In a narrow high-arched Gothic room,
FAUST sitting uneasy at his desk.
Have now, alas! quite studied through
Philosophy and Medicine,
And Law, and ah! Theology, too,
With hot desire the truth to win!
And here, at last, I stand, poor fool!
As wise as when I entered school;
Am called Magister, Doctor, indeed,--
Ten livelong years cease not to lead
Backward and forward, to and fro,
My scholars by the nose--and lo!
Just nothing, I see, is the sum of our learning,
To the very core of my heart 'tis burning.
'Tis true I'm more clever than all the foplings,
Doctors, Magisters, Authors, and Popelings;
Am plagued by no scruple, nor doubt, nor cavil,
Nor lingering fear of hell or devil--
What then? all pleasure is fled forever;
To know one thing I vainly endeavor,
There's nothing wherein one fellow-creature
Could be mended or bettered with me for a teacher.
And then, too, nor goods nor gold have I,
Nor fame nor worldly dignity,--
A condition no dog could longer live in!
And so to magic my soul I've given,
If, haply, by spirits' mouth and might,
Some mysteries may not be brought to light;
That to teach, no longer may be my lot,
With bitter sweat, what I need to be taught;
That I may know what the world contains
In its innermost heart and finer veins,
See all its energies and seeds
And deal no more in words but in deeds.
O full, round Moon, didst thou but thine
For the last time on this woe of mine!
Thou whom so many a midnight I
Have watched, at this desk, come up the sky:
O'er books and papers, a dreary pile,
Then, mournful friend! uprose thy smile!
Oh that I might on the mountain-height,
Walk in the noon of thy blessed light,
Round mountain-caverns with spirits hover,
Float in thy gleamings the meadows over,
And freed from the fumes of a lore-crammed brain,
Bathe in thy dew and be well again!
Woe! and these walls still prison me?
Dull, dismal hole! my curse on thee!
Where heaven's own light, with its blessed beams,
Through painted panes all sickly gleams!
Hemmed in by these old book-piles tall,
Which, gnawed by worms and deep in must,
Rise to the roof against a wall
Of smoke-stained paper, thick with dust;
'Mid glasses, boxes, where eye can see,
Filled with old, obsolete instruments,
Stuffed with old heirlooms of implements--
That is thy world! There's a world for thee!
And still dost ask what stifles so
The fluttering heart within thy breast?
By what inexplicable woe
The springs of life are all oppressed?
Instead of living nature, where
God made and planted men, his sons,
Through smoke and mould, around thee stare
Grim skeletons and dead men's bones.
Up! Fly! Far out into the land!
And this mysterious volume, see!
By Nostradamus's own hand,
Is it not guide enough for thee?
Then shalt thou thread the starry skies,
And, taught by nature in her walks,
The spirit's might shall o'er thee rise,
As ghost to ghost familiar talks.
Vain hope that mere dry sense should here
Explain the holy signs to thee.
I feel you, spirits, hovering near;
Oh, if you hear me, answer me!
[He opens the book and beholds the sign of the Macrocosm.]
Ha! as I gaze, what ecstasy is this,
In one full tide through all my senses flowing!
I feel a new-born life, a holy bliss
Through nerves and veins mysteriously glowing.
Was it a God who wrote each sign?
Which, all my inner tumult stilling,
And this poor heart with rapture filling,
Reveals to me, by force divine,
Great Nature's energies around and through me thrilling?
Am I a God? It grows so bright to me!
Each character on which my eye reposes
Nature in act before my soul discloses.
The sage's word was truth, at last I see:
"The spirit-world, unbarred, is waiting;
Thy sense is locked, thy heart is dead!
Up, scholar, bathe, unhesitating,
The earthly breast in morning-red!"
[He contemplates the sign.]
How all one whole harmonious weaves,
Each in the other works and lives!
See heavenly powers ascending and descending,
The golden buckets, one long line, extending!
See them with bliss-exhaling pinions winging
Their way from heaven through earth--their singing
Harmonious through the universe is ringing!
Majestic show! but ah! a show alone!
Nature! where find I thee, immense, unknown?
Where you, ye breasts? Ye founts all life sustaining,
On which hang heaven and earth, and where
Men's withered hearts their waste repair--
Ye gush, ye nurse, and I must sit complaining?
[He opens reluctantly the book and sees the sign of the earth-spirit.]
How differently works on me this sign!
Thou, spirit of the earth, art to me nearer;
I feel my powers already higher, clearer,
I glow already as with new-pressed wine,
I feel the mood to brave life's ceaseless clashing,
To bear its frowning woes, its raptures flashing,
To mingle in the tempest's dashing,
And not to tremble in the shipwreck's crashing;
Clouds gather o'er my head--
Them moon conceals her light--
The lamp goes out!
It smokes!--Red rays are darting, quivering
Around my head--comes down
A horror from the vaulted roof
And seizes me!
Spirit that I invoked, thou near me art,
Ha! what a tearing in my heart!
Upheaved like an ocean
My senses toss with strange emotion!
I feel my heart to thee entirely given!
Thou must! and though the price were life--were heaven!
[He seizes the book and pronounces mysteriously the sign of the spirit.
A ruddy flame darts out, the spirit appears in the flame.]
Who calls upon me?
Faust. [Turning away.]
Long have I felt the mighty action,
Upon my sphere, of thy attraction,
Away, intolerable sprite!
Thou breath'st a panting supplication
To hear my voice, my face to see;
Thy mighty prayer prevails on me,
I come!--what miserable agitation
Seizes this demigod! Where is the cry of thought?
Where is the breast? that in itself a world begot,
And bore and cherished, that with joy did tremble
And fondly dream us spirits to resemble.
Where art thou, Faust? whose voice rang through my ear,
Whose mighty yearning drew me from my sphere?
Is this thing thou? that, blasted by my breath,
Through all life's windings shuddereth,
A shrinking, cringing, writhing worm!
Thee, flame-born creature, shall I fear?
'Tis I, 'tis Faust, behold thy peer!
In life's tide currents, in action's storm,
Up and down, like a wave,
Like the wind I sweep!
Cradle and grave--
A limitless deep---
An endless weaving
To and fro,
A restless heaving
Of life and glow,--
So shape I, on Destiny's thundering loom,
The Godhead's live garment, eternal in bloom.
Spirit that sweep'st the world from end to end,
How near, this hour, I feel myself to thee!
Thou'rt like the spirit thou canst comprehend,
Not me! [Vanishes.]
[Collapsing.] Not thee?
I, image of the Godhead,
And no peer for thee!
O Death! I know it!--'tis my Famulus--
Good-bye, ye dreams of bliss Elysian!
Shame! that so many a glowing vision
This dried-up sneak must scatter thus!
[WAGNER, in sleeping-gown and night-cap, a lamp in his hand.
FAUST turns round with an annoyed look.]
Excuse me! you're engaged in declamation;
'Twas a Greek tragedy no doubt you read?
I in this art should like initiation,
For nowadays it stands one well instead.
I've often heard them boast, a preacher
Might profit with a player for his teacher.
Yes, when the preacher is a player, granted:
As often happens in our modern ways.
Ah! when one with such love of study's haunted,
And scarcely sees the world on holidays,
And takes a spy-glass, as it were, to read it,
How can one by persuasion hope to lead it?
What you don't feel, you'll never catch by hunting,
It must gush out spontaneous from the soul,
And with a fresh delight enchanting
The hearts of all that hear control.
Sit there forever! Thaw your glue-pot,--
Blow up your ash-heap to a flame, and brew,
With a dull fire, in your stew-pot,
Of other men's leavings a ragout!
Children and apes will gaze delighted,
If their critiques can pleasure impart;
But never a heart will be ignited,
Comes not the spark from the speaker's heart.
Delivery makes the orator's success;
There I'm still far behindhand, I confess.
Seek honest gains, without pretence!
Be not a cymbal-tinkling fool!
Sound understanding and good sense
Speak out with little art or rule;
And when you've something earnest to utter,
Why hunt for words in such a flutter?
Yes, your discourses, that are so refined'
In which humanity's poor shreds you frizzle,
Are unrefreshing as the mist and wind
That through the withered leaves of autumn whistle!
Ah God! well, art is long!
And life is short and fleeting.
What headaches have I felt and what heart-beating,
When critical desire was strong.
How hard it is the ways and means to master
By which one gains each fountain-head!
And ere one yet has half the journey sped,
The poor fool dies--O sad disaster!
Is parchment, then, the holy well-spring, thinkest,
A draught from which thy thirst forever slakes?
No quickening element thou drinkest,
Till up from thine own soul the fountain breaks.
Excuse me! in these olden pages
We catch the spirit of the by-gone ages,
We see what wisest men before our day have thought,
And to what glorious heights we their bequests have brought.
O yes, we've reached the stars at last!
My friend, it is to us,--the buried past,--
A book with seven seals protected;
Your spirit of the times is, then,
At bottom, your own spirit, gentlemen,
In which the times are seen reflected.
And often such a mess that none can bear it;
At the first sight of it they run away.
A dust-bin and a lumber-garret,
At most a mock-heroic play
With fine, pragmatic maxims teeming,
The mouths of puppets well-beseeming!
But then the world! the heart and mind of man!
To know of these who would not pay attention?
To know them, yes, as weaklings can!
Who dares the child's true name outright to mention?
The few who any thing thereof have learned,
Who out of their heart's fulness needs must gabble,
And show their thoughts and feelings to the rabble,
Have evermore been crucified and burned.
I pray you, friend, 'tis wearing into night,
Let us adjourn here, for the present.
I had been glad to stay till morning light,
This learned talk with you has been so pleasant,
But the first day of Easter comes to-morrow.
And then an hour or two I'll borrow.
With zeal have I applied myself to learning,
True, I know much, yet to know all am burning.
[Alone.] See how in his head only, hope still lingers,
Who evermore to empty rubbish clings,
With greedy hand grubs after precious things,
And leaps for joy when some poor worm he fingers!
That such a human voice should dare intrude,
Where all was full of ghostly tones and features!
Yet ah! this once, my gratitude
Is due to thee, most wretched of earth's creatures.
Thou snatchedst me from the despairing state
In which my senses, well nigh crazed, were sunken.
The apparition was so giant-great,
That to a very dwarf my soul had shrunken.
I, godlike, who in fancy saw but now
Eternal truth's fair glass in wondrous nearness,
Rejoiced in heavenly radiance and clearness,
Leaving the earthly man below;
I, more than cherub, whose free force
Dreamed, through the veins of nature penetrating,
To taste the life of Gods, like them creating,
Behold me this presumption expiating!
A word of thunder sweeps me from my course.
Myself with thee no longer dare I measure;
Had I the power to draw thee down at pleasure;
To hold thee here I still had not the force.
Oh, in that blest, ecstatic hour,
I felt myself so small, so great;
Thou drovest me with cruel power
Back upon man's uncertain fate
What shall I do? what slum, thus lonely?
That impulse must I, then, obey?
Alas! our very deeds, and not our sufferings only,
How do they hem and choke life's way!
To all the mind conceives of great and glorious
A strange and baser mixture still adheres;
Striving for earthly good are we victorious?
A dream and cheat the better part appears.
The feelings that could once such noble life inspire
Are quenched and trampled out in passion's mire.
Where Fantasy, erewhile, with daring flight
Out to the infinite her wings expanded,
A little space can now suffice her quite,
When hope on hope time's gulf has wrecked and stranded.
Care builds her nest far down the heart's recesses,
There broods o'er dark, untold distresses,
Restless she sits, and scares thy joy and peace away;
She puts on some new mask with each new day,
Herself as house and home, as wife and child presenting,
As fire and water, bane and blade;
What never hits makes thee afraid,
And what is never lost she keeps thee still lamenting.
Not like the Gods am I! Too deep that truth is thrust!
But like the worm, that wriggles through the dust;
Who, as along the dust for food he feels,
Is crushed and buried by the traveller's heels.
Is it not dust that makes this lofty wall
Groan with its hundred shelves and cases;
The rubbish and the thousand trifles all
That crowd these dark, moth-peopled places?
Here shall my craving heart find rest?
Must I perchance a thousand books turn over,
To find that men are everywhere distrest,
And here and there one happy one discover?
Why grin'st thou down upon me, hollow skull?
But that thy brain, like mine, once trembling, hoping,
Sought the light day, yet ever sorrowful,
Burned for the truth in vain, in twilight groping?
Ye, instruments, of course, are mocking me;
Its wheels, cogs, bands, and barrels each one praises.
I waited at the door; you were the key;
Your ward is nicely turned, and yet no bolt it raises.
Unlifted in the broadest day,
Doth Nature's veil from prying eyes defend her,
And what (he chooses not before thee to display,
Not all thy screws and levers can force her to surrender.
Old trumpery! not that I e'er used thee, but
Because my father used thee, hang'st thou o'er me,
Old scroll! thou hast been stained with smoke and smut
Since, on this desk, the lamp first dimly gleamed before me.
Better have squandered, far, I now can clearly see,
My little all, than melt beneath it, in this Tophet!
That which thy fathers have bequeathed to thee,
Earn and become possessor of it!
What profits not a weary load will be;
What it brings forth alone can yield the moment profit.
Why do I gaze as if a spell had bound me
Up yonder? Is that flask a magnet to the eyes?
What lovely light, so sudden, blooms around me?
As when in nightly woods we hail the full-moon-rise.
I greet thee, rarest phial, precious potion!
As now I take thee down with deep devotion,
In thee I venerate man's wit and art.
Quintessence of all soporific flowers,
Extract of all the finest deadly powers,
Thy favor to thy master now impart!
I look on thee, the sight my pain appeases,
I handle thee, the strife of longing ceases,
The flood-tide of the spirit ebbs away.
Far out to sea I'm drawn, sweet voices listening,
The glassy waters at my feet are glistening,
To new shores beckons me a new-born day.
A fiery chariot floats, on airy pinions,
To where I sit! Willing, it beareth me,
On a new path, through ether's blue dominions,
To untried spheres of pure activity.
This lofty life, this bliss elysian,
Worm that thou waft erewhile, deservest thou?
Ay, on this earthly sun, this charming vision,
Turn thy back resolutely now!
Boldly draw near and rend the gates asunder,
By which each cowering mortal gladly steals.
Now is the time to show by deeds of wonder
That manly greatness not to godlike glory yields;
Before that gloomy pit to stand, unfearing,
Where Fantasy self-damned in its own torment lies,
Still onward to that pass-way steering,
Around whose narrow mouth hell-flames forever rise;
Calmly to dare the step, serene, unshrinking,
Though into nothingness the hour should see thee sinking.
Now, then, come down from thy old case, I bid thee,
Where thou, forgotten, many a year hast hid thee,
Into thy master's hand, pure, crystal glass!
The joy-feasts of the fathers thou hast brightened,
The hearts of gravest guests were lightened,
When, pledged, from hand to hand they saw thee pass.
Thy sides, with many a curious type bedight,
Which each, as with one draught he quaffed the liquor
Must read in rhyme from off the wondrous beaker,
Remind me, ah! of many a youthful night.
I shall not hand thee now to any neighbor,
Not now to show my wit upon thy carvings labor;
Here is a juice of quick-intoxicating might.
The rich brown flood adown thy sides is streaming,
With my own choice ingredients teeming;
Be this last draught, as morning now is gleaming,
Drained as a lofty pledge to greet the festal light!
[He puts the goblet to his lips.
Ringing of bells and choral song.
Chorus of Angels.
Christ hath arisen!
Joy to humanity!
No more shall vanity,
Death and inanity
Hold thee in prison!
What hum of music, what a radiant tone,
Thrills through me, from my lips the goblet stealing!
Ye murmuring bells, already make ye known
The Easter morn's first hour, with solemn pealing?
Sing you, ye choirs, e'en now, the glad, consoling song,
That once, from angel-lips, through gloom sepulchral rung,
A new immortal covenant sealing?
Chorus of Women.
Spices we carried,
Laid them upon his breast;
Him whom we loved the best;
Cleanly to bind him
Took we the fondest care,
Ah! and we find him
Now no more there.
Chorus of Angels.
Christ hath ascended!
Reign in benignity!
Pain and indignity,
Scorn and malignity,
Their work have ended.
Why seek ye me in dust, forlorn,
Ye heavenly tones, with soft enchanting?
Go, greet pure-hearted men this holy morn!
Your message well I hear, but faith to me is wanting;
Wonder, its dearest child, of Faith is born.
To yonder spheres I dare no more aspire,
Whence the sweet tidings downward float;
And yet, from childhood heard, the old, familiar note
Calls back e'en now to life my warm desire.
Ah! once how sweetly fell on me the kiss
Of heavenly love in the still Sabbath stealing!
Prophetically rang the bells with solemn pealing;
A prayer was then the ecstasy of bliss;
A blessed and mysterious yearning
Drew me to roam through meadows, woods, and skies;
And, midst a thousand tear-drops burning,
I felt a world within me rise
That strain, oh, how it speaks youth's gleesome plays and feelings,
Joys of spring-festivals long past;
Remembrance holds me now, with childhood's fond appealings,
Back from the fatal step, the last.
Sound on, ye heavenly strains, that bliss restore me!
Tears gush, once more the spell of earth is o'er me
Chorus of Disciples.
Has the grave's lowly one
Sits he, God's Holy One,
High-throned and glorious?
He, in this blest new birth,
Rapture creative knows;
Ah! on the breast of earth
Taste we still nature's woes.
Left here to languish
Lone in a world like this,
Fills us with anguish
Master, thy bliss!
Chorus of Angels.
Christ has arisen
Out of corruption's gloom.
Break from your prison,
Burst every tomb!
Livingly owning him,
Lovingly throning him,
Bearing his messages,
Sharing his promises,
Find ye your master near,
Find ye him here!