Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust Part I: Scenes IV to VI

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.


Contents


Scene IV: The Study

(Faust, Mephistopheles)

Faust A knock? Enter! Who’s plaguing me again? 1530

Mephistopheles I am

Faust Enter!

Mephistopheles Three times you must say it, then.

Faust So! Enter!

Mephistopheles Ah, now, you please me.

I hope we’ll get along together:

To drive away the gloomy weather,

I’m dressed like young nobility, 1535

In a scarlet gold-trimmed coat,

In a little silk-lined cloak,

A cockerel feather in my hat,

With a long, pointed sword,

And I advise you, at that, 1540

To do as I do, in a word:

So that, footloose, fancy free,

You can experience Life, with me.

Faust This life of earth, its narrowness,

Pains me, however I’m turned out, 1545

I’m too old to play about,

Too young, still, to be passionless.

What can the world bring me again?

Abstain! You shall! You must! Abstain!

That’s the eternal song 1550

That in our ears, forever, rings

The one, that, our whole life long,

Every hour, hoarsely, sings.

I wake in terror with the dawn,

I cry, the bitterest tears, to see 1555

Day grant no wish of mine, not one

As it passes by on its journey.

Even presentiments of joy

Ebb, in wilful depreciation:

A thousand grimaces life employs 1560

To hinder me in creation.

Then when night descends I must

Stretch out, worried, on my bed:

What comes to me is never rest,

But some wild dream instead. 1565

The God that lives inside my heart,

Can rouse my innermost seeing:

The one enthroned beyond my art,

Can’t stir external being:

And so existence is a burden: sated, 1570

Death’s desired, and Life is hated.

Mephistopheles Yet Death’s a guest who’s visit’s never wholly celebrated.

Faust Happy the man whom victory enhances,

Whose brow the bloodstained laurel warms,

Who, after the swift whirling dances, 1575

Finds himself in some girl’s arms!

If only, in my joy, then, I’d sunk down

Before that enrapturing Spirit power!

Mephistopheles Yet someone, from a certain brown

Liquid, drank not a drop, at midnight hour. 1580

Faust It seems that you delight in spying.

Mephistopheles I know a lot: and yet I’m not all-knowing.

Faust When sweet familiar tones drew me,

Away from the tormenting crowd,

Then my other childhood feelings 1585

Better times echoed, and allowed.

So I curse whatever snares the soul,

In its magical, enticing arms,

Banishes it to this mournful hole,

With dazzling, seductive charms! 1590

Cursed be those high Opinions first,

With which the mind entraps itself!

Then glittering Appearance curse,

In which the senses lose themselves!

Curse what deceives us in our dreaming, 1595

With thoughts of everlasting fame!

Curse the flattery of ‘possessing’

Wife and child, lands and name!

Curse Mammon, when he drives us

To bold acts to win our treasure: 1600

Or straightens out our pillows

For us to idle at our leisure!

Curse the sweet juice of the grape!

Curse the highest favours Love lets fall!

Cursed be Hope! Cursed be Faith, 1605

And cursed be Patience most of all!

Choir of Spirits (Unseen.)

Sorrow! Sorrow!

You’ve destroyed it,

The beautiful world,

With a powerful fist: 1610

It tumbles, it’s hurled

To ruin! A demigod crushed it!

We carry

Fragments into the void,

And sadly 1615

Lament the Beauty that’s gone.

Stronger

For all of Earth’s sons,

Brighter,

Build it again, 1620

Build, in your heart!

Life’s new start,

Begin again,

With senses washed clean,

And sound, then, 1625

A newer art!

Mephistopheles They’re little, but fine,

These attendants of mine.

Precocious advice they give, listen,

Regarding both action, and passion! 1630

Into the World outside,

From Solitude, that’s dried

Your sap and senses,

They tempt us.

Stop playing with grief, 1635

That feeds, a vulture, on your breast,

The worst society, you’ll find, will prompt belief,

That you’re a Man among the rest.

Not that I mean

To shove you into the mass. 1640

Among ‘the greats’, I’m second-class:

But if you, in my company,

Your path through life would wend,

I’ll willingly condescend

To serve you, as we go. 1645

I’m your man, and so,

If it suits you of course,

I’m your slave: I’m yours!

Faust And what must I do in exchange?

Mephistopheles There’s lots of time: you’ve got the gist. 1650

Faust No, no! The Devil is an egotist,

Does nothing lightly, or in God’s name,

To help another, so I insist,

Speak your demands out loud,

Such servants are risks, in a house. 1655

Mephistopheles I’ll be your servant here, and I’ll

Not stop or rest, at your decree:

When we’re together, on the other side,

You’ll do the same for me.

Faust The ‘other side’ concerns me less: 1660

Shatter this world, in pieces,

The other one can take its place,

The root of my joy’s on this Earth,

And this Sun lights my sorrow:

If I must part from them tomorrow, 1665

What can or will be, that I’ll face.

I’ll hear no more of it, of whether

In that future, men both hate and love,

Or whether in those spheres, forever,

We’re given a below and an above. 1670

Mephistopheles In that case, you can venture all.

Commit yourself: today, you shall

View my arts with joy: I mean

To show you what no man has seen.

Faust Poor devil what can you give? When has ever 1675

A human spirit, in its highest endeavour,

Been understood by such a one as you?

You have a never-satiating food,

You have your restless gold, a slew

Of quicksilver, melting in the hand, 1680

Games whose prize no man can land,

A girl, who while she’s on my arm,

Snares a neighbour, with her eyes:

And Honour’s fine and godlike charm,

That, like a meteor, dies? 1685

Show me fruits then that rot, before they’re ready.

And trees grown green again, each day, too!

Mephistopheles Such commands don’t frighten me:

With such treasures I can truly serve you.

Still, my good friend, a time may come, 1690

When one prefers to eat what’s good in peace.

Faust When I lie quiet in bed, at ease.

Then let my time be done!

If you fool me, with flatteries,

Till my own self’s a joy to me, 1695

If you snare me with luxury –

Let that be the last day I see!

That bet I’ll make!

Mephistopheles Done!

Faust And quickly!

When, to the Moment then, I say:

‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’ 1700

Then you can grasp me: then you may,

Then, to my ruin, I’ll go gladly!

Then they can ring the passing bell,

Then from your service you are free,

The clocks may halt, the hands be still, 1705

And time be past and done, for me!

Mephistopheles Consider well, we’ll not forget.

Faust You have your rights, complete:

I never over-estimate my powers.

I’ll be a slave, in defeat: 1710

Why ask whose slave or yours?

Mephistopheles Today, likewise, at the Doctors’ Feast

I’ll do my duty as your servant.

One thing, though! – Re: life and death, I want

A few lines from you, at the least. 1715

Faust You pedant, you demand it now in writing?

You still won’t take Man’s word for anything?

It’s not enough that the things I say,

Will always accord with my future?

The world never ceases to wear away, 1720

And shall a promise bind me, then, forever?

Yet that’s the illusion in our minds,

And who then would be free of it?

Happy the man, who pure truth finds,

And who’ll never deign to sacrifice it! 1725

Still a document, written and signed,

That’s a ghost makes all men fear it.

The word is already dying in the pen,

And wax and leather hold the power then.

What do you want from me base spirit? 1730

Will iron: marble: parchment: paper do it?

Shall I write with stylus, pen or chisel?

I’ll leave the whole decision up to you.

Mephistopheles Why launch into oratory too?

Hot-tempered: you exaggerate as well. 1735

Any bit of paper’s just as good.

And you can sign it with a drop of blood.

Faust If it will satisfy you, and it should,

Then let’s complete the farce in full.

Mephistopheles Blood is a quite special fluid. 1740

Faust Have no fear I’ll break this pact!

The extreme I can promise you: it is

All the power my efforts can extract.

I’ve puffed myself up so highly

I belong in your ranks now. 1745

The mighty Spirit scorns me

And Nature shuts me out.

The thread of thought has turned to dust,

Knowledge fills me with disgust.

Let the depths of sensuality 1750

Satisfy my burning passion!

And, its impenetrable mask on,

Let every marvel be prepared for me!

Let’s plunge into time’s torrent,

Into the whirlpools of event! 1755

Then let joy, and distress,

Frustration, and success,

Follow each other, as well they can:

Restless activity proves the man!

Mephistopheles No goal or measure’s set for you. 1760

Do as you wish, nibble at everything,

Catch at fragments while you’re flying,

Enjoy it all, whatever you find to do.

Now grab at it, and don’t be stupid!

Faust It’s not joy we’re about: you heard it. 1765

I’ll take the frenzy, pain-filled elation,

Loving hatred, enlivening frustration.

Cured of its urge to know, my mind

In future, will not hide from any pain,

And what is shared by all mankind, 1770

In my innermost self, I’ll contain:

My soul will grasp the high and low,

My heart accumulate its bliss and woe,

So this self will embrace all theirs,

That, in the end, their fate it shares. 1775

Mephistopheles Believe me, many a thousand year

They’ve chewed hard food, and yet

From the cradle to the bier,

Not one has ever digested it!

Trust one of us, this Whole thing 1780

Was only made for a god’s delight!

In eternal splendour he is dwelling,

He placed us in the darkness quite,

And only gave you day and night.

Faust But, I will! 1785

Mephistopheles That’s good to hear!

Yet I’ve a fear, just the one:

Time is short, and art is long.

I think you need instruction.

Join forces with a poet: use poetry,

Let him roam in imagination, 1790

You’ll gain every noble quality

From your honorary occupation,

The lion’s brave attitude

The wild stag’s swiftness,

The Italian’s fiery blood, 1795

The North’s persistence.

Let him find the mysterious

Meeting of generous and devious,

While you, with passions young and hot,

Fall in love, according to the plot. 1800

I’d like to see such a gentleman, among us,

And I’d call him Mister Microcosmus.

Faust What am I then, if it’s a flight too far,

For me to gain that human crown

I yearn towards with every sense I own? 1805

Mephistopheles In the end, you are – what you are.

Set your hair in a thousand curlicues

Place your feet in yard-high shoes,

You’ll remain forever, what you are.

Faust All the treasures of the human spirit 1810

I feel that I’ve expended, uselessly.

And wherever, at the last, I sit,

No new power flows, in me.

I’m not a hair’s breadth taller, as you see,

And I’m no nearer to Infinity. 1815

Mephistopheles My dear sir, you see the thing

Exactly as all men see it: why,

We must re-order everything,

Before the joys of life slip by.

Hang it! Hands and feet, belong to you, 1820

Certainly, a head, and a backside,

Yet everything I use as new

Why is my ownership of it denied?

When I can count on six stallions,

Isn’t their horsepower mine to use? 1825

I drive behind, and am a proper man,

As though I’d twenty-four legs, too.

Look lively! Leave the senses be,

And plunge into the world with me!

I say to you that scholarly fellows 1830

Are like the cattle on an arid heath:

Some evil spirit leads them round in circles,

While sweet green meadows lie beneath.

Faust How shall we begin then?

Mephistopheles From here, we’ll first win free.

What kind of a martyrs’ hole can this be? 1835

What kind of a teacher of life is he,

Who fills young minds with ennui?

Let your neighbours do it, and go!

Do you want to thresh straw forever?

The best things you can ever know, 1840

You dare not tell the youngsters, ever.

I hear one of them arriving, too!

Faust I’ve no desire to see him, though.

Mephistopheles The poor lad’s waited hours for you.

He mustn’t go away un-consoled. 1845

Come: give me your cap and gown.

The mask should look delicious. So!

(He disguises himself.)

Now I’ve lost what wit’s my own!

I want fifteen minutes with him, only:

Meanwhile get ready for our journey! 1850

(Faust exits.)

Mephistopheles (In Faust’s long gown.)

Reason and Science you despise,

Man’s highest powers: now the lies

Of the deceiving spirit must bind you

With those magic arts that blind you,

And I’ll have you, totally – 1855

Fate gave him such a spirit

It urges him ever onwards, wildly,

And, in his hasty striving, he has leapt

Beyond all earth’s ecstasies.

I’ll drag him through raw life, 1860

Through the meaningless and shallow,

I’ll freeze him: stick to him: keep him ripe,

Frustrate his insatiable greed, allow

Food and drink to drift before his eyes:

In vain he’ll beg for consummation, 1865

And if he weren’t the devil’s, why

He’d still go to his ruination!

(A student enters.)

Student I’m only here momentarily,

I’ve come, filled with humility,

To speak to, and to stand before, 1870

One who’s spoken of with awe.

Mephistopheles Your courtesy delights me greatly!

A man like other men you see.

Have you studied then, elsewhere?

Student I beg you, please enrol me, here! 1875

I come to you strong of courage,

Lined in pocket, healthy for my age:

My mother didn’t want to lose me: though,

I’d like to learn what it’s right for me to know.

Mephistopheles Then you’ve come to the right place, exactly. 1880

Student To be honest, I’d like to go already:

There’s little pleasure for me at all,

In these walls, and all these halls.

It’s such a narrow space I find,

You see no trees, no leaves of any kind, 1885

And in the lectures, on the benches,

All thought deserts me, and my senses.

Mephistopheles Receiving the Student

‘Mephistopheles Receiving the Student’

Mephistopheles It will only come to you with habit.

So the child takes its mother’s breast

Quite unwillingly at first, and yet it 1890

Soon sucks away at her with zest.

So will you at Wisdom’s breast, here,

Feel every day a little zestier.

Student I’ll cling to her neck with pleasure:

But only tell me how to find her. 1895

Mephistopheles Explain, before you travel on

What faculty you’ve settled on.

Student I want to be a true scholar,

I want to grasp, by the collar,

What’s on earth, in heaven above, 1900

In Science, and in Nature too.

Mephistopheles Then here’s the very path for you,

But don’t allow yourself to wander off.

Student I’ll be present heart and soul:

Of course I’ll want to play, 1905

Have some fun and freedom, though,

On each sweet summer holiday.

Mephistopheles Use your time well: it slips away so fast, yet

Discipline will teach you how to win it.

My dear friend, I’d advise, in sum, 1910

First, the Collegium Logicum.

There your mind will be trained,

As if in Spanish boots, constrained,

So that painfully, as it ought,

It creeps along the way of thought, 1915

Not flitting about all over,

Wandering here and there.

So you’ll learn, in many days,

What you used to do, untaught, as in a haze,

Like eating now, and drinking, you’ll see 1920

The necessity of One! Two! Three!

Truly the intricacy of logic

Is like a master-weaver’s fabric,

Where the loom holds a thousand threads,

Here and there the shuttles go 1925

And the threads, invisibly, flow,

One pass serves for a thousand instead.

Then the philosopher steps in: he’ll show

That it certainly had to be so:

The first was - so, the second - so, 1930

And so, the third and fourth were - so:

If first and second had never been,

Third and fourth would not be seen.

All praise the scholars, beyond believing,

But few of them ever turn to weaving. 1935

To know and note the living, you’ll find it

Best to first dispense with the spirit:

Then with the pieces in your hand,

Ah! You’ve only lost the spiritual bond.

‘Natural treatment’, Chemistry calls it 1940

Mocks at herself, and doesn’t know it.

Student I’m not sure that I quite understand.

Mephistopheles You’ll soon know it all, as planned,

When you’ve learnt the science of reduction,

And everything’s proper classification. 1945

Student After all that, I feel as stupid

As if I’d a mill wheel in my head.

Mephistopheles Next, before all else, you’ll fix

Your mind on Metaphysics!

See that you’re profoundly trained 1950

In what never stirs in a human brain:

You’ll learn a splendid word

For what’s occurred or not occurred.

But for the present take six months

To get yourself in order: start at once. 1955

Five hours every day, lock

Yourself in, with a ticking clock!

Make sure you’re well prepared,

Study each paragraph with care,

So afterwards you’ll be certain 1960

Only what’s in the book, was written:

Then be as diligent when you pen it,

As if the Holy Ghost had said it!

Student You won’t need to tell me twice!

I think, myself, it’s very helpful, too 1965

That one can take back home, and use,

What someone’s penned in black and white.

Mephistopheles But choose a faculty, any one!

Student I wouldn’t be comfortable with Law.

Mephistopheles I couldn’t name you anything more 1970

Vile, I know how dogmatic it’s become.

Laws and rights are handed down

It’s an eternal disgrace:

They’re moved round from town to town

Dragged around from place to place. 1975

Reason is nonsense, kindness a disease,

If you’re a grandchild it’s a curse!

The rights we are born with,

To those, alas, no one refers!

Student That just strengthens my disgust. 1980

Happy the student that you instruct!

I’ve nearly settled on Theology.

Mephistopheles I wouldn’t wish to guide you erroneously.

In what that branch of knowledge concerns

It’s so difficult to avoid a fallacious route, 1985

There’s so much poison hidden in what you learn,

And it’s barely distinguishable from the antidote.

The best thing here’s to make a single choice,

Then simply swear by your master’s voice

On the whole, to words stick fast! 1990

Through the safest gate you’ll pass

To the Temple of Certainty.

Student Yet surely words must have a sense.

Mephistopheles Why, yes! But don’t torment yourself with worry,

Where sense fails it’s only necessary 1995

To supply a word, and change the tense.

With words fine arguments can be weighted,

With words whole Systems can be created,

With words, the mind does its conceiving,

No word suffers a jot from thieving. 2000

Student Forgive me, I delay you with my questions,

But I must trouble you again,

On the subject of Medicine,

Have you no helpful word to say?

Three years, so little time applied, 2005

And, God, the field is rather wide!

If only you had some kind of pointer,

You would feel so much further on.

Mephistopheles (Aside.)

I’m tired of this desiccated banter

I really must play the devil, at once. 2010

(Aloud.)

To grasp the spirit of Medicine’s easily done:

You study the great and little world, until,

In the end you let it carry on

Just as God wills.

Useless to roam round, scientifically: 2015

Everyone learns only what he can:

The one who grasps the Moment fully,

He’s the proper man.

You’re quite a well-made fellow,

You’re not short of courage too, 2020

And when you’re easy with yourself,

Others will be easy with you.

Study, especially, female behaviour:

Their eternal aches and woes,

All of the thousand-fold, 2025

Rise from one point, and have one cure.

And if you’re half honourable about it

You shall have them in your pocket.

A title first: to give them comfort you

Have skills that far exceed the others, 2030

Then you’re free to touch the goods, and view

What someone else has prowled around for years.

Take the pulse firmly, you understand,

And then, with sidelong fiery glance,

Grasp the slender hips, in haste, 2035

To find out whether she’s tight-laced.

Student That sounds much better! The Where and How, I see.

Mephistopheles Grey, dear friend, is all theory,

And green the golden tree of life.

Student I swear it’s like a dream to me: may I 2040

Trouble you, at some further time,

To expound your wisdom, so sublime?

Mephistopheles As much as I can, I’ll gladly explain.

Student I can’t tear myself away,

I must just pass you my album, sir, 2045

Grant me the favour of your signature!

Mephistopheles Very well.

(He writes and gives the book back.)

Student (Reading Mephistopheles’ Latin inscription which means: ‘You’ll be like God, acquainted with good and evil’.)

Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum.

(He makes his bows, and takes his leave.)

Mephistopheles Just follow the ancient text, and my mother the snake, too:

And then your likeness to God will surely frighten you! 2050

(Faust enters.)

Faust Where will we go, then?

Mephistopheles Where you please.

The little world, and then the great, we’ll see.

With what profit and delight,

This term, you’ll be a parasite!

Faust Yet with my long beard, I’ll 2055

Lack life’s superficial style.

My attempt will come to nothing:

I know, in this world, I don’t fit in.

I feel so small next to other men,

It only means embarrassment. 2060

Mephistopheles My friend, just give yourself completely to it:

When you find yourself, you’ll soon know how to live it.

Faust How shall we depart from here, then?

I see not one servant, coach, or horse.

Mephistopheles We’ll just spread this cloak wide open, 2065

Then through the air we’ll take our course.

For a daring trip like this we’re on,

Better not take much baggage along.

A little hot air I’ll ready, first,

To lift us nimbly above the Earth, 2070

And as we’re light we’ll soon get clear:

Congratulations on your new career!


Scene V: Auerbach’s Cellar in Leipzig

(Friends happily drinking.)

Frosch Will none of you laugh? Nobody drink?

I’ll have to teach you to smile, I think!

You’re all of you like wet straw today, 2075

And usually you’re well away.

Brander That’s up to you, you bring us nothing.

Nothing dumb, or dirty, nothing.

Frosch (Pouring a glass of wine over Brander’s head.)

You can have both!

Brander Rotten swine!

Frosch You wanted them both, so you got mine! 2080

Siebel Out the door, whoever fights! Get out!

Let’s sing a heart-felt chorus, drink and shout!

Up! Hurray! Ha!

Altmayer Ah! I’m in agony!

Earplugs, here! This fellow’s deafened me.

Siebel It’s only when it echoes in the tower, 2085

You hear a bass voice’s real power.

Frosch Right, out with him who takes offence!

Ah! Do, re, me!

Altmayer Ah! Do, re, me!

Fosch Our throats are tuned: commence.

(He sings.)

‘Dear Holy Roman Empire, 2090

How do you hold together?’

Brander A lousy song! Bah! A political song -

A tiresome song! Thank God, every morning,

It isn’t you who must sit there worrying

About the Empire! At least I’m better for 2095

Not being a King or a Chancellor.

But we should have a leader, so

We’ll choose a Pope of our own.

You know the qualities that can

Swing the vote, and elevate the man. 2100

Frosch (Sings.)

‘Sing away, sweet Nightingale,

Greet my girl, and never fail.’

Siebel Don’t greet my girl! I’ll not allow it!

Frosch Greet and kiss her! You’ll not stop it!

(He sings.)

‘Slip the bolt in deepest night! 2105

Slip it! Wake, the lover bright.

Slip it to! At break of dawn.’

Siebel Yes, sing in praise of her, and boast: sing on!

I’ll laugh later when it suits:

She leads me a dance, she’ll lead you too. 2110

She should have a dwarf for a lover!

At the crossroads, let him woo her:

An old goat from Blocksberg, galloping over,

Can bleat goodnight, as it passes by her.

An honest man, of flesh and blood, 2115

For a girl like that’s far too good.

I’m not bothered even to say hello

Except perhaps to break her window.

Brander (Pounding on the table.)

Quiet! Quiet! Or you won’t hear!

I know about life, you lot, confess. 2120

Besotted persons sit among us,

As fits their status, then, I must

Give them, tonight, of my very best.

Listen! A song in the newest strain!

And you can shout out the refrain! 2125

(He sings.)

‘Once there was a cellar rat,

Who lived on grease, and butter:

He had a belly, round and fat,

Just like Doctor Luther.

The cook set poison round about: 2130

It brought on such a violent bout,

As if he’d love inside him.’

Chorus (Shouting.)

‘As if he’d love inside him!’

Brander ‘He ran here, and he ran there,

And drank from all the puddles, 2135

Gnawing, scratching, everywhere,

But nothing cured his shudders.

In torment, he leapt to the roof,

Poor beast, soon he’d had enough,

As if he’d love inside him.’ 2140

Chorus ‘As if he’d love inside him!’

Brander ‘Fear drove him to the light of day,

Into the kitchen then he ran,

Fell on the hearth and twitched away,

Pitifully weak, and wan. 2145

Then the murderess laughed with glee:

He’s on his last legs, I see,

As if he’d love inside him.’

Chorus ‘As if he’d love inside him.’

Siebel How pleased they are, the tiresome fools! 2150

Spreading poison for wretched rats,

To me, that’s the right thing to do!

Brander You’re in sympathy with them, perhaps?

Altmayer That fat belly with a balding head!

Bad luck makes him meek and mild: 2155

From a swollen rat, he sees, with dread,

His own natural likeness is compiled.

(Faust and Mephistopheles appear.)

First of all, I had to bring you here,

Where cheerful friends sup together,

To see how happily life slips away. 2160

For these folk every day’s a holiday.

With lots of leisure, and little sense,

They revolve in their round-dance,

Chasing their tails as kittens prance,

If the hangovers aren’t too intense, 2165

If the landlord gives them credit,

They’re cheerful, and unworried by it.

Brander They’re fresh from their travelling days,

You can tell by their foreign ways:

They’ve not been back an hour: you see. 2170

Frosch True, you’re right! My Leipzig’s dear to me!

It’s a little Paris, and educates its people.

Siebel Who do you think the strangers are?

Frosch Let me find out! I’ll draw the truth,

From those two, with a brimming glass, 2175

As easily as you’d pull a child’s tooth.

It seems to me they’re of some noble house,

They look so discontented and so proud.

Brander They’re surely strolling players, I’d guess!

Altmayer Perhaps.

Frosch Watch me screw it out of them, then! 2180

Mephistopheles (To Faust.)

These folk wouldn’t feel the devil, even

If he’d got them dangling by the neck.

Faust Greetings, sirs!

Siebel Thank you, and greetings.

(He mutters away, inspecting Mephistopheles side-on.)

What’s wrong with his foot: why’s he limping?

Mephistopheles Allow us to sit with you, if you please. 2185

Instead of fine ale that can’t be had,

We can still have good company.

Altmayer You seem a choosy sort of lad.

Frosch Was it late when you started out from Rippach?

Perhaps you dined with Hans there, first? 2190

Mephistopheles We passed straight by, today, without a rest!

We spoke to him last some time back,

When he talked a lot about his cousins,

And he sent to each his kind greetings.

(He bows to Frosch.)

Altmayer (Aside.)

He did you, there! He’s smart!

Siebel A shrewd customer! 2195

Frosc Wait, I’ll have him soon, I’m sure!

Mephistopheles If I’m not wrong, we heard

A tuneful choir singing?

I’m sure, with this vault, the words

Must really set it ringing! 2200

Frosch Are you by any chance a virtuoso?

Mephistopheles No! Though my desire is great, my skill is only so-so.

Altmayer Give us a song!

Mephistopheles If you wish it, a few.

Siebel So long as it’s a brand-new one!

Mephistopheles Well, it’s from Spain that we’ve just come, 2205

The lovely land of wine, and singing too.

(He sings.)

‘There was once a king, who

Had a giant flea’ –

Frosch Listen! Did you get that? A flea.

A flea’s an honest guest to me. 2210

Mephistopheles (Sings.)

‘There was once a king, who

Had a giant flea,

He loved him very much, oh,

He was like a son, you see.

The king called for his tailor, 2215

He came right away:

Now, measure up the lad for

A suit of clothes, I say!’

Brander Make sure the tailor’s sharp,

And cuts them out precisely, 2220

And, since his son’s dear to his heart,

Make sure there’s never a crease to see.

Mephistopheles ‘All in silk and velvet,

He was smartly dressed,

With ribbons on his coat, 2225

A cross upon his chest.

He was the First Minister,

And so he wore a star:

His brothers and his sisters,

He made noblest by far. 2230

The lords and the ladies,

They were badly smitten,

The Queen and her maids,

They were stung and bitten.

They didn’t dare to crush them, 2235

Or scratch away, all night.

We smother them, and crush them,

The moment that they bite.’

Chorus (Shouted.)

‘We smother them, and crush them,

The moment that they bite.’ 2240

Frosch Bravo! Bravo! That went sweetly!

Siebel So shall it be with every flea!

Brander Sharpen your nails, and crush them fine!

Altmayer Long live freedom, and long live wine!

Mephistopheles I’d love to drink a glass, in freedom’s honour, 2245

If only the wine were a little better.

Siebel Not again, we don’t want to hear!

Mephistopheles I fear the landlord might complain

Or I’d give these worthy guests,

One of my cellar’s very best. 2250

Siebel Just bring it on! He’ll accept it: I’ll explain.

Frosch Make it a good glass and we’ll praise it.

But don’t make it so small we can’t taste it.

Because if I’m truly going to decide,

I need a really big mouthful inside. 2255

Altmayer (Aside.)

They’re from the Rhine, as I guessed.

Mephistopheles Bring me a corkscrew!

Brander What for?

Is it outside already, this cask?

Altmayer There’s one in the landlord’s toolbox, for sure.

Mephistopheles (Takes the corkscrew. To Frosch.)

Now, what would you like to try? 2260

Frosch What? Is there a selection, too?

Mephistopheles There’s a choice for every one of you.

Altmayer(To Frosch.)

Ah! You soon catch on: your lips are dry?

Frosch Good! When I’ve a choice, I drink Rhenish.

The Fatherland grants those best gifts to us. 2265

Mephistopheles (Boring a hole in the table-edge where Frosch is sitting.)

Bring me a little wax, to make the seals, as well!

Altmayer Ah, that’s for the conjuring trick, I can tell.

Mephistopheles (To Brander.)

And yours?

Brander Champagne for me is fine:

Make it a truly sparkling wine!

(Mephistopheles bores the holes: one of the others makes the wax stoppers and stops the holes with them.)

We can’t always shun what’s foreign, 2270

Things from far away are often fine.

Real Germans can’t abide a Frenchman,

And yet they gladly drink his wine.

Siebel (As Mephistopheles approaches his seat.)

I must confess I do dislike the dry,

Give me a glass of the very sweetest! 2275

Mephistopheles (Boring a hole.)

I’ll pour an instant Tokay for you, yes?

Altmayer Now, gentlemen, look me in the eye!

I see you’ve had the better of us there.

Mephistopheles Now! Now! With guests so rare,

That would be far too much for me to dare. 2280

Quick! Time for you to declare!

Which wine can I serve you with?

Altmayer Any at all! Don’t make us ask forever.

(Now all the holes have been stopped and sealed.)

Mephistopheles (With a strange gesture.)

Grapes, they are the vine’s load!

Horns, they are the he-goat’s: 2285

Wine is juice: wood makes vines,

The wooden board shall give us wine.

Look deeper into Nature!

Have faith, and here’s a wonder!

Now draw the stoppers, and drink up! 2290

All (Draw the stoppers, and the wine they chose flows into each glass.)

O lovely fount, that flows for us!

Mephistopheles But careful, don’t lose a drop!

(They drink repeatedly.)

All (Singing.)

‘We’re all of us cannibals now,

We’re like five hundred sows.’

Mephistopheles The folk are free, and we can go, you see! 2295

Faust I’d like to leave here now.

Mephistopheles Watch first: their bestiality

Will make a splendid show.

Siebel(He drinks carelessly, wine pours on the ground and bursts into flame.)

Help! Fire! Hell burns bright!

Mephistopheles in the Students’ Tavern

‘Mephistopheles in the Students’ Tavern’

Mephistopheles (Charming away the flame.)

Friendly element, be quiet! 2300

(To the drinkers.)

For this time, just a drop of Purgatory.

Siebel What’s that? You wait! You’ll pay dearly!

It seems you don’t quite see us right.

Frosch Try playing that trick a second time, on us!

Altmayer I think we should quietly send him packing. 2305

Siebel What, sir? You think you’re daring,

Tricking us with your hocus-pocus?

Mephistopheles Be quiet, old wine-barrel!

Siebel You broomstick! You’ll show us you’re ill bred?

Brander Just wait, it’ll rain blows, on your head! 2310

Altmayer (Draws a stopper and fire blazes in his face.)

I’m burning! Burning!

Siebel It’s magic, strike!

The man’s a rascal! Kick him as you like!

(They draw knives and rush at Mephistopheles.)

Mephistopheles (With solemn gestures.)

Word and Image, ensnare!

Alter, senses and air!

Be here, and there! 2315

(They look at each other, amazed.)

Altmayer Where am I? What a lovely land!

Frosch Vineyards? Am I seeing straight?

Siebel And, likewise, grapes to hand!

Brander Deep in this green arbour, here,

See, the vines! What grapes appear!

(He grasps Siebel by the nose: the others do the same reciprocally, and raise their knives.)

Mephistopheles From their eyes, Error, take the iron band, 2320

And let them see how the Devil plays a joke.

(He vanishes with Faust: the revellers separate.)

Siebel What’s happening?

Altmayer And how?

Frosch Was that your nose?

Brander (To Siebel.)

And I’ve still got your nose in my hand!

Altmayer It was a tremor, that passed through every limb!

Pass me a stool: I’m sinking in! 2325

Frosch Tell me: what happened there, my friend?

Siebel Where is he? When I catch that fellow,

He won’t leave here alive again!

Altmayer I saw him myself fly out of the cellar

Riding on a barrel – and then – 2330

I feel there’s lead still in my feet.

(He turns towards the table.)

Ah! Does the wine still flow as sweet?

Siebel It was deception, cheating, lying.

Frosch Still, it seemed that I drank wine.

Brander And what about all those grapes that hung there? 2335

Altmayer Tell me, now, we shouldn’t believe in wonders!


Scene VI: The Witches’ Kitchen

(A giant cauldron stands on a low hearth, with a fire under it. Various shapes appear in the fumes from the cauldron. A She-Ape sits next to it, skimming it, watching to see it doesn’t boil over. The He-Ape, with young ones, sits nearby warming himself. The ceiling and walls are covered with the Witches’ grotesque instruments.)

Faust These magical wild beasts repel me, too!

Are you telling me I can be renewed,

Wandering around in this mad maze,

Demanding help from some old hag: 2340

That her foul cookery will spirit away

Thirty years from my age, just like that?

It’s sad, if you know of nothing better!

The star of hope has quickly set.

Hasn’t some noble mind, or Nature, 2345

Found some wondrous potion yet?

Mephistopheles My friend, what you say, again, is intelligent!

There’s a natural means to make you younger:

But it’s written, in a book quite different,

And in an odd chapter. 2350

Faust I’ll know it, then.

Mephistopheles Fine! You’ve a method here that needs

No gold, no doctor, no magician:

Take yourself off to the nearest field,

To scratch around, and hoe, and dig in,

Maintain yourself, and constrain 2355

Your senses in a narrow sphere:

Feed yourself on the purest fare,

Be a beast among beasts: think it no robbery,

To manure the fields you harvest, there:

Since that’s the best of ways, believe me, 2360

To keep your youth for eighty years!

Faust I’m not used to it, can’t condescend,

To take a spade in hand, and bend:

That narrow life wouldn’t suit me at all.

Mephistopheles So you must call the witch then, after all. 2365

Faust Why is that old witch necessary!

Why can’t you, yourself, make the brew?

Mephistopheles What a lovely occupation for me!

And build a thousand bridges, meanwhile, too.

It’s not just art and science that tell, 2370

Patience is needed in the work as well.

A calm mind’s busy years in its creation,

Only time strengthens the fermentation

And everything about it

Is quite a peculiar show! 2375

It’s true the Devil taught it:

The Devil can’t make it though.

(Seeing the creatures.)

See what a dainty race I hail!

This is the female: this is the male!

(To the creatures.)

The mistress isn’t home, I say? 2380

The Creatures Feasting away,

Gone today,

The Chimney way!

Mephistopheles How long will she be swarming?

The Creatures As long as our paws are warming. 2385

Mephistopheles (To Faust.)

What do you think of these tender creatures?

Faust As rude as any I ever saw!

Mephistopheles Ah, but to me this kind of discourse

Shows the most delightful features!

(To the creatures.)

Accursed puppets, tell me true, 2390

What are you stirring in that brew?

The Creatures We’re cooking up thick beggars’ soup.

Mephistopheles Then there’ll be thousands in the queue.

The He-Ape (Approaches and fawns on Mephistopheles.)

O, throw the dice quick,

And let me be rich! 2395

I’ll be the winner!

It’s all arranged badly,

And if I had money,

I’d be a thinker.

Mephistopheles Why does the ape think he’d be lucky, 2400

If he’d only a chance to try the lottery!

(Meanwhile the young apes have been playing with a large ball, and they roll it forward.)

The He-Ape The world’s a ball

It lifts to fall,

Rolls without rest:

Rings like glass, 2405

And breaks as fast!

It’s hollow at best.

It’s shining here,

Here, what’s more:

‘I am living!’ 2410

A place dear son,

To keep far from!

You must die!

Its clay will soon

In pieces, lie. 2415

Mephistopheles Why the sieve?

The He-Ape (Lifting it down.)

If you were a thief

I’d know you this minute.

(He runs to the She-Ape, and lets her look through the sieve.)

Look through the sieve! 2420

Can you see the thief,

But daren’t name him?

Mephistopheles (Approaching the fire.)

And this pot?

The He-Ape and She-Ape What a silly lot!

Not to know a pot,

Not to know a kettle! 2425

Mephistopheles Rude creature!

The He-Ape Take this brush here,

And sit on the settle.

(He invites Mephistopheles to sit down.)

Faust (Who all this time has been standing in front of a mirror, alternately approaching it and distancing himself from it.)

What do I see? What heavenly form

Is this that the magic mirror brings! 2430

Love, lend me your swiftest wings,

Then bear me to fields she adorns!

Ah, if I do not stand still here,

If I dare to venture nearer,

I see as if through a mist, no clearer – 2435

The loveliest form of Woman, there!

Is it possible: can Woman be so lovely?

Must I, in her outspread body, declare

The incarnation of all that’s heavenly?

Can any such this earth deliver? 2440

Mephistopheles Naturally, if a God torments himself six days,

And says to himself, Bravo, at last,in praise,

He must have made something clever.

See, this time, what will satisfy you, forever:

I’ll know how to fish that treasure out for you, 2445

Happy, the one who finds good fortune in her,

And carries her home again, as his bride, too.

(Faust gazes endlessly in the mirror. Mephistopheles stretches himself on the settle, plays with the brush, and continues to speak.)

Here I sit like a king on his throne,

The sceptre’s here, but where’s the crown?

The Creatures (Who up till now have been making all kinds of grotesque movements together, bring Mephistopheles a crown, with great outcry.)

Oh, with sweat and with blood, 2450

If you’ll be so good,

Glue on this crown, sublime!

(They are awkward with the crown, and snap it in two pieces, with which they leap about.)

Now that’s out of the way!

We see, and we say,

We hear, and we rhyme - 2455

Faust (In front of the mirror.)

Ah! I’ll go completely mad.

Mephistopheles (Pointing to the creatures.)

Now my head’s almost spinning.

The Creatures If our luck’s not bad,

We must be thinking! 2460

Faust (As before.)

My heart pains me with its burning! Quick,

Let’s leave this place, forego it!

Mephistopheles (Still in the same position.)

Well, at least one must admit

That they’re honest poets.

(The cauldron that the She-Ape has forgotten to keep a watch on, now boils over: a great flame flares from the chimney. The Witch comes careering down through the flames, with horrendous cries.)

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! 2465

Damned creature! Accursed sow!

You left the kettle: you’ve singed me now!

Accursed creature!

(Seeing Faust and Mephistopheles.)

What have we here?

Who are you, here? 2470

What do you want?

Who creeps unknown?

The fire’s pain own

In all your bone!

(She plunges the skimming-ladle into the cauldron, and scatters flame towards Faust, Mephistopheles and the Creatures. The Creatures whimper.)

Mephistopheles (Reversing the brush he holds in his hand, and striking among the jars and glasses.)

One, two! One, two! 2475

There lies the brew!

There lies the glass!

A joke at last,

In time, she-ass,

To your melody, too. 2480

(As the Witch starts back in Anger and Horror.)

Do you know me? Skeleton! Scarecrow!

Do you know your lord and master?

What stops me from striking you, so,

Crushing you, and your ape-creatures?

Have you no respect for a scarlet coat? 2485

Don’t you understand a cockerel’s feather?

Have I hidden my face, you old she-goat?

Have I to name myself, as ever?

The Witch Oh sir, forgive the rude welcome!

I don’t see a single foot cloven. 2490

And your two ravens - are where?

Mephistopheles This once, you get away with it:

It’s truly a good while, isn’t it,

Since we’ve been seen together.

And Civilisation makes men level, 2495

It even sticks to the Devil:

That Northern demon is no more:

Who sees horns now, or tail or claw?

As for the feet, which I can’t spare,

That would harm me with the people. 2500

So like many a youth, now, I wear,

False calves and false in-steps, as well.

The Witch (Dancing.)

Sense and reason flee my brain,

I see young Satan here again!

Mephistopheles Woman, I forbid that name! 2505

The Witch Why? What harm is caused so?

Mephistopheles It’s written in story books, always:

Men are no better for it, though:

The Evil One’s gone: the evil stays.

Call me the Baron: that sounds good: 2510

I’m a gentleman, like the other gentlemen.

Perhaps you doubt my noble blood:

See, here’s the crest I carry, then!

(He makes an indecent gesture.)

The Witch (Laughing immoderately.)

Ha! Ha! That’s your way, as ever.

You’re the same rogue forever! 2515

Mephistopheles (To Faust.)

My friend, take note: learn that this is

The proper way to handle witches.

The Witch Now, gentlemen, say how I can be of use.

Mephistopheles A good glass of your well-known juice!

But I must insist on the oldest: 2520

The years double what it can do.

The Witch Gladly! Here’s a flask, on the shelf:

I sometimes drink from it myself,

And it doesn’t really stink at all:

I’ll gladly give him a glass or so. 2525

(Whispering.)

If he drinks it unprepared, recall,

He won’t live a single hour, though.

Mephistopheles He’s my good friend: it’ll go down well:

Don’t begrudge the best of your kitchen.

Draw the circle: speak the speech, then 2530

Offer him a glass full!

(The Witch draws a circle with fantastic gestures, and places mysterious articles inside it: meanwhile the glasses start to ring, and the cauldron to echo, and make music. Finally she brings a large book, sits the Apes in a ring, who serve as a reading desk and hold torches. She beckons Faust to approach.)

Faust (To Mephistopheles.)

Tell me, now, what’s happening?

These wild gestures, crazy things,

All of this tasteless trickery,

Is known, and hateful enough to me. 2535

Mephistopheles A farce! You should be laughing:

Don’t be such a serious fellow!

This hocus-pocus she, the doctor’s, making,

So you’ll be aided by the juice to follow.

(He persuades Faust to enter the circle.)

The Witch (Begins to declaim from the book, with much emphasis.)

You shall see, then! 2540

From one make ten!

Let two go again,

Make three even,

You’re rich again.

Take away four! 2545

From five and six,

So says the Witch,

Make seven and eight,

So it’s full weight:

And nine is one, 2550

And ten is none.

This is the Witch’s one-times-one!

Faust I’m in the dark, the hag babbles with fever.

Mephistopheles There’s still more she’s not gone over,

I know it well, the whole book’s like this: 2555

I’ve wasted time on it before, though,

A perfect contradiction in terms is

Ever a mystery to the wise: fools more so.

My friend, the art’s both old and new,

It’s like this in every age, with two 2560

And one, and one and two,

Scattering error instead of truth.

Men prattle, and teach it undisturbed:

Who wants to be counted with the fools?

Men always believe, when they hear words, 2565

There must be thought behind them, too.

The Witch (Continuing.)

The highest skill,

The science, still

Is hidden from the rabble!

One who never thought, 2570

To him it’s brought,

He owns it without trouble.

Faust Why talk this nonsense to us?

My head’s near split in two.

It seems I hear the chorus, 2575

Of a hundred thousand fools.

Mephistopheles Enough, enough, O excellent Sibyl!

Bring the drink along: and fill

The cup, quick, to the very brim:

The drink will bring my friend no harm: 2580

He’s a man of many parts, and him

Many a noble draught has charmed.

(The Witch, ceremoniously, pours the drink into a cup: as Faust puts it to his lips, a gentle flame rises.)

Down it quickly! Every time! It’ll

Likewise, warm your heart, entire.

You’re hand in hand with the Devil: 2585

Will you shrink before the fire?

(The Witch breaks the circle. Faust steps out.)

Now, quick, away! You may not rest.

The Witch Much good may that potion do you!

Mephistopheles (To the Witch.)

On Walpurgis Night you can tell me best,

What favour I can return to you. 2590

The Witch Here’s a song! Sing it sometimes, and you,

Will feel a peculiar effect: don’t ask me how.

Mephistopheles (To Faust.)

Come on, quickly, run about now:

You need to sweat, that will allow

The power to penetrate, through and through. 2595

Later, I’ll teach you to value leisure,

And soon you’ll find with deepest pleasure,

How Cupid stirs, and, now and then, leaps, too.

Faust Let me look quickly in the glass, once more!

How lovely that woman’s form, I descried! 2600

Mephistopheles No! No! The paragon of all women, you’re

About to see before you, personified.

(Aside.)

With that drink in your body, well then,

All women will look to you like Helen.