Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Faust Part II
Act I: Scenes I to VII
‘The Apparition of Marguerite’ - Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836–1904), Yale University Art Gallery
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
- Act I Scene I: A Pleasant Landscape
- Act I Scene II: The Emperor’s Castle: The Throne Room
- Act I Scene III: A Spacious Hall with Adjoining Rooms
- Act I Scene IV: A Pleasure Garden in the Morning Sun
- Act I Scene V: A Gloomy Gallery
- Act I Scene VI: Brilliantly Lit Halls
- Act I Scene VII: The Hall of the Knights, Dimly Lit
Scene I: A Pleasant Landscape
(Faust is lying on flowery turf, tired and restless, trying to sleep. A circle of tiny, graceful spirits hovers round him.)
Ariel (Chanting, accompanied by Aeolian Harps.)
When the springtime blossoms, falling,
Shower down, and cover all things,
When the fields with greener blessing 4615
Dazzle all the world of earthlings,
Little elves, but great in spirit,
Haste to help, where help they can,
And, be he holy, be he wicked,
Pity they the luckless man. 4620
You, hovering in airy circles, round his head
Show yourselves in proud elf-form, instead,
Calm all the fierce resistance of his heart,
Remove the bitter barbs of sharp remorse,
Free him from past terrors, by your art. 4625
Four are the watches night makes in its course,
At once, now, mercifully, let the dark depart.
Let his head sink down on pillow’s coolness,
Next sprinkle him with dew from Lethe’s stream:
Then let his joints be free of cramps and stiffness, 4630
So that he’s strong enough to greet day’s gleam:
Elves exert your sweetest right,
Return him to the holy light!
Choir (Singly, and two or more, alternately and together.)
When the balmy breezes smother
All the green-encircled land, 4635
Sweetly fragrant and mist-covered,
Twilight gathers all around.
Sweet peace then whispers softly,
Rocks the heart on childhood’s shores,
And on the eyelids, tired and weary,
Closes daylight’s golden doors.
Here the night’s already passing,
Sacred stars set, star by star,
Great lights, and the lesser glittering,
Sparkling near, and gleaming far: 4645
Sparkling, where the lake reflects her,
Gleaming bright in cloudless height,
Protecting the deep bliss of rest, there,
Moon, in splendour, rules the night.
The hours have vanished now, already 4650
Joy and pain have flown away,
You are whole! Recover, wholly:
Trust the sight of breaking day.
Greening valleys, swelling hills there,
Rise from out their shadowy sleep: 4655
And, drifting in its waves of silver,
On to harvest, flows the wheat.
Wish then, to achieve your wishes,
Gaze up, at the brightness there!
You are lightly tangled: this is 4660
Sleep, a shell, so now emerge!
Don’t delay, walk bravely, tall,
When the crowd waits, hesitating:
The noblest man achieves his all,
By seeing, and then, swiftly, taking. 4665
Ariel Listen! Hear the hour nearing!
Ringing out to spirit-hearing,
Now, the new day is appearing.
Doors of stone creak and chatter,
Phoebus’ wheels roll and clatter, 4670
What a din the daylight’s bringing!
Trombone- and trumpeting,
Eyes amazed, and ears ringing,
The Unheard drops out of hearing.
Slip into the flowers presence, 4675
Deeper, deeper, lie there silent,
In the pebbles, where the leaves bend:
If it strikes you, you’ll be deafened.
Faust Life’s pulses beating now, with new existence,
Greet the mild ethereal half-light round me: 4680
You, Earth, stood firm tonight, as well: I sense
Your breath is quickening all the things about me,
Already, with that joy you give, beginning
To stir the strengthening resolution in me,
That strives, forever, towards highest Being. – 4685
Now the world unfolds, in half-light’s gleam,
The wood’s alive, its thousand harmonies singing,
While through the valleys, misted ribbons stream:
And heavenly light now penetrates the deep:
Twigs, branches shoot, with fresher life it seems, 4690
From fragrant gulfs, where they were sunk in sleep:
Colour on colour lifts now from the ground,
As leaf and flower with trembling dewdrops weep –
And a paradise reveals itself, all round.
Gaze upwards! – The vast mountain heights 4695
Already with the solemn hour resound:
They are the first to enjoy the eternal light
That later, for us, will work its way below.
Now, to the sloping Alpine meadows bright,
It gives a fresh clarity, a newer glow, 4700
And step by step it reaches us down here: –
It blazes out! – Ah, already blinded, though
I turn away, my eyesight wounded, pierced.
So it is, when to the thing we yearn for
The highest wish so intimately rehearsed, 4705
We find fulfilment opening wide the door:
And then, from eternal space, there breaks
A flood of flame, we stand amazed before:
We wished to set the torch of life ablaze,
A sea of fire consumes us, and such fire! 4710
Love, is it, then? Or hate? This fierce embrace,
The joy and pain of alternating pyres,
So that, gazing back to earth again,
We seek to veil ourselves in youth’s desire.
Let the sun shine on, behind me, then! 4715
The waterfall that splits the cliffs’ broad edge,
I gaze at with a growing pleasure, when
A thousand torrents plunge from ledge to ledge,
And still a thousand more pour down that stair,
Spraying the bright foam skywards from their beds. 4720
And in lone splendour, through the tumult there,
The rainbow’s arch of colour, bending brightly,
Is clearly marked, and then dissolved in air,
Around it the cool showers, falling lightly.
There the efforts of mankind they mirror. 4725
Reflect on it, you’ll understand precisely:
We live our life amongst refracted colour.
Scene II: The Emperor’s Castle: The Throne Room
(A council of state waits for the Emperor. Trumpets.)
(Enter court attendants of all kinds, splendidly dressed. The Emperor approaches the throne: the Astrologer is to his right.)
The Emperor I greet you all, the loved, and true,
Gathered here from far and wide: -
I see a wise man’s at my side, 4730
But where on earth’s the fool?
Attendant Right behind your mantle there,
He suddenly tumbled on the stair,
They dragged away the pile of fat.
Dead: or drunk? No man knows that. 4735
A Second Attendant At once, and at a wondrous pace,
Another came to take his place.
Quite extravagantly dressed,
Yet troubling, since he’s so grotesque:
Guards closed the door in his face, 4740
Their halberds held crosswise too –
Yet here he comes, the daring fool!
Mephistopheles (Kneeling in front of the throne.)
What is cursed, and yet is welcomed?
What’s desired, yet chased away?
What’s always carefully defended? 4745
What’s abused: condemned, I say?
What do you not dare appeal to?
What will all, happily, hear named?
What stands on the step before you?
What’s banished from here, all the same? 4750
The Emperor For once, at least, spare us your babble!
This is no time or place for riddles,
They’re a matter for these gentlemen. –
Solve it! I’ll gladly hear it all again.
I fear my old fool’s wandered far in space: 4755
Come to my side, here, and take his place.
(Mephistopheles places himself on the Emperor’s left.)
Murmurs From the Crowd A newer fool – for newer cares –
Where’s he from? – How’d he get there? –
The old one fell – He’s all done in –
He was fat – Now this one’s thin – 4760
The Emperor So now, my faithful and beloved,
Welcome here from near and far!
We meet beneath a lucky star,
Since health and luck are written above.
But tell me, why in days like these, 4765
When we’ve conquered care,
And carnival masks are all our wear,
And delightful things are waiting,
We trouble ourselves with debating?
Yet since you say we have to do it, 4770
It’s settled then, and we’ll go to it.
The Chancellor The highest virtue, like a sacred halo
Circles the Emperor’s head: and so
He alone may validly exercise it:
Justice! – All men love and prize it, 4775
What all ask, yet wish they could do without,
The people look to him to hand it out.
But ah! What help can human wit deliver,
Or kindly heart, or willing hand, if fever
Rages wildly through the state, and evil 4780
Itself is broodingly preparing evil?
Look about, from this height’s extreme,
Across the realm: it seems like some bad dream,
Where one deformity acts on another,
Where lawlessness by law is furthered, 4785
And an age of crime is discovered.
Here one steals cattle, there, a wife,
Cross, cup and candlestick, from the altar,
And boasts of it for many a year,
His skin’s intact, and so’s his life. 4790
Then they take their claims to court
The judge, in pomp, on his high cushion,
Meanwhile there grows a furious roar,
From swelling tides of revolution.
They insist it’s crime and disgrace, 4795
With their accomplices beside them,
And ‘Guilty!’ is the verdict in a case,
Only where Innocence is its own defence.
So all the world will slash and chop,
Destroying just what suits themselves: 4800
How then can that true sense develop
That shows the morally acceptable?
At last the well-intentioned man
Yields to the bribe, the flatterer:
And the judge who can’t convict, is hand 4805
In hand with the criminal offender.
I’ve painted in black, but I’d rather draw
Its image in the deeper colour that I saw.
The conclusion’s inescapable:
If all men suffer when all cause trouble, 4810
Then His Majesty himself is harmed.
The Commander in Chief How riotous things are in this wild age!
They all lash out, and are lashed, these days,
And everyone is deaf to all command.
The citizen behind his wall, 4815
The knight in his cliff-top tower,
Have sworn to defy us all,
And hold fast to their power.
The impatient mercenaries
Impetuously demand their pay, 4820
And if we owed them less, already
They’d be off, and march away.
If one forbids what all desire,
He’s disturbed a hornet’s nest:
The kingdom, they should keep entire, 4825
Is plundered, and distressed.
They’d like to wreak a wild disorder,
Half the world has been dissolved:
There are still kings beyond our border,
But none of them think they’re involved. 4830
The Treasurer In allies, then, who’d put their trust!
The subsidies they promised us,
Like water pipes are all blocked up.
And, Sire, in all your wide estate,
Who’s benefited from the take? 4835
Wherever you go, there’s some new pup,
Who declares his independence.
We watch, while they carry on:
We’ve given away our rights, and hence,
No rights are left for us, not one. 4840
Our parties too, however called,
Can’t be depended on today:
They like to praise, and blame: it’s all
Impartial both their love and hate.
They’re resting: they take cover,
The Ghibelline, and Guelph. 4845
Now, who’ll help his neighbour?
Each man just helps himself.
The golden doors are fastened tight,
Men scrape and scratch and glean, all right, 4850
But our coffers still are empty.
The Steward What evils, too, I must endure!
We try to save each day, I’m sure,
But every day sees greater need: 4855
So, daily, some new torment’s mine.
The cooks, alas, have all they want:
Boar, pheasant, hare and venison,
Ducks and peacocks, chickens, geese,
Payment in kind, and guaranteed,
They keep coming all the time, 4860
But in the end we’re short of wine.
Though cask on cask once filled the cellar,
The best of vintages, and names, there,
These noble lords can drink forever,
And haven’t left a single drop. 4865
The council too must have their fill,
They grasp their tankards tight until,
Under the table, they have to stop.
Now I’ll count the cost, you’ll see,
The moneylenders won’t spare me, 4870
The advances that they give gladly,
Will eat the future years, on top.
Pigs don’t have time to fatten: instead
Men seize the pillows from your bed,
Even the bread from your table’s gone. 4875
The Emperor (After reflection, to Mephistopheles.)
Fool, do you know anything else that’s wrong?
Mephistopheles Me? Nothing at all! I see splendour, as I must,
Around me, of you and yours! – Lack trust,
Where Majesty commands so, without question,
Where ready force scatters the enemy faction? 4880
Where strong wills, with wit to understand,
Active and various, are all at hand?
What, for some evil purpose, could combine,
For darkness, then, where such stars shine?
Murmurs Here’s a rogue – who understands – 4885
He’ll tell lies – as long as he can –
I wonder too – what lies behind –
And what’s in front? – A project of some kind –
Mephistopheles In this world, what isn’t lacking, somewhere, though?
Sometimes it’s this, or that: here what’s missing’s gold. 4890
True you can’t just rake it up from the floor,
But wisdom knows the mines where one gets more.
In mountain veins, foundation walls,
Coined and un-coined golden hoards,
And ask me, now, who’ll bring it to the light: 4895
One gifted with Mind’s power and Nature’s might.
The Chancellor Mind and Nature – don’t speak to Christians so.
That’s why men burn atheists, below,
Such speech is dangerous, all right,
Nature is sin, and Mind’s the devil, 4900
It harbours within it, Doubt, that evil,
Their misshapen hermaphrodite.
Not so with us! – In the Emperor’s land
Two kinds of men are still at hand
Worthy alone to defend the throne: 4905
The Saints are they, and the Knights:
They enter life’s uncertain fights,
Rewards of Church and State they own:
Firm in their resistance, check
The confused aims of everyman. 4910
No, Nature and Mind are heretics!
Wizards! Ruining town and land.
And you, with brazen impudence still
Invoke them here in this high circle:
You’re fostering the corrupted will, 4915
Fools are always hand in hand.
Mephistopheles By this I recognise a most learned lord!
What you can’t feel lies miles abroad,
What you can’t grasp, you think, is done with too.
What you don’t count on can’t be true, 4920
What you can’t weigh won’t weigh, of old,
What you don’t coin: that can’t be gold.
The Emperor You won’t sort out our faults like that,
Will Lenten sermons make men fat?
I’m tired of the eternal ‘if and when’: 4925
We’re short of gold, well fine, so fetch some then.
Mephistopheles I’ll fetch what you wish, and I’ll fetch more:
Easy it’s true, but then easy things weigh more:
It’s there already, yet how we might achieve it,
That’s the tricky thing, knowing how to seize it. 4930
Just think how, in those times of consternation,
When a human flood drowned land and nation,
People were so terrified, everywhere,
They hid their treasures, here and there.
So it was when mighty Rome held sway, 4935
And so it goes on, yesterday and today.
Still buried in the earth, why, there it is:
The earth is the Emperor’s, so it’s his.
The Treasurer For a Fool his aim’s not out of sight:
It’s true, that’s an old Imperial right. 4940
The Chancellor Satan lays out his gilded nets, for you,
These things don’t square with what’s good and true.
The Steward Only bring them to court: I’ll welcome the sight,
And I’ll gladly accept the thing as not quite right.
The Commander in Chief The Fool’s clever, to promise what each of us needs: 4945
A soldier will never ask from whence it all proceeds.
Mephistopheles If you think I’m cheating you, maybe,
Why here’s the man: ask Astrology!
He knows each circling hour and house:
So ask him: how are the Heavens now? 4950
Murmurs Two rogues, there – already known –
Fool and Dreamer – so near the throne –
An idle song – an ancient rhyme –
The Fool plays – the Wise Man speaks, in time –
The Astrologer (Speaks, with Mephistopheles prompting him.)
The Sun, himself, he is of purest gold: 4955
Mercury, messenger, of riches told:
Venus has bewitched you all, and she
Looks on you, soon and late, quite lovingly:
The chaste Moon’s mood holds fast:
Mars won’t harm: his strength won’t last: 4960
And Jupiter remains the loveliest sight:
While Saturn’s great, but far away and slight.
His metal we don’t greatly venerate,
Light of worth, though leaden in its weight.
Yes! When Sun and Moon are conjoined fine, 4965
Silver and gold will make the whole world shine:
The rest as well in turn are all achieved,
Palaces, gardens proud, and rosy cheeks:
All this he brings this highly knowledgeable man:
He can deliver, too, what nobody else here can. 4970
The Emperor The words they say, I hear them twice,
And yet I’m not convinced they’re right.
Murmurs What’s all that? - A joke gone flat –
Horoscopy – And Chemistry –
I’ve heard that vein – Hoped in vain – 4975
Come, quick – It’s still a trick –
Mephistopheles They stand around: they’re all amazed,
They don’t trust what can be found,
One babbles about deadly nightshade,
The other of some jet-black hound. 4980
What matter if one thinks I’m jesting,
Or another calls it sorcery,
If the soles of their feet are itching,
If their firm step totters towards me.
All can feel the secret working 4985
Of Nature’s everlasting power,
And from its deepest lurking,
A living vein shall rise and flower.
When every member twitches,
When all looks strange to your eyes, 4990
Make up your minds, be delvers,
Here the players, there the prize!
Murmurs It’s like a lead-weight on my feet –
My arm’s swollen – but then, it’s gouty –
There’s a tickle here in my big toe – 4995
All the way down my back it goes –
From these signs, I’d say we’re near
A rich vein of treasure, here.
The Emperor Quick then! Don’t slope off there!
Let’s test your froth of lies, 5000
Show us, all, this rarest prize.
I’ll lay down the sword and sceptre,
With my own noble hands, as well,
If you don’t lie, complete the work myself,
And, if you lie, then send you down to Hell! 5005
Mephistopheles I’ll find the way there anyway –
Yet I really can’t exaggerate
What’s lying round ownerless, everywhere.
The farmer, ploughing the furrows, lays bare
A crock of gold the clods unfold: 5010
Seeks saltpetre from damp limy walls,
And finds there golden rolls of gold,
In his poor hands: frightened by all.
What caverns exist to be blown open,
Through what shafts and cuttings then, 5015
Burrow those gold-divining men,
Those neighbours of the Underworld!
Secure in vast ancient cellars, find,
Golden plates, bowls, cups for wine,
In rows, and heaps where they were hurled: 5020
Goblets fashioned out of rubies,
And if they wants to try their uses,
Beside them there’s the ancient fluid.
Yet – I would trust the expert though –
The wooden casks rotted long ago, 5025
The wine makes tartar, in the liquid.
Not just gold, and jewels, fine
But the essence then of noble wine
Terror hides, and night, as stark.
So quiz the wise untiringly: 5030
It’s trivial, by day, to see:
Mystery: houses in the dark.
The Emperor See to it then! What use is it out of sight?
Whatever’s valuable must see the light.
Who knows a rogue for certain but by day? 5035
At night all cows are black, and cats are grey.
The pots down there, full of golden weight –
Drive your plough, and, ploughing, excavate.
Mephistopheles Take hoe and spade: and dig yourself,
Labouring will make you great, 5040
A herd of golden calves, you’ll help
To rise from out their buried state.
Then with delight, without delay,
You can, yourself, your love array:
Glittering colours, shining gems, will best 5045
Enhance your majesty, and her loveliness.
The Emperor Quick then, quick! How slow it always is!
The Astrologer (Prompted by Mephistopheles.)
Sire, restrain your urgent passion, please.
First let all your pleasant pastimes go:
Distracted natures won’t achieve the goal. 5050
First we must atone for them in quiet,
Lower things are gained by the higher.
Who wants the good, must first be good:
Who wants delight, must calm the blood:
Who longs for wine, treads ripened grapes: 5055
Who hopes for miracles, strengthens then his faith.
The Emperor So let the time be passed in merriment!
Ash Wednesday will achieve our grave intent.
And we can celebrate, wild Carnival,
More riotously, meanwhile, after all. 5060
(They exit to the sound of trumpets.)
Mephistopheles How merit and luck are linked together
These fools can’t see, no, not a one:
If they’d the Philosopher’s Stone, as ever,
There’d lack a philosopher for the stone.
Scene III: A Spacious Hall with Adjoining Rooms
(Arranged and decorated for a Carnival Masque.)
Herald In our German lands, fear no evil, 5065
Dance of Death or Fool, or Devil:
There’s a cheerful feast, here: wait.
Our Sire, on his Roman travels,
Has, for his profit, and our revels,
Crossed the highest Alpine levels, 5070
And gained himself a happier State.
The Emperor kissed the holy slipper,
First, won sovereign rights, and as,
He was gifted with the crown, there,
Accepted a fool’s cap, for us. 5075
We’re all newly born, now:
Every sophisticated man,
Pulls it snug over ears and brow:
He seems a poor fool, but he’ll vow
To wear it wisely as he can. 5080
I see they’re gathering already,
Hesitant alone, or paired off intimately:
Chorus on chorus pushing through.
In, and out, quite undeterred:
And end up where they were before, too. 5085
With its hundred thousand scenes of the absurd,
The World itself is just one giant Fool.
Flower Girls (Singing, accompanied by mandolins.)
Dressed to win your praises,
We are here tonight,
Young Florentine ladies, 5090
At the German Court of light.
Many a bright flower we wear
To adorn our tawny hair:
Silken threads, silken gear,
They play their own part here. 5095
Then our position’s well deserved, oh,
Worth your praise, without a doubt,
Our shining-flowers, by hand we sew,
So they bloom year in, year out.
All kinds of coloured snippets, 5100
Placed with perfect symmetry:
You might mock us bit by bit, yes,
But the whole attracts you see.
We are pretty things to look on,
Flower Girls, and very smart: 5105
Then, the temperament of Woman
Is so very close to Art.
Herald Let’s see those trays of flowers
That you carry on your heads,
That paint your arms with colours: 5110
What each likes, let her select.
Quick: in walks and branches
What a garden we will share!
They are fit to crowd around us,
Flower sellers and their wares. 5115
The Flower Girls Haggle in this cheerful place,
But seek no market here!
At a quick and witty pace,
Let all know what you bear.
An Olive-Branch with Olives I don’t envy flowery ones, 5120
Every kind of strife I shun:
It’s unnatural, to me:
So I am the sign of nations,
And I seal their obligations,
Mark of peace in any field. 5125
I hope I’m worth good luck today:
Some lovely head I might array.
A Garland of Wheat-Ears (Golden)
Ceres gift, for you to wear,
Charming, sweet, we were all sent:
The most desired of uses, here 5130
As your beautiful adornment.
A Fancy Garland Like a mallow, bright with colour,
A marvellous flower grew from the moss!
Never known before to Nature,
Yet Fashion brought it us. 5135
A Fancy Bouquet My name’s for you to know,
Theophrastus couldn’t tell you though:
Yet I hope, if not all do,
Many of us will still please you,
She, I’d like, most to possess us, 5140
Who might twine us in her tresses:
Or if she should so decide,
Set beside her heart, I’d ride.
Rosebuds Many-coloured fancies may
Form the fashion of the day, 5145
Strange and curious of shape,
Such as Nature never made:
Stalks of green and bells of gold,
Show in tresses all untold! –
Yet we – remain here, covered up: 5150
Lucky those who first discover us.
When the summer is proclaimed,
Then the rosebuds are in flame,
Who would do without such pleasures?
Promises, and yielded treasures, 5155
That, in the flowery kingdom, rule,
Mind and heart and glances, too.
(The Flower Girls garland themselves, and show their wares, gracefully, in the green leafy arcades.)
The Gardeners (Singing, accompanied by lutes.)
See the flowers quietly growing,
On your brows, sweetly amuse you,
And their fruit will not seduce you, 5160
One may taste delight in knowing.
Sunburned faces offer up,
Peaches, plums, and cherries, yet.
Buy! Against the tongue and palate,
The eye is the worst way to judge. 5165
Come, of all this ripest fruit,
Eat with taste, and delight!
Poems on roses might still suit,
But on the apple man must bite.
So then let us join with their 5170
Flowering youth itself,
And we’ll dress our riper wares
In our neighbour’s wealth.
Dressed in cheerful garlands, there,
Along this jewelled leafy route, 5175
All things can be found together,
Buds and leaves, and flowers and fruit.
(Both choruses set out their goods on the flight of steps, with alternating song accompanied by the lutes and mandolins, and offer their wares to the spectators.)
A Mother (With her daughter.)
Child, when you came to light,
I dressed you in your little hat:
Your face was so sweet and bright, 5180
And your body was soft at that.
I thought you’d soon be a bride,
To the wealthiest of men allied,
I thought you’d find a match.
Ah! Now already many a year 5185
Has flown by, uselessly,
The motley crowd of suitors here,
Pass you quickly by, I see:
With him you danced a lively dance,
Gave that other a knowing glance 5190
With your elbow, sharply.
I’ve thought about the many feasts
We went to, all in vain,
Forfeits, and Hide and Seek,
Couldn’t help, that’s plain: 5195
Today the fools are out the trap,
Darling, open then your lap,
There’s someone you can gain.
(Other young and lovely girls join the Flower Girls, and they gossip together. Fishermen and bird-catchers with fishing rods, nests, limed twigs and other implements appear, and scatter themselves among the girls. Mutual attempts to win over, catch, escape and embrace, allow the most agreeable conversation.)
Wood-cutters (Entering, loudly and boisterously.)
Make way! Stand back!
We must be free, 5200
We fell the trees,
They crash, and smash:
And when we pass,
Expect a smack.
To give us praise 5205
If coarser ways,
Weren’t in this land,
How’d the finest,
Have means to stand, 5210
Despite they’re jesting?
So learn our meaning!
For you’d be freezing,
If we weren’t sweating.
Pulcinelli You’re fools, a troop, 5215
That’s born to stoop.
We’re the wise,
We see through lies:
And then our bags
Our caps and rags, 5220
Are light to wear:
And free from care,
We’re always idle,
Slippered, we sidle,
Through market crowds, 5225
Standing to gaze,
And croak, amazed:
And at that sound,
Through heaving mounds, 5230
We romp together.
Praise us ever,
Or scold us so, 5235
We let both go.
The Parasitical (Fawning, and lustful.)
You brave woodsmen,
And your next of kin,
You’re the men for us. 5240
Since all the stooping,
The ready nodding,
The winding phrase,
That plays both ways,
That warms or chills, 5245
Just as one feels,
What profit is it then?
The mighty fire
From heaven or higher, 5250
Might come in vain
Without logs again,
And coal heaps there,
To light the oven
And make it glare.
It roasts and steams, 5255
It boils and teems.
He sniffs the fry,
Suspects the fish: 5260
Rules, by and by,
The patron’s dish.
A Drunk (Confused.)
Nothing seems bad to me today!
I feel so frank, and free:
New joys, and happy songs, I say. 5265
I brought them both with me!
So let’s drink! Drink, and drink!
Drink up, you! Clink, and clink!
You behind me, come around!
Drink it up, and send it down. 5270
My wife was so outraged, she screamed,
When I turned up, dressed so funny,
However much I boasted, she
Kept calling me a tailor’s dummy.
So I drink! Drink, and drink! 5275
Clink the tankards! Clink, and clink!
Tailor’s dummy: swill it round!
When it’s clinked, drink it down!
Don’t you say, I’ve lost my way:
I’m here, where I’ve got it made. 5280
If host and hostess won’t play,
I’ll get credit from the maid.
Always drinking! Drink, and drink!
Lift, you others! Clink, and clink!
Each to each! So it goes round! 5285
Too soon, I know, it’s all gone down.
However I please myself, may I
Have it happen at my command:
Let me lie here, where I lie,
If I can’t, any longer, stand. 5290
Chorus Every pal, now: drink and drink!
A toast again, a clink and clink!
Hold tight now to bench and ground!
Under the table, he’ll be found.
(The Herald announces sundry poets – Poets of Nature, and Court, and Minstrels, Sentimentalists and Enthusiasts. In this competitive crowd no one allows anyone else to start reciting. One slips by with a few words.)
A Satirical Poet As a poet, do you know 5295
What I’d most enjoy, here?
If I dared to sing, or bellow
What no one wants to hear.
(The Night and Church Poets excuse themselves having become engaged in a very interesting conversation with a newly-risen Vampire, from which a new school of poetry might derive. The Herald has to accept their excuses, and meanwhile calls on characters from Greek Mythology, who even in modern masks lose neither their character nor power to charm.)
(The Three Graces appear.)
Aglaia Grace it is we bring, to living:
So be graceful in your giving. 5300
Hegemone Gracefully may you receive:
Lovely is the wish achieved.
Euphrosyne And in quieter hours, and places,
Chiefly, in your thanks, be gracious.
(The Three Fates appear)
Atropos I, the eldest, I, the spinning 5305
Am lumbered with this time: I’ve
Need of lots of pondering, thinking,
To yield the tender threads of life.
So you may be soft and supple,
I sift through the finest flax: 5310
Drawn through clever fingers, double
Fine, and even, smooth as wax.
If you wish all joy and dancing,
Excessive now, in what you take,
Think about those threads: their ending. 5315
Then, take care! The threads might break.
Clotho Know that in these latter days,
I was trusted with the shears:
Since our eldest sister’s ways,
Failed to help men, it appears. 5320
She dragged all her useless spinning,
Endlessly to air and light,
While the hopes of wondrous winnings,
Were clipped and buried out of sight.
I too made a host of errors: 5325
Myself, in my younger years,
But, to keep myself in check, there’s
The case, in which I keep my shears.
And so, willingly restrained,
I look kindly on this place, 5330
In these hours, your freedom gained,
Run on and on, at your wild pace.
Lachesis I, the only one with sense,
To twist the threads am left:
My ways brook no nonsense, 5335
I’ve never hurried yet.
Threads they come, threads I wind,
Guiding each one on its track,
Letting no thread wander blind,
Twining each one in the pack. 5340
If I, once, forgot myself, my fears
For the world would give me pause:
Counting hours, measuring years,
So the Weaver holds her course.
Herald You wouldn’t recognise the ones who come now, 5345
However much you know of ancient troubles,
To look at them, the cause of many evils,
You’d call them welcome guests, and bow.
They’re the Furies: no one will believe me,
Pretty, shapely, friendly, young in years: 5350
But meet with them, you’ll quickly learn I fear,
How serpent-like these doves are to hurt freely.
Though they’re malicious, in modernity,
Where fools now boast about their sinful stories,
They too have ceased to want the Angels’ glories: 5355
Confess themselves the plague of land and city.
(The Furies approach.)
Alecto What does that matter? You still believe in us:
Then, we’re pretty, young, and fawning kittens:
If one of you has a lover, with whom he’s smitten,
We’ll tickle his ears at length, sweetly fuss, 5360
Till it would be safe to tell him, eye to eye,
That she waves to him, and him, the same,
She’s thick up top, a crooked back, and lame,
And married, she’d be no good, by and by.
We know how to pester the bride-to-be as well: 5365
Scarcely a week ago, her lover himself,
Said nasty things to her about herself! –
They’re reconciled, but something rankles still.
Megaera That’s a joke! Let them be married, any way,
I’ll take it up, and know, whatever may befall, 5370
Through wilfulness the sweetest joys will pall,
Man’s changeable, and changeable the day.
And no one holds the desired one in his arms,
Without longing, foolishly, for the more-desired,
Leave’s his good fortune, with which he was fired: 5375
Flies from the sun, and asks the frost for warmth.
I know how to give birth to those things: there,
Is Asmodi, who is my faithful servant,
To work true mischief at the proper moment,
And send to ruin all Mankind, in pairs. 5380
Tisiphone Instead of malice: poison and the knife
I’m mixing, sharpening for that betrayer:
Love another, and sooner now or later,
Ruin itself will penetrate your life.
Gall and wormwood they must roam 5385
Through all those sweetest moments!
No bargaining here, no bartering, come –
The perpetrator must atone.
Let no one sing about forgiveness!
I cry my cause to the cliffs again, 5390
Echo! Hear! Reply: Avenge!
Let him who alters, cease existence.
The Herald I’ll ask you please, to move aside, 5395
Since what comes next, is otherwise.
You can see, here’s a mountain coming,
Decked with princely coloured trappings,
A tusked head, snaking trunk, there too,
A mystery, but I’ll reveal the key to you.
A delicate and dainty girl sits on its neck,
And with a thin wand keeps the beast in check: 5400
Another, up there, standing, wonderfully,
Surrounded with light, almost blinding me.
Beside it, two girls walk in chains, one fearful,
While the other girl seems quite cheerful:
One wishes to be, and one feels she is, free. 5405
Let each of them declare who they might be.
Fear Smoking torches, flares and lights,
Are burning at the troubled feast:
Among all these deceptive sights,
Ah, I’m held fast by the feet. 5410
Away, you ridiculous smilers!
I suspect those grins so bright:
All my enemies, beguilers,
Press towards me through the night.
Here! A friend becomes a foe, 5415
Yet I know that mask, I’d say:
One that wants to kill me, though,
Now unmasked he creeps away.
Gladly, heedless of direction
I’d escape from out this world: 5420
But, beyond, there roars destruction:
In mists of terror I am furled.
Hope I greet you, sisters! Though today,
And the whole of yesterday,
You enjoyed the masquerade, 5425
I know all will be displayed:
In the morning you’ll unveil.
And if, in the torchlight, we
Don’t feel particular delight,
Yet the days to come, so bright, 5430
More wholly suited, we shall hail,
Now as one, now solitary,
Through fair fields, we’ll roam loose,
To act, or rest, as we choose,
And in that carefree way of living, 5435
Dispense with nothing, go on striving:
Guests are welcome everywhere,
Confidently, let’s appear:
Surely, the best anywhere,
Must be somewhere, here. 5440
Intelligence Two of Man’s worst enemies,
Fear and Hope, I bind for you,
Now this country worries me.
Make room! I’ll rescue you.
I lead the living Colossus, 5445
Turret-crowned, as you see,
Step by step, he crosses,
The highest passes, tirelessly.
But above me, on the summit,
Is a goddess, there, who’s bearing 5450
Outspread wings, and turns about,
Everywhere, to see who’s winning.
Ringed by splendour, and by glory,
Shining far, on every side:
She calls herself – Victory, 5455
Goddess of the active life.
Zoilo-Thersites (An Ugly Dwarfish Warrior.)
Ah, ha! I’ve come just in time,
I hold you all guilty of crime!
Yet my goal I assume to be
Her up there: Queen Victory. 5460
With her pair of snowy wings,
She’s an eagle, she must think:
And that whenever she’s on hand,
To her belong the folk and land:
But when famous deeds are done, 5465
At once I’m here with armour on,
When low is high, and high is low,
Bent is straight, and straight not so,
That alone fills me with mirth,
I wish it so throughout the Earth. 5470
The Herald So I’ll lend you, dog from birth,
This good baton’s masterstroke!
Twist and turn now: it’s no joke! –
See how the twin dwarfish ape,
Rolls into a foul lumpish shape! 5475
A wonder – the lump’s an egg, on cue,
It swells and then it cracks in two:
Now a pair of twins appear,
An adder and a bat roll clear.
One through the dust is swiftly winding, 5480
The black one’s flitting round the ceiling.
They hurry outside, in company,
I wouldn’t choose to be number three.
Murmurs Lively now! There’s dancing there –
No! I’d much rather be elsewhere – 5485
Can’t you feel some ghostly race
Fly about us, through this place? –
Something just rushed through my hair –
Round my feet, it’s flying, where? –
None of us are injured though – 5490
But we all are frightened so –
All the fun is spoilt completely –
As those creatures wished, you see.
The Herald Since I play the herald’s role,
As this masquerade unfolds, 5495
I watch sternly at the door,
In case some devious outlaw
To this happy place, comes creeping:
Never yielding, never wavering.
Through the window, though, I fear 5500
Airborne spectres enter here:
From magic and from devilry
Alas, I cannot set you free.
All this makes the dwarf suspicious,
Now! From behind, a new masque issues. 5505
And I must dutifully explain
The meaning of the forms, again.
But I can’t easily announce
What cannot be understood:
Help me explain it, if you would! – 5510
See it wander through the crowd?
A splendid chariot, a four-in-hand,
Rolling through them, where they stand:
But it doesn’t split the people,
I see no one’s crushed at all. 5515
Colours glitter in the distance,
Sundry wandering stars for instance,
A magic-lantern-like performance.
It blows along, a storm’s assault.
Make way, there! I shudder!
The Boy Charioteer Halt! 5520
Dragons, your wings restrain,
Feel your accustomed rein,
Control yourselves, if I control you,
Sweep away when I inspire you –
Let us do honour to this place! 5525
Look round, a widening display
Of admirers, circle now on circle.
Herald, now, then! As you will,
Before we leave you all,
Describe us, and say our name: 5530
Since we’re allegorical,
You should know us, plain.
Herald No, indeed, I can’t tell your name:
I’ll try and describe you all the same.
The Boy Charioteer So try!
The Herald I must confess 5535
To young and handsome, before the rest.
You’re a half-grown boy: yet a woman
Would prefer to see you fully grown.
You seem to me a wooer, in future,
Out of her house, a real seducer. 5540
The Boy Charioteer Let’s hear more! Go on: go on,
Find the riddle’s bright solution.
The Herald Dark eyes that shine: night-black hair
Which brightly jewelled bands enclose:
And what a dainty garment flows 5545
From shoulder down to ankle, there:
With purple hem its glittering shows!
One might take you for a girl:
Yet for good or ill, you’d be,
Prized already by any girl, 5550
She’d teach you your ABC.
The Boy Charioteer And he, who like a splendid vision,
Sits on the chariot, enthroned there?
The Herald He seems a king, a rich and kind one,
Blessed are they who gain his favour! 5555
He has no further need to strive,
His eyes observe whatever’s lacking,
And to spread his pure delight,
Is more to him than joy and owning.
The Boy Charioteer You daren’t stop there: what you see, 5560
You must describe it precisely.
The Herald I can’t express all the dignity.
But the glowing moon face, I see,
The full mouth, the bright cheeks, then
That shine beneath the jewelled turban: 5565
Rich comfort in the clothes he’s wearing!
What shall I say about his bearing?
As a ruler he seems known to me.
The Boy Charioteer Plutus the God of Riches, this is he!
He’s come himself in all his splendour, 5570
The Emperor wished greatly he were here.
The Herald Explain your own what and how to me!
The Boy Charioteer I am Extravagance: I am Poetry:
I am the Poet, who is self-perfected
When his special gift is squandered. 5575
Yet I’m immeasurably wealthy,
Like Plutus, worth as much as he,
I adorn, enliven, dance and feast,
And whatever he lacks, I complete.
Herald Your boasting makes you handsomer, 5580
But let’s see all your skill appear.
The Boy Charioteer Just watch me snap my fingers, now,
The chariot will gleam and glow.
There a string of pearls appear!
(He continues to snap his fingers, in all directions.)
Golden jewels for neck and ear: 5585
Flawless combs and diadems,
Set in a ring, rare precious gems:
I scatter flames too, here and there,
Waiting for their chance to flare.
The Herald How the dear crowd snatch, I see! 5590
The giver’s soon in difficulty.
He snaps out jewels, as in a dream,
And they all snatch them, in a stream.
But now a different trick, you see:
What each has grasped so eagerly, 5595
Has gained him but a poor reward,
The gifts already fluttering skyward.
The pearls are loosened from their band,
And beetles crawl there in his hand,
The poor man shakes them off, instead 5600
They’re humming now around his head.
Another, for some solid thing,
Catches at a butterfly’s wing.
That’s what the rascal’s promise means:
He only lends them golden gleams! 5605
The Boy Charioteer You know how to announce masks: it’s true,
But it’s not the herald’s task to search below
The outer surface of existence:
That requires a keener sense.
Still I’m wary of all disputes. 5610
Lord, I’ll direct my speech and questioning to you.
(Turning towards Plutus.)
Have you not trusted me with the task, to stand
And guide the tempest of your four-in-hand?
Don’t I steer well, as you direct?
Am I not there, when you expect? 5615
And don’t I know how to win
The palm, for you, on daring wing?
When I’ve fought for you in war, now,
I’ve been successful every time:
When laurel wreaths adorn your brow 5620
Have I not fashioned them with hand and mind?
Plutus If I’m required to be a witness to it,
I’d say: You are the spirit of my spirit.
You always act according to my wishes,
And as I gain myself, you too are richer. 5625
To reward your services, I value now
The green branch higher than my crown.
One true word, then, for everyone:
I’ve found delight in you, dear Son.
The Boy Charioteer The greatest gifts from my hand, 5630
See! I’ve scattered them around.
On every head there’s the glow
Of some little flame I throw:
Leaping from one brow to another,
Halts on him, then leaves his brother, 5635
But rarely does the flame-let rise,
And briefly flower in bright skies:
For many, before they know, it’s vanished,
Sadly, it’s burnt out, and finished.
Women (Chatting to each other.)
Up there, on the four-in-hand, 5640
He’s certainly a charlatan:
And there’s a clown perched behind,
By hunger and thirst he’s been refined,
Like nothing one’s ever seen before:
Pinch, and he’ll feel nothing at all. 5645
The Starveling Disgusting women, leave me alone!
Not to come here again, I’ll know.
When women kept to their hearths, then
Avaritia, Greed: was my name:
The houses were fine, all about, 5650
Lots came in, nothing went out!
I took care of cupboard and chest:
That was a burden, to top the rest.
But now in this younger age,
Wives don’t know how to save, 5655
And like all those wicked students,
They have more desires than ‘talents’,
And their men have much to suffer,
Their debts are left about all over.
They spend whatever they can extract, 5660
On their lovers, and on their backs:
They eat of the best, and drink deeper,
With their wretched army of admirers:
Which adds to the value of gold, for me:
We’re manly fellows, the Miserly! 5665
Leader of the Women Let dragon be miserly with dragon:
In the end it’s merely lies, illusion!
Men flock around, and turn the charm on,
But they’re soon annoyance and confusion.
The Crowd of Women That Scarecrow! Give him a poke! 5670
What’s the Wooden Rake threaten?
We’ll all shun his ugly looks, then!
Dragons of wood and paper: a joke!
Look lively, now, and we’ll do him in!
The Herald By my wand! Keep the peace! – 5675
Though there’s no need for my assistance:
Look at those grim monsters, how each
Clears round itself a proper distance,
Unfolding its quadruple wings, the beast.
The dragons shake themselves, indignant, 5680
With fiery throats, their tails rampant:
The place is cleared: the people flee.
(Plutus descends from the chariot.)
The Herald He steps down, in a kingly manner!
He beckons, and the dragons stir:
From the chariot bearing Avarice, 5685
And gold, down comes the chest,
See, there at his feet, it’s landed:
It’s a wonder how it happened.
Plutus (To the Boy Charioteer)
Now you’ve left that troubling burden here,
You’re free: so, fly now to your own sphere! 5690
Not this! Where, confused, motley, wild,
Distorted objects crowd around us, child.
No: where you see clear, with sweetest Clarity,
Self-possessed, trusting in your own self: flee,
Where Goodness and Beauty may be viewed, 5695
And there create your world – in Solitude!
The Boy Charioteer So, I’ll be your worthy envoy then,
So, I’ll love you like my dearest kin.
Where you live, is Plenty: and where
I am, all feel they gain in splendour. 5700
And often hesitate in life’s uncertainty:
Should they yield to you, or yield to me?
Certainly your followers will have rest:
Who follows me, with work’s forever blessed.
My actions are never kept a secret, 5705
I only have to breathe and I’m apparent.
Farewell, then! You granted me my joy:
But whisper low, and you shall have your boy!
(He exits as he came.)
Plutus (Faust in disguise.)
And now it’s time to reveal the treasure!
I strike the lock with the herald’s wand. 5710
It’s open! Look! Vessels of noblest measure,
Pour the golden blood through your hands,
First it swells, roars, writhes as if it’s molten:
A jewelled hoard of crowns, rings, and chains.
Various Shouts from the Crowd Look here, oh, there! How rich it flows: 5715
The chest, right to the brim, it glows. –
Golden vessels, molten too,
Rolls of coins, turning too. –
Minted ducats leaping,
Oh, how my heart is beating – 5720
I see all, for which I’m yearning,
On the floor there, burning! –
It’s offered you, don’t be a fool,
Be rich, you only need to stoop. –
For, quick as lightning, all the rest, 5725
Will take possession of the chest.
The Herald What’s this, you Fools? Ah, yes,
It’s no more than a maskers’ jest.
Tonight, don’t ask for any more:
Think you, we’d give you golden ore? 5730
In this game there are any amount
Of pennies: too many for you to count.
You clumsy idiots! A fine appearance,
Seems, to you, truth’s naked essence.
What is your Truth? – Hollow illusion 5735
Grasps you, with its fool’s cap on. –
Heroic Mask, Plutus that conceals,
Drive these folk, then, from the field.
Plutus Your wand’s best by a mile,
Lend it me for a little while. – 5740
I’ll dip it, quick, in heat and glow. –
You Maskers, all take care then, now!
It gleams and bursts and throws off sparks!
The wand already shines in the dark.
And anyone who gets too near me, 5745
Will be scorched, as well, mercilessly. –
And now I’ll sweep with my brand.
Shouts and Confusion Ah! We’re done for every man. –
Fly, now, whoever can! –
Back, back, the hindmost man! – 5750
It’s shining brightly in my eyes. –
On me the wand’s hot weight lies –
We’re all lost, lost for good. –
Back, back, you masks in flood!
Back, back, you senseless mob! – 5755
If I’d wings, I’d soar aloft. –
Plutus The circle backwards sinks,
Yet no one’s scorched, I think.
The crowd will now give way,
They’re only scared I’d say. – 5760
But to guarantee good order,
I’ll mark out an unseen border.
The Herald You’ve done a fine job all right,
Thanks to your cunning, and might.
Plutus Noble friend, you’ll still need patience: 5765
All kinds of turmoil still threaten us.
Avarice Now, if it pleases you, you may
Cast your eye around with pleasure:
The women are to the fore as ever,
Where they can nibble things, or gaze. 5770
Still, I’m not completely rusty!
A lovely woman’s always lovely:
And since, today, it costs me nothing,
With confidence, I too go wooing.
Still, here, in such a crowded space, 5775
Lest words fall in an idle place,
I’ll try being clever, attempt success,
And in clear mime make my address.
Hands, feet, gesturing won’t cut the ice,
So, I’ll have to employ a comical device. 5780
I’ll shape the gold like moistened clay,
Since the metal’s malleable anyway.
The Herald What’s he up to that skinny Fool!
Is there a jest in the starveling too?
He kneads the gold just like dough, 5785
It’s soft between his hands, although
However he squeezes and forms it all,
It still remains a shapeless ball.
He turns now towards the women,
They all scream, and start to run, 5790
Gesturing in complete disgust:
That rascal’s up to no good.
I fear he’ll be in ecstasy
If he can offend morality.
I shan’t remain silent, anyway 5795
Give me the wand: I’ll drive him away.
Plutus He doesn’t see what we threaten here:
Let him pursue his foolishness!
There’ll be no room left for his excess:
The law is great, but necessity’s greater. 5800
Tumult and Singing The wild crowd come here, specially,
From mountain-top, and wooded valley,
Shouting forcefully, as they can:
They celebrate the great god Pan. 5805
They know what none can know,
And into the empty circle flow.
Plutus ‘I know you well, and your great Pan!
Together these daring steps you plan.
I know all that no one knows,
And clear for you this narrow close.’ 5810
May good fortune follow them too!
The strangest things may happen:
They don’t know where they’re going to:
Since they never look before them.
Wild Singing You plaster people: you tinsel show! 5815
Rough and coarse is how they go,
Leaping: wild is their track ahead,
Solid and sturdy is their tread.
Fauns The Faun flocks
In happy dance, 5820
Fine pointed ears
Through tangled hair,
Snub noses, faces broad and flat, 5825
The women can’t fault any of that:
When the Fauns begin to prance,
The loveliest won’t scorn the dance.
A Satyr The Satyr’s leaping here behind,
Goat’s foot, and lean of thigh, 5830
Sinewy, skinny he’ll go by,
And chamois-like, on mountain height,
He looks around, and takes delight.
He’s alive in the free air,
Mocks at man, child, woman there, 5835
Who deep in the valley’s damp flue,
Think, cosily, they’re living too,
While, still pure and undisturbed,
To him alone is the upper world.
The Gnomes The little crowd trips by there, 5840
They don’t like to travel in pairs:
In mossy clothes with lanterns bright,
They pass together, quick and light,
Each one passing on his own,
Like glowing ants swarming home: 5845
And always busy, here and there,
Industrious, and everywhere.
Kin to the ‘Little People’, known
As surgeons to the rock and stone:
‘We bleed the mountains high, 5850
We drain the deep veins dry:
We hurl the metals round,
With hearty greetings: Luck! Well found!
And it’s always kindly meant: again,
We’re the friends of all good men. 5855
Yet we the gold to light deliver,
So men may steal, and covet ever,
So princely hand won’t lack the steel
That worldwide murder longs to deal.
Who those three commandments breaks 5860
Scant heed of the other seven takes.
But of all that we’re innocent:
About it all, like us, be patient.’
The Giants The wild men, we are named,
Known in all the Hartz range: 5865
Natural, plain, in all our antics,
Appearing frightfully gigantic.
A fir-tree trunk in each right hand,
Round our body a thick band,
A solid apron of branches, not 5870
The bodyguard the Pope has got.
Nymphs in Chorus (Surrounding Great Pan, who is the masked Emperor.)
Here he’ll stand! –
The world’s All,
Is shown to all,
In mighty Pan. 5875
You the happiest, surround him,
In magic dances soar around him:
Here now, serious and good, he
Wishes all men to be happy.
Under the curving roof of blue 5880
He seems endlessly wakeful, too,
Yet the streams flow gently for him,
And the breezes gently rock him,
And, when he sleeps at noon, the leaf
Is motionless in the branches’ wreath: 5885
The rich plants’ fragrant balsams there
Fill all the still and silent air:
The Nymph no longer dares to leap,
And where she stands, falls fast asleep.
But when his powerful shout, 5890
Unexpectedly, rings out,
Like thunder crack, or wave’s roar,
Who knows what’s happening any more,
The army’s witless in the fight,
The hero in battle’s filled with fright. 5895
So honour him, where honour’s due,
And hail him, who led us to you!
A Deputation of Gnomes (To Great Pan.)
When the rich and shining goods,
Spread threadlike through the deep,
Then delicate divining rods, 5900
Reveal what labyrinths keep.
Bending in our dark vaults, there,
As troglodytes we’re measured,
While in the purest daylight air,
Gracious, you divide the treasure. 5905
Now we find we’ve discovered
A marvellous fountain here,
Promising, easily, to deliver
Things that infrequently appear.
It all waits for your command: 5910
Master, take and care for it: do.
Every treasure in your hand,
Helps the whole world too.
Plutus (To the Herald.)
We must grasp things in the highest sense,
And let what may come, come, with confidence. 5915
You’ve shown the highest courage once before.
So now too what is fearful, we must try it:
World, and posterity, will stubbornly deny it,
So pen it faithfully in your report.
The Herald (Grasping the wand in Plutus’ hand, and assisting with the Masquerade.)
The dwarves lead on great Pan, 5920
Gently, to the fiery fountain:
It boils from the deep profound,
Then sinks again, through the ground,
And gloomy is its open round:
Yet shows again the heat and glow. 5925
Great Pan stands there, well disposed,
Pleased with all this wondrous thing,
Pearl foam, right, left, showering.
How can he trust such a show?
He bends to look inside, and so, 5930
His beard gets caught within! –
Who’s made that hairless chin?
His hand hides it from our vision. –
What follows is all clumsy action:
The beard, on fire, flies back, soon 5935
Scorching garland, chest and head:
Delight is turned to pain instead. –
They rush to quench it all again,
But none of them are free of flames,
And how they flare and dart, 5940
Exciting fire in every part:
Wreathed in that element,
The whole masked crowd is burnt.
But what’s all this news about,
Ear after ear, mouth after mouth! 5945
O eternally unlucky night
So little of it’s turned out right!
Tomorrow’s dawn will declare
What nobody wants to hear:
In every ear we’ll hear it plain: 5950
‘The Emperor is in such pain.’
O, would that it were something other!
Burnt, Emperor and Court together.
Cursed be those who led him astray,
In resinous twigs did him array, 5955
To rage, and bellow out that song,
To the ruin of all that throng.
O Youth, Youth will you never
Restrict joy’s purest measure?
O Power, Power, will you never, 5960
Sense and Omnipotence treasure?
The ‘forest’ too is soon in flames,
The pointed tongues play their games,
To the real wooden beams lick higher:
We’re threatened by universal fire. 5965
The cup of misery overflows,
Who will save us? No one knows.
See, Imperial splendour, by dawn’s light,
Turned to a heap of ash, in a single night.
Plutus That’s enough terror overhead, 5970
Let help arrive here, instead! –
Strike, you heavenly wand, with power,
So the earth will ring and tremor!
You, the wide realms of air,
Fill with cool fragrance there! 5975
Hurry down, to sweep around us,
Cloudy mists and swelling vapours,
Quench the thronging flames!
Murmuring, trickling, fogs gather,
Sliding, rolling, softly drenching, 5980
Slipping everywhere, and quenching.
You, the moist, who soothe forever,
Change them all to gleaming weather,
All these empty fiery games! –
Threatening Spirits, that would harm, 5985
We, by magic, will disarm.
Scene IV: A Pleasure Garden in the Morning Sun
(The Emperor, his Court, Noblemen and Ladies: Faust and Mephistopheles dressed fashionably but not ostentatiously, both kneel.)
Faust Sire, forgive the fiery conjuring tricks?
The Emperor (Beckoning to him to rise.)
More fun, in that vein, would be my wish. –
At once, I saw myself in a glowing sphere,
It seemed as if I were divine Pluto, there. 5990
A rocky depth of mine, and darkness, lay
Glowing with flame: out of each vent played
A thousand wild and whirling fires,
And flickered in the vault together, higher,
Licking upwards to the highest dome, 5995
That now seemed there, and now was gone.
Through a far space wound with fiery pillars,
I saw a long line of people approach us,
Crowding till they formed a circle near,
And paid me homage, as they do forever. 6000
From Court, I knew one face, and then another’s,
I seemed the Prince of a thousand salamanders.
Mephistopheles You are, Sire! Since every element
Knows your Majesty, amongst all men.
You’ve now proved the fire obedient: 6005
Leap in the sea, in its wildest torrent,
You’ll barely touch its pearl-strewn bed,
A noble dome will rise round you, instead:
You’ll see green translucent waves swelling
Purple edged, to make the loveliest dwelling, 6010
And you will be its centre. At each step
Wherever you go, the palace follows yet,
The very walls themselves delight in life,
Flash to and fro, in swarming arrow-flight.
Sea-wonders crowd around this sweet new sight, 6015
Shoot past, still not allowed to enter quite.
There, golden-scaled, bright sea-dragons play,
The shark gapes wide, you smile in his face.
However much your court attracts you now,
You’ve never seen such an amazing crowd. 6020
Nor will you part there from the loveliest:
The Nereids will be gathering, curious,
To this wondrous house, in seas eternally fresh,
The youngest shy and pleasure-loving, like fish,
The old ones: cunning. Thetis at the news, 6025
Gives hand and lips to this second Peleus. –
A seat there, on the height of Olympus, too…
The Emperor I’ll leave the airy spaces all to you:
Soon enough we’ll be climbing to that throne.
Mephistopheles And, Sire, the Earth already is your own! 6030
The Emperor What brought you here, now: what good fortune,
Straight from the Thousand Nights and One?
If you’re as fertile as Scheherezade
I’ll guarantee you a sublime reward.
Be ready then, when your world’s light, 6035
As it often does, disappoints me quite.
The Steward (Entering hastily.)
Your Supreme Highness, I never thought
To announce such luck, the finest wrought,
As this is, for me the greatest blessing,
Which I’ve revealed in your presence: 6040
For debt after debt I’ve accounted,
The usurer’s claws now are blunted,
I’m free of Hell’s pain, and then,
It can’t be any brighter in Heaven.
The Commander in Chief (Follows hastily.)
Something’s paid of what we owe, 6045
The Army’s all renewed their vow,
The Cavalry’s fresh blood is up,
And girls and landlords can sup.
The Emperor Now your chests breathe easier!
Now your furrowed brows are clear! 6050
How quickly you hurried to the hall!
The Treasurer (Appearing.)
Ask them: it was they who did it all.
Faust It’s right the Chancellor should read the page.
The Chancellor (Coming forward slowly.)
I’m happy enough to do so, in my old age. –
See and hear the scroll, heavy with destiny, 6055
That’s changed to happiness, our misery.
‘To whom it concerns, may you all know,
This paper’s worth a thousand crowns, or so.
As a secure pledge, it will underwrite,
All buried treasure, our Emperor’s right. 6060
Now, as soon as the treasure’s excavated,
It’s taken care of, and well compensated.’
The Emperor I smell a fraud, a monstrous imposture!
Who forged the Emperor’s signature?
Have they gone unpunished for their crime? 6065
The Treasurer Remember! You yourself it was that signed:
Last night. You acted as great Pan,
Here’s how the Chancellor’s speech began:
‘Grant yourself this great festive pleasure,
The People’s Good: a few strokes of the feather.’ 6070
You wrote it here, and while night ruled the land,
A thousand artists created another thousand,
So all might benefit from your good deed,
We stamped the whole series with your screed,
Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds, all are done. 6075
You can’t think how well the folk get on.
See your city once half-dead with decay,
Now all’s alive, enjoying its new day!
Though your name’s long filled the world with glee,
They’ve never gazed at it so happily. 6080
Now the alphabet’s superfluous,
In these marks there’s bliss for all of us.
The Emperor And my people value it as gold, you say?
The Court and Army treat it as real pay?
Then I must yield, though it’s wonderful to me. 6085
The Steward It was impossible to catch the escapee:
It flashed like lightning through the land:
The moneychanger’s shops are jammed,
Men pay, themselves, the papers mount
They’re gold and silver, and at a discount. 6090
Now used by landlords, butchers, bakers:
Half the world think they’re merrymakers,
The others, newly clothed, are on show.
The drapers cut the cloth: the tailors sew.
The toast is ‘Hail, the Emperor!’ in the bars, 6095
With cooking, roasting, tinkling of jars.
Mephistopheles Strolling, lonely, on the terrace,
You see a beauty, smartly dressed,
One eye hidden by her peacock fan,
She smiles sweetly, looks at your hand: 6100
And, quicker than wit or eloquence,
Love’s sweetest favour’s arranged at once.
You’re not plagued with pouch or wallet,
A note beneath the heart, install it,
Paired with love-letters, conveniently. 6105
The priest carries his in a breviary,
And wouldn’t the soldier be quicker on his way,
With a lighter belt around his middle, say.
Your Majesty will forgive me if, in miniature,
I produce a low note, in our high adventure. 6110
Faust The wealth of treasure that solidifies,
That in your land, in deep earth lies,
Is all unused. In our boldest thought,
Such riches are only feebly caught:
Imagination, in its highest flight, 6115
Strives to, but can’t reach that height.
But grasping Spirits, worthy to look deeply,
Trust in things without limit, limitlessly.
Mephistopheles Such paper’s convenient, for rather than a lot
Of gold and silver, you know what you’ve got. 6120
You’ve no need of bartering and exchanging,
Just drown your needs in wine and love-making.
If you lack coin, there’s moneychangers’ mile,
And if it fails, you dig the ground a while.
Cups and chains are auctioned: well, 6125
Since the paper, in this way, pays for itself,
It shames the doubters, and their acid wit,
People want nothing else, they’re used to it.
So now in all of your Imperial land
You’ve gems, gold, paper enough to hand. 6130
The Emperor The Empire thanks you deeply for this bliss:
We want the reward to match your service.
We entrust you with the riches underground,
You are the best custodians to be found.
You know the furthest well-concealed hoard, 6135
And when men dig, it’s you must give the word.
You masters of our treasure, then, unite,
Accept your roles with honour and delight:
They make the Underworld, and the Upper,
Happy in their agreement, fit together. 6140
The Treasurer No dispute will divide us in the future:
I’m happy to have a wizard for a partner.
(He exits with Faust.)
The Emperor Now, presents for the court: everyone
Confess to me whatever it is you want.
A Page (Accepting his present.)
I’ll live well, happy, have the best of things. 6145
I’ll quickly buy my lover chains and rings.
A Chamberlain I’ll drink wines that are twice as fine.
A Second Chamberlain The dice in my pockets itch I find.
A Knight (Thoughtfully.)
My lands and castle will be free of debt.
A Second Knight It’s treasure: a second treasure I will get. 6150
The Emperor I hoped for desire and courage for new deeds:
But whoever knows you, thinks you slight indeed.
I see, clearly: despite this treasure and more,
You’re all the same, still, as you were before.
The Fool (Recovered, and approaching the throne.)
You’re handing presents out: give me one too! 6155
The Emperor Alive again? You’d drink it all you fool.
The Fool Magic papers! I don’t understand them, truly.
The Emperor That I’d believe: you’ll only use them badly.
The Fool Others are falling: I don’t know what to do.
The Emperor Just pick them up: those are all yours too. 6160
(The Emperor exits.)
The Fool Five thousand crowns I’m holding, in my hand!
Mephistopheles You two-legged wineskin, so you still stand?
The Fool I’ve had my luck, but this is the best yet.
Mephistopheles You’re so delighted: look, it’s made you sweat.
The Fool But see here, is it truly worth real gold? 6165
Mephistopheles You’ve there just what belly and throat are owed.
The Fool And can I buy a cottage, cow and field?
Mephistopheles Why yes! There’s nothing to it: make a bid.
The Fool A castle: with forests, hunting, fishing?
Mephistopheles Trust me!
To see you a proper Lord would make me happy! 6170
The Fool Tonight I’ll plant my weight on what I’ll get! –
Mephistopheles Who doubts now that our Fool’s full of wit!
Scene V: A Gloomy Gallery
Mephistopheles Why bring me here to this dark passage?
Isn’t there fun enough inside,
In the Court’s colourful tide, 6175
Opportunities for jests and sharp practice?
Faust Don’t give me that: in the good old days
You wore us out in a thousand ways:
And now this wandering, there and here,
Is only so I can’t catch your ear. 6180
But there’s something I need done:
Commander and Chamberlain egg me on.
The Emperor, I must work quickly for him,
Wants Helen and Paris to appear before him:
He wants to see the ideal form of Man 6185
Clearly revealed to him, and Woman.
Get to work! I daren’t break my word.
Mephistopheles Such a thoughtless promise was absurd.
Faust Friend, you haven’t considered
Where your powers have lead us: 6190
First we made him rich, and how,
So he wants us to amuse him now.
Mephistopheles You think it’s fixed that quickly:
We’re looking at a deeper track,
To the strangest realm, and wickedly, 6195
Adding new faults to the old,
Do you think it’s easy to call Helen back,
Like a pasteboard spirit edged with gold –
Witch-bitches, ghost-hostesses, freely,
Or dwarf-maidens, I’ll serve you equally: 6200
But Devil’s sweethearts, though you’re for them,
Still you can’t, as heroines, applaud them.
Faust Still the same old story, every day!
With you, things are always difficult.
You’re the father of all obstacles, 6205
For every miracle you want more pay.
I know: a little muttering, and it’s done:
At a blink, you’ll bring her here.
Mephistopheles With Pagan folk I don’t get on:
They live in their own Hell there: 6210
Yet, there is a way.
Faust Tell, without delay!
Mephistopheles Unwillingly! There’s a greater mystery, I say,
Goddesses, enthroned on high, and solitary.
No space round them, not even time: only
To speak of them embarrasses me. 6215
They are The Mothers!
Mephistopheles Are you afraid?
Faust The Mothers! Mothers! It sounds so strange!
Mephistopheles As, it is. Goddesses, unknown, as you see,
To you Mortals, not named by us willingly.
You must dig in the Depths to reach them: 6220
It’s your own fault that we need them.
Faust Where is the path?
Mephistopheles No path! Into the un-enterable,
Never to be entered: One path to the un-askable,
Never to be asked. Are you ready?
No locks, no bolts to manipulate, 6225
You’ll drift about in solitary space.
Can you conceive the waste and solitary?
Faust I think you might spare the speeches then:
They always smell of the witches’ kitchen,
Of a long forgotten time, to me. 6230
Have I not trafficked with the world?
Learned the void, the void unfurled? –
When I spoke with reason, as I descried,
Contradiction, doubly loud, replied:
Have I not fled, from hateful trickery, 6235
Into the wild, into the solitary,
And, not to lose all, and live alone,
Surrendered to the Devil’s own?
Mephistopheles And if you’d swum through every ocean,
And seen the boundless space all round 6240
You’d still have seen wave on wave in motion,
Though you might have been afraid to drown.
You’d have seen something. Seen, within
The green still seas, the leaping dolphin:
Seen clouds go by, Sun, Moon and star – 6245
You’ll see none in the endless void, afar,
Hear not a single footstep fall,
Find no firm place to rest at all.
Faust You speak as chief of all Mystagogues, who
Deceive their neophytes, the loyal and true: 6250
Only reversed. You send me to the Void,
So I’ll increase the power and skill employed:
To use me, like a cat, that’s your desire:
Just to claw your chestnuts from the fire.
The same as ever! I’ll find what I’ll discover: 6255
In your Nothingness, I hope, the All I will recover.
Mephistopheles I’ll praise you, before you separate from me,
That you know the Devil, I can truly see:
Here take this key.
Faust That tiny thing!
Mephistopheles Grasp it, it has a worth you’re undervaluing. 6260
Faust It’s growing in my hand, it shines and glows!
Mephistopheles What one possesses in it, would you now know?
The key will sniff the place out, from all others.
Follow it down: it leads you to the Mothers.
Faust The Mothers! That always strikes me like a blow! 6265
What is that word that, once heard, scares me so?
Mephistopheles Are you so limited one new word disturbs you?
Will you only hear what you’re accustomed to?
Don’t be troubled, whatever strange sound rings,
You’ve already long been used to marvellous things. 6270
Faust Yes, there’s no good for me in lethargy.
A shudder’s the truest sign of humanity:
Though the world is such we may not feel it,
Once seized by it, we feel Immensity deeply.
Mephistopheles Then, descend! I might as easily say rise! 6275
It’s all the same. Escape from what exists,
Into the boundless realm where all Form lies!
Delight in what’s no longer on the list:
Where turmoil rolls along all cloudily:
Then, far from your body, swing the key! 6280
Good! I feel new strength, firmly grasped,
My heart expands, on now to the great task.
Mephistopheles Sight of a glowing tripod will tell you, finally,
You’re in the last deep, deepest there might be.
By its light you’ll see the Mothers, 6285
Some sit about, as they wish, the others,
Stand and move. Formation, Transformation,
Eternal minds in eternal recreation.
Images of all creatures float, portrayed:
They’ll not see you: they only see a shade. 6290
Be of good heart, the danger there is great,
Go to the tripod: don’t hesitate,
And touch it with the key!
(Faust assumes a commanding attitude with the key.)
Mephistopheles (Watching him.)
It will close itself, and follow as a servant might:
Exalted by your good luck, you’ll calmly rise, 6295
And be back with it, before you’ve blinked your eyes.
And, once you’ve brought it here all right,
Call the Hero and Heroine from the night,
The first man who has ever achieved it:
It’s done, and you’re the one who did it. 6300
By magic process then you’ll surely find,
The incense’ vapour will become divine.
Faust And now: what?
Mephistopheles Strain with all your being: downward.
Stamp to descend, stamp again to go upward.
(Faust stamps and sinks out of sight.)
If he might only gain some good from that key! 6305
I’m curious as to whether he’ll return to me.
Scene VI: Brilliantly Lit Halls
(The Emperor and Princes. The Court in Action.)
The Chamberlain (To Mephistopheles)
You still owe us that scene with the Spirits:
The Emperor’s impatient. Get on with it!
The Steward That’s what His Grace just now was saying:
You! Don’t offend His Majesty by delaying. 6310
Mephistopheles That’s why my companion has just gone:
He knows how to put the whole thing on,
And has to labour away in silence: still,
All the most special diligence he applies:
He who’d own that treasure, the Beautiful, 6315
Needs highest arts, the magic of the wise.
The Steward The arts you need are neither here nor there:
The Emperor orders it to be prepared.
A Blonde Lady (Approaching Mephistopheles.)
Sir, a word! You see a clear complexion,
Yet it’s not so in summertime’s dejection! 6320
A hundred red-brown freckles all sprout there,
And cover my white skin: I’m in despair.
Mephistopheles A pity! Such a shining beauty,
Spotted like a panther-cub, in May!
Take frogspawn, toads’ tongues, in cohabitation, 6325
Skilfully, under a full moon, make a distillation,
When it wanes, apply it undiluted,
When spring comes, the spots have been uprooted.
A Dark-haired Lady The crowd are pressing round to squeeze you dry.
I ask a cure! For a frozen foot 6330
That hinders me in dancing, walking by,
And I curtsey awkwardly to boot.
Mephistopheles Permit a little kick from my foot.
The Dark-haired Lady Well, between lovers that’s occurred before.
Mephistopheles Child! My kick means something more. 6335
Like cures like, when one’s suffering:
Foot heals foot, and so with every member.
Come! Pay attention! No retaliation there.
The Dark-haired Lady (Crying out.)
Ouch! Ouch! That hurt! I call that kicking
Like a horse’s hoof.
Mephistopheles With that the cure I bring. 6340
You can indulge in any amount of dancing,
Touch feet under the table with your darling.
A Lady (Pushing forward.)
Let me through! My suffering is so great,
He used to hold me in his heart’s embrace:
Yesterday his joy was in my glances, 6345
He turns his back on me: with her romances.
Mephistopheles That’s serious, but listen to me now.
You must gently press your advances,
Take this charcoal: mark him anyhow,
On his cloak or on his sleeve alight, 6350
He’ll feel sweet Remorse’s blow.
Swallow the charcoal straight away,
No wine or water on your lips all day:
He’ll be sighing at your door tonight.
The Lady It’s not poisonous?
Respect now, where it’s due! 6355
You’d have to travel far to find such charcoal:
It comes from the dying pyre at a funeral,
On which I, once more, diligently blew.
A Page I’m in love: they say I’m not old enough to.
I’m not sure now, whom I should listen to. 6360
(To the Page.)
Don’t set your heart on the younger ones.
The older will value what they’ve won.
(Others crowd round.)
More, already! What a demanding crew!
I’ll help myself, and out now with the truth:
The worst expedient! The pain is great, you see. – 6365
O Mothers, Mothers! Just let Faust go free!
(Gazing round him.)
The lights burn dim, already, in the hall,
The Court’s moving off, and they’re all
Arranged in their proper rank, I see,
Through the far aisles and galleries. 6370
Now they assemble in the largest place,
The vast Hall of the Knights, there’s barely space,
Who bought the mass of bright tapestry,
Filled corners, niches like an armoury.
Here I doubt there’s need of magic spells: 6375
The ghosts will find this place for themselves.
Scene VII: The Hall of the Knights, Dimly Lit
(The Emperor and Court.)
The Herald My ancient duty, to announce the play,
Is thwarted by the Spirits’ secret action:
Please forgive: there’s no sensible way
To explain such confused transformation. 6380
The chairs are here: the stools and all:
The emperor’s high up, by the wall:
He can see the battles on the tapestry
From mighty ages: watching comfortably.
Here they all sit now, Prince, Court around, 6385
Benches packed together, as background:
In this hour of spirits, too, the lovers
Have lovingly found room beside their lovers.
And now that all have found their proper places,
We’re ready: let the spirits show their faces! 6390
The Astrologer Begin the drama then without delay,
The Emperor commands: take walls away!
No further hindrance, here magic is at hand:
The Tapestry’s shrivelled as if by burning brand.
The walls divide, and sweep apart, as one, 6395
An empty stage it seems has been created,
A mysterious light falls on our faces,
And I climb up to the proscenium.
Mephistopheles (Rising to view in the prompter’s box.)
From here I hope for general acclamation,
Prompting is the devil’s true oration. 6400
(To the Astrologer.)
You know the measures that all the stars obey,
You’ll understand my whispers in a masterly way.
The Astrologer By miraculous power appears to view,
A massive temple-front: it’s ancient too.
Like Atlas, who once held up the sky, 6405
The many rows of columns stand on high.
They might well bear the stony weight,
Since two could raise a building straight.
The Architect That’s the antique! It doesn’t earn my praise,
Clumsy, overstretched we call it, nowadays. 6410
Men think that crude is noble: bulk is greatness.
I love slender shafts, uplifting, boundless:
A pointed arch sends the spirit to the sky:
Architecture such as that will edify.
The Astrologer Receive with reverence these hours the stars allow: 6415
Let words of magic bind pure Reason now:
Let marvellously daring Fantasy,
In return, sweep onward, wide and free.
Your eyes see what you daringly conceived:
It’s impossible, so more worthy to be believed. 6420
(Faust rises into view on the other side of the proscenium.)
In priestly vestments, crowned, a wondrous man,
Fulfilling what he confidently began.
A tripod rises with him from deep abyss,
I smell the odour of incense in the dish.
He prepares to bless this sacred labour: 6425
From this moment on it will find favour.
In your name, Mothers, you enthroned
In boundlessness, set eternally alone,
And yet together. All the Forms of Life
Float round your heads, active, not alive. 6430
Whatever was, in all its glow and gleam,
Moves there still, since it must always be.
And you assign it, with omnipotent might,
To day’s pavilion or the vault of night.
Life holds some fast on its sweet track, 6435
Others the bold magician must bring back:
Filled with faith, and richly generous,
He shows, what each desires, the Marvellous.
The Astrologer The glowing key has scarcely touched the dish,
At once the room is filled with darkened mist: 6440
It swirls about, as puffs of cloud will do,
Grows, condenses, shrinks, and splits in two.
And now behold a spirit-masterpiece!
As it moves about, there’s music without cease.
In heavenly tones, pours out a who-knows-how, 6445
And while it moves, all’s turned to melody now.
The pillared shafts, even the tri-glyph, ringing
I think that the whole temple’s singing.
The dark sinks down: from the light mist,
A handsome youth steps out in time to it. 6450
I needn’t name him, so my task is finished,
Who doesn’t know the name of charming Paris!
A Lady O! What a shining healthy powerful youth!
A Second Like a peach, so fresh and full of juice!
A Third The finely delineated, sweetly swelling lip! 6455
A Fourth From such a cup you’d surely like to sip?
A Fifth He’s quite pretty, but a little unrefined.
A Sixth He could be a bit more graceful, to my mind.
A Knight I sense the shepherd here, I think,
No trace of Courtier or Prince. 6460
Another Yes! Half naked the youth’s quite handsome
We’d need to see him first with armour on!
A Lady He sits down so gently and pleasantly.
A Knight You’d like to sit on his lap, comfortably?
Another He lifts his arm so lightly above his head. 6465
A Chamberlain The lout! That’s not acceptable: how ill-bred!
A Lady You lords find fault with everything.
The Chamberlain In the Emperor’s presence, all that stretching!
The Lady He’s posed there! He thinks he’s quite alone.
The Chamberlain Even a play should be polite in tone. 6470
The Lady Now sleep has overcome the charming boy.
The Chamberlain And now he’ll snore: that’s natural, what joy!
A Young Lady What refreshes my heart so deeply, that fragrance
Mixed with fumes from the burning incense?
An Older Lady Truly! It’s breath penetrates one’s nature, 6475
It comes from him!
An Elderly lady It’s the sap of nurture,
It’s generated in youth, like ambrosia,
And spreads around in the atmosphere.
Mephistopheles So that’s her! I’d not lose sleep for that. She
Is quite pretty, true, but doesn’t do much for me. 6480
The Astrologer There’s nothing more now for me to do,
As men of honour confess, I confess it too.
Beauty comes: if only I’d a tongue of fire! –
Beauty so many songs has forever inspired –
Whom she appears to, of self he’s dispossessed, 6485
Whom she belonged to, was too greatly blessed.
Faust Is this the fount of beauty? Have I still, eyes?
What pours here, through my mind, so richly?
My dreadful journey yields a blessed prize.
How void the world was, undeveloped for me! 6490
What is it now since my priesthood?
Desirable, lasting, solid underfoot!
The power of my life’s breath should
Fail, if I’m ever again estranged from you! –
The perfect form that drew me before, 6495
Delighting me, in the magic mirror,
Was only an airy phantom of such beauty! – You
Are the true embodiment of my passion:
Towards you is my powers’ whole direction
To you, love, feeling, faith, madness are owed. 6500
Mephistopheles (From the prompter’s box.)
Calm yourself, now, and don’t fail in your role!
An Older Lady Tall, well formed, only the head is small.
A Younger Lady Just look! Could clumsier feet exist at all?
A Diplomat I’ve seen princesses of this kind: though
I think she’s beautiful, from head to toe. 6505
A Courtier Soft and sly, she goes towards the sleeper.
A Lady How ugly, near that form so young and pure.
A Poet From her Beauty shines towards him.
A Lady A picture! Luna and Endymion!
The Poet Quite so! The goddess seems to descend, 6510
Leans above him to drink his breath, ah then:
Enviable! – A Kiss! – The cup’s full to excess.
A Duenna In front of everyone! What utter madness!
Faust A dreadful favour to grant a boy! –
Mephistopheles Quiet now! Be still!
And let the spectre do what it will. 6515
A Courtier She slips away, lightly: he awakes.
A Lady Just as I thought! That glance she takes!
A Courtier He stares! It’s wonderful what’s happening.
A Lady But not so wonderful what she sees in him.
A Courtier She turns towards him now with dignity. 6520
A Lady I see she’ll soon take him through his lesson:
At such times men behave quite stupidly,
Perhaps he even thinks that’s he the first one.
A Knight Let me be worthy! Majestically fine! –
A Lady The trollop! I’d call that table wine! 6525
A Page I’d like to swap his place for mine!
A Courtier Who wouldn’t be tangled in such a net?
A Lady That treasure’s been handled often, you forget,
And the gilding’s mostly rubbed away.
Another Worthless since it was ten years old, I’d say. 6530
A Knight Sometimes one takes the best that one can get:
I’d be content with the loveliness that’s left.
A Learned Man I see clearly but I’ll confess, quite freely
It’s doubtful if that’s the true one I see.
The Present’s tempted to exaggerate, 6535
I hold to what the ancient texts relate.
There I read she gave particular joy
To all the grey-bearded men of Troy:
And that fits perfectly here too, you see:
I’m not young: still she gives joy to me. 6540
The Astrologer No longer a boy! A daring hero, he:
Grasped she defends herself, but barely.
He lifts her high in his strong arms, too,
Will he carry her off?
Faust Audacious fool!
You dare? Do you hear? Stop! Enough, I say! 6545
Mephistopheles You created the mime these phantoms play!
The Astrologer A word! After what we’ve been given,
I’ll call this piece: The Rape of Helen.
Faust What rape! Am I nothing in this place!
Is this key no longer in my hand! 6550
It led me through terror, waste and wave,
Through solitude, to where, set firm, I stand.
Here’s a foothold! Here’s reality,
Where spirit dare with spirits disagree,
And prepare itself for its great, dual mastery. 6555
She was so far: how could she closer shine!
I’ll rescue her, and she’ll be doubly mine.
The risk! The Mothers! They must grant her!
Who knows her once, can never live without her.
The Astrologer What are you doing, Faust! Faust! –With force 6560
He seizes her, the form dims in its course.
He turns the key against the youth, and then,
Touches him! – Ah! – Gone, in a moment! Gone!
(An explosion. Faust falls to the ground. The spirits vanish in mist.)
Mephistopheles (Taking Faust on his shoulders.)
You’ve done it now! Carrying fools, my friend,
Brings harm to the Devil himself, in the end. 6565