A little cleanly Chamber.
MARGARET [braiding and tying up her hair.]
I'd give a penny just to say
What gentleman that was to-day!
How very gallant he seemed to be,
He's of a noble family;
That I could read from his brow and bearing--
And he would not have otherwise been so daring.
Come in, step softly, do not fear!
Faust [after a pause].
Leave me alone, I prithee, here!
Mephistopheles [peering round].
Not every maiden keeps so neat.
Faust [gazing round].
Welcome this hallowed still retreat!
Where twilight weaves its magic glow.
Seize on my heart, love-longing, sad and sweet,
That on the dew of hope dost feed thy woe!
How breathes around the sense of stillness,
Of quiet, order, and content!
In all this poverty what fulness!
What blessedness within this prison pent!
[He throws himself into a leathern chair by the bed.]
Take me, too! as thou hast, in years long flown,
In joy and grief, so many a generation!
Ah me! how oft, on this ancestral throne,
Have troops of children climbed with exultation!
Perhaps, when Christmas brought the Holy Guest,
My love has here, in grateful veneration
The grandsire's withered hand with child-lips prest.
I feel, O maiden, circling me,
Thy spirit of grace and fulness hover,
Which daily like a mother teaches thee
The table-cloth to spread in snowy purity,
And even, with crinkled sand the floor to cover.
Dear, godlike hand! a touch of thine
Makes this low house a heavenly kingdom slime!
[He lifts a bed-curtain.]
What blissful awe my heart thrills through!
Here for long hours could I linger.
Here, Nature! in light dreams, thy airy finger
The inborn angel's features drew!
Here lay the child, when life's fresh heavings
Its tender bosom first made warm,
And here with pure, mysterious weavings
The spirit wrought its godlike form!
And thou! What brought thee here? what power
Stirs in my deepest soul this hour?
What wouldst thou here? What makes thy heart so sore?
Unhappy Faust! I know thee thus no more.
Breathe I a magic atmosphere?
The will to enjoy how strong I felt it,--
And in a dream of love am now all melted!
Are we the sport of every puff of air?
And if she suddenly should enter now,
How would she thy presumptuous folly humble!
Big John-o'dreams! ah, how wouldst thou
Sink at her feet, collapse and crumble!
Quick, now! She comes! I'm looking at her.
Away! Away! O cruel fate!
Here is a box of moderate weight;
I got it somewhere else--no matter!
Just shut it up, here, in the press,
I swear to you, 'twill turn her senses;
I meant the trifles, I confess,
To scale another fair one's fences.
True, child is child and play is play.
Shall I? I know not.
You mean perhaps to keep the bauble?
If so, I counsel you to spare
From idle passion hours so fair,
And me, henceforth, all further trouble.
I hope you are not avaricious!
I rub my hands, I scratch my head--
[He places the casket in the press and locks it up again.]
(Quick! Time we sped!)--
That the dear creature may be led
And moulded by your will and wishes;
And you stand here as glum,
As one at the door of the auditorium,
As if before your eyes you saw
In bodily shape, with breathless awe,
Metaphysics and physics, grim and gray!
Margaret [with a lamp].
It seems so close, so sultry here.
[She opens the window.]
Yet it isn't so very warm out there,
I feel--I know not how--oh dear!
I wish my mother 'ld come home, I declare!
I feel a shudder all over me crawl--
I'm a silly, timid thing, that's all!
[She begins to sing, while undressing.]
There was a king in Thulи,
To whom, when near her grave,
The mistress he loved so truly
A golden goblet gave.
He cherished it as a lover,
He drained it, every bout;
His eyes with tears ran over,
As oft as he drank thereout.
And when he found himself dying,
His towns and cities he told;
Naught else to his heir denying
Save only the goblet of gold.
His knights he straightway gathers
And in the midst sate he,
In the banquet hall of the fathers
In the castle over the sea.
There stood th' old knight of liquor,
And drank the last life-glow,
Then flung the holy beaker
Into the flood below.
He saw it plunging, drinking
And sinking in the roar,
His eyes in death were sinking,
He never drank one drop more.
[She opens the press, to put away her clothes,
and discovers the casket.]
How in the world came this fine casket here?
I locked the press, I'm very clear.
I wonder what's inside! Dear me! it's very queer!
Perhaps 'twas brought here as a pawn,
In place of something mother lent.
Here is a little key hung on,
A single peep I shan't repent!
What's here? Good gracious! only see!
I never saw the like in my born days!
On some chief festival such finery
Might on some noble lady blaze.
How would this chain become my neck!
Whose may this splendor be, so lonely?
[She arrays herself in it, and steps before the glass.]
Could I but claim the ear-rings only!
A different figure one would make.
What's beauty worth to thee, young blood!
May all be very well and good;
What then? 'Tis half for pity's sake
They praise your pretty features.
Each burns for gold,
All turns on gold,--
Alas for us! poor creatures!