District of Schirke and Elend.
Wouldst thou not like a broomstick, now, to ride on?
At this rate we are, still, a long way off;
I'd rather have a good tough goat, by half,
Than the best legs a man e'er set his pride on.
So long as I've a pair of good fresh legs to stride on,
Enough for me this knotty staff.
What use of shortening the way!
Following the valley's labyrinthine winding,
Then up this rock a pathway finding,
From which the spring leaps down in bubbling play,
That is what spices such a walk, I say!
Spring through the birch-tree's veins is flowing,
The very pine is feeling it;
Should not its influence set our limbs a-glowing?
I do not feel it, not a bit!
My wintry blood runs very slowly;
I wish my path were filled with frost and snow.
The moon's imperfect disk, how melancholy
It rises there with red, belated glow,
And shines so badly, turn where'er one can turn,
At every step he hits a rock or tree!
With leave I'll beg a Jack-o'lantern!
I see one yonder burning merrily.
Heigh, there! my friend! May I thy aid desire?
Why waste at such a rate thy fire?
Come, light us up yon path, good fellow, pray!
Out of respect, I hope I shall be able
To rein a nature quite unstable;
We usually take a zigzag way.
Heigh! heigh! He thinks man's crooked course to travel.
Go straight ahead, or, by the devil,
I'll blow your flickering life out with a puff.
You're master of the house, that's plain enough,
So I'll comply with your desire.
But see! The mountain's magic-mad to-night,
And if your guide's to be a Jack-o'lantern's light,
Strict rectitude you'll scarce require.
FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES, JACK-O'LANTERN, in alternate song.
Spheres of magic, dream, and vision,
Now, it seems, are opening o'er us.
For thy credit, use precision!
Let the way be plain before us
Through the lengthening desert regions.
See how trees on trees, in legions,
Hurrying by us, change their places,
And the bowing crags make faces,
And the rocks, long noses showing,
Hear them snoring, hear them blowing!
Down through stones, through mosses flowing,
See the brook and brooklet springing.
Hear I rustling? hear I singing?
Love-plaints, sweet and melancholy,
Voices of those days so holy?
All our loving, longing, yearning?
Echo, like a strain returning
From the olden times, is ringing.
Uhu! Schuhu! Tu-whit! Tu-whit!
Are the jay, and owl, and pewit
All awake and loudly calling?
What goes through the bushes yonder?
Can it be the Salamander--
Belly thick and legs a-sprawling?
Roots and fibres, snake-like, crawling,
Out from rocky, sandy places,
Wheresoe'er we turn our faces,
Stretch enormous fingers round us,
Here to catch us, there confound us;
Thick, black knars to life are starting,
At the traveller. Field-mice, swarming,
Thousand-colored armies forming,
Scamper on through moss and heather!
And the glow-worms, in the darkling,
With their crowded escort sparkling,
Would confound us altogether.
But to guess I'm vainly trying--
Are we stopping? are we hieing?
Round and round us all seems flying,
Rocks and trees, that make grimaces,
And the mist-lights of the places
Ever swelling, multiplying.
Here's my coat-tail--tightly thumb it!
We have reached a middle summit,
Whence one stares to see how shines
Mammon in the mountain-mines.
How strangely through the dim recesses
A dreary dawning seems to glow!
And even down the deep abysses
Its melancholy quiverings throw!
Here smoke is boiling, mist exhaling;
Here from a vapory veil it gleams,
Then, a fine thread of light, goes trailing,
Then gushes up in fiery streams.
The valley, here, you see it follow,
One mighty flood, with hundred rills,
And here, pent up in some deep hollow,
It breaks on all sides down the hills.
Here, spark-showers, darting up before us,
Like golden sand-clouds rise and fall.
But yonder see how blazes o'er us,
All up and down, the rocky wall!
Has not Sir Mammon gloriously lighted
His palace for this festive night?
Count thyself lucky for the sight:
I catch e'en now a glimpse of noisy guests invited.
How the mad tempest sweeps the air!
On cheek and neck the wind-gusts how they flout me.
Must seize the rock's old ribs and hold on stoutly!
Else will they hurl thee down the dark abysses there.
A mist-rain thickens the gloom.
Hark, how the forests crash and boom!
Out fly the owls in dread and wonder;
Splitting their columns asunder,
Hear it, the evergreen palaces shaking!
Boughs are twisting and breaking!
Of stems what a grinding and moaning!
Of roots what a creaking and groaning!
In frightful confusion, headlong tumbling,
They fall, with a sound of thunder rumbling,
And, through the wreck-piled ravines and abysses,
The tempest howls and hisses.
Hearst thou voices high up o'er us?
Close around us--far before us?
Through the mountain, all along,
Swells a torrent of magic song.
Witches [in chorus].
The witches go to the Brocken's top,
The stubble is yellow, and green the crop.
They gather there at the well-known call,
Sir Urian sits at the head of all.
Then on we go o'er stone and stock:
The witch, she--and--the buck.
Old Baubo comes along, I vow!
She rides upon a farrow-sow.
Then honor to whom honor's due!
Ma'am Baubo ahead! and lead the crew!
A good fat sow, and ma'am on her back,
Then follow the witches all in a pack.
Which way didst thou come?
By the Ilsenstein!
Peeped into an owl's nest, mother of mine!
What a pair of eyes!
To hell with your flurry!
Why ride in such hurry!
The hag be confounded!
My skin flie has wounded!
Witches [chorus]. The way is broad, the way is long,
What means this noisy, crazy throng?
The broom it scratches, the fork it flicks,
The child is stifled, the mother breaks.
Like housed-up snails we're creeping on,
The women all ahead are gone.
When to the Bad One's house we go,
She gains a thousand steps, you know.
The other half.
We take it not precisely so;
What she in thousand steps can go,
Make all the haste she ever can,
'Tis done in just one leap by man.
Come on, come on, from Felsensee!
Voices [from below].
We'd gladly join your airy way.
For wash and clean us as much as we will,
We always prove unfruitful still.
The wind is hushed, the star shoots by,
The moon she hides her sickly eye.
The whirling, whizzing magic-choir
Darts forth ten thousand sparks of fire.
Voice [from below].
Ho, there! whoa, there!
Voice [from above].
Who calls from the rocky cleft below there?
Take me too! take me too!
Three hundred years I've climbed to you,
Seeking in vain my mates to come at,
For I can never reach the summit.
Can ride the besom, the stick can ride,
Can stride the pitchfork, the goat can stride;
Who neither will ride to-night, nor can,
Must be forever a ruined man.
I hobble on--I'm out of wind--
And still they leave me far behind!
To find peace here in vain I come,
I get no more than I left at home.
Chorus of witches.
The witch's salve can never fail,
A rag will answer for a sail,
Any trough will do for a ship, that's tight;
He'll never fly who flies not to-night.
And when the highest peak we round,
Then lightly graze along the ground,
And cover the heath, where eye can see,
With the flower of witch-errantry.
Mephistopheles. What squeezing and pushing, what rustling and hustling!
What hissing and twirling, what chattering and bustling!
How it shines and sparkles and burns and stinks!
A true witch-element, methinks!
Keep close! or we are parted in two winks.
Where art thou?
Faust [in the distance].
What! carried off already?
Then I must use my house-right.--Steady!
Room! Squire Voland comes. Sweet people, Clear the ground!
Here, Doctor, grasp my arm! and, at a single bound;
Let us escape, while yet 'tis easy;
E'en for the like of me they're far too crazy.
See! yonder, something shines with quite peculiar glare,
And draws me to those bushes mazy.
Come! come! and let us slip in there.
All-contradicting sprite! To follow thee I'm fated.
But I must say, thy plan was very bright!
We seek the Brocken here, on the Walpurgis night,
Then hold ourselves, when here, completely isolated!
What motley flames light up the heather!
A merry club is met together,
In a small group one's not alone.
I'd rather be up there, I own!
See! curling smoke and flames right blue!
To see the Evil One they travel;
There many a riddle to unravel.
And tie up many another, too.
Let the great world there rave and riot,
We here will house ourselves in quiet.
The saying has been long well known:
In the great world one makes a small one of his own.
I see young witches there quite naked all,
And old ones who, more prudent, cover.
For my sake some flight things look over;
The fun is great, the trouble small.
I hear them tuning instruments! Curs'd jangle!
Well! one must learn with such things not to wrangle.
Come on! Come on! For so it needs must be,
Thou shalt at once be introduced by me.
And I new thanks from thee be earning.
That is no scanty space; what sayst thou, friend?
Just take a look! thou scarce canst see the end.
There, in a row, a hundred fires are burning;
They dance, chat, cook, drink, love; where can be found
Any thing better, now, the wide world round?
Wilt thou, as things are now in this condition,
Present thyself for devil, or magician?
I've been much used, indeed, to going incognito;
But then, on gala-day, one will his order show.
No garter makes my rank appear,
But then the cloven foot stands high in honor here.
Seest thou the snail? Look there! where she comes creeping yonder!
Had she already smelt the rat,
I should not very greatly wonder.
Disguise is useless now, depend on that.
Come, then! we will from fire to fire wander,
Thou shalt the wooer be and I the pander.
[To a party who sit round expiring embers.]
Old gentlemen, you scarce can hear the fiddle!
You'd gain more praise from me, ensconced there in the middle,
'Mongst that young rousing, tousing set.
One can, at home, enough retirement get.
Trust not the people's fickle favor!
However much thou mayst for them have done.
Nations, as well as women, ever,
Worship the rising, not the setting sun.
From the right path we've drifted far away,
The good old past my heart engages;
Those were the real golden ages,
When such as we held all the sway.
We were no simpletons, I trow,
And often did the thing we should not;
But all is turning topsy-turvy now,
And if we tried to stem the wave, we could not.
Who on the whole will read a work today,
Of moderate sense, with any pleasure?
And as regards the dear young people, they
Pert and precocious are beyond all measure.
Mephistopheles [who all at once appears very old].
The race is ripened for the judgment day:
So I, for the last time, climb the witch-mountain, thinking,
And, as my cask runs thick, I say,
The world, too, on its lees is sinking.
Good gentlemen, don't hurry by!
The opportunity's a rare one!
My stock is an uncommon fair one,
Please give it an attentive eye.
There's nothing in my shop, whatever,
But on the earth its mate is found;
That has not proved itself right clever
To deal mankind some fatal wound.
No dagger here, but blood has some time stained it;
No cup, that has not held some hot and poisonous juice,
And stung to death the throat that drained it;
No trinket, but did once a maid seduce;
No sword, but hath some tie of sacred honor riven,
Or haply from behind through foeman's neck been driven.
You're quite behind the times, I tell you, Aunty!
By-gones be by-gones! done is done!
Get us up something new and jaunty!
For new things now the people run.
To keep my wits I must endeavor!
Call this a fair! I swear, I never--!
Upward the billowy mass is moving;
You're shoved along and think, meanwhile, you're shoving.
What woman's that?
Mark her attentively.
Adam's first wife is she.
Beware of her one charm, those lovely tresses,
In which she shines preeminently fair.
When those soft meshes once a young man snare,
How hard 'twill be to escape he little guesses.
There sit an old one and a young together;
They've skipped it well along the heather!
No rest from that till night is through.
Another dance is up; come on! let us fall to.
Faust [dancing with the young one].
A lovely dream once came to me;
In it I saw an apple-tree;
Two beauteous apples beckoned there,
I climbed to pluck the fruit so fair.
The Fair one.
Apples you greatly seem to prize,
And did so even in Paradise.
I feel myself delighted much
That in my garden I have such.
Mephistopheles [with the old hag].
A dismal dream once came to me;
In it I saw a cloven tree,
It had a ------ but still,
I looked on it with right good-will.
With best respect I here salute
The noble knight of the cloven foot!
Let him hold a ------ near,
If a ------ he does not fear.
What's this ye undertake? Confounded crew!
Have we not giv'n you demonstration?
No spirit stands on legs in all creation,
And here you dance just as we mortals do!
The Fair one [dancing].
What does that fellow at our ball?
Eh! he must have a hand in all.
What others dance that he appraises.
Unless each step he criticizes,
The step as good as no step he will call.
But when we move ahead, that plagues him more than all.
If in a circle you would still keep turning,
As he himself in his old mill goes round,
He would be sure to call that sound!
And most so, if you went by his superior learning.
What, and you still are here! Unheard off obstinates!
Begone! We've cleared it up! You shallow pates!
The devilish pack from rules deliverance boasts.
We've grown so wise, and Tegel still sees ghosts.
How long I've toiled to sweep these cobwebs from the brain,
And yet--unheard of folly! all in vain.
The Fair one.
And yet on us the stupid bore still tries it!
I tell you spirits, to the face,
I give to spirit-tyranny no place,
My spirit cannot exercise it.
[They dance on.]
I can't succeed to-day, I know it;
Still, there's the journey, which I like to make,
And hope, before the final step I take,
To rid the world of devil and of poet.
You'll see him shortly sit into a puddle,
In that way his heart is reassured;
When on his rump the leeches well shall fuddle,
Of spirits and of spirit he'll be cured.
[To FAUST, who has left the dance.]
Why let the lovely girl slip through thy fingers,
Who to thy dance so sweetly sang?
Ah, right amidst her singing, sprang
A wee red mouse from her mouth and made me cower.
That's nothing wrong! You're in a dainty way;
Enough, the mouse at least wan't gray.
Who minds such thing in happy amorous hour?
Then saw I--
Mephisto, seest thou not
Yon pale, fair child afar, who stands so sad and lonely,
And moves so slowly from the spot,
Her feet seem locked, and she drags them only.
I must confess, she seems to me
To look like my own good Margery.
Leave that alone! The sight no health can bring.
it is a magic shape, an idol, no live thing.
To meet it never can be good!
Its haggard look congeals a mortal's blood,
And almost turns him into stone;
The story of Medusa thou hast known.
Yes, 'tis a dead one's eyes that stare upon me,
Eyes that no loving hand e'er closed;
That is the angel form of her who won me,
Tis the dear breast on which I once reposed.
'Tis sorcery all, thou fool, misled by passion's dreams!
For she to every one his own love seems.
What bliss! what woe! Methinks I never
My sight from that sweet form can sever.
Seeft thou, not thicker than a knife-blade's back,
A small red ribbon, fitting sweetly
The lovely neck it clasps so neatly?
I see the streak around her neck.
Her head beneath her arm, you'll next behold her;
Perseus has lopped it from her shoulder,--
But let thy crazy passion rest!
Come, climb with me yon hillock's breast,
Was e'er the Prater merrier then?
And if no sorcerer's charm is o'er me,
That is a theatre before me.
What's doing there?
They'll straight begin again.
A bran-new piece, the very last of seven;
To have so much, the fashion here thinks fit.
By Dilettantes it is given;
'Twas by a Dilettante writ.
Excuse me, sirs, I go to greet you;
I am the curtain-raising Dilettant.
When I upon the Blocksberg meet you,
That I approve; for there's your place, I grant.