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Faust; a Tragedy.  Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Preface. PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN
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[THE LORD. THE HEAVENLY HOSTS afterward MEPHISTOPHELES.
The three archangels, RAPHAEL, GABRIEL, and MICHAEL, come forward.]

Raphael.
The sun, in ancient wise, is sounding,
With brother-spheres, in rival song;
And, his appointed journey rounding,
With thunderous movement rolls along.
His look, new strength to angels lending,
No creature fathom can for aye;
The lofty works, past comprehending,
Stand lordly, as on time's first day.

Gabriel.
And swift, with wondrous swiftness fleeting,
The pomp of earth turns round and round,
The glow of Eden alternating
With shuddering midnight's gloom profound;
Up o'er the rocks the foaming ocean
Heaves from its old, primeval bed,
And rocks and seas, with endless motion,
On in the spheral sweep are sped.

Michael.
And tempests roar, glad warfare waging,
From sea to land, from land to sea,
And bind round all, amidst their raging,
A chain of giant energy.
There, lurid desolation, blazing,
Foreruns the volleyed thunder's way:
Yet, Lord, thy messengers are praising
The mild procession of thy day.

All Three.
The sight new strength to angels lendeth,
For none thy being fathom may,
The works, no angel comprehendeth,
Stand lordly as on time's first day.

Mephistopheles.
Since, Lord, thou drawest near us once again,
And how we do, dost graciously inquire,
And to be pleased to see me once didst deign,
I too among thy household venture nigher.
Pardon, high words I cannot labor after,
Though the whole court should look on me with scorn;
My pathos certainly would stir thy laughter,
Hadst thou not laughter long since quite forsworn.
Of sun and worlds I've nought to tell worth mention,
How men torment themselves takes my attention.
The little God o' the world jogs on the same old way
And is as singular as on the world's first day.
A pity 'tis thou shouldst have given
The fool, to make him worse, a gleam of light from heaven;
He calls it reason, using it
To be more beast than ever beast was yet.
He seems to me, (your grace the word will pardon,)
Like a long-legg'd grasshopper in the garden,
Forever on the wing, and hops and sings
The same old song, as in the grass he springs;
Would he but stay there! no; he needs must muddle
His prying nose in every puddle.

The Lord.
Hast nothing for our edification?
Still thy old work of accusation?
Will things on earth be never right for thee?

Mephistopheles.
No, Lord! I find them still as bad as bad can be.
Poor souls! their miseries seem so much to please 'em,
I scarce can find it in my heart to tease 'em.

The Lord.
Knowest thou Faust?

Mephistopheles.
The Doctor?

The Lord.
Ay, my servant!

Mephistopheles.
He!
Forsooth! he serves you in a famous fashion;
No earthly meat or drink can feed his passion;
Its grasping greed no space can measure;
Half-conscious and half-crazed, he finds no rest;
The fairest stars of heaven must swell his treasure.
Each highest joy of earth must yield its zest,
Not all the world--the boundless azure--
Can fill the void within his craving breast.

The Lord.
He serves me somewhat darkly, now, I grant,
Yet will he soon attain the light of reason.
Sees not the gardener, in the green young plant,
That bloom and fruit shall deck its coming season?

Mephistopheles.
What will you bet? You'll surely lose your wager!
If you will give me leave henceforth,
To lead him softly on, like an old stager.

The Lord.
So long as he shall live on earth,
Do with him all that you desire.
Man errs and staggers from his birth.

Mephistopheles.
Thank you; I never did aspire
To have with dead folk much transaction.
In full fresh cheeks I take the greatest satisfaction.
A corpse will never find me in the house;
I love to play as puss does with the mouse.

The Lord.
All right, I give thee full permission!
Draw down this spirit from its source,
And, canst thou catch him, to perdition
Carry him with thee in thy course,
But stand abashed, if thou must needs confess,
That a good man, though passion blur his vision,
Has of the right way still a consciousness.

Mephistopheles.
Good! but I'll make it a short story.
About my wager I'm by no means sorry.
And if I gain my end with glory
Allow me to exult from a full breast.
Dust shall he eat and that with zest,
Like my old aunt, the snake, whose fame is hoary.

The Lord.
Well, go and come, and make thy trial;
The like of thee I never yet did hate.
Of all the spirits of denial
The scamp is he I best can tolerate.
Man is too prone, at best, to seek the way that's easy,
He soon grows fond of unconditioned rest;
And therefore such a comrade suits him best,
Who spurs and works, true devil, always busy.
But you, true sons of God, in growing measure,
Enjoy rich beauty's living stores of pleasure!
The Word divine that lives and works for aye,
Fold you in boundless love's embrace alluring,
And what in floating vision glides away,
That seize ye and make fast with thoughts enduring.

[Heaven closes, the archangels disperse.]

Mephistopheles. [Alone.]
I like at times to exchange with him a word,
And take care not to break with him. 'Tis civil
In the old fellow and so great a Lord
To talk so kindly with the very devil.