise and rich with ambiguity. It evokes a condition ripe with emotional and romantic possibilities. When Goethe chose Wahiverwandtschaften as his title, however, it was a technical term used solely in chemistry. That it subsequently came to have the connotations it does— both in German and in English—is in large part due to the power of Goethe's elegantly rigorous novel.
Using both a scientific configuration of desire and the symbolism of nature, Goethe's novel is a complex, yet measured and smoothly impersonal exploration of love. The marriage of Charlotte and Eduard is used to examine the perceptions of morality, fidelity, and self-development inscribed deeply within the concept of love. When this marriage is interrupted and challenged by the advent of the Captain and Ottilie, the state of marriage takes on a pastoral hue, at once idyllic and unreal. Through the reserved courtship between Charlotte and the Captain and the consuming passion forged between Eduard and Ottilie, the novel lingers on the irresistible chaos of desire.
The novel was condemned at first for its immoral thesis that love had a chemical origin. But it is rather a sustained reflection on the complications arising out of human intercourse and demonstrates the ways in which our experience of other people makes our experience of love and desire fluid and unreliable. Just as love cannot be caught and immobilized in marriage, desire cannot rest with one person.




Type of work: Dramatic poem
Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Type of plot: Philosophical allegory
Time of plot: Timeless
Locale: The world
First published: 1790-1831


A seminal work in the Romantic Movement, Faust dissects the philosophical problem of human damnation brought about by the desire for knowledge and personal happiness. A basically good man and a man of genius, Faust sells his soul to the Devil in a contract stipulating that only when he finds an experience so great that he wishes it to endure forever can the Devil take his soul. He finally reaches his goal, but the experience is one in which he helps his fellow man. Thus Mephistopheles loses despite his efforts.


Principal Characters

Faust (foust), a perpetual scholar with an insatiable mind and a questing spirit. The middle-aged Faust, in spite of his enthusiasm for a newly discovered source of power in the sign of the macrocosm, finds his intellectual searches unsatisfactory and longs for a life of experiences in the world of man. On the brink of despair and a projected suicide, he makes a wager with the Devil that if he ever lies on his bed of slothfulness or says of any moment in life, "Stay thou art so fair," at that moment will he cease to be. He cannot be lured by the supernatural, the sensual, the disembodied spiritual, but he does weaken in the presence of pure beauty and capitulates to humanitarian action. He displays himself as a sensual man in his deep love for Gretchen (Margarete), only to be goaded to murder by her brother, who sees not selfless love in their actions, but only sin. Faust aspires to the love of Helen of Troy, but he is finally disconsolate when she appears. As an old man he returns to his early vision of being a man among men. working and preparing for a better world to be lived here on earth. His death is not capitulation, though he thinks at this point man can cry "stay," and he has never taken his ease or been tempted by a life of sloth. His death is his victory and his everlasting life is to be lived resourcefully among the creators.
Mephistopheles (mef-rstof's-lez), the Devil incarnate and Lucifer in disguise of dog and man. Portrayed here as a sophisticate, cynic, and wit, he is most persuasive and resourceful. He works magic, manages miracles, creates spirits and situations for Faust's perusal and delectation. His persistence is the more remarkable for the ability of Faust to withstand and refute, though Mephistopheles often expresses resentment. Somehow more attractive than God and the archangels, he powerfully represents the positive force of evil in its many and attractive guises.
Gretchen, sometimes called Margarete, an innocent, beautiful young maiden. A foil for the Devil, Gretchen remarkably personifies womanly love without blemish or fear. She gives herself to Faust, who swears he cannot molest her, with an earthy abandon and remains for a time unearthly innocent in her raptures, until the forces for morality convince her she has sinned deeply and that she must pay first by destroying her child and then by being sacrificed to the state, suffering death for her transgressions. Brooding over her brother's death, she refuses solace from her lover.
Valentin, a soldier and Gretchen's brother, killed by Faust with the aid of Mephistopheles.
Wagner (vag'nsr), Faust's attendant, an unimaginative pedant. Serving as a foil for Faust, Wagner expresses himself in scholarly platitudes and learns only surface things. He aspires not to know all things but to know a few things well, or at least understandably; the unobtainable he leaves to Faust. He serves as the Devil's advocate, however, in the temptation of Faust by helping Mephistopheles create Homunculus.
Homunculus (ho-mung'kyoo-lss), a disembodied spirit of learning. This symbol of man's learning, mind separated from reality, interprets for Mephistopheles, and accurately, what Faust is thinking. The spirit discloses Faust's near obsession with ideal beauty, and thus Faust was given the temptress, Helen of Troy.
Helen of Troy, who appears as a wraith at first and then with form. Representing the classical concept of eternal or ideal beauty, aesthetic, complete, Helen very nearly succeeds where Gretchen failed. She finally seems to Faust only transitory beauty, no matter how mythological and idealized. After this final experience Faust denounces such hypothetical pursuits and returns to deeds.
Dame Mar the Schwerdtlein, Gretchen's neighbor and friend, an unwitting tool in the girl's seduction.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust" illustration by Eugene Delacroix

The Story

While three archangels were singing the praise of God's lofty works, Mephistopheles, the Devil, appeared and said that he found conditions on earth to be bad. The Lord tacitly agreed that man had his weaknesses, but He slyly pointed out that His servant Faust could not be swayed from the path of righteousness. Mephistopheles made a wager with the Lord that Faust could be tempted from his faithful service. The Lord knew that He could rely on the righteous integrity of Faust, but that Mephistopheles could lead Faust downward if he were able to lay hold of Faust's soul. Mephistopheles considered Faust a likely victim, for Faust was trying to obtain the unobtainable.
Faust was not satisfied with all the knowledge he had acquired. He realized man's limits, and he saw his own insignificance in the great macrocosm. In this mood, he went for a walk with his servant, Wagner, among people who were not troubled by thoughts of a philosophical nature. In such a refreshing atmosphere, Faust was able to feel free and to think clearly. Faust told Wagner of his two souls, one which clung to earthly things and another which strove toward supersensual things that could never be attained as long as his soul resided within his fleshly body. Feeling so limited in his daily life and desiring to learn the meaning of existence, Faust was ready to accept anything which would take him to a new kind of life.
Mephistopheles recognized that Faust was ready for his attack. In the form of a dog, Mephistopheles followed Faust to his home when the scholar returned to his contemplation of the meaning of life. After studying the Bible, he concluded that man's power should be used to produce something useful. Witnessing Faust's struggle with his ideas, the dog stepped forth in his true identity. But Faust remained unmoved by the arguments of Mephistopheles.
The next time Mephistopheles came, he found Faust much more receptive to his plot. Faust had decided that, although his struggles were divine, he had produced nothing to show for them. Faust was interested in life on this earth. At Mephistopheles' suggestion that he could peacefully enjoy a sensual existence, Faust declared that if ever he could lay himself in sloth and be at peace with himself, or if ever Mephistopheles could so rule him with flattery that he became self-satisfied, then let that be the end of Faust. But Faust had also renounced all things that made life worthwhile to most men. So he further contracted with Mephistopheles that if ever he found experience so profound that he would wish it to endure, then Faust would cease to be. This would be a wager, not the selling of a soul.
After two trials Mephistopheles had failed to tempt Faust with cheap debauchery. The next offering he presented was love for a woman. First Faust was brought to the Witch's Kitchen, where his youth was restored. Then a pure maiden, Gretchen, was presented to Faust, but when he saw her in her own innocent home, he vowed he could not harm her. Mephistopheles wooed the girl with caskets of jewels which she thought came from Faust, and Faust was so tempted that he returned to Gretchen. She surrendered herself to him as a fulfillment of her pure love.
Gretchen's brother convinced her that her act was a shameful one in the eyes of society. Troubled by Gretchen's grief, Faust finally killed her brother. Gretchen at last felt the full burden of her sin. Mephistopheles showed Faust more scenes of debauchery, but Faust's spirit was elevated by the thought of Gretchen and he was able to overcome the evil influence of the devil. Mephistopheles had hoped that Faust would desire the moment of his fulfillment of love to endure. However, Faust knew that enduring human love could not satisfy his craving. He regretted Gretchen's state of misery, and he returned to her; but she had killed her child and would not let her lover save her from the death to which she had been condemned.
Mephistopheles brought Faust to the emperor, who asked Faust to show him the most beautiful male and female who had ever existed—Paris, and Helen of Troy. Faust produced the images of these mythological characters, and at the sight of Helen, his desire to possess her was so strong that he fainted, and Mephistopheles brought him back in a swoon to his own laboratory. Mephistopheles was unable to comprehend Faust's desire for the ideal beauty that Helen represented.
With the help of Wagner, Mephistopheles created a formless spirit of learning, Homunculus, who could see what was going on in Faust's mind. Homunculus, Mephistopheles, and Faust went to Greece, where Mephistopheles borrowed from the fantastic images of classical mythology one of their grotesque forms. With Mephistopheles' intervention, a living Helen was brought to Faust. It seemed now, with the attainment of this supreme joy of beauty in Helen, that Faust would cry for such a moment to linger forever, but he soon realized that the enjoyment of transitory beauty was no more enduring than his other experiences.
With a new knowledge of himself, Faust returned to his native land. Achievement was now his goal, as he reaffirmed his earlier pledge that his power should be used to produce something useful to man. The mystical and magical powers which Faust had once held were banished so that he could stand before nature alone. He obtained a large strip of swamp land and restored it to productivity.
Many years passed. Now old and blind, Faust realized he had created a vast territory of land occupied by people who would always be active in making something useful for themselves. Having participated in this achievement, Faust beheld himself as a man standing among free and active people as one of them. At the moment when he realized what he had created, he cried out for this moment, so fair to him, to linger on. Faust had emerged from a self-centered egoist into a man who saw his actions as a part of a creative society.
He realized that life could be worth living, but in that moment of perception he lost his wager to Mephistopheles. The devil now claimed Faust's soul, but in reality he too had lost the wager. The Almighty was right. Although Faust had made mistakes in his life, he had always remained aware of goodness and truth.
Seeing his own defeat, Mephistopheles attempted to prevent the ascension of Faust's soul to God. Angels appeared to help Faust, however, and he was carried to a place in Heaven where all was active creation—exactly the kind of afterlife that Faust would have chosen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust"  Illustrations by Harry Clarke


Critical Evaluation

Faust, Goethe's masterwork, virtually summarizes his entire career, stretching from the passionate storm and stress of his youth through his classical phase in his middle years and ending with his mature philosophical style. Its composition occupied him from the time of his first works in the 1770s until his death in 1832, and each of its various sections reveals new interests and preoccupations, as well as different stylistic approaches. Yet the work as a whole possesses a unity that testifies to the continuing centrality of the Faust subject in Goethe's mind.
The first scenes composed, those of Faust in his study and the Gretchen scenes, embody the spirit of the twenty-three-year-old Goethe, full of university parodies on the one hand and titanic projects on the other, a desire to fathom the depths of knowledge, to pass beyond all limitations, typical of the brilliant young writers of this period. In fact, Faust was originally one of a planned series of dramas about heroic figures who transgress society's rules—Julius Caesar, Prometheus, and Gotz von Ber-lichingen among them.
Goethe stresses the tragedy of the scholar whose emotional life is not fulfilled and who quests after limitless knowledge, only to find himself frustrated by mortal limitations. The scenes with Gretchen provide for an emotional release, but leave Faust with a sense of guilt for the destruction of purity. The theme of the unwed mother was a popular one among young poets of this period, and represented a revolt against traditional bourgeois values, giving occasion for much social criticism. In the Gretchen scenes, Goethe, who as a student himself had romances with simple small-town girls, evokes great sympathy for Gretchen, who acts always out of sincere emotion and desires only the good. His theme of the corruption of all human questing because of the inherent imperfections of man's knowledge and will receives here its first expression, though with no philosophical elaboration. Neither Faust nor Gretchen wills evil, yet evil comes through Mephistopheles, who in his every utterance is the cynic, opposed to Faust's idealist hopes and exposing the coarse reality that in his view is the sole aspect of man's life on earth. When Faust was first published as a fragment in 1790, these elements, dating back to the 1770s, constituted the work.
Between 1797 and 1806, under Schiller's encouragement, Goethe returned to Faust and created the Prologue in Heaven and the pact with Mephistopheles, both of which are crucial to the philosophical aspect of the work. Mephistopheles is no longer the absolute opponent of God, but is included in the divine framework; he is a necessary force in creation, a gadfly. The Faust action now becomes a wager between God and Mephistopheles, which God necessarily must win. Thus the old blood contract between Faust and Mephistopheles must make Faust deny his very nature by giving up his quest for ever higher satisfactions, by giving him a moment of absolute fulfillment. Damnation, for Goethe, is the cessation of man's striving toward the absolute, and this striving is good, no matter what mistakes man makes in his limited understanding. This is made clear in the Prologue: God recognizes that man will err as long as he strives, but He states that only by seeking after the absolute, however confusedly, can man fulfill his nature. Mephistopheles sees only the confusion, the futility of the results, and the coarseness of man's life. He is blind to the visionary, poetic quality of Faust, the quality which animates his quest. This relationship established in part 1 will continue until the end of the play. In each episode, Faust begins with an idealistic vision of what he seeks, but he never attains it. Seen externally, Mephistopheles is always right—it is only internally that Faust's quest has meaning.
In the original Faust story, Faust meets Helen of Troy, and this episode occupied Goethe in the period of his fascination with the classical world. The third act of part 2 is the union of Faust, the northern, modern, Romantic quester, with Helen, representative of classical harmony and ideal beauty. In this act, Goethe imitates first the style of Greek tragedy, then brings Faust and Helen together in an idyllic realm of fantasy filled with music. This music—Goethe actually wanted an operatic interlude— underlines the purely aesthetic nature of this experience. Helen cannot be the end of Faust's seeking; their relationship can exist only in the mythical Arcadia, where reality, symbolized perhaps by Helen's husband, Menelaus, cannot intrude. The act was subtitled "Classic-Romantic Phantasmagoria," and Goethe followed it immediately with a scene in which Faust sees visions of Helen and Gretchen and is drawn toward the latter in spite of Helen's ideal perfection. Gretchen, however tragic, is real.
The final sections of Faust were composed between 1825 and 1831. In them, Faust's appearances at court are developed and the final scenes of Faust's redemption return to the framework established in the Prologue. Faust's last days are still unsatisfied and his quest is as violent as ever—his merchant ships turn to piracy and a gentle old couple are killed to make room for his palace. But his final vision is that of all humanity, striving onward to turn chaos to order, seeking a dimly imagined goal which is represented in the final scene by an endless stairway. Here, on the path toward the Divine, Faust is to continue to strive, and his life is redeemed by divine love, represented by Gretchen, who in spite of her crimes is also here, a penitent, praying for Faust. On earth all is transitory and insufficient. Only from the point of view of the Divine does all the confused striving attain meaning—meaning which was, in fact, implicit in the stanzas of the three archangels sung at the opening of the work, 12,000 lines earlier.






Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust"  Illustrations by Harry Clarke






A high vaulted narrow Gothic chamber. FAUST, restless, seated at his desk.

I HAVE, alas! Philosophy,
Medicine, Jurisprudence too,
And to my cost Theology,
With ardent labour, studied through.
And here I stand, with all my lore,
Poor fool, no wiser than before.
Magister, doctor styled, indeed,
Already these ten years I lead,
Up, down, across, and to and fro,
My pupils by the nose,—and learn,
That we in truth can nothing know!
That in my heart like fire doth burn.
’Tis true I’ve more cunning than all your dull tribe,
Magister and doctor, priest, parson, and scribe;
Scruple or doubt comes not to enthrall me,
Neither can devil nor hell now appal me—
Hence also my heart must all pleasure forego!
I may not pretend, aught rightly to know,
I may not pretend, through teaching, to find
A means to improve or convert mankind.
Then I have neither goods nor treasure,
No worldly honour, rank, or pleasure;
No dog in such fashion would longer live!
Therefore myself to magic I give,
In hope, through spirit-voice and might,
Secrets now veiled to bring to light,
That I no more, with aching brow,
Need speak of what I nothing know;
That I the force may recognise
That binds creation’s inmost energies;
Her vital powers, her embryo seeds survey,
And fling the trade in empty words away.
O full-orb’d moon, did but thy rays
Their last upon mine anguish gaze!
Beside this desk, at dead of night,
Oft have I watched to hail thy light:
Then, pensive friend! o’er book and scroll,
With soothing power, thy radiance stole!
In thy dear light, ah, might I climb,
Freely, some mountain height sublime,
Round mountain caves with spirits ride,
In thy mild haze o’er meadows glide,
And, purged from knowledge-fumes, renew
My spirit, in thy healing dew!
Woe’s me! still prison’d in the gloom
Of this abhorr’d and musty room!
Where heaven’s dear light itself doth pass,
But dimly through the painted glass!
Hemmed in by volumes thick with dust,
Worm-eaten, hid ’neath rust and mould,
And to the high vault’s topmost bound,
A smoke-stained paper compassed round;
With boxes round thee piled, and glass,
And many a useless instrument,
With old ancestral lumber blent—
This is thy world! a world! alas!
And dost thou ask why heaves thy heart,
With tighten’d pressure in thy breast?
Why the dull ache will not depart,
By which thy life-pulse is oppress’d?
Instead of nature’s living sphere,
Created for mankind of old,
Brute skeletons surround thee here,
And dead men’s bones in smoke and mould.
Up! Forth into the distant land!
Is not this book of mystery
By Nostradamus’ proper hand,
An all-sufficient guide? Thou’lt see
The courses of the stars unroll’d;
When nature doth her thoughts unfold
To thee, thy soul shall rise, and seek
Communion high with her to hold,
As spirit doth with spirit speak!
Vain by dull poring to divine
The meaning of each hallow’d sign.
Spirits! I feel you hov’ring near;
Make answer, if my voice ye hear!  (He opens the book and perceives the sign of the Macrocosmos.)
Ah! at this spectacle through every sense,
What sudden ecstasy of joy is flowing!
I feel new rapture, hallow’d and intense,
Through every nerve and vein with ardour glowing.
Was it a god who character’d this scroll,
The tumult in my spirit healing,
O’er my sad heart with rapture stealing,
And by a mystic impulse, to my soul,
The powers of nature all around revealing.
Am I a God? What light intense!
In these pure symbols do I see,
Nature exert her vital energy.
Now of the wise man’s words I learn the sense;
        “Unlock’d the spirit-world doth lie,
        Thy sense is shut, thy heart is dead!
        Up scholar, lave, with courage high,
        Thine earthly breast in the morning-red!”  (He contemplates the sign.)
How all things live and work, and ever blending,
Weave one vast whole from Being’s ample range!
How powers celestial, rising and descending,
Their golden buckets ceaseless interchange!
Their flight on rapture-breathing pinions winging,
From heaven to earth their genial influence bringing,
Through the wild sphere their chimes melodious ringing!
A wondrous show! but ah! a show alone!
Where shall I grasp thee, infinite nature, where?
Ye breasts, ye fountains of all life, whereon
Hang heaven and earth, from which the withered heart
For solace yearns, ye still impart
Your sweet and fostering tides—where are ye—where?
Ye gush, and must I languish in despair?  (He turns over the leaves of the book impatiently, and perceives the sigh of the Earth-spirit.)
How all unlike the influence of this sign!
Earth-spirit, thou to me art nigher,
E’en now my strength is rising higher,
E’en now I glow as with new wine;
Courage I feel, abroad the world to dare,
The woe of earth, the bliss of earth to bear,
With storms to wrestle, brave the lightning’s glare,
And mid the crashing shipwreck not despair.
Clouds gather over me—
The moon conceals her light—
The lamp is quench’d—
Vapours are rising—Quiv’ring round my head
Flash the red beams—Down from the vaulted roof
A shuddering horror floats,
And seizes me!
I feel it, spirit, prayer-compell’d, ’tis thou
Art hovering near!
Unveil thyself!
Ha! How my heart is riven now!
Each sense, with eager palpitation,
Is strain’d to catch some new sensation!
I feel my heart surrender’d unto thee!
Thou must! Thou must! Though life should be the fee!  (He seizes the book, and pronounces mysteriously the sign of the spirit. A ruddy flame flashes up; the spirit appears in the flame.)

Who calls me?
FAUST  (turning aside)

              Dreadful shape!

                With might,
Thou hast compelled me to appear,
Long hast been sucking at my sphere,
And now—

        Woe’s me! I cannot bear thy sight!

To see me thou dost breathe thine invocation,
My voice to hear, to gaze upon my brow;
Me doth thy strong entreaty bow—
Lo! I am here!—What cowering agitation
Grasps thee, the demigod! Where’s now the soul’s deep cry?
Where is the breast, which in its depths a world conceiv’d
And bore and cherished? which, with ecstacy,
To rank itself with us, the spirits, heaved?
Where art thou, Faust? whose voice I heard resound,
Who towards me press’d with energy profound?
Art thou he? Thou,—who by my breath art blighted,
Who, in his spirit’s depths affrighted,
Trembles, a crush’d and writhing worm!

Shall I yield, thing of flame, to thee?
Faust, and thine equal, I am he!

In the currents of life, in action’s storm,
        I float and I wave
        With billowy motion!
        Birth and the grave
        A limitless ocean,
        A constant weaving
        With change still rife,
        A restless heaving,
        A glowing life—
Thus time’s whirring loom unceasing I ply,
And weave the life-garment of deity.

Thou, restless spirit, dost from end to end
O’ersweep the world; how near I feel to thee!

Thou’rt like the spirit, thou dost comprehend,
Not me!  (Vanishes.)

Not thee?
Whom then?
I, Gods own image!
And not rank with thee!  (A knock.)
Oh death! I know it—’tis my famulus—
My fairest fortune now escapes!
That all these visionary shapes
A soulless groveller should banish thus! (WAGNER in his dressing gown and night-cap, a lamp in his hand. FAUST turns round reluctantly.)

Pardon! I heard you here declaim;
A Grecian tragedy you doubtless read?
Improvement in this art is now my aim,
For now-a-days it much avails. Indeed
An actor, oft I’ve heard it said, as teacher,
May give instruction to a preacher.

Ay, if your priest should be an actor too,
As not improbably may come to pass.

When in his study pent the whole year through,
Man views the world, as through an optic glass,
On a chance holiday, and scarcely then,
How by persuasion can he govern men?

If feeling prompt not, if it doth not flow
Fresh from the spirit’s depths, with strong control
Swaying to rapture every listener’s soul,
Idle your toil; the chase you may forego!
Brood o’er your task! Together glue,
Cook from another’s feast your own ragout,
Still prosecute your paltry game,
And fan your ash-heaps into flame!
Thus children’s wonder you’ll excite,
And apes’, if such your appetite;
But that which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.

The speaker in delivery will find
Success alone; I still am far behind.

A worthy object still pursue!
Be not a hollow tinkling fool!
Sound understanding, judgment true,
Find utterance without art or rule;
And when in earnest you are moved to speak,
Then is it needful cunning words to seek?
Your fine harangues, so polish’d in their kind,
Wherein the shreds of human thought ye twist,
Are unrefreshing as the empty wind,
Whistling through wither’d leaves and autumn mist!

Oh God! How long is art,
Our life how short! With earnest zeal
Still as I ply the critic’s task, I feel
A strange oppression both of head and heart.
The very means how hardly are they won,
By which we to the fountains rise!
And haply, ere one half the course is run,
Check’d in his progress, the poor devil dies.

Parchment, is that the sacred fount whence roll
Waters, he thirsteth not who once hath quaffed?
Oh, if it gush not from thine inmost soul,
Thou has not won the life-restoring draught.

Your pardon! ’tis delightful to transport
Oneself into the spirit of the past,
To see in times before us how a wise man thought,
And what a glorious height we have achieved at last.

Ay truly! even to the loftiest star!
To us, my friend, the ages that are pass’d
A book with seven seals, close-fasten’d, are;
And what the spirit of the times men call,
Is merely their own spirit after all,
Wherein, distorted oft, the times are glass’d.
Then truly, ’tis a sight to grieve the soul!
At the first glance we fly it in dismay;
A very lumber-room, a rubbish-hole;
At best a sort of mock-heroic play,
With saws pragmatical, and maxims sage,
To suit the puppets and their mimic stage.

But then the world and man, his heart and brain!
Touching these things all men would something know.

Ay! what ’mong men as knowledge doth obtain!
Who on the child its true name dares bestow?
The few who somewhat of these things have known,
Who their full hearts unguardedly reveal’d,
Nor thoughts, nor feelings, from the mob conceal’d,
Have died on crosses, or in flames been thrown.—
Excuse me, friend, far now the night is spent,
For this time we must say adieu.

Still to watch on I had been well content,
Thus to converse so learnedly with you.
But as to-morrow will be Easter-day,
Some further questions grant, I pray;
With diligence to study still I fondly cling;
Already I know much, but would know everything.  (Exit.)
FAUST  (alone)

How him alone all hope abandons never,
To empty trash who clings, with zeal untired,
With greed for treasure gropes, and, joy-inspir’d,
Exults if earth-worms second his endeavour.
And dare a voice of merely human birth,
E’en here, where shapes immortal throng’d intrude?
Yet ah! thou poorest of the sons of earth,
For once, I e’en to thee feel gratitude.
Despair the power of sense did well-nigh blast,
And thou didst save me ere I sank dismay’d,
So giant-like the vision seem’d, so vast,
I felt myself shrink dwarf’d as I survey’d!
I, God’s own image, from this toil of clay
Already freed, with eager joy who hail’d
The mirror of eternal truth unveil’d,
Mid light effulgent and celestial day:—
I, more than cherub, whose unfetter’d soul
With penetrative glance aspir’d to flow
Through nature’s veins, and, still creating, know
The life of gods,—how am I punish’d now!
One thunder-word hath hurl’d me from the goal!
    Spirit! I dare not lift me to thy sphere.
    What though my power compell’d thee to appear,
    My art was powerless to detain thee here.
    In that great moment, rapture-fraught,
    I felt myself so small, so great;
    Fiercely didst thrust me from the realm of thought
    Back on humanity’s uncertain fate!
    Who’ll teach me now? What ought I to forego?
    Ought I that impulse to obey?
    Alas! our every deed, as well as every woe,
    Impedes the tenor of life’s onward way!
E’en to the noblest by the soul conceiv’d,
Some feelings cling of baser quality;
And when the goods of this world are achiev’d,
Each nobler aim is termed a cheat, a lie.
Our aspirations, our soul’s genuine life,
Grow torpid in the din of earthly strife.
Though youthful phantasy, while hope inspires,
Stretch o’er the infinite her wing sublime,
A narrow compass limits her desires,
When wreck’d our fortunes in the gulf of time.
In the deep heart of man care builds her nest,
O’er secret woes she broodeth there,
Sleepless she rocks herself and scareth joy and rest;
Still is she wont some new disguise to wear,
She may as house and court, as wife and child appear,
As dagger, poison, fire and flood;
Imagined evils chill thy blood,
    And what thou ne’er shall lose, o’er that dost shed the tear.
    I am not like the gods! Feel it I must;
    I’m like the earth-worm, writhing in the dust,
    Which, as on dust it feeds, its native fare,
    Crushed ’neath the passer’s tread, lies buried there.
Is it not dust, wherewith this lofty wall,
With hundred shelves, confines me round;
Rubbish, in thousand shapes, may I not call
What in this moth-world doth my being bound?
Here, what doth fail me, shall I find?
Read in a thousand tomes that, everywhere,
Self-torture is the lot of human-kind,
With but one mortal happy, here and there?
Thou hollow skull, that grin, what should it say,
But that thy brain, like mine, of old perplexed,
Still yearning for the truth, hath sought the light of day.
And in the twilight wandered, sorely vexed?
Ye instruments, forsooth, ye mock at me,—
With wheel, and cog, and ring, and cylinder;
To nature’s portals ye should be the key;
Cunning your wards, and yet the bolts ye fail to stir.
Inscrutable in broadest light,
To be unveil’d by force she doth refuse,
What she reveals not to thy mental sight,
Thou wilt not wrest me from her with levers and with screws.
Old useless furnitures, yet stand ye here,
Because my sire ye served, now dead and gone.
Old scroll, the smoke of years dost wear,
So long as o’er this desk the sorry lamp hath shone.
Better my little means hath squandered quite away,
Than burden’d by that little here to sweat and groan!
Wouldst thou possess thy heritage, essay,
By use to render it thine own!
What we employ not, but impedes our way,
That which the hour creates, that can it use alone!
But wherefore to yon spot is riveted my gaze?
Is yonder flasket there a magnet to my sight?
Whence this mild radiance that around me plays,
As when, ’mid forest gloom, reigneth the moon’s soft light?
Hail precious phial! Thee, with reverent awe,
Down from thine old receptacle I draw!
Science in thee I hail and human art.
Essence of deadliest powers, refin’d and sure,
Of soothing anodynes abstraction pure,
Now in thy master’s need thy grace impart!
I gaze on thee, my pain is lull’d to rest;
I grasp thee, calm’d the tumult in my breast;
The flood-tide of my spirit ebbs away;
Onward I’m summon’d o’er a boundless main,
Calm at my feet expands the glassy plain,
To shores unknown allures a brighter day.
Lo, where a car of fire, on airy pinion,
Comes floating towards me! I’m prepar’d to fly
By a new track through ether’s wide dominion,
To distant spheres of pure activity.
This life intense, this godlike ecstasy—
Worm that thou art such rapture canst thou earn?
Only resolve with courage stern and high,
Thy visage from the radiant sun to turn!
Dare with determin’d will to burst the portals
Past which in terror others fain would steal!
Now is the time, through deeds, to show that mortals
The calm sublimity of gods can feel;
To shudder not at yonder dark abyss,
Where phantasy creates her own self-torturing brood,
Right onward to the yawning gulf to press,
Around whose narrow jaws rolleth hell’s fiery flood;
With glad resolve to take the fatal leap,
Though danger threaten thee, to sink in endless sleep!
Pure crystal goblet! forth I draw thee now,
From out thine antiquated case, where thou
Forgotten hast reposed for many a year!
Oft at my father’s revels thou didst shine,
To glad the earnest guests was thine,
As each to other passed the generous cheer.
The gorgeous brede of figures, quaintly wrought,
Which he who quaff’d must first in rhyme expound,
Then drain the goblet at one draught profound,
Hath nights of boyhood to fond memory brought.
I to my neighbour shall not reach thee now,
Nor on thy rich device shall I my cunning show.
Here is a juice, makes drunk without delay;
Its dark brown flood thy crystal round doth fill;
Let this last draught, the product of my skill,
My own free choice, be quaff’d with resolute will,
A solemn festive greeting, to the coming day!  (He places the goblet to his mouth.)  (The ringing of bells, and choral voices.)
Chorus of ANGELS

    Christ is arisen!
    Mortal, all hail to thee,
    Thou whom mortality,
    Earth’s sad reality,
    Held as in prison.

What hum melodious, what clear silvery chime
Thus draws the goblet from my lips away?
Ye deep-ton’d bells, do ye with voice sublime,
Announce the solemn dawn of Easter-day?
Sweet choir! are ye the hymn of comfort singing,
Which one around the darkness of the grave,
From seraph-voices, in glad triumph ringing,
Of a new covenant assurance gave?
Chorus of WOMEN

    We, his true-hearted,
    With spices and myrrh,
    Embalmed the departed,
    And swathed him with care;
    Here we conveyed Him,
    Our Master, so dear;
    Alas! Where we laid Him,
    The Christ is not here,
Chorus of ANGELS

    Christ is arisen!
    Blessed the loving one,
    Who from earth’s trial throes,
    Healing and strengthening woes,
    Soars as from prison.

Wherefore, ye tones celestial, sweet and strong,
Come ye a dweller in the dust to seek?
Ring out your chimes believing crowds among,
The message well I hear, my faith alone is weak;
From faith her darling, miracle, hath sprung.
Aloft to yonder spheres I dare not soar,
Whence sound the tidings of great joy;
And yet, with this sweet strain familiar when a boy,
Back it recalleth me to life once more.
Then would celestial love, with holy kiss,
Come o’er me in the Sabbath’s stilly hour,
While, fraught with solemn meaning and mysterious power,
Chim’d the deep-sounding bell, and prayer was bliss;
A yearning impulse, undefin’d yet dear,
Drove me to wander on through wood and field;
With heaving breast and many a burning tear,
I felt with holy joy a world reveal’d.
Gay sports and festive hours proclaim’d with joyous pealing,
This Easter hymn in days of old;
And fond remembrance now doth me, with childlike feeling,
Back from the last, the solemn step, withhold.
O still sound on, thou sweet celestial strain!
The tear-drop flows,-Earth, I am thine again!

    He whom we mourned as dead,
    Living and glorious,
    From the dark grave hath fled,
    O’er death victorious;
    Almost creative bliss
    Waits on his growing powers;
    Ah! Him on earth we miss;
    Sorrow and grief are ours.
    Yearning he left his own,
    Mid sore annoy;
    Ah! we must needs bemoan.
    Master, thy joy!
Chorus of ANGELS

    Christ is arisen,
    Redeem’d from decay.
    The bonds which imprison
    Your souls, rend away!
    Praising the Lord with zeal,
    By deeds that love reveal,
    Like brethren true and leal
    Sharing the daily meal,
    To all that sorrow feel
    Whisp’ring of heaven’s weal,
    Still is the master near,
    Still is he here!
Promenaders of all sorts pass out.

Why choose ye that direction, pray?

To the hunting-lodge we’re on our way.

We towards the mill are strolling on.

A walk to Wasserhof were best.

The road is not a pleasant one.

What will you do?

                I’ll join the rest.

Let’s up to Burghof, there you’ll find good cheer,
The prettiest maidens and the best of beer,
And brawls of a prime sort.

                You scapegrace! How;
Your skin still itching for a row?
Thither I will not go, I loathe the place.

No, no! I to the town my steps retrace.

Near yonder poplars he is sure to be.

And if he is, what matters it to me!
With you he’ll walk, he’ll dance with none but you,
And with your pleasures what have I to do?

To-day he will not be alone, he said
His friend would be with him, the curly-head.

Why how those buxom girls step on!
Come, brother, we will follow them anon.
Strong beer, a damsel smartly dress’d,
Stinging tobacco,—these I love the best.

Look at those handsome fellows there!
’Tis really shameful, I declare,
The very best society they shun,
After those servant girls forsooth, to run.
SECOND STUDENT  (to the first)

Not quite so fast! for in our rear,
Two girls, well-dress’d, are drawing near;
Not far from us the one doth dwell,
And sooth to say, I like her well.
They walk demurely, yet you’ll see,




That they will let us join them presently.

Not I! restraints of all kinds I detest.
Quick! let us catch the wild-game ere it flies,
The hand on Saturday the mop that plies,
Will on the Sunday fondle you the best.

No, this new Burgomaster, I like him not, God knows,
Now, he’s in office, daily more arrogant he grows;
And for the town, what doth he do for it?
Are not things worse from day to day?
To more restraints we must submit;
And taxes more than ever pay.
BEGGAR  (sings)

    Kind gentleman and ladies fair,
    So rosy-cheek’d and trimly dress’d,
    Be pleas’d to listen to my prayer,
    Relieve and pity the distress’d.
    Let me not vainly sing my lay!
    His heart’s most glad whose hand is free.
    Now when all men keep holiday,
    Should be a harvest-day to me.

On holidays and Sundays naught know I more inviting
Than chatting about war and war’s alarms,
When folk in Turkey, up in arms,
Far off, are ’gainst each other fighting.
We at the window stand, our glasses drain,
And watch adown the stream the painted vessels gliding
Then joyful we at eve come home again,
And peaceful times we bless, peace long-abiding.

Ay, neighbour! So let matters stand for me!
There they may scatter one another’s brains,
And wild confusion round them see—
So here at home in quiet all remains!
Heyday! How smart! The fresh young blood!
Who would not fall in love with you?
Not quite so proud! ’Tis well and good!
And what you wish, that I could help you to.

Come, Agatha! I care not to be seen
Walking in public with these witches. True,
My future lover, last St. Andrew’s E’en,
In flesh and blood she brought before my view.

And mine she show’d me also in the glass,
A soldier’s figure, with companions bold;
I look around, I seek him as I pass,
In vain, his form I nowhere can behold.

    Fortress with turrets
    And walls high in air,
    Damsel disdainful,
    Haughty and fair,
    There be my prey!
    Bold is the venture,
    Costly the pay!
    Hark how the trumpet
    Thither doth call us,
    Where either pleasure
    Or death may befall us.
    Hail to the tumult!
    Life’s in the field!
    Damsel and fortress
    To us must yield.
    Bold is the venture,
    Costly the pay!
    Gaily the soldier
    Marches away.

Loosed from their fetters are streams and rills
Through the gracious spring-tide’s all-quickening glow;
Hope’s budding joy in the vale doth blow;
Old Winter back to the savage hills
Withdraweth his force, decrepid now.
Thence only impotent icy grains
Scatters he as he wings his flight,
Striping with sleet the verdant plains;
But the sun endureth no trace of white;
Everywhere growth and movement are rife,
All things investing with hues of life:
Though flowers are lacking, varied of dye,
Their colours the motley throng supply.
Turn thee around, and from this height,
Back to the town direct thy sight.
Forth from the hollow, gloomy gate,
Stream forth the masses, in bright array.
Gladly seek they the sun to-day;
The Lord’s Resurrection they celebrate:
For they themselves have risen, with joy,
From tenement sordid, from cheerless room,
From bonds of toil, from care and annoy,
From gable and roof’s o’er-hanging gloom,
From crowded alley and narrow street,
And from the churches’ awe-breathing night,
All now have come forth into the light.
Look, only look, on nimble feet,
Through garden and field how spread the throng,
How o’er the river’s ample sheet,
Many a gay wherry glides along;
And see, deep sinking in the tide,
Pushes the last boat now away.
E’en from yon far hill’s path-worn side,
Flash the bright hues of garments gay.
Hark! Sounds of village mirth arise;
This is the people’s paradise.
Both great and small send up a cheer;
Here am I man, I feel it here.

Sir Doctor, in a walk with you
There’s honour and instruction too;
Yet here alone I care not to resort,
Because I coarseness hate of every sort.
This fiddling, shouting, skittling, I detest;
I hate the tumult of the vulgar throng;
They roar as by the evil one possess’d,
And call it pleasure, call it song.
PEASANTS(under the linden-tree)
Dance and song
  The shepherd for the dance was dress’d,
  With ribbon, wreath, and coloured vest,
  A gallant show displaying.
  And round about the linden-tree,
  They footed it right merrily.
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  So fiddle-bow was braying
  Our swain amidst the circle press’d,
  He push’d a maiden trimly dress’d,
  And jogg’d her with his elbow;
  The buxom damsel turn’d her head,
  “Now that’s a stupid trick!” she said
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  Don’t be so rude, good fellow!
  Swift in the circle they advanced,
  They danced to right, to left they danced,
  And all the skirts were swinging.
  And they grew red, and they grew warm,
  Panting, they rested arm in arm,
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  To hip their elbow bringing.
  Don’t make so free! How many a maid
  Has been betroth’d and then betray’d;
  And has repented after!
  Yet still he flatter’d her aside,
  And from the linden, far and wide,
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  Rang fiddle-bow and laughter.

Doctor, ’tis really kind of you,
To condescend to come this way,
A highly learned man like you,
To join our mirthful throng to-day.
Our fairest cup I offer you,
which we with sparkling drink have crown’d,
And pledging you, I pray aloud,
That every drop within its round,
While it your present thirst allays,
May swell the number of your days.

I take the cup you kindly reach,
Thanks and prosperity to each!  (The crowd gather round in a circle.)

Ay, truly! ’tis well done, that you
Our festive meeting thus attend;
You, who in evil days of yore,
So often show’d yourself our friend!
Full many a one stands living here,
Who from the fever’s deadly blast,
Your father rescu’d, when his skill
The fatal sickness stay’d at last.
A young man then, each house you sought,
Where reign’d the mortal pestilence.
Corpse after corpse was carried forth,
But still unscath’d you issued thence.
Sore then your trials and severe;
The Helper yonder aids the helper here.

Heaven bless the trusty friend, and long
To help the poor his life prolong!

To Him above in homage bend,
Who prompts the helper and Who help doth send.  (He proceeds with WAGNER.)

What feelings, great man, must thy breast inspire,
At homage paid thee by this crowd! Thrice blest
Who from the gifts by him possessed
Such benefit can draw! The sire
Thee to his boy with reverence shows;
They press around, inquire, advance,
Hush’d is the fiddle, check’d the dance.
Where thou dost pass they stand in rows,
And each aloft his bonnet throws,
But little fails and they to thee,
As though the Host came by, would bend the knee.

A few steps further, up to yonder stone!
Here rest we from our walk. In times long past,
Absorb’d in thought, here oft I sat alone,
And disciplin’d myself with prayer and fast.
Then rich in hope, with faith sincere,
With sighs, and hands in anguish press’d,
The end of that sore plague, with many a tear,
From heaven’s dread Lord, I sought to wrest.
The crowd’s applause assumes a scornful tone.
Oh, could’st thou in my inner being read,
How little either sire or son,
Of such renown deserves the meed!
My sire, of good repute, and sombre mood,
O’er nature’s powers and every mystic zone,
With honest zeal, but methods of his own,
With toil fantastic loved to brood;
His time in dark alchemic cell,
With brother adepts he would spend,
And there antagonists compel,
Through numberless receipts to blend.
A ruddy lion there, a suitor bold,
In tepid bath was with the lily wed.
Thence both, while open flames around them roll’d,
Were tortur’d to another bridal bed.
Was then the youthful queen descried
With varied colours in the flask;—
This was our medicine; the patients died,
“Who were restored?” none cared to ask.
With our infernal mixture thus, ere long,
These hills and peaceful vales among,
We rag’d more fiercely than the pest;
Myself the deadly poison did to thousands give;
They pined away, I yet must live,
To hear the reckless murderers blest.

Why let this thought your soul o’ercast?
Can man do more than with nice skill,
With firm and conscientious will,
Practise the art transmitted from the past?
If thou thy sire dost honour in thy youth,
His lore thou gladly wilt receive;
In manhood, dost thou spread the bounds of truth,
Then may thy son a higher goal achieve.

How blest, in whom the fond desire
From error’s sea to rise, hope still renews!
What a man knows not, that he doth require,
And what he knoweth, that he cannot use.
But let not moody thoughts their shadow throw
O’er the calm beauty of this hour serene!
In the rich sunset see how brightly glow
Yon cottage homes, girt round with verdant green!
Slow sinks the orb, the day in now no more;
Yonder he hastens to diffuse new life.
Oh for a pinion from the earth to soar,
And after, ever after him to strive!
Then should I see the world below,
Bathed in the deathless evening-beams,
The vales reposing, every height a-glow,
The silver brooklets meeting golden streams.
The savage mountain, with its cavern’d side,
Bars not my godlike progress. Lo, the ocean,
Its warm bays heaving with a tranquil motion,
To my rapt vision opes its ample tide!
But now at length the god appears to sink;
A new-born impulse wings my flight,
Onward I press, his quenchless light to drink,
The day before me, and behind the night,
The pathless waves beneath, and over me the skies.
Fair dream, it vanish’d with the parting day!
Alas! that when on spirit-wing we rise,
No wing material lifts our mortal clay.
But ’tis our inborn impulse, deep and strong,
Upwards and onwards still to urge our flight,
When far above us pours its thrilling song
The sky-lark, lost in azure light,
When on extended wing amain
O’er pine-crown’d height the eagle soars,
And over moor and lake, the crane
Still striveth towards its native shores.

To strange conceits oft I myself must own,
But impulse such as this I ne’er have known:
Nor woods, nor fields, can long our thoughts engage,
Their wings I envy not the feather’d kind;
Far otherwise the pleasures of the mind,
Bear us from book to book, from page to page!
Then winter nights grow cheerful; keen delight
Warms every limb; and ah! when we unroll
Some old and precious parchment, at the sight
All heaven itself descends upon the soul.

Thy heart by one sole impulse is possess’d;
Unconscious of the other still remain!
Two souls, alas! are lodg’d within my breast,
Which struggle there for undivided reign:
One to the world, with obstinate desire,
And closely-cleaving organs, still adheres;
Above the mist, the other doth aspire,
With sacred vehemence, to purer spheres.
Oh, are there spirits in the air,
Who float ’twixt heaven and earth dominion wielding,
Stoop hither from your golden atmosphere,
Lead me to scenes, new life and fuller yielding!
A magic mantle did I but possess,
Abroad to waft me as on viewless wings,
I’d prize it far beyond the costliest dress,
Nor would I change it for the robe of kings.

Call not the spirits who on mischief wait!
Their troop familiar, streaming through the air,
From every quarter threaten man’s estate,
And danger in a thousand forms prepare!
They drive impetuous from the frozen north,
With fangs sharp-piercing, and keen arrowy tongues;
From the ungenial east they issue forth,
And prey, with parching breath, upon thy lungs;
If, waft’d on the desert’s flaming wing,
They from the south heap fire upon the brain,
Refreshment from the west at first they bring,
Anon to drown thyself and field and plain.
In wait for mischief, they are prompt to hear;
With guileful purpose our behests obey;
Like ministers of grace they oft appear,
And lisp like angels, to betray.
But let us hence! Grey eve doth all things blend,
The air grows chill, the mists descend!
’Tis in the evening first our home we prize—
Why stand you thus, and gaze with wondering eyes?
What in the gloom thus moves you?

                Yon black hound
See’st thou, through corn and stubble scampering round?

I’ve mark’d him long, naught strange in him I see!

Note him! What takest thou the brute to be?

But for a poodle, whom his instinct serves
His master’s track to find once more.

Dost mark how round us, with wide spiral curves,
He wheels, each circle closer than before?
And, if I err not, he appears to me
A line of fire upon his track to leave.

Naught but a poodle black of hue I see;
’Tis some illusion doth your sight deceive.

Methinks a magic coil our feet around,
He for a future snare doth lightly spread.

Around us as in doubt I see him shyly bound,
Since he two strangers seeth in his master’s stead.

The circle narrows, he’s already near!

A dog dost see, no spectre have we here;
He growls, doubts, lays him on his belly, too,
And wags his tail—as dogs are wont to do.

Come hither, Sirrah! join our company!

A very poodle, he appears to be!
Thou standest still, for thee he’ll wait;
Thou speak’st to him, he fawns upon thee straight;
Aught thou mayst lose, again he’ll bring,
And for thy stick will into water spring.

Thou’rt right indeed; no traces now I see
Whatever of a spirit’s agency.
’Tis training—nothing more.

                A dog well taught
E’en by the wisest of us may be sought.
Ay, to your favour he’s entitled too,
Apt scholar of the students, ’tis his due!  (They enter the gate of the town.)
FAUST  (entering with the poodle)

    Now field and meadow I’ve forsaken;
    O’er them deep night her veil doth draw;
    In us the better soul doth waken,
    With feelings of foreboding awe,
    All lawless promptings, deeds unholy,
    Now slumber, and all wild desires;
    The love of man doth sway us wholly,
    And love to God the soul inspires.
Peace, poodle, peace! Scamper not thus; obey me!
Why at the threshold snuffest thou so?
Behind the stove now quietly lay thee,
My softest cushion to thee I’ll throw.
As thou, without, didst please and amuse me
Running and frisking about on the hill,
So tendance now I will not refuse thee;
A welcome guest, if thou’lt be still.
    Ah! when the friendly taper gloweth,
    Once more within our narrow cell,
    Then in the heart itself that knoweth,
    A light the darkness doth dispel.
    Reason her voice resumes; returneth
    Hope’s gracious bloom, with promise rife;
    For streams of life the spirit yearneth,
    Ah! for the very fount of life.
Poodle, snarl not! with the tone that arises,
Hallow’d and peaceful, my soul within,
Accords not thy growl, thy bestial din.
We find it not strange, that man despises
What he conceives not;
That he the good and fair misprizes—
Finding them often beyond his ken;
Will the dog snarl at them like men?
But ah! Despite my will, it stands confessed,
Contentment welleth up no longer in my breast.
Yet wherefore must the stream, alas, so soon be dry,
That we once more athirst should lie?
Full oft this sad experience hath been mine;
Nathless the want admits of compensation;
For things above the earth we learn to pine,
Our spirits yearn for revelation,
Which nowhere burns with purer beauty blent,
Than here in the New Testament.
To ope the ancient text an impulse strong
Impels me, and its sacred lore,
With honest purpose to explore,
And render into my love German tongue.  (He opens a volume, and applies himself to it.)
’Tis writ, “In the beginning was the Word!”
I pause, perplex’d! Who now will help afford?
I cannot the mere Word so highly prize;
I must translate it otherwise,
If by the spirit guided as I read.
“In the beginning was the Sense!” Take heed,
The import of this primal sentence weigh,
Lest thy too hasty pen be led astray!
Is force creative then of Sense the dower?
“In the beginning was the Power!”
Thus should it stand: yet, while the line I trace,
A something warns me, once more to efface.
The spirit aids! from anxious scruples freed,
I write, “In the beginning was the Deed!”
    Am I with thee my room to share,
    Poodle, thy barking now forbear,
    Forbear thy howling!
    Comrade so noisy, ever growling,
    I cannot suffer here to dwell.
    One or the other, mark me well,
    Forthwith must leave the cell.
    I’m loath the guest-right to withhold;
    The door’s ajar, the passage clear;
    But what must now mine eyes behold!
    Are nature’s laws suspended here?
    Real is it, or a phantom show?
    In length and breadth how doth my poodle grow!
    He lifts himself with threat’ning mien,
    In likeness of a dog no longer seen!
    What spectre have I harbour’d thus!
    Huge as a hippopotamus,
    With fiery eye, terrific tooth!
    Ah! now I know thee, sure enough!
    For such a base, half-hellish brood,
    The key of Solomon is good.
SPIRITS  (without)
    Captur’d there within is one!
    Stay without and follow none!
    Like a fox in iron snare,
    Hell’s old lynx is quaking there,
        But take heed!
    Hover round, above, below,
        To and fro,
    Then from durance is he freed!
    Can ye aid him, spirits all,
    Leave him not in mortal thrall!
    Many a time and oft hath he
    Served us, when at liberty.

The monster to confront, at first,
The spell of Four must be rehears’d;
        Salamander shall kindle,
        Writhe nymph of the wave,
        In air sylph shall dwindle,
        And Kobold shall slave.
Who doth ignore
The primal Four,
Nor knows aright
Their use and might,
O’er spirits will he
Ne’er master be!
    Vanish in the fiery glow,
    Rushingly together flow.
    Shimmer in the meteor’s gleam,
    Hither bring thine homely aid,
    Incubus! Incubus!
    Step forth! I do adjure thee thus!
None of the Four
Lurks in the beast:
He grins at me, untroubled as before;
I have not hurt him in the least.
A spell of fear
Thou now shalt hear.
    Art thou, comrade fell,
    Fugitive from Hell?
    See then this sign,
    Before which incline
    The murky troops of Hell!
With bristling hair now doth the creature swell.
    Canst thou, reprobate,
    Read the uncreate,
    Unspeakable, diffused
    Throughout the heavenly sphere,
    Shamefully abused,
    Transpierced with nail and spear!
Behind the stove, tam’d by my spells,
Like an elephant he swells;
Wholly now he fills the room,
He into mist will melt away.
Ascend not to the ceiling! Come,
Thyself at the master’s feet now lay!
Thou seest that mine is no idle threat.
With holy fire I will scorch thee yet!
Wait not the might
That lies in the triple-glowing light!
Wait not the might
Of all my arts in fullest measure!
(As the mist sinks, comes forward from behind the stove, in the dress of a travelling scholar)
Why all this uproar? What’s the master’s pleasure?

This then the kernel of the brute!
A traveling scholar? Why I needs must smile.

Your learned reverence humbly I salute!
You’ve made me swelter in a pretty style.

Thy name?

          The question trifling seems from one,
Who it appears the Word doth rate so low;
Who, undeluded by mere outward show,
To Being’s depths would penetrate alone.





With gentlemen like you indeed
The inward essence from the name we read,
As all too plainly it doth appear,
When Beelzebub, Destroyer, Liar, meets the ear.
Who then art thou?

                Part of that power which still
Produceth good, whilst ever scheming ill.

What hidden mystery in this riddle lies?

The spirit I, which evermore denies!
And justly; for whate’er to light is brought
Deserves again to be reduced to naught;
Then better ’twere that naught should be.
Thus all the elements which ye
Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name,
As my peculiar element I claim.

Thou nam’st thyself a part, and yet a whole I see.

The modest truth I speak to thee.
Though folly’s microcosm, man, it seems,
Himself to be a perfect whole esteems:
Part of the part am I, which at the first was all,
A part of darkness, which gave birth to light,
Proud light, who now his mother would enthrall,
Contesting space and ancient rank with night.
Yet he succeedeth not, for struggle as he will,
To forms material he adhereth still;
From them he streameth, them he maketh fair,
And still the progress of his beams they check;
And so, I trust, when comes the final wreck,
Light will, ere long, the doom of matter share.

Thy worthy avocation now I guess!
Wholesale annihilation won’t prevail,
So thou’rt beginning on a smaller scale.

And, to say truth, as yet with small success.
Oppos’d to naught, this clumsy world,
The something—it subsisteth still;
Not yet is it to ruin hurl’d,
Despite the efforts of my will.
Tempests and earthquakes, fire and flood, I’ve tried;
Yet land and ocean still unchang’d abide!
And then of humankind and beasts, the accursed brood,—
Neither o’er them can I extend my sway.
What countless myriads have I swept away!
Yet ever circulates the fresh young blood.
It is enough to drive me to despair!
As in the earth, in water, and in air,
A thousand germs burst forth spontaneously;
In moisture, drought, heat, cold, they still appear!
Had I not flame selected as my sphere
Nothing apart had been reversed for me.

So thou with thy cold devil’s fist
Still clench’d in malice impotent
Dost the creative power resist,
The active, the beneficent!
Henceforth some other task essay,
Of Chaos thou the wondrous son!

We will consider what you say,
And talk about it more anon!
For this time have I leave to go?

Why thou shouldst ask, I cannot see.
Since thee I now have learned to know,
At thy good pleasure, visit me.
Here is the window, here the door,
The chimney, too, may serve thy need.

I must confess, my stepping o’er
Thy threshold a slight hindrance doth impede;
The wizard-foot doth me retain.

The pentagram thy peace doth mar?
To me, thou son of hell, explain,
How camest thou in, if this thine exit bar?
Could such a spirit aught ensnare?

Observe it well, it is not drawn with care,
One of the angles, that which points without,
Is, as thou seest, not quite closed.

Chance hath the matter happily dispos’d!
So thou my captive art? No doubt!
By accident thou thus art caught!

In sprang the dog, indeed, observing naught;
Things now assume another shape,
The devil’s in the house and can’t escape.

Why through the window not withdraw?

For ghosts and for the devil ’tis a law.
Where they stole in, there they must forth. We’re free
The first to choose; as to the second, slaves are we.

E’en hell hath its peculiar laws, I see!
I’m glad of that! a pact may then be made,
The which you gentlemen will surely keep?

What e’er therein is promised thou shalt reap,
No tittle shall remain unpaid.
But such arrangements time require;
We’ll speak of them when next we meet;
Most earnestly I now entreat,
This once permission to retire.

Another moment prithee here remain,
Me with some happy word to pleasure.

Now let me go! ere long I’ll come again,
Then thou may’st question at thy leisure.

’Twas not my purpose thee to lime;
The snare hast entered of thine own free will:
Let him who holds the devil, hold him still!
So soon he’ll catch him not a second time.

If it so please thee, I’m at thy command;
Only on this condition, understand;
That worthily thy leisure to beguile,
I here may exercise my arts awhile.

Thou’rt free to do so! Gladly I’ll attend;
But be thine art a pleasant one!

                My friend,
This hour enjoyment more intense,
Shall captivate each ravish’d sense,
Than thou could’st compass in the bound
Of the whole year’s unvarying round;
And what the dainty spirits sing,
The lovely images they bring.
Are no fantastic sorcery.
Rich odours shall regale your smell,
On choicest sweets your palate dwell,
Your feelings thrill with ecstasy.
No preparation do we need,
Here we together are. Proceed.

    Hence overshadowing gloom,
    Vanish from sight!
    O’er us thine azure dome,
    Bend, beauteous light!
    Dark clouds that o’er us spread,
    Melt in thin air!
    Stars, your soft radiance shed,
    Tender and fair.
    Girt with celestial might,
    Winging their airy flight,
    Spirits are thronging.
    Follows their forms of light
    Infinite longing!
    Flutter their vestures bright
    O’er field and grove!
    Where in their leafy bower
    Lovers the livelong hour
    Vow deathless love.
    Soft bloometh bud and bower!
    Bloometh the grove!
    Grapes from the spreading vine
    Crown the full measure;
    Fountains of foaming wine
    Gush from the pressure.
    Still where the currents wind,
    Gems brightly gleam.
    Leaving the hills behind
    On rolls the stream;
    Now into ample seas,
    Spreadeth the flood;
    Laving the sunny leas,
    Mantled with wood.
    Rapture the feather’d throng,
    Gaily careering,
    Sip as they float along;
    Sunward they’re steering;
    On towards the isles of light
    Winging their way,
    That on the waters bright
    Dancingly play.
    Hark to the choral strain,
    Joyfully ringing!
    While on the grassy plain
    Dancers are springing;
    Climbing the steep hill’s side,
    Skimming the glassy tide,
    Wander they there;
    Others on pinions wide
    Wing the blue air;
    All lifeward tending, upward still wending,
    Towards yonder stars that gleam,
    Far, far above;
    Stars from whose tender beam
    Rains blissful love.

Well done, my dainty spirits! now he slumbers!
Ye have entranc’d him fairly with your numbers!
This minstrelsy of yours I must repay,—
Thou art not yet the man to hold the devil fast!—
With fairest shapes your spells around him cast,
And plunge him in a sea of dreams!
But that this charm be rent, the threshold passed,
Tooth of rat the way must clear.
I need not conjure long it seems,
One rustles hitherward, and soon my voice will hear.
The master of the rats and mice,
Of flies and frogs, of bugs and lice,
Commands thy presence; without fear
Come forth and gnaw the threshold here,
Where he with oil has smear’d it.—Thou
Com’st hopping forth already! Now
To work! The point that holds me bound
Is in the outer angle found.
Another bite—so-now ’tis done—
Now, Faustus, till we meet again, dream on.
FAUST  (awaking)

Am I once more deluded! must I deem
That thus the throng of spirits disappear?
The devil’s presence, was it but a dream?
Hath but a poodle scap’d and left me here?

A knock? Come in! Who now would break my rest?

’Tis I!

        Come in!

                Thrice be the words express’d.

Then I repeat, Come in!

                ’Tis well,
I hope that we shall soon agree!
For now your fancies to expel,
Here, as a youth of high degree,
I come in gold-lac’d scarlet vest,
And stiff-silk mantle richly dress’d,
A cock’s gay feather for a plume,
A long and pointed rapier, too;
And briefly I would counsel you
To don at once the same costume,
And, free from trammels, speed away,
That what life is you may essay.

In every garb I needs must feel oppress’d,
My heart to earth’s low cares a prey.
Too old the trifler’s part to play,
Too young to live by no desire possess’d.
What can the world to me afford?
Renounce! renouce! is still the word;
This is the everlasting song
In every ear that ceaseless rings,
And which, alas, our whole life long,
Hoarsely each passing moment sings.
But to new horror I awake each morn,
And I could weep hot tears, to see the sun
Dawn on another day, whose round forlorn
Accomplishes no wish of mine—not one.
Which still, with froward captiousness, impains
E’en the presentiment of every joy,
While low realities and paltry cares
The spirit’s fond imaginings destroy.
Then must I too, when falls the veil of night,
Stretch’d on my pallet languish in despair,
Appalling dreams my soul affright;
No rest vouchsafed me even there.
The god, who throned within my breast resides,
Deep in my soul can stir the springs;
With sovereign sway my energies he guides,
He cannot move external things;
And so existence is to me a weight.
Death fondly I desire, and life I hate.

And yet, methinks, by most ’twill be confess’d
That Death is never quite a welcome guest.

Happy the man around whose brow he binds
The bloodstain’d wreath in conquest’s dazzling hour;
Or whom, excited by the dance, he finds
Dissolv’d in bliss, in love’s delicious bower!
O that before the lofty spirit’s might,
Enraptured, I had rendered up my soul!

Yet did a certain man refrain one night,
Of its brown juice to drain the crystal bowl.

To play the spy diverts you then?

                I own,
Though not omniscient, much to me is known.

If o’er my soul the tone familiar, stealing,
Drew me from harrowing thought’s bewild’ring maze,
Touching the ling’ring chords of childlike feeling,
With sweet harmonies of happier days:
So curse I all, around the soul that windeth
Its magic and alluring spell,
And with delusive flattery bindeth
Its victim to this dreary cell!
Curs’d before all things be the high opinion,
Wherewith the spirit girds itself around!
Of shows delusive curs’d be the dominion,
Within whose mocking sphere our sense is bound!
Accurs’d of dreams the treacherous wiles,
The cheat of glory, deathless fame!
Accurs’d what each as property beguiles,
Wife, child, slave, plough, whate’er its name!
Accurs’d be mammon, when with treasure
He doth to daring deeds incite:
Or when to steep the soul in pleasure,
He spreads the couch of soft delight!
Curs’d be the grape’s balsamic juice!
Accurs’d love’s dream, of joys the first!
Accurs’d be hope! accurs’d be faith!
And more than all, be patience curs’d!
CHORUS OF SPIRITS  (invisible)
    Woe! Woe!
    Thou hast destroy’d
    The beautiful world
    With violent blow;
    ’Tis shiver’d! ’tis shatter’d!
    The fragments abroad by a demigod scatter’d!
    Now we sweep
    The wrecks into nothingness!
    Fondly we weep
    The beauty that’s gone!
    Thou, ’mongst the sons of earth,
    Lofty and mighty one,
    Build it once more!
    In thine own bosom the lost world restore!
    Now with unclouded sense
    Enter a new career;
    Songs shall salute thine ear,
    Ne’er heard before!

My little ones these spirits be.
Hark! with shrewd intelligence,
How they recommend to thee
Action, and the joys of sense!
In the busy world to dwell,
Fain they would allure thee hence:
For within this lonely cell,
Stagnate sap of life and sense.
Forbear to trifle longer with thy grief,
Which, vulture-like, consumes thee in this den.
The worst society is some relief,
Making thee feel thyself a man with men.
Nathless, it is not meant, I trow,
To thrust thee ’mid the vulgar throng.
I to the upper ranks do not belong;
Yet if, by me companion’d, thou
Thy steps through life forthwith wilt take,
Upon the spot myself I’ll make
Thy comrade;—
Should it suit thy need,
I am thy servant, am thy slave indeed!

And how must I thy services repay?

Thereto thou lengthen’d repite hast!

                No! No!
The devil is an egoist I know:
And, for Heaven’s sake, ’tis not his way
Kindness to any one to show.
Let the condition plainly be exprest!
Such a domestic is a dangerous guest.

I’ll pledge myself to be thy servant here,
Still at thy back alert and prompt to be;
But when together yonder we appear,
Then shalt thou do the same for me.

But small concern I feel for yonder world;
Hast thou this system into ruin hurl’d,
Another may arise the void to fill.
This earth the fountain whence my pleasures flow,
This sun doth daily shine upon my woe,
And if this world I must forego,
Let happen then,—what can and will.
I to this theme will close mine ears,
If men hereafter hate and love,
And if there be in yonder spheres
A depth below or height above.

In this mood thou mayst venture it. But make
The compact! I at once will undertake
To charm thee with mine arts. I’ll give thee more
Than mortal eye hath e’er beheld before.

What, sorry Devil, hast thou to bestow?
Was ever mortal spirit, in its high endeavour,
Fathom’d by Being such as thou?
Yet food thou hast which satisfieth never,
Hast ruddy gold, that still doth flow
Like restless quicksilver away,
A game thou hast, at which none win who play,
A girl who would, with amorous eyen,
E’en from my breast, a neighbour snare,
Lofty ambition’s joy divine,
That, meteor-like, dissolves in air.
Show me the fruit that, ere ’tis pluck’d, doth rot,
And trees, whose verdure daily buds anew!

Such a commission scares me not,
I can provide such treasures, it is true;
But, my good friend, a season will come round,
When on what’s good we may regale in peace.

If e’er upon my couch, stretched at my ease, I’m found,
Then may my life that instant cease!
Me canst thou cheat with glozing wile
Till self-reproach away I cast,—
Me with joy’s lure canst thou beguile;—
Let that day be for me the last!
Be this our wager!


                Sure and fast!
When to the moment I shall say,
“Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”
Then mayst thou fetter me straightway,
Then to the abyss will I depart!
Then may the solemn death-bell sound,
Then from thy service thou art free,
The index then may cease its round.
And time be never more for me!

I shall remember: pause, ere ’tis too late.

Thereto a perfect right hast thou.
My strength I do not rashly overrate.
Slave am I here, at any rate,
If thine, or whose, it matters not, I trow.

At thine inaugural feast I will this day
Attend, my duties to commence.—
But one thing!—Accidents may happen, hence
A line or two in writing grant, I pray.

A writing, Pedant! dost demand from me?
Man, and man’s plighted word, are these unknown to thee?
Is’t not enough, that by the word I gave,
My doom for evermore is cast?
Doth not the world in all its currents rave,
And must a promise hold me fast?
Yet fixed is this delusion in our heart;
Who, of his own free will, therefrom would part?
How blest within whose breast truth reigneth pure!
No sacrifice will he repent when made!
A formal deed, with seal and signature,
A spectre this from which all shrink afraid.
The word its life resigneth in the pen,
Leather and wax usurp the mastery then.
Spirits of evil! what dost thou require?
Brass, marble, parchment, paper, dost desire?
Shall I with chisel, pen, or graver write?
Thy choice is free; to me ’tis all the same.

Wherefore thy passion so excite
And thus thine eloquence inflame?
A scrap is for our compact good.
Thou under-signest merely with a drop of blood.

If this will satisfy thy mind,
Thy whim I’ll gratify, howe’er absurd.

Blood is a juice of very special kind.

Be not afraid that I shall break my word!
The scope of all my energy
Is in exact accordance with my vow.
Vainly I have aspired too high;
I’m on a level but with such as thou;
Me the great spirit scorn’d, defied;
Nature from me herself doth hide;
Rent is the web of thought; my mind
Doth knowledge loathe of every kind.
In depths of sensual pleasure drown’d,
Let us our fiery passions still!
Enwrapp’d in magic’s veil profound,
Let wondrous charms our senses thrill!
Plunge we in time’s tempestuous flow,
Stem we the rolling surge of chance!
There may alternate weal and woe,
Success and failure, as they can,
Mingle and shift in changeful dance!
Excitement is the sphere for man.

Nor goal, nor measure is prescrib’d to you,
If you desire to taste of every thing,
To snatch at joy while on the wing,
May your career amuse and profit too!
Only fall to and don’t be over coy!

Hearken! The end I aim at is not joy;
I crave excitement, agonizing bliss,
Enamour’d hatred, quickening vexation.
Purg’d from the love of knowledge, my vocation,
The scope of all my powers henceforth be this,
To bare my breast to every pang,—to know
In my heart’s core all human weal and woe,
To grasp in thought the lofty and the deep,
Men’s various fortunes on my breast to heap,
And thus to theirs dilate my individual mind,
And share at length with them the shipwreck of mankind.

Oh, credit me, who still as ages roll,
Have chew’d this bitter fare from year to year,
No mortal, from the cradle to the bier,
Digests the ancient leaven! Know, this Whole
Doth for the Deity alone subsist!
He in eternal brightness doth exist,
Us unto darkness he hath brought, and here
Where day and night alternate, is your sphere.

But ’tis my will!

                Well spoken, I admit!
But one thing puzzles me, my friend;
Time’s short, art long; methinks ’twere fit
That you to friendly counsel should attend.
A poet choose as your ally!
Let him thought’s wide dominion sweep,
Each good and noble quality,
Upon your honoured brow to heap;
The lion’s magnanimity,
The fleetness of the hind,
The fiery blood of Italy,
The Northern’s steadfast mind.
Let him to you the mystery show
To blend high aims and cunning low;
And while youth’s passions are aflame
To fall in love by rule and plan!
I fain would meet with such a man;
Would him Sir Microcosmus name.

What then am I, if I aspire in vain
The crown of our humanity to gain,
Towards which my every sense doth strain?

Thou’rt after all-just what thou art.
Put on thy head a wig with countless locks,
And to a cubit’s height upraise thy socks,
Still thou remainest ever, what thou art.

I fell it, I have heap’d upon my brain
The gather’d treasure of man’s thought in vain;
And when at length from studious toil I rest,
No power, new-born, springs up within my breast;
A hair’s breadth is not added to my height,
I am no nearer to the infinite.

Good sir, these things you view indeed,
Just as by other men they’re view’d;
We must more cleverly proceed,
Before life’s joys our grasp elude.
The devil! thou hast hands and feet,
And head and heart are also thine;
What I enjoy with relish sweet,
Is it on that account less mine?
If for six stallions I can pay,




Do I not own their strength and speed?
A proper man I dash away,
As their two dozen legs were mine indeed.
Up then, from idle pondering free,
And forth into the world with me!
I tell you what;—your speculative churl
Is like a beast which some ill spirit leads,
On barren wilderness, in ceaseless whirl,
While all around lie fair and verdant meads.

But how shall we begin?

                We will go hence with speed,
A place of torment this indeed!
A precious life, thyself to bore,
And some few youngster evermore!
Leave that to neighbour Paunch!—withdraw,
Why wilt thou plague thyself with thrashing straw?
The very best that thou dost know
Thou dar’st not to the striplings show.
One in the passage now doth wait!

I’m in no mood to see him now.

Poor lad! He must be tired, I trow;
He must not go disconsolate.
Hand me thy cap and gown; the mask
Is for my purpose quite first rate.  (He changes his dress.)
Now leave it to my wit! I ask
But quarter of an hour; meanwhile equip,
And make all ready for our pleasant trip!  (Exit FAUST.)

Mortal! the loftiest attributes of men,
Reason and Knowledge, only thus contemn,
Still let the Prince of lies, without control,
With shows, and mocking charms delude thy soul,
I have thee unconditionally then!
Fate hath endow’d him with an ardent mind,
Which unrestrain’d still presses on for ever,
And whose precipitate endeavour
Earth’s joys o’erleaping, leaveth them behind.
Him will I drag through life’s wild waste,
Through scenes of vapid dulness, where at last
Bewilder’d, he shall falter, and stick fast;
And, still to mock his greedy haste,
Viands and drink shall float his craving lips beyond—
Vainly he’ll seek refreshment, anguish-tost,
And were he not the devil’s by his bond,
Yet must his soul infallibly be lost!
A STUDENT enters

But recently I’ve quitted home,
Full of devotion am I come
A man to know and hear, whose name
With reverence is known to fame.

Your courtesy much flatters me!
A man like other men you see;
Pray have you yet applied elsewhere?

I would entreat your friendly care!
I’ve youthful blood and courage high;
Of gold I bring a fair supply;
To let me go my mother was not fain;
But here I longed true knowledge to attain.

You’ve hit upon the very place.

And yet my steps I would retrace.
These walls, this melancholy room,
O’erpower me with a sense of gloom;
The space is narrow, nothing green,
No friendly tree is to be seen:
And in these halls, with benches filled, distraught,
Sight, hearing fail me, and the power of thought.

It all depends on habit. Thus at first
The infant takes not kindly to the breast,
But before long, its eager thirst
Is fain to slake with hearty zest:
Thus at the breasts of wisdom day by day
With keener relish you’ll your thirst allay.

Upon her neck I fain would hang with joy;
To reach it, say, what means must I employ?

Explain, ere further time we lose,
What special faculty you choose?

Profoundly learned I would grow,
What heaven contains would comprehend,
O’er earth’s wide realm my gaze extend,
Nature and science I desire to know.

Your are upon the proper track, I find;
Take heed, let nothing dissipate your mind.

My heart and soul are in the chase!
Though to be sure I fain would seize,
On pleasant summer holidays,
A little liberty and careless ease.

Use well your time, so rapidly it flies;
Method will teach you time to win;
Hence, my young friend, I would advise,
With college logic to begin!
Then will your mind be so well braced,
In Spanish boots so tightly laced,
That on ’twill circumspectly creep,
Thought’s beaten track securely keep,
Nor will it, ignis-fatuus like,
Into the path of error strike.
Then many a day they’ll teach you how
The mind’s spontaneous acts, till now
As eating and as drinking free,
Require a process;—one! two! three!
In truth the subtle web of thought
Is like the weaver’s fabric wrought:
One treadle moves a thousand lines,
Swift dart the shuttles to and fro,
Unseen the threads together flow,
A thousand knots one stroke combines.
Then forward steps your sage to show,
And prove to you, it must be so;
The first being so, and so the second,
The third and fourth deduc’d we see;
And if there were no first and second,
Nor third nor fourth would ever be.
This, scholars of all countries prize,—
Yet ’mong themselves no weavers rise.—
He who would know and treat of aught alive,
Seeks first the living spirit thence to drive:
Then are the lifeless fragments in his hand,
There only fails, alas! the spirit-band.
This process, chemists name, in learned thesis,
Mocking themselves, Naturæ encheiresis.

Your words I cannot full comprehend.

In a short time you will improve, my friend,
When of scholastic forms you learn the use;
And how by method all things to reduce.

So doth all this my brain confound,
As if a mill-wheel there were turning round.

And next, before aught else you learn,
You must with zeal to metaphysics turn!
There see that you profoundly comprehend,
What doth the limit of man’s brain transcend;
For that which is or is not in the head
A sounding phrase will serve you in good stead.
But before all strive this half year
From one fix’d order ne’er to swerve!
Five lectures daily you must hear;
The hour still punctually observe!
Yourself with studious zeal prepare,
And closely in your manual look,
Hereby may you be quite aware
That all he utters standeth in the book;
Yet write away without cessation,
As at the Holy Ghost’s dictation!

This, Sir, a second time you need not say!
Your counsel I appreciate quite;
What we possess in black and white,
We can in peace and comfort bear away.

A faculty I pray you name.

For jurisprudence, some distaste I own.

To me this branch of science is well known,
And hence I cannot your repugnance blame.
Customs and laws in every place,
Like a disease, an heir-loom dread,
Still trail their curse from race to race,
And furtively abroad they spread.
To nonsense, reason’s self they turn;
Beneficence becomes a pest;
Woe unto thee, that thou’rt a grandson born!
As for the law born with us, unexpressed;—
That law, alas, none careth to discern.

You deepen my dislike. The youth
Whom you instruct, is blest in sooth!
To try theology I feel inclined.

I would not lead you willingly astray,
But as regards this science, you will find
So hard it is to shun the erring way,
And so much hidden poison lies therein,
Which scarce can you discern from medicine.
Here too it is the best, to listen but to one,
And by the master’s words to swear alone.
To sum up all—To words hold fast!
Then the safe gate securely pass’d,
You’ll reach the fane of certainty at last.

But then some meaning must the words convey.

Right! But o’er-anxious thought, you’ll find of no avail,
For there precisely where ideas fail,
A word comes opportunely into play
Most admirable weapons words are found,
On words a system we securely ground,
In words we can conveniently believe,
Nor of a single jot can we a word bereave.

Your pardon for my importunity;
Yet once more must I trouble you:
On medicine, I’ll thank you to supply
A pregnant utterance or two!
Three years! how brief the appointed tide!
The field, heaven knows, is all too wide!
If but a friendly hint be thrown,
’Tis easier then to feel one’s way.

I’m weary of the dry pedantic tone,
And must again the genuine devil play.

Of medicine the spirit’s caught with ease,
The great and little world you study through,
That things may then their course pursue,
As heaven may please.
In vain abroad you range through science’ ample space,
Each man learns only that which learn he can;
Who knows the moment to embrace,
He is your proper man.
In person you are tolerably made,
Nor in assurance will you be deficient:
Self-confidence acquire, be not afraid,
Others will then esteem you a proficient.
Learn chiefly with the sex to deal!
Their thousands ahs and ohs,
These the sage doctor knows,
He only from one point can heal.
Assume a decent tone of courteous ease,
You have them then to humour as you please.
First a diploma must belief infuse,
That you in your profession take the lead:
You then at once those easy freedoms use
For which another many a year must plead;
Learn how to feel with nice address
The dainty wrist;—and how to press,
With ardent furtive glance, the slender waist,
To feel how tightly it is laced.

There is some sense in that! one sees the how and why.

Grey is, young friend, all theory:
And green of life the golden tree.

I swear it seemeth like a dream to me.
May I some future time repeat my visit,
To hear on what your wisdom grounds your views?

Command my humble service when you choose.

Ere I retire, one boon I must solicit:
Here is my album, do not, Sir, deny
This token of your favour!

                Willingly!  (He writes and returns the book.)
STUDENT  (reads)

ERITIS SICUT DEUS, SCIENTES BONUM ET MALUM  (He reverently closes the book and retires.)

Let but this ancient proverb be your rule,
My cousin follow still, the wily snake,
And with your likeness to the gods, poor fool,
Ere long be sure your poor sick heart will quake!
FAUST  (enters)

Whither away?

’Tis thine our course to steer.
The little world, and then the great we’ll view.
With what delight, what profit too,
Thou’lt revel through thy gay career!

Despite my length of beard I need
The easy manners that insure success;
Th’ attempt I fear can ne’er succeed;
To mingle in the world I want address;
I still have an embarrass’d air, and then
I feel myself so small with other men.

Time, my good friend, will all that’s needful give;
Be only self-possessed, and thou hast learn’d to live.

But how are we to start, I pray?
Steeds, servants, carriage, where are they?

We’ve but to spread this mantle wide,
’Twill serve whereon through air to ride,
No heavy baggage need you take,
When we our bold excursion make,
A little gas, which I will soon prepare,
Lifts us from earth; aloft through air,
Light laden we shall swiftly steer;—
I wish you joy of your new life-career.
A Drinking Party

No drinking? Naught a laugh to raise?
None of your gloomy looks, I pray!
You, who so bright were wont to blaze,
Are dull as wetted straw to-day.

’Tis all your fault; your part you do not bear,
No beastliness, no folly.
FROSCH  (pours a glass of wine over his head)

You have them both!

                You double beast!

’Tis what you ask’d me for, at least!

Whoever quarrels, turn him out!
With open throat drink, roar, and shout.
Hollo! Hollo! Ho!

Zounds, fellow, cease your deaf’ning cheers!
Bring cotton-wool! He splits my ears.

’Tis when the roof rings back the tone,
Then first the full power of the bass is known.

Right! out with him who takes offence!
A! tara lara da!

A! tara lara da!

Our throats are tuned. Come let’s commence!

    The holy Roman empire now,
    How holds it still together?

An ugly song! a song political!
A song offensive! Thank God, every morn
To rule the Roman empire, that you were not born!
I bless my stars at least that mine is not
Either a kaiser’s or a chancellor’s lot.
Yet ’mong ourselves should one still lord it o’er the rest;
That we elect a pope I now suggest.
Ye know, what quality ensures
A man’s success, his rise secures.
FROSCH  (sings)

    Bear, lady nightingale above,
    Ten thousand greetings to my love.

No greetings to a sweetheart! No love-songs shall there

Love-greetings and love kisses! Thou shalt not hinder me!

    Undo the bolt! in silly night,
    Undo the bolt! the lover wakes.
    Shut to the bolt! when morning breaks.

Ay, sing, sing on, praise her with all thy might!
My turn to laugh will come some day.
Me hath she jilted once, you the same trick she’ll play.
Some gnome her lover be! where cross-roads meet,
With her to play the fool; or old he-goat,
From Blocksberg coming in swift gallop, bleat
A good night to her, from his hairy throat!
A proper lad of genuine flesh and blood,
Is for the damsel far too good;
The greeting she shall have from me,
To smash her window-panes will be!
BRANDER  (striking on the table)

Silence! Attend! to me give ear!
Confess, sirs, I know how to live:
Some love-sick folk are sitting here!
Hence, ’tis but fit, their hearts to cheer,
That I a good-night strain to them should give.
Hark! of the newest fashion is my song!
Strike boldly in the chorus, clear and strong!
(He sings)

        Once in a cellar lived a rat,
        He feasted there on butter,
        Until his paunch became as fat
        As that of Doctor Luther.
        The cook laid poison for the guest,
        Then was his heart with pangs oppress’d,
        As if his frame love wasted.
Chorus  (shouting)

        As if his frame love wasted.

        He ran around, he ran abroad,
        Of every puddle drinking.
        The house with rage he scratch’d and gnaw’d,
        In vain,—he fast was sinking;
        Full many an anguish’d bound he gave,
        Nothing the hapless brute could save,
        As if his frame love wasted.

        As if his frame love wasted.

        By torture driven, in open day,
        The kitchen he invaded,
        Convulsed upon the hearth he lay,
        With anguish sorely jaded;
        The poisoner laugh’d, Ha! ha! quoth she,
        His life is ebbing fast, I see,
        As if his frame love wasted.

        As if his frame love wasted.

How the dull boors exulting shout!
Poison for the poor rats to strew
A fine exploit it is no doubt.

They, as it seems, stand well with you!

Old bald-pate! with the paunch profound!
The rat’s mishap hath tamed his nature;
For he his counterpart hath found
Depicted in the swollen creature.

I now must introduce to you
Before aught else, this jovial crew,
To show how lightly life may glide away;
With tse folk here each day’s a holiday.
With little wit and much content,
Each on his own small round intent,
Like sportive kitten with its tail;
While no sick-headache they bewail,
And while their host will credit give,
Joyous and free from care they live.

They’re off a journey, that is clear,—
From their strange manners; they have scarce been here
An hour.

          You’re right! Leipzig’s the place for me!
’Tis quite a little Paris; people there
Acquire a certain easy finish’d air.

What take you now these travellers to be?

Let me alone! O’er a full glass you’ll see,
As easily I’ll worm their secret out,
As draw an infant’s tooth. I’ve not a doubt
That my two gentlemen are nobly born,
They look dissatisfied and full of scorn.

They are but mountebanks, I’ll lay a bet!

Most like.

            Mark me, I’ll screw it from them yet!

These fellows would not scent the devil out,
E’en though he had them by the very throat!

Good-morrow, gentlemen!

                Thanks for your fair salute.  (Aside, glancing at MEPHISTOPHELES.)
How! goes the fellow on a halting foot?

Is it permitted here with you to sit?
Then though good wine is not forthcoming here,
Good company at least our hearts will cheer.

A dainty gentleman, no doubt of it.

You’re doubtless recently from Rippach? Pray,
Did you with Master Hans there chance to sup?

To-day we pass’d him, but we did not stop!
When last we met him he had much to say
Touching his cousins, and to each he sent
Full many a greeting and kind compliment.  (With an inclination towards FROSCH.)
Altmayer  (aside to FROSCH)

You have it there!

                Faith! he’s a knowing one!

Have patience! I will show him up anon!

We heard erewhile, unless I’m wrong,
Voices well trained in chorus pealing?
Certes, most choicely here must song
Re-echo from this vaulted ceiling!

That you’re an amateur one plainly sees!

Oh no, though strong the love, I cannot boast much skill.

Give us a song!

                As many as you will.

But be it a brand new one, if you please!

But recently returned from Spain are we,
The pleasant land of wine and minstrelsy.  (Sings)
    A king there was once reigning,
    Who had a goodly flea—

Hark! did you rightly catch the words? a flea!
An odd sort of a guest he needs must be.

    A king there was once reigning,
    Who had a goodly flea,
    Him loved he without feigning,
    As his own son were he!
    His tailor then he summon’d,
    The tailor to him goes:
    Now measure me the youngster
    For jerkin and for hose!

Take proper heed, the tailor strictly charge,
The nicest measurement to take,
And as he loves his head, to make
The hose quite smooth and not too large!

In satin and in velvet,
Behold the yonker dressed;
Bedizen’d o’er with ribbons,
A cross upon his breast.
Prime minister they made him,
He wore a star of state;
And all his poor relations
Were courtiers, rich and great.
The gentlemen and ladies
At court were sore distressed;
The queen and all her maidens
Were bitten by the pest,
And yet they dared not scratch them,
Or chase the fleas away.
If we are bit, we catch them,
And crack without delay.
CHORUS  (shouting)

If we are bit, &c.

Bravo! That’s the song for me!

Such be the fate of every flea!

With clever finger catch and kill!

Hurrah for wine and freedom still!

Were but your wine a trifle better, friend,
A glass to freedom I would gladly drain,

You’d better not repeat those words again!

I am afraid the landlord to offend;
Else freely I would treat each worthy guest
From our own cellar to the very best.

Out with it then! Your doings I’ll defend.

Give a good glass, and straight we’ll praise you, one and all.
Only let not your samples be too small;
For if my judgment you desire,
Certes, an ample mouthful I require.
Altmayer  (aside)

I guess they’re from the Rhenish land.

Fetch me a gimlet here!

                Say, what therewith to bore?
You cannot have the wine-casks at the door?

Our landlord’s tool-basket behind doth yonder stand.
MEPHISTOPHELES  (takes the gimlet)
Now only say! what liquor will you take?

How mean you that? have you of every sort?

Each may his own selection make.

Ha! Ha! You lick your lips already at the thought.

Good, If I have my choice, the Rhenish I propose;
For still the fairest gifts the fatherland bestows.
(boring a hole in the edge of the table opposite to where Frosch is sitting)

Give me a little wax—and make some stoppers—quick!

Why, this is nothing but a juggler’s trick!

And you?

          Champagne’s the wine for me;
Right brisk, and sparkling let it be!  (MEPHISTOPHELES bores; one of the party has in the meantime prepared the wax-stoppers and stopped the holes.)

What foreign is one always can’t decline,
What’s good is often scatter’d far apart.
The French your genuine German hates with all his heart,
Yet has a relish for their wine.
(as MEPHISTOPHELES approaches him)

I like not acid wine, I must allow,
Give ma a glass of genuine sweet!

Shall, if you wish it, flow without delay.

Come! look me in the face! no fooling now!
You are but making fun of us, I trow.

Ah! ah! that would indeed be making free
With such distinguished guests. Come, no delay;
What liquor can I serve you with, I pray?

Only be quick, it matters not to me.  (After the holes are bored and stopped.)
MEPHISTOPHELES  (with strange gestures)

        Grapes the vine-stock bears,
        Horns the buck-goat wears!
        Wine is sap, the vine is wood,
        The wooden board yields wine as good.
        With a deeper glance and true
        The mysteries of nature view!
        Have faith and here’s a miracle!
        Your stoppers draw and drink your fill!
ALL  (as they draw the stoppers and the wine chosen by each runs into his glass)

Oh beauteous spring, which flows so far!

Spill not a single drop, of this beware!  (They drink repeatedly.)
ALL  (sing)

        Happy as cannibals are we,
        Or as five hundred swine.

They’re in their glory, mark their elevation!

Let’s hence, nor here our stay prolong.

Attend, of brutishness ere long
You’ll see a glorious revelation.
(drinks carelessly; the wine is spilt upon the ground, and turns to flame)

Help! fire! help! Hell is burning!
(addressing the flames)

Kind element, be still, I say!  (To the Company.)
Of purgatorial fire as yet ’tis but a drop.

What means the knave! For this you’ll dearly pay!
Us, it appears, you do not know.

Such tricks a second time he’d better show!





Methinks’twere well we pack’d him quietly away.

What, sir! with us your hocus-pocus play!

Silence, old wine-cask!

                How! add insult, too!
Vile broomstick!

                Hold, or blows shall rain on you!
(draws a stopper out of the table; fire springs out against him)

I burn! I burn!

                ’Tis sorcery, I vow!
Strike home! The fellow is fair game, I trow!  (They draw their knives and attack MEPHISTOPHELES.)
MEPHISTOPHELES  (with solemn gestures)

        Visionary scenes appear!
        Words delusive cheat the ear!
        Be ye there, and be ye here!  (They stand amazed and gaze at each other.)

Where am I? What a beauteous land!

Vineyards! unless my sight deceives?

And clust’ring grapes too, close at hand!

And underneath the spreading leaves,
What stems there be! What grapes I see!  (He seizes SIEBEL by the nose. The others reciprocally do the same, and raise their knives.)

Delusion, from their eyes the bandage take!
Note how the devil loves a jest to break!  (He disappears with FAUST; the fellows draw back from one another.)

What was it?


                Was that your nose?

And look, my hand doth thine enclose!

I felt a shock, it went through every limb!
A chair! I’m fainting! All things swim!

Say what has happened, what’s it all about?

Where is the fellow? Could I scent him out,
His body from his soul I’d soon divide!

With my own eyes, upon a cask astride,
Forth through the cellar-door I saw him ride—
Heavy as lead my feet are growing.  (Turning to the table.)
I wonder is the wine still flowing!

’Twas all delusion, cheat and lie.

’Twas wine I drank, most certainly.

But with the grapes how was it, pray?

That none may miracles believe, who now will say?

  A large caldron hangs over the fire on a low hearth; various figures appear in the vapour rising from it. A FEMALE MONKEY sits beside the caldron to skim it, and watch that it does not boil over. The MALE MONKEY with the young ones is seated near, warming himself. The walls and ceiling are adorned with the strangest articles of witch-furniture.

This senseless, juggling witchcraft I detest!
Dost promise that in this foul nest
Of madness, I shall be restored?
Must I seek counsel from an ancient dame?
And can she, by these rites abhorred,
Take thirty winters from my frame?
Woe’s me, if thou naught better canst suggest!
Hope has already fled my breast.
Has neither nature nor a noble mind
A balsam yet devis’d of any kind?

My friend, you now speak sensibly. In truth,
Nature a method giveth to renew thy youth:
But in another book the lesson’s writ;—
It forms a curious chapter, I admit.

I fain would know it.

                Good! A remedy
Without physician, gold, or sorcery:
Away forthwith, and to the fields repair,
Begin to delve, to cultivate the ground,
Thy senses and thyself confine
Within the very narrowest round,
Support thyself upon the simplest fare,
Live like a very brute the brutes among,
Neither esteem it robbery
The acre thou dost reap, thyself to dung;
This is the best method, credit me,
Again at eighty to grow hale and young.

I am not used to it, nor can myself degrade
So far, as in my hand to take the spade.
This narrow life would suit me not at all.

Then we the witch must summon after all.

Will none but this old beldame do?
Canst not thyself the potion brew?

A pretty play our leisure to beguile!
A thousand bridges I could build meanwhile.
Not science only and consummate art,
Patience must also bear her part.
A quiet spirit worketh whole years long;
Time only makes the subtle ferment strong.
And all things that belong thereto,
Are wondrous and exceeding rare!
The devil taught her, it is true;
But yet the draught the devil can’t prepare.  (Perceiving the beasts.)
Look yonder, what a dainty pair!
Here is the maid! the knave is there!
(To the beasts)

It seems your dame is not a home?

        Gone to carouse,
        Out of the house,
        Thro’ the chimney and away!

How long is it her wont to roam?

While we can warm our paws she’ll stay.

What think you of the charming creatures?

I loathe alike their form and features!

Nay, such discourse, be it confessed,
Is just the thing that pleases me the best.
(To the MONKEYS)

Tell me, ye whelps, accursed crew!
What stir ye in the broth about?

Coarse beggar’s gruel here we stew.

Of customers you’ll have a rout.
THE HE-MONKEY  (approaching and fawning on MEPHISTOPHELES)

        Quick! quick! throw the dice,
        Make me rich in a trice,
        Oh give me the prize!
        Alas, for myself!
        Had I plenty of pelf,
        I then should be wise.

How blest the ape would think himself, if he
Could only put into the lottery!  (In the meantime the young MONKEYS have been playing with a large globe, which they roll forwards)

        The world behold;
        Unceasingly roll’d,
        It riseth and falleth ever;
        It ringeth like glass!
        How brittle, alas!
        ’Tis hollow, and resteth never.
        How bright the sphere,
        Still brighter here!
        Now living am I!
        Dear son, beware!
        Nor venture there!
        Thou too must die!
        It is of clay;
        ’Twill crumble away;
        There fragments lie.

Of what use is the sieve?
THE HE-MONKEY  (taking it down)

        The sieve would show,
        If thou wert a thief or no?  (He runs to the SHE-MONKEY, and makes her look through it.)
        Look through the sieve!
        Dost know him the thief,
        And dar’st thou not call him so?
MEPHISTOPHELES  (approaching the fire)

And then this pot?

        The half-witted sot!
        He knows not the pot!
        He know not the kettle!

        Unmannerly beast!
        Be civil at least!

Take the whisk and sit down in the settle!  (He makes MEPHISTOPHELES sit down.)
(who all this time has been standing before a looking-glass, now approaching, and now retiring from it)

What do I see? what form, whose charms transcend
The loveliness of earth, is mirror’d here!
O Love, to waft me to her sphere,
To me the swiftest of thy pinions lend!
Alas! If I remain not rooted to this place,
If to approach more near I’m fondly lur’d,
Her image fades, in veiling mist obscur’d!—
Model of beauty both in form and face!
Is’t possible? Hath woman charms so rare?
In this recumbent form, supremely fair,
The essence must I see of heavenly grace?
Can aught so exquisite on earth be found?

The six days’ labour of a god, my friend,
Who doth himself cry bravo, at the end,
By something clever doubtless should be crown’d.
For this time gaze your fill, and when you please
Just such a prize for you I can provide;
How blest is he to whom kind fate decrees,
To take her to his home, a lovely bride!
(FAUST continues to gaze into the mirror. MEPHISTOPHELES stretching himself on the settle and playing with the whisk, continues to speak.)
Here sit I, like a king upon his throne;
My sceptre this;—the crown I want alone.
The Monkeys  (who have hitherto been making all sorts of strange gestures, bring MEPHISTOPHELES a crown, with loud cries)

        Oh, be so good,
        With sweat and with blood
        The crown to lime!  (They handle the crown awkwardly and break it in two pieces, with which they skip about.)
        ’Twas fate’s decree!
        We speak and see!
        We hear and rhyme.
FAUST  (before the mirror)

Woe’s me! well-nigh distraught I feel!
(pointing to the beasts)
And even my own head almost begins to reel.

        If good luck attend,
        If fitly things blend,
        Our jargon with thought
        And with reason is fraught!
FAUST  (as above)

A flame is kindled in my breast!
Let us begone! nor linger here!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (in the same position)

It now at least must be confessed,
That poets sometimes are sincere.  (The caldron which the SHE-MONKEY has neglected begins to boil over; a great flame arises, which streams up the chimney. The WITCH comes down the chimney with horrible cries.)

Ough! ough! ough! ough!
Accursed brute! accursed sow!
The caldron dost neglect, for shame!
Accursed brute to scorch the dame!  (Perceiving FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES)
Whom have we here?
Who’s sneaking here?
Whence are ye come?
With what desire?
The plague of fire
Your bones consume!  (She dips the skimming-ladle into the caldron and throws flames at FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES, and the MONKEYS. The MONKEYS whimper.)
MEPHISTOPHELES  (twirling the whisk which he holds in his hand, and striking among the glasses and pots)

        Dash! Smash!
        There lies the glass!
        There lies the slime!
        ’Tis but a jest;
        I but keep time,
        Thou hellish pest,
        To thine own chime!  (While the WITCH steps back in rage and astonishment.)
Dost know me! Skeleton! Vile scarecrow, thou!
Thy lord and master dost thou know?
What holds me, that I deal not now
Thee and thine apes a stunning blow?
No more respect to my red vest dost pay?
Does my cock’s feather no allegiance claim?
Have I my visage masked to-day?
Must I be forced myself to name?

Master, forgive this rude salute!
But I perceive no cloven foot.
And your two ravens, where are they?

This once I must admit your plea;—
For truly I must own that we
Each other have not seen for many a day.
The culture, too, that shapes the world, at last
Hath e’en the devil in its sphere embraced;
The northern phantom from the scene hath pass’d,
Tail, talons, horns, are nowhere to be traced!
As for the foot, with which I can’t dispense,
’Twould injure me in company, and hence,
Like many a youthful cavalier,
False calves I now have worn for many a year.
THE WITCH  (dancing)

I am beside myself with joy,
To see once more the gallant Satan here!

Woman, no more that name employ!

But why! what mischief hath it done?

To fable-books it now doth appertain;
But people from the change have nothing won.
Rid of the evil one, the evil ones remain.
Lord Baron call thou me, so is the matter good;
Of other cavaliers the mien I wear.
Dost make no question of my gentle blood;
See here, this is the scutcheon that I bear!  (He makes an unseemly gesture.)
THE WITCH  (laughing immoderately)

Ha! Ha! Just like yourself! You are, I ween,
The same mad wag that you have ever been!

My friend, learn this to understand, I pray!
To deal with witches this is still the way.

Now tell me, gentlemen, what you desire?

Of your known juice a goblet we require.
But for the very oldest let me ask;
Double its strength with years doth grow.

Most willingly! And here I have a flask,
From which I’ve sipp’d myself ere now;
What’s more, it doth no longer stink;
To you a glass I joyfully will give.
If unprepar’d, however, this man drink,
He hath not, as you know, an hour to live.

He’s my good friend, with whom ’twill prosper well;
I grudge him not the choicest of thy store.
Now draw thy circle, speak thy spell,
And straight a bumper for him pour!  (The WITCH, with extraordinary gestures, describes a circle, and places strange things within it. The glasses meanwhile begin to ring, the caldron to sound, and to make music. Lastly, she brings a great book; places the MONKEYS in the circle to serve her as a desk, and to hold the torches. She beckons FAUST to approach.)

Tell me, to what doth all this tend?
Were will these frantic gestures end?
This loathsome cheat, this senseless stuff
I’ve known and hated long enough.

Mere mummery, a laugh to raise!
Pray don’t be so fastidious! She
But as a leech, her hocus-pocus plays,
That well with you her potion may agree.  (He compels FAUST to enter the circle.)  (The WITCH, with great emphasis, begins to declaim the book.)
        This must thou ken:
        Of one make ten,
        Pass two, and then
        Make square the three,
        So rich thou’lt be.
        Drop out the four!
        From five and six,
        Thus essays the witch,
        Make seven and eight.
        So all is straight!
        And nine is one,
        And ten is none,
        This is the witch’s one-time-one!

The hag doth as in fever rave.

To these will follow many a stave.
I know it well, so rings the book throughout;
Much time I’ve lost in puzzling o’er its pages,
For downright paradox, no doubt,
A mystery remains alike to fools and sages,
Ancient the art and modern too, my friend.
’Tis still the fashion as it used to be,
Error instead of truth abroad to send
By means of three and one, and one and three.
’Tis ever taught and babbled in the schools.
Who’d take the trouble to dispute with fools?
When words men hear, in sooth, they usually believe,
That there must needs therein be something to conceive.
THE WITCH  (continues)

        The lofty power
        Of wisdom’s dower,
        From all the world conceal’d!
        Who thinketh not,
        To him I wot,
        Unsought it is reveal’d.

What nonsense doth the hag propound?
My brain it doth well-nigh confound.
A hundred thousand fools or more,
Methinks I hear in chorus roar.

Incomparable Sibyl cease, I pray!
Hand us the liquor without more delay.
And to the very brim the goblet crown!
My friend he is, and need not be afraid;
Besides, he is a man of many a grade,
Who hath drunk deep already.  (The WITCH, with many ceremonies, pours the liquor into a cup; as FAUST lifts it to his mouth, a light flame arises.)

                Gulp it down!
No hesitation! It will prove
A cordial, and your heart inspire!
What! with the devil hand and glove,
And yet shrink back afraid of fire?  (The WITCH dissolves the circle. FAUST steps out.)

Now forth at once! thou dar’st not rest.

And much, sir, may the liquor profit you!


And if to pleasure thee I aught can do,
Pray on Walpurgis mention thy request.

Here is a song, sung o’er, sometimes you’ll see,
That ’twill a singular effect produce.

Come, quick, and let thyself be led by me;
Thou must perspire, in order that the juice
Thy frame may penetrate through every part.
Then noble idleness I thee will teach to prize,
And soon with ecstasy thou’lt recognise
How Cupid stirs and gambols in thy heart.

Let me but gaze one moment in the glass!
Too lovely was that female form!

                Nay! nay!
A model which all women shall surpass,
In flesh and blood ere long thou shalt survey.
As works that draught, thou presently shalt greet
A Helen in each woman thou dost meet.
FAUST (MARGARET passing by)


Fair lady, may I thus make free
To offer you my arm and company?

I am no lady, am not fair,
Can without escort home repair.  (She disengages herself and exit.)

By heaven! This girl is fair indeed!
No form like hers can I recall.
Virtue she hath, and modest heed,
Is piquant too, and sharp withal.
Her cheek’s soft light, her rosy lips,
No length of time will e’er eclipse!
Her downward glance in passing by,
Deep in my heart is stamp’d for aye;
How curt and sharp her answer too,
To ecstasy the feeling grew!  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters.)

This girl must win for me! Dost hear?


        She who but now passed.

                What! She?
She from confession cometh here,
From every sin absolved and free;
I crept near the confessor’s chair.
All innocence her virgin soul,
For next to nothing went she there;
O’er such as she I’ve no control!

She’s past fourteen.

                You really talk
Like any gay Lothario,
Who every floweret from its stalk
Would pluck, and deems nor grace, nor truth,
Secure against his arts, forsooth!
This ne’er the less won’t always do.

Sir Moralizer, prithee, pause;
Nor plague me with your tiresome laws!
To cut the matter short, my friend,
She must this very night be mine,—
And if to help me you decline,
Midnight shall see our compact end.

What may occur just bear in mind!
A fortnight’s space, at least, I need,
A fit occasion but to find.

With but seven hours I could succeed;
Nor should I want the devil’s wile,
So young a creature to beguile.

Like any Frenchman now you speak,
But do not fret, I pray; why seek
To hurry to enjoyment straight?
The pleasure is not half so great,
As when at first around, above,
With all the fooleries of love,
The puppet you can knead and mould
As in Italian story oft is told.

No such incentives do I need.

But now, without offense or jest!
You cannot quickly, I protest,
In winning this sweet child succeed.
By storm we cannot take the fort,
To stratagem we must resort.

Conduct me to her place of rest!
Some token of the angel bring!
A kerchief from her snowy breast,
A garter bring me,—any thing!

That I my anxious zeal may prove,
Your pangs to sooth and aid your love,
A single moment will we not delay,
Will lead you to her room this very day.

And shall I see her?—Have her?

She to a neighbour’s house will go;
But in her atmosphere alone,
The tedious hours meanwhile you may employ,
In blissful dreams of future joy.

Can we go now?

                ’Tis yet too soon.

Some present for my love procure!  (Exit.)

Presents so soon! ’tis well! success is sure!
Full many a goodly place I know,
And treasures buried long ago;
I must a bit o’erlook them now.  (Exit.)
(braiding and binding up her hair)

I would give something now to know,
Who yonder gentleman could be!
He had a gallant air, I trow,
And doubtless was of high degree:
That written on his brow was seen—
Nor else would he so bold have been.  (Exit.)

Come in! tread softly! be discreet!
FAUST  (after a pause)

Begone and leave me, I entreat!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (looking round)

Not every maiden is so neat  (Exit.)
FAUST  (gazing round)

Welcome sweet twilight, calm and blest,
That in this hallow’d precinct reigns!
Fond yearning love, inspire my breast,
Feeding on hope’s sweet dew thy blissful pains!
What stillness here environs me!
Content and order brood around.
What fulness in this poverty!
In this small cell what bliss profound!  (He throws himself on the leather arm-chair beside the bed)
Receive me thou, who hast in thine embrace,
Welcom’d in joy and grief the ages flown!
How oft the children of a by-gone race
Have cluster’d round this patriarchal throne!
Haply she, also, whom I hold so dear,
For Christmas gift, with grateful joy possess’d,
Hath with the full round cheek of childhood, here,
Her grandsire’s wither’d hand devoutly press’d.
Maiden! I feel thy spirit haunt the place,
Breathing of order and abounding grace.
As with a mother’s voice it prompteth thee,
The pure white cover o’er the board to spread,
To strew the crisping sand beneath thy tread.
Dear hand! so godlike in its ministry!
The hut becomes a paradise through thee!
And here—  (He raises the bed-curtain.)
How thrills my pulse with strange delight!
Here could I linger hours untold;
Thou, Nature, didst in vision bright,
The embryo angel here unfold.
Here lay the child, her bosom warm
With life; while steeped in slumber’s dew,
To perfect grace, her godlike form,
With pure and hallow’d weavings grew!
And thou! ah here what seekest thou?
How quails mine inmost being now!
What wouldst thou here? what makes thy heart so sore?
Unhappy Faust! I know thee now no more.
Do I a magic atmosphere inhale?
Erewhile, my passion would not brook delay!
Now in a pure love-dream I melt away.
Are we the sport of every passing gale?
Should she return and enter now,
How wouldst thou rue thy guilty flame!
Proud vaunter—thou wouldst hide thy brow,—
And at her feet sink down with shame.

    Quick! quick! below I see her there.

    Away! I will return no more!

    Here is a casket, with a store
    Of jewels, which I got elsewhere
    Just lay it in the press; make haste!
    I swear to you, ’twill turn her brain;
    Therein some trifles I have placed,
    Wherewith another to obtain.
    But child is child, and play is play.

    I know not—shall I?

                Do you ask?
Perchance you would retain the treasure?
If such your wish, why then, I say,
Henceforth absolve me from my task,
Nor longer waste your hours of leisure.
I trust you’re not by avarice led!
I rub my hands, I scratch my head,—  (He places the casket in the press and closes the lock.)
Now quick! Away!
That soon the sweet young creature may
The wish and purpose of your heart obey;
Yet stand you there
As would you to the lecture-room repair,
As if before you stood,
Arrayed in flesh and blood,
Physics and metaphysics weird and grey!—
Away!  (Exeunt.)
MARGARET  (with a lamp)

        Here ’tis so close, so sultry now,  (She opens the window.)
Yet out of doors ’tis not so warm.
I feel so strange, I know not how—
I wish my mother would come home.
Through me there runs a shuddering—
I’m but a foolish timid thing!  (While undressing herself she begins to sing.)
    There was a king in Thule,
    True even to the grave;
    To whom his dying mistress
    A golden beaker gave.
    At every feast he drained it,
    Naught was to him so dear,
    And often as he drained it,
    Gush’d from his eyes the tear.
    When death came, unrepining
    His cities o’er he told;
    All to his heir resigning,
    Except his cup of gold.
    With many a knightly vassal
    At a royal feast sat he,
    In yon proud hall ancestral,
    In his castle o’er the sea.
    Up stood the jovial monarch,
    And quaff’d his last life’s glow,
    Then hurled the hallow’d goblet
    Into the flood below.
    He saw it splashing, drinking,
    And plunging in the sea;




His eyes meanwhile were sinking,
    And never again drank he.  (She opens the press to put away her clothes, and perceives the casket.)
How comes this lovely casket here? The press
I locked, of that I’m confident.
’Tis very wonderful! What’s in it I can’t guess;
Perhaps ’twas brought by some one in distress,
And left in pledge for loan my mother lent.
Here by a ribbon hangs a little key!
I have a mind to open it and see!
Heavens! only look! what have we here!
In all my days ne’er saw I such a sight!
Jewels! which any noble dame might wear,
For some high pageant richly dight!
This chain—how would it look on me!
These splendid gems, whose may they be?  (She puts them on and steps before the glass.)
Were but the ear-rings only mine!
Thus one has quite another air.
What boots it to be young and fair?
It doubtless may be very fine;
But then, alas, none cares for you,
And praise sounds half like pity too.
Gold all doth lure,
Gold doth secure
All things. Alas, we poor!
FAUST walking thoughtfully up and down. To him MEPHISTOPHELES


By all rejected love! By hellish fire I curse,
Would I knew aught to make my imprecation worse!

What aileth thee? what chafes thee now so sore?
A face like that I never saw before!

I’d yield me to the devil instantly,
Did it not happen that myself am he!

There must be some disorder in thy wit!
To rave thus like a madman, is it fit?

Think! only think! The gems for Gretchen brought,
Them hath a priest now made his own!—
A glimpse of them the mother caught,
And ’gan with secret fear to groan.
The woman’s scent is keen enough;
Doth ever in the prayer-book snuff;
Smells every article to ascertain
Whether the thing is holy or profane,
And scented in the jewels rare,
That there was not much blessing there.
“My child,” she cries, “ill-gotten good
Ensnares the soul, consumes the blood;
With them we’ll deck our Lady’s shrine,
She’ll cheer our souls with bread divine!”
At this poor Gretchen ’gan to pout;
’Tis a gift-horse, at least, she thought,
And sure, he godless cannot be,
Who brought them here so cleverly.
Straight for a priest the mother sent,
Who, when he understood the jest,
With what he saw was well content.
“This shows a pious mind!” Quoth he:
“Self-conquest is true victory.
The Church hath a good stomach, she, with zest,
Whole countries hath swallow’d down,
And never yet a surfeit known.
The Church alone, be it confessed,
Daughters, can ill-got wealth digest.”

It is a general custom, too.
Practised alike by king and jew.

With that, clasp, chain, and ring, he swept
As they were mushrooms; and the casket,
Without one word of thanks, he kept,
As if of nuts it were a basket.
Promised reward in heaven, then forth he hied—
And greatly they were edified.

And Gretchen!

              In unquiet mood
Knows neither what she would or should;
The trinkets night and day thinks o’er,
On him who brought them, dwells still more.

The darling’s sorrow grieves me, bring
Another set without delay!
The first, methinks, was no great thing.

All’s to my gentleman child’s play!

Plan all things to achieve my end!
Engage the attention of her friend!
No milk-and-water devil be,
And bring fresh jewels instantly!

Ay, sir! Most gladly I’ll obey. (FAUST exit.)

Your doting love-sick fool, with ease,
Merely his lady-love to please,
Sun, moon, and stars in sport would puff away.  (Exit.)

MARTHA  (alone)

God pardon my dear husband, he
Doth not in truth act well by me!
Forth in the world abroad to roam,
And leave me on the straw at home.
And yet his will I ne’er did thwart,
God knows, I lov’d him from my heart.  (She weeps.)
Perchance he’s dead!—oh wretched state!—
Had I but a certificate!  (MARGARET comes)
Dame Martha!


                Only think!
My knees beneath me well-nigh sink!
Within my press I’ve found to-day,
Another case, of ebony.
And things—magnificent they are,
More costly than the first, by far.

You must not name it to your mother!
It would to shrift, just like the other.

Nay look at them! now only see!
MARTHA  (dresses her up)

Thou happy creature!

                Woe is me!
Them in the street I cannot wear,
Or in the church, or any where.

Come often over here to me,
The gems put on quite privately;
And then before the mirror walk an hour or so,
Thus we shall have our pleasure too.
Then suitable occasions we must seize,
As at a feast, to show them by degrees:
A chain at first, pearl ear-drops then,—your mother
Won’t see them, or we’ll coin some tale or other.

But, who, I wonder, could the caskets bring?
I fear there’s something wrong about the thing!  (A knock.)
Good heavens! can that my mother be?
MARTHA  (peering through the blind)

’Tis a strange gentleman, I see.
Come in!  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters)

          I’ve ventur’d to intrude to-day.
Ladies, excuse the liberty, I pray.  (He steps back respectfully before MARGARET.)
After dame Martha Schwerdtlein I inquire!

’Tis I. Pray what have you to say to me?
MEPHISTOPHELES  (aside to her)

I know you now,—and therefore will retire;
At present you’ve distinguished company.
Pardon the freedom, Madam, with your leave,
I will make free to call again at eve.
MARTHA  (aloud)

Why, child, of all strange notions, he
For some grand lady taketh thee!

I am, in truth, of humble blood—
The gentleman is far too good—
Nor gems nor trinkets are my own.

Oh ’tis not the mere ornaments alone;
Her glance and mien far more betray.
Rejoiced I am that I may stay.

Your business, Sir? I long to know—

Would I could happier tidings show!
I trust mine errand you’ll not let me rue;
Your husband’s dead, and greeteth you.

Is dead? True heart! Oh misery!
My husband dead! Oh, I shall die!

Alas! good Martha! don’t despair!

Now listen to the sad affair!

I for this cause should fear to love.
The loss my certain death would prove.

Joy still must sorrow, sorrow joy attend.

Proceed, and tell the story of his end!

At Padua, in St. Anthony’s,
In holy ground his body lies;
Quiet and cool his place of rest,
With pious ceremonials blest.

And had you naught besides to bring?

Oh yes! one grave and solemn prayer;
Let them for him three hundred masses sing!
But in my pockets, I have nothing there.

No trinket! no love-token did he send!
What every journeyman safe in his pouch will hoard
There for remembrance fondly stored,
And rather hungers, rather begs than spend!

Madam, in truth, it grieves me sore,
But he his gold not lavishly hath spent.
His failings too he deeply did repent,
Ay! and his evil plight bewail’d still more.

Alas! That men should thus be doomed to woe!
I for his soul will many a requiem pray.

A husband you deserve this very day;
A child so worthy to be loved.

                Ah no,
That time hath not yet come for me.

If not a spouse, a gallant let it be.
Among heaven’s choicest gifts, I place,
So sweet a darling to embrace.

Our land doth no such usage know.

Usage or not, it happens so.

Go on, I pray!

                I stood by his bedside.
Something less foul it was than dung;
’Twas straw half rotten; yet, he as a Christian died.
And sorely hath remorse his conscience wrung.
“Wretch that I was,” quoth he, with parting breath,
“So to forsake my business and my wife!
Ah! the remembrance is my death,
Could I but have her pardon in this life!”—
MARTHA  (weeping)

Dear soul! I’ve long forgiven him, indeed!

“Though she, God knows, was more to blame than I.”

He lied! What, on the brink of death to lie!

If I am skill’d the countenance to read,
He doubtless fabled as he parted hence.—
“No time had I to gape, or take my ease,” he said,
“First to get children, and then get them bread;
And bread, too, in the very widest sense;
Nor could I eat in peace even my proper share.”

What, all my truth, my love forgotten quite?
My weary drudgery by day and night!

Not so! He thought of you with tender care.
Quoth he: “Heaven knows how fervently I prayed,
For wife and children when from Malta bound;—
The prayer hath heaven with favour crowned;
We took a Turkish vessel which conveyed
Rich store of treasure for the Sultan’s court;
It’s own reward our gallant action brought;
The captur’d prize was shared among the crew
And of the treasure I received my due.”

How? Where? The treasure hath he buried, pray?

Where the four winds have blown it, who can say?
In Naples as he stroll’d, a stranger there,—
A comely maid took pity on my friend;
And gave such tokens of her love and care,
That he retained them to his blessed end.

Scoundrel! to rob his children of their bread!
And all this misery, this bitter need,
Could not his course of recklessness impede!

Well, he hath paid the forfeit, and is dead.
Now were I in your place, my counsel hear;
My weeds I’d wear for one chaste year,
And for another lover meanwhile would look out.

Alas, I might search far and near,
Not quickly should I find another like my first!
There could not be a fonder fool than mine,
Only he loved too well abroad to roam;
Loved foreign women too, and foreign wine,
And loved besides the dice accurs’d.

All had gone swimmingly, no doubt,
Had he but given you at home,
On his side, just as wide a range.
Upon such terms, to you I swear,
Myself with you would gladly rings exchange!

The gentleman is surely pleas’d to jest!

Now to be off in time, were best!
She’d make the very devil marry her.  (To MARGARET.)
How fares it with your heart?

                How mean you, Sir?

The sweet young innocent!  (aloud)
                Ladies, farewell!


          But ere you leave us, quickly tell!
I from a witness fain had heard,
Where, how, and when my husband died and was interr’d.
To forms I’ve always been attached indeed,
His death I fain would in the journals read.

Ay, madam, what two witnesses declare
Is held as valid everywhere;
A gallant friend I have, not far from here,
Who will for you before the judge appear.
I’ll bring him straight.

                I pray you do!

And this young lady, we shall find her too?
A noble youth, far travelled, he
Shows to the sex all courtesy.

I in his presence needs must blush for shame.

Not in the presence of a crowned king!

The garden, then, behind my house, we’ll name,
There we’ll await you both this evening.


How is it now? How speeds it? Is’t in train?

Bravo! I find you all aflame!
Gretchen full soon your own you’ll name.
This eve, at neighbour Martha’s, her you’ll meet again;
The woman seems expressly made
To drive the pimp and gipsy’s trade.


      But from us she something would request.

A favour claims return as this world goes.

We have on oath but duly to attest,
That her dead husband’s limbs, outstretch’d repose
In holy ground at Padua.

                Sage indeed!
So I suppose we straight must journey there!

Sancta simplicitas! For that no need!
Without much knowledge we have but to swear.

If you have nothing better to suggest,
Against you plan I must at once protest.

Oh, holy man! methinks I have you there!
In all your life say, have you ne’er
False witness borne, until this hour?
Have you of God, the world, and all it doth contain,
Of man, and that which worketh in his heart and brain,
Not definitions given, in words of weight and power,
With front unblushing, and a dauntless breast?
Yet, if into the depth of things you go,
Touching these matters, it must be confess’d,
As much as of Herr Schwerdtlein’s death you know!

Thou art and dost remain liar and sophist too.

Ay, if one did not take a somewhat deeper view!
To-morrow, in all honour, thou
Poor Gretchen wilt befool, and vow
Thy soul’s deep love, in lover’s fashion.

And from my heart.

                All good and fair!
Then deathless constancy thou’lt swear;
Speak of one all o’ermastering passion,—
Will that too issue from the heart?

When passion sways me, and I seek to frame
Fir utterance for feeling, deep, intense,
And for my frenzy finding no fit name,
Sweep round the ample world with every sense,
Grasp at the loftiest words to speak my flame,
And call the glow, wherewith I burn,
Quenchless, eternal, yea, eterne—
Is that of sophistry a devilish play?

Yet am I right!

                Mark this, my friend,
And spare my lungs; who would the right maintain,
And hath a tongue wherewith his point to gain,
Will gain it in the end.
But come, of gossip I am weary quite;
Because I’ve no resource, thou’rt in the right.
MARGARET on FAUST’S arm. MARTHA with MEPHISTOPHELES walking up and down


I feel it, you but spare my ignorance,
The gentleman to shame me stoops thus low.
A traveller from complaisance,
Still makes the best of things; I know
Too well, my humble prattle never can
Have power to entertain so wise a man.

One glance, one word from thee doth charm me more,
Than the world’s wisdom or the sage’s lore.  (He kisses her hand.)

Nay! trouble not yourself! A hand so coarse,
So rude as mine, how can you kiss!
What constant work at home must I not do perforce!
My mother too exacting is.  (They pass on.)

Thus, sir, unceasing travel is your lot?

Traffic and duty urge us! With what pain
Are we compelled to leave full many a spot,
Where yet we dare not once remain!

In youth’s wild years, with vigour crown’d,
’Tis not amiss thus through the world to sweep;
But ah, the evil days come round!
And to a lonely grave as bachelor to creep,
A pleasant thing has no one found.

The prospect fills me with dismay.

Therefore in time, dear sir, reflect, I pray.  (They pass on.)

Ay, out of sight is out of mind!
Politeness easy is to you;
Friends everywhere, and not a few,
Wiser than I am, you will find.

O dearest, trust me, what doth pass for sense
Full oft is self-conceit and blindness!


Simplicity and holy innocence,—
When will ye learn your hallow’d worth to know!
Ah, when will meekness and humility,
Kind and all-bounteous nature’s loftiest dower—

Only one little moment think of me!
To think of you I shall have many an hour.

You are perhaps much alone?

Yes, small our household is, I own,
Yet must I see to it. No maid we keep,
And I must cook, sew, knit, and sweep,
Still early on my feet and late;
My mother is in all things, great and small,
So accurate!
Not that for thrift there is such pressing need;
Than others we might make more show indeed:
My father left behind a small estate,
A house and garden near the city-wall.
But fairly quiet now my days, I own;
As soldier is my brother gone;
My little sister’s dead; the babe to rear
Occasion’d me some care and fond annoy;
But I would go through all again with joy,
The darling was to me so dear.

An angel, sweet, if it resembled thee!

I reared it up, and it grew fond of me.
After my father’s death it saw the day;
We gave my mother up for lost, she lay
In such a wretched plight, and then at length
So very slowly she regain’d her strength.
Weak as she was, ’twas vain for her to try
Herself to suckle the poor babe, so I
Reared it on milk and water all alone;
And thus the child became as ’twere my own;
Within my arms it stretched itself and grew,
And smiling, nestled in my bosom too.

Doubtless the purest happiness was thine.

But many weary hours, in sooth, were also mine.
At night its little cradle stood
Close to my bed; so was I wide awake
If it but stirred;
One while I was obliged to give it food,
Or to my arms the darling take;
From bed full oft must rise, whene’er its cry I heard,
And, dancing it, must pace the chamber to and fro;
Stand at the wash-tub early; forthwith go
To market, and then mind the cooking too—
To-morrow like to-day, the whole year through.
Ah, sir, thus living, it must be confess’d
One’s spirits are not always of the best;
Yet it a relish gives to food and rest.  (They pass on.)

Poor women! we are badly off, I own;
A bachelor’s conversion’s hard, indeed!

Madam, with one like you it rests alone,
To tutor me a better course to lead.

Speak frankly, sir, none is there you have met?
Has your heart ne’er attach’d itself as yet?

One’s own fire-side and a good wife are gold
And pearls of price, so says the proverb old.

I mean, has passion never stirred your breast?

I’ve everywhere been well received, I own.

Yet hath your heart no earnest preference known?

With ladies one should ne’er presume to jest.

Ah! you mistake!

                I’m sorry I’m so blind
But this I know-that you are very kind.  (They pass on.)

Me, little angel, didst thou recognize,
When in the garden first I came?

Did you not see it? I cast down my eyes.

Thou dost forgive my boldness, dost not blame
The liberty I took that day,
When thou from church didst lately wend thy way?

I was confused. So had it never been;
No one of me could any evil say.
Alas, thought I, he doubtless in thy mien,
Something unmaidenly or bold hath seen?
It seemed as if it struck him suddenly,
Here’s just a girl with whom one may make free!
Yet I must own that then I scarcely knew
What in your favour here began at once to plead;
Yet I was angry with myself indeed,
That I more angry could not feel with you.

Sweet love!

            Just wait awhile!  (She gathers a star-flower and plucks off the leaves one after another.)

                A nosegay may that be?

No! It is but a game.


                Go, you’ll laugh at me!  (She plucks off the leaves and murmurs to herself.)

What murmurest thou?
MARGARET  (half aloud)

                He loves me—loves me not.

Sweet angel, with thy face of heavenly bliss!
MARGARET  (continues)

He loves me—not—he loves me-not—  (Plucking off the last leaf with fond joy.)
                He loves me!

And this flower-language, darling, let it be,
A heavenly oracle! He loveth thee!
Know’st thou the meaning of, He loveth thee?  (He seizes both her hands.)

I tremble so!

              Nay! Do not tremble, love!
Let this hand-pressure, let this glance reveal
Feelings, all power of speech above;
To give oneself up wholly and to feel
A joy that must eternal prove!
Eternal!—Yes, its end would be despair.
No end!—It cannot end!  (MARGARET presses his hand, extricates herself, and runs away. He stands a moment in thought and then follows her.)
MARTHA  (approaching)

Night’s closing.

                Yes, we’ll presently away.

I would entreat you longer yet to stay;
But ’tis a wicked place, just here about;
It is as if the folk had nothing else to do,
Nothing to think of too,
But gaping watch their neighbours, who goes in and out;
And scandal’s busy still, do whatsoe’er one may.
And our young couple?

                They have flown up there.
The wanton butterflies!

                He seems to take to her.

And she to him. ’Tis of the world the way!
(MARGARET runs in, hides behind the door, holds the tip of her finger to her lip, and peeps through the crevice.)

He comes!

          Ah, little rogue, so thou
Think’st to provoke me! I have caught thee now!  (He kisses her.)
MARGARET  (embracing him, and returning the kiss)

Dearest of men! I love thee from my heart!  (MEPHISTOPHELES knocks.)
FAUST  (stamping

Who’s there?

              A friend!

                A brute!

                ’Tis time to part.
MARTHA  (comes)

Ay, it is late, good sir.

                Mayn’t I attend you, then?

Oh no—my mother would—adieu, adieu!

And must I really then take leave of you?


                Ere long to meet again!  (Exeunt FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES.)

Good heavens! how all things far and near
Must fill his mind,—a man like this!
Abash’d before him I appear,
And say to all things only, yes.
Poor simple child, I cannot see,
What ’tis that he can find in me.  (Exit.)

FAUST  (alone)

Spirit sublime! Thou gav’st me, gav’st me all
For which I prayed! Not vainly hast thou turn’d
To me thy countenance in flaming fire:
Gavest me glorious nature for my realm,
And also power to feel her and enjoy;
Not merely with a cold and wondering glance,
Thou dost permit me in her depths profound,
As in the bosom of a friend to gaze.
Before me thou dost lead her living tribes,
And dost in silent grove, in air and stream
Teach me to know my kindred. And when roars
The howling storm-blast through the groaning wood,
Wrenching the giant pine, which in its fall
Crashing sweeps down its neighbour trunks and boughs,
While hollow thunder from the hill resounds;
Then thou dost lead me to some shelter’d cave,
Dost there reveal me to myself, and show
Of my own bosom the mysterious depths.
And when with soothing beam, the moon’s pale orb
Full in my view climbs up the pathless sky,
From crag and dewy grove, the silvery forms
Of by-gone ages hover, and assuage




The joy austere of contemplative thought.
Oh, that naught perfect is assign’d to man,
I feel, alas! With this exalted joy,
Which lifts me near and nearer to the gods,
Thou gav’st me this companion, unto whom
I needs must cling, though cold and insolent,
He still degrades me to myself, and turns
Thy glorious gifts to nothing, with a breath.
He in my bosom with malicious zeal
For that fair image fans a raging fire;
From craving to enjoyment thus I reel
And in enjoyment languish for desire.  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters.)

Of this lone life have you not your fill?
How for so long can it have charms for you?
’Tis well enough to try it if you will;
But then away again to something new!

Would you could better occupy your leisure,
Than in disturbing thus my hours of joy.

Well! Well! I’ll leave you to yourself with pleasure,
A serious tone you hardly dare employ.
To part from one so crazy, harsh, and cross,
Were not in truth a grievous loss.
The live-long day, for you I toil and fret;
Ne’er from his worship’s face a hint I get,
What pleases him, or what to let alone.

Ay truly! that is just the proper tone!
He wearies me, and would with thanks be paid!

Poor Son of Earth, without my aid,
How would thy weary days have flown?
Thee of thy foolish whims I’ve cured,
Thy vain imaginations banished,
And but for me, be well assured,
Thou from this sphere must soon have vanished.
In rocky hollows and in caverns drear,
Why like an owl sit moping here?
Wherefore from dripping stones and moss with ooze embued,
Dost suck, like any toad, thy food?
A rare, sweet pastime. Verily!
The doctor cleaveth still to thee.

Dost comprehend what bliss without alloy
From this wild wand’ring in the desert springs?—
Couldst thou but guess the new life-power it brings,
Thou wouldst be fiend enough to envy me my joy.

What super-earthly ecstasy! at night,
To lie in darkness on the dewy height,
Embracing heaven and earth in rapture high,
The soul dilating to a deity;
With prescient yearnings pierce the core of earth,
Feel in your labouring breast the six-days’ birth,
Enjoy, in proud delight what no one knows,
While your love-rapture o’er creation flows,—
The earthly lost in beatific vision,
And then the lofty intuition—  (With a gesture.)
I need not tell you how—to close!

Fie on you!

            This displeases you? “For shame!”
You are forsooth entitled to exclaim;
We to chaste ears it seems must not pronounce
What, nathless, the chaste heart cannot renounce.
Well, to be brief, the joy as fit occasions rise,
I grudge you not, of specious lies.
But long this mood thou’lt not retain.
Already thou’rt again outworn,
And should this last, thou wilt be torn
By frenzy or remorse and pain.
Enough of this! Thy true love dwells apart,
And all to her seems flat and tame;
Alone thine image fills her heart,
She loves thee with an all-devouring flame.
First came thy passion with o’erpowering rush,
Like mountain torrent, swollen by the melted snow;
Full in her heart didst pour the sudden gush,
Now has thy brooklet ceased to flow.
Instead of sitting throned midst forests wild,
It would become so great a lord
To comfort the enamour’d child,
And the young monkey for her love reward.
To her the hours seem miserably long;
She from the window sees the clouds float by
As o’er the lofty city-walls they fly,
“If I a birdie were!” so runs her song,
Half through the night and all day long.
Cheerful sometimes, more oft at heart full sore;
Fairly outwept seem now her tears,
Anon she tranquil is, or so appears,
And love-sick evermore.

Snake! Serpent vile!

Good! If I catch thee with my guile!

Vile reprobate! go get thee hence;
Forbear the lovely girl to name!
Nor in my half-distracted sense,
Kindle anew the smouldering flame!

What wouldest thou! She thinks you’ve taken flight;
It seems, she’s partly in the right.

I’m near her still—and should I distant rove,
Her I can ne’er forget, ne’er lose her love;
And all things touch’d by those sweet lips of hers,
Even the very Host, my envy stirs.

’Tis well! I oft have envied you indeed,
The twin-pair that among the roses feed.

Pander, avaunt!

                Go to! I laugh, the while you rail,
The power which fashion’d youth and maid,
Well understood the noble trade;
So neither shall occasion fail.
But hence!—A mighty grief I trow!
Unto thy lov’d one’s chamber thou
And not to death shouldst go.

What is to me heaven’s joy within her arms?
What though my life her bosom warms!—
Do I not ever feel her woe?
The outcast am I not, unhoused, unblest,
Inhuman monster, without aim or rest,
Who, like the greedy surge, from rock to rock,
Sweeps down the dread abyss with desperate shock?
While she, within her lowly cot, which graced
The Alpine slope, beside the waters wild,
Her homely cares in that small world embraced,
Secluded lived, a simple, artless child.
Was’t not enough, in thy delirious whirl
To blast the steadfast rocks;
Her, and her peace as well,
Must I, God-hated one, to ruin hurl!
Dost claim this holocaust, remorseless Hell!
Fiend, help me to cut short the hours of dread!
Let what must happen, happen speedily!
Her direful doom fall crushing on my head,
And into ruin let her plunge with me!

Why how again it seethes and glows!
Away, thou fool! Her torment ease!
When such a head no issue sees,
It pictures straight the final close.
Long life to him who boldly dares!
A devil’s pluck thou’rt wont to show;
As for a devil who despairs,
Nothing I find so mawkish here below.

MARGARET  (alone at her spinning wheel)

My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore!
Where him I have not,
  Is the grave; and all
The world to me
  Is turned to gall.
My wilder’d brain
  Is overwrought;
My feeble senses
  Are distraught.
My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore!
For him from the window
  I gaze, at home;
For him and him only
  Abroad I roam.
His lofty step,
  His bearing high,
The smile of his lip,
  The power of his eye,
His witching words,
  Their tones of bliss,
His hand’s fond pressure
  And ah—his kiss!
My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore.
My bosom aches
  To feel him near;
Ah, could I clasp
  And fold him here!
Kiss him and kiss him
  Again would I,
And on his kisses
  I fain would die.


Promise me, Henry!

                What I can!

How thy religion fares, I fain would hear.
Thou art a good kind-hearted man,
Only that way not well-disposed, I fear.

Forbear, my child! Thou feelest thee I love;
My heart, my blood I’d give, my love to prove,
And none would of their faith or church bereave.

That’s not enough, we must ourselves believe!

Must we?

          Ah, could I but thy soul inspire!
Thou honourest not the sacraments, alas!

I honour them.

                But yet without desire;
’Tis long since thou hast been either to shrift or mass.
Dost thou believe in God?

                My darling, who dares say,
Yes, I in God believe?
Question or priest or sage, and they
Seem, in the answer you receive,
To mock the questioner.

                Then thou dost not believe?

Sweet one! my meaning do not misconceive!
Him who dare name?
And who proclaim,
Him I believe?
Who that can feel,
His heart can steel,
To say: I believe him not?
The All-embracer,
Holds and sustains he not
Thee, me, himself?
Lifts not the Heaven its dome above?
Doth not the firm-set earth beneath us lie?
And beaming tenderly with looks of love,
Climb not the everlasting stars on high?
Do we not gaze into each other’s eyes?
Nature’s impenetrable agencies,
Are they not thronging on thy heart and brain,
Viewless, or visible to mortal ken,
Around thee weaving their mysterious chain?
Fill thence thy heart, how large soe’er it be;
And in the feeling when thou utterly art blest,
Then call it, what thou wilt,—
Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for it!
’Tis feeling all;
Name is but sound and smoke
Shrouding the glow of heaven.

All this is doubtless good and fair;
Almost the same the parson says,
Only in slightly different phrase.

Beneath Heaven’s sunshine, everywhere,
This is the utterance of the human heart;
Each in his language doth the like impart;
Then why not I in mine?

                What thus I hear
Sounds plausible, yet I’m not reconciled;
There’s something wrong about it; much I fear
That thou art not a Christian.

                My sweet child!

Alas! it long hath sorely troubled me,
To see thee in such odious company.

How so?

        The man who comes with thee, I hate,
Yea, in my spirit’s inmost depths abhor;
As his loath’d visage, in my life before,
Naught to my heart e’er gave a pang so great.

Him fear not, my sweet love!

                His presence chills my blood.
Towards all beside I have a kindly mood;
Yet, though I yearn to gaze on thee, I feel
At sight of him strange horror o’er me steal;
That he’s a villain my conviction’s strong.
May Heaven forgive me, if I do him wrong!

Yet such strange fellows in the world must be!

I would not live with such an one as he.
If for a moment he but enter here,
He looks around him with a mocking sneer,
And malice ill-conceal’d;
That he with naught on earth can sympathize is clear
Upon his brow ’tis legibly revealed,
That to his heart no living soul is dear.
So blest I feel, within thine arms,
So warm and happy,—free from all alarms;
And still my heart doth close when he comes near.

Foreboding angel! check thy fear!

It so o’ermasters me, that when,
Or wheresoe’er, his step I hear,
I almost think, no more I love thee then.
Besides, when he is near, I ne’er could pray.
This eats into my heart; with thee
The same, my Henry, it must be.

This is antipathy!

                I must away.

For one brief hour then may I never rest,
And heart to heart, and soul to soul be pressed?

Ah, if I slept alone! To-night
The bolt I fain would leave undrawn for thee;
But then my mother’s sleep is light,
Were we surprised by her, ah me!
Upon the spot I should be dead.

Dear angel! there’s no cause for dread.
Here is a little phial,—if she take
Mixed in her drink three drops, ’twill steep
Her nature in a deep and soothing sleep.

What do I not for thy dear sake!
To her it will not harmful prove?

Should I advise it else, sweet love?

I know not, dearest, when thy face I see,
What doth my spirit to thy will constrain;
Already I have done so much for thee,
That scarcely more to do doth now remain.  (Exit.)


The monkey! Is she gone?

                Again hast played the spy?

Of all that pass’d I’m well apprized,
I heard the doctor catechised,
And trust he’ll profit much thereby!
Fain would the girls inquire indeed
Touching their lover’s faith and creed,
And whether pious in the good old way;
They think, if pliant there, us too he will obey.

Thou monster, does not see that this
Pure soul, possessed by ardent love,
Full of the living faith,
To her of bliss
The only pledge, must holy anguish prove,
Holding the man she loves, fore-doomed to endless death!

Most sensual, supersensualist? The while
A damsel leads thee by the nose!

Of filth and fire abortion vile!

In physiognomy strange skill she shows;
She in my presence feels she knows not how;
My mask it seems a hidden sense reveals;
That I’m a genius she must needs allow,
That I’m the very devil perhaps she feels.
So then to-night—

                What’s that to you?

I’ve my amusement in it too!

MARGARET and BESSY, with pitchers

Of Barbara hast nothing heard?

I rarely go from home,—no, not a word.

’Tis true: Sybilla told me so to-day!
That comes of being proud, methinks;
She played the fool at last.

                How so?

                They say
That two she feedeth when she eats and drinks.


      She’s rightly served, in sooth,
How long she hung upon the youth!
What promenades, what jaunts there were,
To dancing booth and village fair!
The first she everywhere must shine,
He always treating her to pastry and to wine
Of her good looks she was so vain,
So shameless too, that to retain
His presents, she did not disdain;
Sweet words and kisses came anon—
And then the virgin flower was gone.

Poor thing!

            Forsooth dost pity her?
At night, when at our wheels we sat,
Abroad our mothers ne’er would let us stir.
Then with her lover she must chat,
Or on the bench or in the dusky walk,
Thinking the hours too brief for their sweet talk;
Her proud head she will have to bow,
And in white sheet do penance now!

But he will surely marry her?

                Not he!
He won’t be such a fool! a gallant lad
Like him, can roam o’er land and sea,
Besides, he’s off.

                That is not fair!

If she should get him, ’twere almost as bad!
Her myrtle wreath the boys would tear;
And then we girls would plagued her too,
For we chopp’d straw before her door would strew!  (Exit.)
MARGARET  (walking towards home)

How stoutly once I could inveigh,
If a poor maiden went astray;
Not words enough my tongue could find,
’Gainst others’ sin to speak my mind!
Black as it seemed, I blacken’d it still more,
And strove to make it blacker than before.
And did myself securely bless—
Now my own trespass doth appear!
Yet ah!—what urg’d me to transgress,
God knows, it was so sweet, so dear!
Enclosure between the City-wall and the Gate.
(In the niche of the wall a devotional image of the Mater dolorosa, with flower-pots before it.)

MARGARET  (putting fresh flowers in the pots)

Ah, rich in sorrow, thou,
Stoop thy maternal brow,
And mark with pitying eye my misery!
The sword in thy pierced heart,
Thou dost with bitter smart,
Gaze upwards on thy Son’s death agony.
To the dear God on high,
Ascends thy piteous sigh,
Pleading for his and thy sore misery.
Ah, who can know
The torturing woe,
The pangs that rack me to the bone?
How my poor heart, without relief,
Trembles and throbs, its yearning grief
Thou knowest, thou alone!
Ah, wheresoe’er I go,
With woe, with woe, with woe,
My anguish’d breast is aching!
When all alone I creep,
I weep, I weep, I weep,
Alas! my heart is breaking!
The flower-pots at my window
Were wet with tears of mine,
The while I pluck’d these blossoms,
At dawn to deck thy shrine!
When early in my chamber
Shone bright the rising morn,
I sat there on my pallet,
My heart with anguish torn.
Help! from disgrace and death deliver me!
Ah! rich in sorrow, thou,
Stoop thy maternal brow,
And mark with pitying eye my misery!

VALENTINE  (a soldier, MARGARET’S brother)

When seated ’mong the jovial crowd,
Where merry comrades boasting loud
Each named with pride his favourite lass,
And in her honour drain’d his glass;
Upon my elbows I would lean,
With easy quiet view the scene,
Nor give my tongue the rein until
Each swaggering blade had talked his fill.
Then smiling I my beard would stroke,
The while, with brimming glass, I spoke;
“Each to his taste!—but to my mind,
Where in the country will you find,
A maid, as my dear Gretchen fair,
Who with my sister can compare?”
Cling! Clang! so rang the jovial sound!
Shouts of assent went circling round;
Pride of her sex is she!—cried some;
Then were the noisy boasters dumb.
And now!—I could tear out my hair,
Or dash my brains out in despair!—
Me every scurvy knave may twit,
With stinging jest and taunting sneer!
Like skulking debtor I must sit,
And sweat each casual word to hear!
And though I smash’d them one and all,—
Yet them I could not liars call.
    Who comes this way? who’s sneaking here?
    If I mistake not, two draw near.
    If he be one, have at him;—well I wot
    Alive he shall not leave this spot!


How from yon sacristy, athwart the night,
Its beams the ever-burning taper throws,
While ever waning, fades the glimmering light,
As gathering darkness doth around it close!
So night-like gloom doth in my bosom reign.

I’m like a tom-cat in a thievish vein,
That up fire-ladders tall and steep,
And round the walls doth slyly creep;
Virtuous withal, I feel, with, I confess,
A touch of thievish joy and wantonness.
Thus through my limbs already burns
The glorious Walpurgis night!
After to-morrow it returns,
Then why one wakes, one knows aright!

Meanwhile, the treasure I see glimmering there,
Will it ascend into the open air?

Ere long thou wilt proceed with pleasure,
To raise the casket with its treasure;
I took a peep, therein are stored,
Of lion-dollars a rich hoard.

And not a trinket? not a ring?
Wherewith my lovely girl to deck?

I saw among them some such thing,
A string of pearls to grace her neck.

’Tis well! I’m always loath to go,
Without some gift my love to show.

Some pleasures gratis to enjoy,
Should surely cause you no annoy.
While bright with stars the heavens appear,
I’ll sing a masterpiece of art:
A moral song shall charm her ear,
More surely to beguile her heart.  (Sings to the guitar.)
Kathrina say,
Why lingering stay
At dawn of day
Before your lover’s door?
Maiden, beware,
Nor enter there,
Lest forth you fare,
A maiden never more.
Maiden take heed!
Reck well my rede!
Is’t done, the deed?
Good night, you poor, poor thing!
The spoiler’s lies,
His arts despise,
Nor yield your prize,
Without the marriage ring!
VALENTINE  (steps forward)

Whom are you luring here? I’ll give it you!
Accursed rat-catchers, your strains I’ll end!
First, to the devil the guitar I’ll send!
Then to the devil with the singer too!

The poor guitar! ’tis done for now.

Your skull shall follow next, I trow!

Doctor, stand fast! your strength collect!
Be prompt, and do as I direct.
Out with your whisk, keep close, I pray,
I’ll parry! do you thrust away!

Then parry that!

                Why not?

                That too!

With ease!

            The devil fights for you!
Why how is this? my hand’s already lamed!

Thrust home!
VALENTINE  (falls)


                There! Now the lubber’s tamed!
But quick, away! We must at once take wing;
A cry of murder strikes upon the ear;
With the police I know my course to steer,
But with the blood-ban ’tis another thing.
MARTHA  (at the window)

Without! without!




MARGARET  (at the window)

                Quick, bring a light!
MARTHA  (as above)

They rail and scuffle, scream and fight!

One lieth here already dead!
MARTHA  (coming out)

Where are the murderers? are they fled?
MARGARET  (coming out)

Who lieth here?

                Thy mother’s son.

Almighty God! I am undone!

I’m dying—’tis a soon-told tale,
And sooner done the deed.
Why, women, do ye howl and wail?
To my last words give heed!  (All gather round him.)
My Gretchen see! still young art thou,
Art not discreet enough, I trow,
Thou dost thy matters ill;
Let this in confidence be said:
Since thou the path of shame dost tread,
Tread it with right good will!

My brother! God! what can this mean?

Nor dare God’s holy name profane!
What’s done, alas, is done and past!
Matters will take their course at last;
By stealth thou dost begin with one,
Others will follow him anon;
And when a dozen thee have known,
Thou’lt common be to all the town.
When infamy is newly born,
In secret she is brought to light,
And the mysterious veil of night
O’er head and ears is drawn;
The loathsome birth men fain would slay;
But soon, full grown, she waxes bold,
And though not fairer to behold,
With brazen front insults the day:
The more abhorrent to the sight,
The more she courts the day’s pure light.
The time already I discern,
When thee all honest folk will spurn,
And shun thy hated form to meet,
As when a corpse infects the street.
Thy heart will sink in blank despair,
When they shall look thee in the face!
A golden chain no more thou’lt wear!
Nor near the altar take in church thy place!
In fair lace collar simply dight
Thou’lt dance no more with spirits light!
In darksome corners thou wilt bide,
Where beggars vile and cripples hide,
And e’en though God thy crime forgive,
On earth, a thing accursed, thou’lt live!

Your parting soul to God commend!
Your dying breath in slander will you spend?

Could I but reach thy wither’d frame,
Thou wretched beldame, void of shame!
Full measure I might hope to win
Of pardon then for every sin.

Brother! what agonizing pain!

I tell thee, from vain tears abstain!
’Twas thy dishonour pierced my heart,
Thy fall the fatal death-stab gave.
Through the death-sleep I now depart
To God, a soldier true and brave.  (dies.)

Service, Organ, and Anthem
MARGARET amongst a number of people

How different, Gretchen, was it once with thee,
When thou, still full of innocence,
Here to the altar camest,
And from the small and well-conn’d book
Didst lisp thy prayer,
Half childish sport,
Half God in thy young heart!
What thoughts are thine?
What deed of shame
Lurks in thy sinful heart?
Is thy prayer utter’d for thy mother’s soul,
Who into long, long torment slept through thee?
Whose blood is on thy threshold?
—And stirs there not already ’neath thy heart
Another quick’ning pulse, that even now
Tortures itself and thee
With its foreboding presence?

Woe! Woe!
Oh could I free me from the thoughts
That hither, thither, crowd upon my brain,
Against my will!

    Dies iræ, dies illa,
    Solvet sæclum in favilla.  (The organ sounds.)

Grim horror seizes thee!
The trumpet sounds!
The graves are shaken!
And thy heart
From ashy rest
For torturing flames
A new created,
Trembles into life!

Would I were hence!
It is as if the organ
Choked my breath,
As if the choir
Melted my inmost heart!

    Judex ergo cum sedebit,
    Quidquid latet adparebit,
    Nil inultum remanebit.

I feel oppressed!
The pillars of the wall
Imprison me!
The vaulted roof
Weighs down upon me!—air!

Wouldst hide thee? sin and shame
Remain not hidden!
Air! light!
Woe’s thee!

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus!
Cum vix justus sit securus.

The glorified their faces turn
Away from thee!
Shudder the pure to reach
Their hands to thee!

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus—

Neighbour! your smelling bottle!  (She swoons away.)


A broomstick dost thou not at least desire?
The roughest he-goat fain would I bestride,
By this road from our goal we’re still far wide.

While fresh upon my legs, so long I naught require,
Except this knotty staff. Beside,
What boots it to abridge a pleasant way?
Along the labyrinth of these vales to creep,
Then scale these rocks, whence, in eternal spray,
Adown the cliffs the silvery fountains leap:
Such is the joy that seasons paths like these!
Spring weaves already in the birchen trees;
E’en the late pine-grove feels her quickening powers;
Should she not work within these limbs of ours?

Naught of this genial influence do I know!
Within me all is wintry. Frost and snow
I should prefer my dismal path to bound.
How sadly, yonder, with belated glow
Rises the ruddy moon’s imperfect round,
Shedding so faint a light, at every tread
One’s sure to stumble ’gainst a rock or tree!
An Ignis Fatuus I must call instead.
Yonder one burning merrily, I see.
Holla! my friend! may I request your light?
Why should you flare away so uselessly?
Be kind enough to show us up the height!

Through reverence, I hope I may subdue
The lightness of my nature; true,
Our course is but a zigzag one.

                Ho! ho!
So men, forsooth, he thinks to imitate!
Now, in the devil’s name, for once go straight!
Or out at once your flickering life I’ll blow.

That you are master here is obvious quite;
To do your will, I’ll cordially essay;
Only reflect! The hill is magic-mad to-night;
And if to show the path you choose a meteor’s light,
You must not wonder should we go astray.

Through the dream and magic-sphere,
As it seems, we now are speeding;
Honour win, us rightly leading,
That betimes we may appear
In yon wide and desert region!
Trees on trees, a stalwart legion,
Swiftly past us are retreating,
And the cliffs with lowly greeting;
Rocks long-snouted, row on row,
How they snort, and how they blow!
Through the stones and heather springing,
Brook and brooklet haste below;
Hark the rustling! Hark the singing!
Hearken to love’s plaintive lays;
Voices of those heavenly days—
What we hope, and what we love!
Like a tale of olden time,
Echo’s voice prolongs the chime.
To-whit! To-whoo! It sounds more near;
Plover, owl and jay appear,
All awake, around, above?
Paunchy salamanders too
Peer, long-limbed, the bushes through!
And, like snakes, the roots of trees
Coil themselves from rock and sand,
Stretching many a wondrous band,
Us to frighten, us to seize;
From rude knots with life embued,
Polyp-fangs abroad they spread,
To snare the wanderer! ’Neath our tread,
Mice, in myriads, thousand-hued,
Through the heath and through the moss!
And the fire-flies’ glittering throng,
Wildering escort, whirls along,
Here and there, our path across.
Tell me, stand we motionless,
Or still forward do we press?
All things round us whirl and fly;
Rocks and trees make strange grimaces,
Dazzling meteors change their places,
How they puff and multiply!

Now grasp my doublet-we at last
A central peak have reached, which shows,
If round a wondering glance we cast,
How in the mountain Mammon glows,

How through the chasms strangely gleams,
A lurid light, like dawn’s red glow,
Pervading with its quivering beams,
The gorges of the gulf below!
Here vapours rise, there clouds float by,
Here through the mist the light doth shine;
Now, like a fount, it bursts on high,
Meanders now, a slender line;
Far reaching, with a hundred veins,
Here through the valley see it glide;
Here, where its force the gorge restrains,
At once it scatters, far and wide;
Anear, like showers of golden sand
Strewn broadcast, sputter sparks of light:
And mark yon rocky walls that stand
Ablaze, in all their towering height!

Doth not Sir Mammon for this fête
Grandly illume his palace! Thou
Art lucky to have seen it; now,
The boisterous guests, I feel, are coming straight.

How through the air the storm doth whirl!
Upon my neck it strikes with sudden shock.

Cling to these ancient ribs of granite rock,
Else to yon depths profound it you will hurl.
A murky vapour thickens night.
Hark! Through the woods the tempests roar!
The owlets flit in wild affright.
Hark! Splinter’d are the columns that upbore
The leafy palace, green for aye:
The shivered branches whirr and sigh,
Yawn the huge trunks with mighty groan.
The roots upriven, creak and moan!
In fearful and entangled fall,
One crashing ruin whelms them all,
While through the desolate abyss,
Sweeping the wreck-strewn precipice,
The raging storm-blasts howl and hiss!
Aloft strange voices dost thou hear?
Distant now and now more near?
Hark! the mountain ridge along,
Streameth a raving magic-song!
WITCHES  (in chorus)

    Now to the Brocken the witches hie,
    The stubble is yellow, the corn is green;
    Thither the gathering legions fly,
    And sitting aloft is Sir Urian seen:
    O’er stick and o’er stone they go whirling along,
    Witches and he-goats, a motley throng,

    Alone old Baubo’s coming now;
    She rides upon a farrow sow.

    Honour to her, to whom honour is due!
    Forward, Dame Baubo! Honour to you!
    A goodly sow and mother thereon,
    The whole witch chorus follows anon.
Which way didst come?

                O’er Ilsenstein!
There I peep’d in an owlet’s nest.
With her broad eye she gazed in mine!

Drive to the devil, thou hellish pest!
Why ride so hard?

                She has graz’d my side,
Look at the wounds, how deep and how wide!
WITCHES  (in chorus)

    The way is broad, the way is long;
    What mad pursuit! What tumult wild!
    Scratches the besom and sticks the prong;
    Crush’d is the mother, and stifled the child.
WIZARDS  (half chorus)

    Like house-encumber’d snail we creep;
    While far ahead the women keep,
    For when to the devil’s house we speed,
    By a thousand steps they take the lead.

    Not so, precisely do we view it;—
    They with a thousand steps may do it;
    But let them hasten as they can,
    With one long bound ’tis clear’d by man.
VOICES  (above)

Come with us, come with us from Felsensee.
VOICES  (from below)

Aloft to you we would mount with glee!
We wash, and free from all stain are we,
Yet barren evermore must be!

    The wind is hushed, the stars grow pale,
    The pensive moon her light doth veil;
    And whirling on, the magic choir
    Sputters forth sparks of drizzling fire.
VOICE  (from below)

Stay! stay!
  Voice  (from above)

            What voice of woe

Calls from the cavern’d depths below?
VOICE  (from below)

Take me with you! Oh take me too!
Three centuries I climb in vain,
And yet can ne’er the summit gain!
To be with my kindred I am fain.

    Broom and pitch-fork, goat and prong,
    Mounted on these we whirl along;
    Who vainly strives to climb to-night,
    Is evermore a luckless wight!
DEMI-WITCH  (below)

I hobble after, many a day;
Already the others are far away!
No rest at home can I obtain—
Here too my efforts are in vain!

    Salve gives the witches strength to rise;
    A rag for a sail does well enough;
    A goodly ship is every trough;
    To-night who flies not, never flies.

    And when the topmost peak we round,
    Then alight ye on the ground;
    The heath’s wide regions cover ye
    With your mad swarms of witchery!  (They let themselves down.)

They crowd and jostle, whirl and flutter!
They whisper, babble, twirl, and splutter!
They glimmer, sparkle, stink and flare—
A true witch-element! Beware!
Stick close! else we shall severed be.
Where art thou?
FAUST  (in the distance)


                Already, whirl’d so far away!
The master then indeed I needs must play.
Give ground! Squire Voland comes! Sweet folk, give ground!
Here, doctor, grasp me! With a single bound
Let us escape this ceaseless jar;
Even for me too mad these people are.
Hard by there shineth something with peculiar glare,
Yon brake allureth me; it is not far;
Come, come along with me! we’ll slip in there.

Spirit of contradiction! Lead! I’ll follow straight!
’Twas wisely done, however, to repair
On May-night to the Brocken, and when there
By our own choice ourselves to isolate!

Mark, of those flames the motley glare!
A merry club assembles there.
In a small circle one is not alone.

I’d rather be above, though, I must own!
Already fire and eddying smoke I view;
The impetuous millions to the devil ride;
Full many a riddle will be there untied.

Ay! and full many a riddle tied anew.
But let the great world rave and riot!
Here will we house ourselves in quiet.
A custom ’tis of ancient date,
Our lesser worlds within the great world to create!
Young witches there I see, naked and bare,
And old ones, veil’d more prudently.
For my sake only courteous be!
The trouble’s small, the sport is rare.
Of instruments I hear the cursed din—
One must get used to it. Come in! come in!
There’s now no help for it. I’ll step before
And introducing you as my good friend,
Confer on you one obligation more.
How say you now? ’Tis no such paltry room;
Why only look, you scarce can see the end.
A hundred fires in rows disperse the gloom;
They dance, they talk, they cook, make love, and drink:
Where could we find aught better, do you think?

To introduce us, do you purpose here
As devil or as wizard to appear?

Though I am wont indeed to strict incognito,
Yet upon gala-days one must one’s orders show.
No garter have I to distinguish me,
Nathless the cloven foot doth here give dignity.
Seest thou yonder snail? Crawling this way she hies:
With searching feelers, she, no doubt,
Hath me already scented out;
Here, even if I would, for me there’s no disguise.
From fire to fire, we’ll saunter at our leisure,
The gallant you, I’ll cater for your pleasure.  (To a party seated round some expiring embers.)
Old gentleman, apart, why sit ye moping here?
Ye in the midst should be of all this jovial cheer,
Girt round with noise and youthful riot;
At home one surely has enough of quiet.

In nations put his trust, who may,
Whate’er for them one may have done;
For with the people, as with women, they
Honour your rising stars alone!

Now all too far they wander from the right;
I praise the good old ways, to them I hold,
Then was the genuine age of gold,
When we ourselves were foremost in men’s sight.

Ne’er were we ’mong your dullards found,
And what we ought not, that to do were fair;
Yet now are all things turning round and round,
When on firm basis we would them maintain.

Who, as a rule, a treatise now would care
To read, of even moderate sense?
As for the rising generation, ne’er
Has youth displayed such arrogant pretence.
MEPHISTOPHELES  (suddenly appearing very old)

Since for the last time I the Brocken scale,
That folk are ripe for doomsday, now one sees;
And just because my cask begins to fail,
So the whole world is also on the lees.

Stop, gentlemen, nor pass me by,
Of wares I have a choice collection:
Pray honour them with your inspection.
Lose not his opportunity!
Yet nothing in my booth you’ll find
Without its counterpart on earth; there’s naught,
Which to the world, and to mankind,
Hath not some direful mischief wrought.
No dagger here, which hath not flow’d with blood,
No chalice, whence, into some healthy frame
Hath not been poured hot poison’s wasting flood.
No trinket, but hath wrought some woman’s shame,
No weapon but hath cut some sacred tie,
Or from behind hath stabb’d an enemy.

Gossip! For wares like these the time’s gone by,
What’s done is past! what’s past is done!
With novelties your booth supply;
Us novelties attract alone.

May this wild scene my senses spare!
This, may in truth be called a fair!

Upward the eddying concourse throng;
Thinking to push, thyself art push’d along.

Who’s that, pray?

                Mark her well! That’s Lilith.


Adam’s first wife. Of her rich locks beware!
That charm in which she’s parallel’d by few;
When in its toils a youth she doth ensnare,
He will not soon escape, I promise you.

There sit a pair, the old one with the young;
Already they have bravely danced and sprung!

Here there is no repose to-day.
Another dance begins; we’ll join it, come away!
(dancing with the young one)        Once a fair vision came to me;
        There in I saw an apple-tree,
        Two beauteous apples charmed mine eyes;
        I climb’d forthwith to reach the prize.

        Apples still fondly ye desire,
        From paradise it hath been so.
        Feelings of joy my breast inspire
        That such too in my garden grow.
MEPHISTOPHELES  (with the old one)

        Once a weird vision came to me;
        Therein I saw a rifted tree.
        It had a  .  .  .  .  .  .  ;
        But as it was it pleased me too.

        I beg most humbly to salute
        The gallant with the cloven foot!
        Let him a … have ready here,
        If he a … does not fear.

Accursed mob! How dare ye thus to meet?
Have I not shown and demonstrated too,
That ghosts stand not on ordinary feet?
Yet here ye dance, as other mortals do!
THE FAIR ONE  (dancing)

Then at our ball, what doth he here?
FAUST  (dancing)

Oh! He must everywhere appear.
He must adjudge, when others dance;
If on each step his say’s not said,
So is that step as good as never made.
He’s most annoyed, so soon as we advance;
If ye would circle in one narrow round,
As he in his old mill, then doubtless he
Your dancing would approve,—especially
If ye forthwith salute him with respect profound!

Still here! what arrogance! unheard of quite!
Vanish; we now have fill’d the world with light!
Laws are unheeded by the devil’s host;
Wise as we are, yet Tegel hath its ghost!
How long at this conceit I’ve swept with all my might,
Lost is the labour: ’tis unheard of quite!

Cease here to teaze us any more, I pray.

Spirits, I plainly to your face declare:
No spiritual control myself will bear,
Since my own spirit can exert no sway.  (The dancing continues.)
To-night, I see, I shall in naught succeed;
But I’m prepar’d my travels to pursue,
And hope, before my final step indeed,
To triumph over bards and devils too.

Now in some puddle will he take his station,
Such is his mode of seeking consolation;
Where leeches, feasting on his rump, will drain
Spirits alike and spirit from his brain.  (To FAUST, who has left the dance.)
But why the charming damsel leave, I pray,
Who to you in the dance so sweetly sang?

Ah, in the very middle of her lay,
Out of her mouth a small red mouse there sprang.

Suppose there did! One must not be too nice.
’Twas well it was not grey, let that suffice.
Who ’mid his pleasures for a trifle cares?

Then saw I—


                Mephisto, seest thou there
Standing far off, a lone child, pale and fair?
Slow from the spot her drooping form she tears,
And seems with shackled feet to move along;
I own, within me the delusion’ strong,
That she the likeness of my Gretchen wears.

Gaze not upon her! ’Tis not good! Forbear!
’Tis lifeless, magical, a shape of air,
An idol. Such to meet with, bodes no good;
That rigid look of hers doth freeze man’s blood,
And well-nigh petrifies his heart to stone:—
The story of Medusa thou hast known.

Ay, verily! a corpse’s eyes are those,
Which there was no fond loving hand to close.
That is the bosom I so fondly press’d,
That my sweet Gretchen’s form, so oft caress’d!

Deluded fool! ’Tis magic, I declare!
To each she doth his lov’d one’s image wear.

What bliss! what torture! vainly I essay
To turn me from that piteous look away.




How strangely doth a single crimson line
Around that lovely neck its coil entwine,
It shows no broader than a knife’s blunt edge!

Quite right. I see it also, and allege
That she beneath her arm her head can bear,
Since Perseus cut it off.—But you I swear
Are craving for illusion still!
Come then, ascend yon little hill!
As on the Prater all is gay,
And if my senses are not gone,
I see a theatre,—what’s going on?

They are about to recommence;—the play
Will be the last of seven, and spick-span new—
’Tis usual here that number to present.
A dilettante did the piece invent,
And dilettanti will enact it too.
Excuse me, gentlemen; to me’s assign’d
As dilettante to uplift the curtain.

You on the Blocksberg I’m rejoiced to find,
That ’tis your most appropriate sphere is certain.


Vales, where mists still shift and play,
  To ancient hills succeeding,—
These our scenes;—so we, to-day,
  May rest, brave sons of Mieding.

That the marriage golden be,
  Must fifty years be ended;
More dear this feast of gold to me,
  Contention now suspended.

Spirits, if present, grace the scene.
  And if with me united,
Then gratulate the king and queen,
  Their troth thus newly plighted!

Puck draws near and wheels about,
  In mazy circles dancing!
Hundreds swell his joyous shout,
  Behind him still advancing.

Ariel wakes his dainty air,
  His lyre celestial stringing.—
Fools he lureth, and the fair,
  With his celestial singing.

Wedded ones, would ye agree,
  We court your imitation:
Would ye fondly love as we,
  We counsel separation.

If husband scold and wife retort,
  Then bear them far asunder;
Her to the burning south transport,
  And him the North Pole under.

Flies and midges all unite
  With frog and chirping cricket,
Our orchestra throughout the night,
  Resounding in the thicket!

Yonder doth the bagpipe come!
  Its sack an airy bubble.
Schnick, schnick, schnack, with nasal hum,
  Its notes it doth redouble.

Spider’s foot and midge’s wing,
  A toad in form and feature;
Together verses it can string,
  Though scarce a living creature.

Tiny step and lofty bound,
  Through dew and exhalation;
Ye trip it deftly on the ground,
  But gain no elevation.

Can I indeed believe my eyes?
  Is’t not mere masquerading?
What! Oberon in beauteous guise,
  Among the groups parading!

No claws, no tail to whisk about,
  To fright us at our revel;—
Yet like the gods of Greece, no doubt,
  He too’s a genuine devil.

These that I’m hitting off to-day
  Are sketches unpretending;
Towards Italy without delay,
  My steps I think of bending.

Alas! ill-fortune leads me here,
  Where riot still grows louder;
And ’mong the witches gather’d here
  But two alone wear powder!

Your powder and your petticoat,
  Suit hags, there’s no gainsaying;
Hence I sit fearless on my goat,
  My naked charms displaying.

We’re too well-bred to squabble here,
  Or insult back to render;
But may you wither soon, my dear,
  Although so young and tender.

Nose of fly and gnat’s proboscis,
  Throng not the naked beauty!
Frogs and crickets in the mosses,
  Keep time and do your duty!
WEATHERCOCK  (towards one side)

What charming company I view
  Together here collected!
Gay bachelors, a hopeful crew.
  And brides so unaffected!
WEATHERCOCK  (towards the other side)

Unless indeed the yawning ground
  Should open to receive them,
From this vile crew, with sudden bound,
  To Hell I’d jump and leave them.

With small sharp shears, in insect guise
  Behold us at your revel!
That we may tender, filial-wise,
  Our homage to the devil.

Look now at yonder eager crew,
  How naively they’re jesting!
That they have tender hearts and true,
  They stoutly keep protesting!

Oneself amid this witchery
  How pleasantly one loses;
For witches easier are to me
  To govern than the Muses!

With proper folks when we appear,
  No one can then surpass us!
Keep close, wide is the Blocksberg here
  As Germany’s Parnassus.

How name ye that stiff formal man,
  Who strides with lofty paces?
He tracks the game where’er he can,
  “He scents the Jesuits’ traces.”

Where waters troubled are or clear,
  To fish I am delighted;
Thus pious gentlemen appear
  With devils here united.

By pious people, it is true,
  No medium is rejected;
Conventicles, and not a few,
  On Blocksberg are erected.

Another chorus now succeeds,
  Far off the drums are beating.
Be still! The bitterns ’mong the reeds
  Their one note are repeating.

Each twirls about and never stops,
  And as he can he fareth.
The crooked leaps, the clumsy hops,
  Nor for appearance careth.

To take each other’s life, I trow,
  Would cordially delight them!
As Orpheus’ lyre the beasts, so now
  The bagpipe doth unite them.

My views, in spite of doubt and sneer,
  I hold with stout persistence,
Inferring from the devils here,
  The evil one’s existence.

My every sense rules Phantasy
  With sway quite too potential;
Sure I’m demented if the I
  Alone is the essential.

This entity’s a dreadful bore,
  And cannot choose but vex me;
The ground beneath me ne’er before
  Thus totter’d to perplex me.

Well pleased assembled here I view
  Of spirits this profusion;
From devils, touching angels too,
  I gather some conclusion.

The ignis fatuus they track out,
  And think they’re near the treasure.
Devil alliterates with doubt,
  Here I abide with pleasure.

Frog and cricket in the mosses,—
  Confound your gasconading!
Nose of fly and gnat’s proboscis;—
  Most tuneful serenading!

Sans-souci, so this host we greet,
  Their jovial humour showing;
There’s now no walking on our feet,
  So on our heads we’re going.

In seasons past we snatch’d, ’tis true,
  Some tit-bits by our cunning;
Our shoes, alas, are now danced through,
  On our bare soles we’re running.

From marshy bogs we sprang to light,
  Yet here behold us dancing;
The gayest gallants of the night,
  In glitt’ring rows advancing.

With rapid motion from on high,
  I shot in starry splendour;
Now prostrate on the grass I lie;—
  Who aid will kindly render?

Room! wheel round! They’re coming lo!
  Down sink the bending grasses.
Though spirits, yet their limbs, we know,
  Are huge substantial masses.

Don’t stamp so heavily, I pray;
  Like elephants you’re treading!
And ’mong the elves be Puck to-day,
  The stoutest at the wedding!

If nature boon, or subtle sprite,
  Endow your soul with pinions;—
Then follow to yon rosy height,
  Through ether’s calm dominions!
ORCHESTRA  (pianissimo)

Drifting cloud and misty wreathes
  Are fill’d with light elysian;
O’er reed and leaf the zephyr breathes—
  So fades the fairy vision!


  In misery! despairing! long wandering pitifully on the face of the earth and now imprisoned! This gentle hapless creature, immured in the dungeon as a malefactor and reserved for horrid tortures! That it should come to this! To this!—Perfidious, worthless spirit, and this thou hast concealed from me!—Stand! ay, stand! roll in malicious rage thy fiendish eyes! Stand and brave me with thine insupportable presence! Imprisoned! In hopeless misery! Delivered over to the power of evil spirits and the judgment of unpitying humanity!—And me, the while, thou wert lulling with tasteless dissipations, concealing from me her growing anguish, and leaving her to perish without help!

She is not the first.

Hound! Execrable monster!—Back with him, oh thou infinite spirit! back with the reptile into his dog’s shape, in which it was his wont to scamper before me at eventide, to roll before the feet of the harmless wanderer, and to fasten on his shoulders when he fell! Change him again into his favourite shape, that he may crouch on his belly before me in the dust, whilst I spurn him with my foot, the reprobate!—Not the first!—Woe! Woe! By no human soul is it conceivable, that more than one human creature has ever sunk into a depth of wretchedness like this, or that the first in her writhing death-agony should not have atoned in the sight of all-pardoning Heaven for the guilt of all the rest! The misery of this one pierces me to the very marrow, and harrows up my soul; thou art grinning calmly over the doom of thousands!

Now we are once again at our wit’s end, just where the reason of you mortals snaps! Why dost thou seek our fellowship, if thou canst not go through with it? Wilt fly, and art not proof against dizziness? Did we force ourselves on thee, or thou on us?

Cease thus to gnash thy ravenous fangs at me! I loathe thee!—Great and glorious spirit, thou who didst vouchsafe to reveal thyself unto me, thou who dost know my very heart and soul, why hast thou linked me with this base associate, who feeds on mischief and revels in destruction?

Hast done?

Save her!—or woe to thee! The direst of curses on thee for thousands of years!

I cannot loose the bands of the avenger, nor withdraw his bolts.—Save her!—Who was it plunged her into perdition? I or thou?  (FAUST looks wildly around.)

Would’st grasp the thunder? Well for you, poor mortals, that ’tis not yours to wield! To smite to atoms the being however innocent, who obstructs his path, such is the tyrant’s fashion of relieving himself in difficulties!

Convey me thither! She shall be free!

And the danger to which thou dost expose thyself? Know, the guilt of blood, shed by thy hand, lies yet upon the town. Over the place where fell the murdered one, avenging spirits hover and watch for the returning murderer.

This too from thee? The death and downfall of a world be on thee, monster! Conduct me thither, I say, and set her free!

I will conduct thee. And what I can do,—hear! Have I all power in heaven and upon earth! I’ll cloud the senses of the warder,—do thou possess thyself of the keys and lead her forth with human hand! I will keep watch! The magic steeds are waiting, I bear thee off. Thus much is in my power.

Up and away!

FAUST. MEPHISTOPHELES  (Rushing along on black horses)

What weave they yonder round the Ravenstone?

I know not what they shape and brew.

They’re soaring, swooping, bending, stooping.

A witches’ pack.

                They charm, they strew.

                On! On!

FAUST  (with a bunch of keys and a lamp before a small iron door)

A fear unwonted o’er my spirit falls;
Man’s concentrated woe o’erwhelms me here!
She dwells immur’d within these dripping walls;
Her only trespass a delusion dear!
Thou lingerest at the fatal door,
Thou dread’st to see her face once more?
On! While thou dalliest, draws her death-hour near.  (He seizes the lock. Singing within.)
        My mother, the harlot,
        She took me and slew!
        My father, the scoundrel,
        Hath eaten me too!
        My sweet little sister
        Hath all my bones laid,
        Where soft breezes whisper
        All in the cool shade!
Then became I a wood-bird, and sang on the spray,
Fly away! little bird, fly away! fly away!
FAUST  (opening the lock)

Ah! she forebodes not that her lover’s near,
The clanking chains, the rustling straw, to hear.  (He enters.)
MARGARET  (hiding her face in the bed of straw)

Woe! woe! they come! on bitter ’tis to die!
FAUST  (softly)

Hush! hush! be still! I come to set thee free!
MARGARET  (throwing herself at his feet)

If thou art human, feel my misery!

Thou wilt awake the jailor with thy cry!  (He grasps the chains to unlock them.)
MARGARET  (on her knees)

Who, headsman, unto thee this power
O’er me could give?
Thou com’st for me at midnight-hour.
Be merciful, and let me live!
Is morrow’s dawn not time enough?  (She stands up.)
I’m still so young, so young—
And must so early die!
Fair was I too, and that was my undoing.
My love is now afar, he then was nigh;
Torn lies the garland, the fair blossoms strew’d.
Nay, seize me not with hand so rude!
Spare me! What harm have I e’er done to thee?
Oh let me not in vain implore!
I ne’er have seen thee in my life before!

Can I endure this bitter agony?

I now am at thy mercy quite.
Let me my babe but suckle once again!
I fondled it the live-long night;
They took it from me but to give me pain,
And now, they say that I my child have slain.
Gladness I ne’er again shall know.
Then they sing songs about me,—’tis wicked of the throng—
An ancient ballad endeth so;
Who bade them thus apply the song?
(throwing himself on the ground)

A lover at thy feet bends low,
To loose the bonds of wretchedness and woe.
MARGARET  (throws herself beside him)

Oh, let us kneel and move the saints by prayer!
Look! look! yon stairs below,
Under the threshold there,
Hell’s flames are all aglow!
Beneath the floor,
With hideous noise,
The devils roar!
FAUST  (aloud)

Gretchen! Gretchen!
MARGARET  (listening)

That was my lov’d one’s voice!  (She springs up, the chains fall off.)
Where is he? I heard him calling me.
Free am I! There’s none shall hinder me.
To his neck will I fly,
On his bosom will lie!
Gretchen, he called!—On yon threshold he stood;
Amidst all the howling of hell’s fiery flood,
The scoff and the scorn of its devilish crew,
The tones of his voice, sweet and loving, I knew.

’Tis I!

        ’Tis thou! O say so once again!  (embracing him.)
’Tis he! ’Tis he! where’s now the torturing pain?
Where are the fetters? where the dungeon’s gloom?
’Tis thou! To save me thou art come!
And I am sav’d!—
Already now the street I see
Where the first time I caught a glimpse of thee.
There too the pleasant garden shade,
Where I and Martha for thy coming stay’d.
FAUST  (endeavouring to lead her away)

Come! come away!

                Oh do not haste!
I love to linger where thou stayest.  (caressing him.)

Ah haste! For if thou still delayest,
Our lingering we shall both deplore.

How, dearest? canst thou kiss no more!
So short a time away from me, and yet,
To kiss thou couldst so soon forget!
Why on thy neck so anxious do I feel—
When formerly a perfect heaven of bliss
From thy dear looks and words would o’er me steal?
As thou wouldst stifle me thou then didst kiss!—
Kiss me!
Or I’ll kiss thee!  (She embraces him.)
Woe! woe! Thy lips are cold,—
Are dumb!
Thy love where hast thou left?
Who hath me of thy love bereft?  (She turns away from him.)

Come! Follow me, my dearest love, be bold!
I’ll cherish thee with ardour thousand-fold;
I but entreat thee now to follow me!
MARGARET  (turning towards him)

And art thou he? and art thou really he?

’Tis I! O come!

                Thou wilt strike off my chain,
And thou wilt take me to thine arms again.
How comes it that thou dost not shrink from me?—
And dost thou know, love, whom thou wouldst set free?

Come! come! already night begins to wane.

I sent my mother to her grave,
I drown’d my child beneath the wave.
Was it not given to thee and me—thee too?
’Tis thou thyself! I scarce believe it yet.
Give me thy hand! It is no dream! ’Tis true!
Thine own dear hand!—But how is this? ’Tis wet?
Quick, wipe it off! Meseems that yet
There’s blood thereon.
Ah God! what hast thou done?
Put up thy sword,
I beg of thee!

Oh, dearest, let the past forgotten be!
Death is in every word.

No, thou must linger here in sorrow!
The graves I will describe to thee,
And thou to them must see
The best place give to my mother,
Close at her side my brother,
Me at some distance lay—
But not too far away!
And the little one place on my right breast,
Nobody else will near me lie!
To nestle beside thee so lovingly,
That was a rapture, gracious and sweet!
A rapture I never again shall prove;
Methinks I would force myself on thee, love,
And thou dost spurn me, and back retreat—
Yet ’tis thyself, thy fond kind looks I see.

If thou dost feel ’tis I, then come with me!

What, there? without?

                Yes, forth in the free air.

Ay, if the grave’s without,—If death lurk there!
Hence to the everlasting resting-place,
And not one step beyond!—Thou’rt leaving me?
Oh Henry! would that I could go with thee!

Thou canst! But will it! Open stands the door.

I dare not go! I’ve naught to hope for more.
What boots it to escape? They lurk for me!
’Tis wretched to beg, as I must do,
And with an evil conscience thereto!
’Tis wretched, in foreign lands to stray;
And me they will catch, do what I may!

With thee will I abide.

        Quick! Quick!
        Save thy poor child!
        Keep to the path
        The brook along,
        Over the bridge
        To the wood beyond,
        To the left, where the plank is,
        In the pond.
        Seize it at once!
        It fain would rise,
        It struggles still!
        Save it. Oh save!

Dear Gretchen, more collected be!
One little step, and thou art free!

Were we but only past the hill!
There sits my mother upon a stone—
My brain, alas, is cold with dread!—
There sits my mother upon a stone,
And to and fro she shakes her head;
She winks not, she nods not, her head it droops sore;
She slept so long, she waked no more;
She slept, that we might taste of bliss:
Ah! those were happy times, I wis!

Since here avails nor argument nor prayer,
Thee hence by force I needs must bear.

Loose me! I will not suffer violence!
With murderous hand hold not so fast!
I have done all to please thee in the past!

Day dawns! My love! My love!

                Yes! day draws near.
The day of judgment too will soon appear!
It should have been my bridal! No one tell,
That thy poor Gretchen thou hast known too well.
Woe to my garland!
Its bloom is o’er!
Though not at the dance—
We shall meet once more.
The crowd doth gather, in silence it rolls;
The squares, the streets,
Scarce hold the throng.
The staff is broken,—the death-bell tolls,—
They bind and seize me! I’m hurried along,
To the seat of blood already I’m bound!
Quivers each neck as the naked steel
Quivers on mine the blow to deal—
The silence of the grave now broods around!

Would I had ne’er been born!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (appears without)

Up! or you’re lost.
Vain hesitation! Babbling, quaking!
My steeds are shivering,
Morn is breaking.

What from the floor ascendeth like a ghost?
’Tis he! ’Tis he! Him from my presence chase!
What would he in this holy place?
It is for me he cometh!

                Thou shalt live!

Judgment of God! To thee my soul I give!

Come, come! With her I’ll else abandon thee!

Father, I’m thine! Do thou deliver me!
Ye angels! Ye angelic hosts! descend,
Encamp around to guard me and defend!—
Henry! I shudder now to look on thee!

She now is judged!
VOICES  (from above)

                Is saved!

                Come thou with me!  (Vanishes with FAUST.)
VOICE  (from within, dying away)

Henry! Henry!




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