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Faust; a Tragedy.  Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Chapter 3. STUDY-CHAMBER
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Enter FAUST with the POODLE.

I leave behind me field and meadow
Veiled in the dusk of holy night,
Whose ominous and awful shadow
Awakes the better soul to light.
To sleep are lulled the wild desires,
The hand of passion lies at rest;
The love of man the bosom fires,
The love of God stirs up the breast.

Be quiet, poodle! what worrisome fiend hath possest thee,
Nosing and snuffling so round the door?
Go behind the stove there and rest thee,
There's my best pillow--what wouldst thou more?
As, out on the mountain-paths, frisking and leaping,
Thou, to amuse us, hast done thy best,
So now in return lie still in my keeping,
A quiet, contented, and welcome guest.

When, in our narrow chamber, nightly,
The friendly lamp begins to burn,
Then in the bosom thought beams brightly,
Homeward the heart will then return.
Reason once more bids passion ponder,
Hope blooms again and smiles on man;
Back to life's rills he yearns to wander,
Ah! to the source where life began.

Stop growling, poodle! In the music Elysian
That laps my soul at this holy hour,
These bestial noises have jarring power.
We know that men will treat with derision
Whatever they cannot understand,
At goodness and truth and beauty's vision
Will shut their eyes and murmur and howl at it;
And must the dog, too, snarl and growl at it?

But ah, with the best will, I feel already,
No peace will well up in me, clear and steady.
But why must hope so soon deceive us,
And the dried-up stream in fever leave us?
For in this I have had a full probation.
And yet for this want a supply is provided,
To a higher than earth the soul is guided,
We are ready and yearn for revelation:
And where are its light and warmth so blent
As here in the New Testament?
I feel, this moment, a mighty yearning
To expound for once the ground text of all,
The venerable original
Into my own loved German honestly turning.
[He opens the volume, and applies himself to the task.]
"In the beginning was the Word." I read.
But here I stick! Who helps me to proceed?
The Word--so high I cannot--dare not, rate it,
I must, then, otherwise translate it,
If by the spirit I am rightly taught.
It reads: "In the beginning was the thought."
But study well this first line's lesson,
Nor let thy pen to error overhasten!
Is it the thought does all from time's first hour?
"In the beginning," read then, "was the power."
Yet even while I write it down, my finger
Is checked, a voice forbids me there to linger.
The spirit helps! At once I dare to read
And write: "In the beginning was the deed."

If I with thee must share my chamber,
Poodle, now, remember,
No more howling,
No more growling!
I had as lief a bull should bellow,
As have for a chum such a noisy fellow.
Stop that yell, now,
One of us must quit this cell now!
'Tis hard to retract hospitality,
But the door is open, thy way is free.
But what ails the creature?
Is this in the course of nature?
Is it real? or one of Fancy's shows?

How long and broad my poodle grows!
He rises from the ground;
That is no longer the form of a hound!
Heaven avert the curse from us!
He looks like a hippopotamus,
With his fiery eyes and the terrible white
Of his grinning teeth! oh what a fright
Have I brought with me into the house! Ah now,
No mystery art thou!
Methinks for such half hellish brood
The key of Solomon were good.

Spirits [in the passage].
Softly! a fellow is caught there!
Keep back, all of you, follow him not there!
Like the fox in the trap,
Mourns the old hell-lynx his mishap.
But give ye good heed!
This way hover, that way hover,
Over and over,
And he shall right soon be freed.
Help can you give him,
O do not leave him!
Many good turns he's done us,
Many a fortune won us.

Faust.
First, to encounter the creature
By the spell of the Four, says the teacher:
Salamander shall glisten,
Undina lapse lightly,
Sylph vanish brightly,
Kobold quick listen.

He to whom Nature
Shows not, as teacher,
Every force
And secret source,
Over the spirits
No power inherits.

Vanish in glowing
Flame, Salamander!
Inward, spirally flowing,
Gurgle, Undine!
Gleam in meteoric splendor,
Airy Queen!
Thy homely help render,
Incubus! Incubus!
Forth and end the charm for us!

No kingdom of Nature
Resides in the creature.
He lies there grinning--'tis clear, my charm
Has done the monster no mite of harm.
I'll try, for thy curing,
Stronger adjuring.

Art thou a jail-bird,
A runaway hell-bird?
This sign, then--adore it!
They tremble before it
All through the dark dwelling.

His hair is bristling--his body swelling.

Reprobate creature!
Canst read his nature?
The Uncreated,
Ineffably Holy,
With Deity mated,
Sin's victim lowly?

Driven behind the stove by my spells,
Like an elephant he swells;
He fills the whole room, so huge he's grown,
He waxes shadowy faster and faster.
Rise not up to the ceiling--down!
Lay thyself at the feet of thy master!
Thou seest, there's reason to dread my ire.
I'll scorch thee with the holy fire!
Wait not for the sight
Of the thrice-glowing light!
Wait not to feel the might
Of the potentest spell in all my treasure!

MEPHISTOPHELES.
[As the mist sinks, steps forth from behind the stove,
dressed as a travelling scholasticus.]
Why all this noise? What is your worship's pleasure?

Faust.
This was the poodle's essence then!
A travelling clark? Ha! ha! The casus is too funny.

Mephistopheles.
I bow to the most learned among men!
'Faith you did sweat me without ceremony.

Faust.
What is thy name?

Mephistopheles.
The question seems too small
For one who holds the word so very cheaply,
Who, far removed from shadows all,
For substances alone seeks deeply.

Faust.
With gentlemen like him in my presence,
The name is apt to express the essence,
Especially if, when you inquire,
You find it God of flies, Destroyer, Slanderer, Liar.
Well now, who art thou then?

Mephistopheles.
A portion of that power,
Which wills the bad and works the good at every hour.

Faust.
Beneath thy riddle-word what meaning lies?

Mephistopheles.
I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all that time creates,
He does well who annihilates!
Better, it ne'er had had beginning;
And so, then, all that you call sinning,
Destruction,--all you pronounce ill-meant,--
Is my original element.

Faust.
Thou call'st thyself a part, yet lookst complete to me.

Mephistopheles.
I speak the modest truth to thee.
A world of folly in one little soul,
Man loves to think himself a whole;
Part of the part am I, which once was all, the Gloom
That brought forth Light itself from out her mighty womb,
The upstart proud, that now with mother Night
Disputes her ancient rank and space and right,
Yet never shall prevail, since, do whate'er he will,
He cleaves, a slave, to bodies still;
From bodies flows, makes bodies fair to sight;
A body in his course can check him,
His doom, I therefore hope, will soon o'ertake him,
With bodies merged in nothingness and night.

Faust.
Ah, now I see thy high vocation!
In gross thou canst not harm creation,
And so in small hast now begun.

Mephistopheles.
And, truth to tell, e'en here, not much have done.
That which at nothing the gauntlet has hurled,
This, what's its name? this clumsy world,
So far as I have undertaken,
I have to own, remains unshaken
By wave, storm, earthquake, fiery brand.
Calm, after all, remain both sea and land.
And the damn'd living fluff, of man and beast the brood,
It laughs to scorn my utmost power.
I've buried myriads by the hour,
And still there circulates each hour a new, fresh blood.
It were enough to drive one to distraction!
Earth, water, air, in constant action,
Through moist and dry, through warm and cold,
Going forth in endless germination!
Had I not claimed of fire a reservation,
Not one thing I alone should hold.

Faust.
Thus, with the ever-working power
Of good dost thou in strife persist,
And in vain malice, to this hour,
Clenchest thy cold and devilish fist!
Go try some other occupation,
Singular son of Chaos, thou!

Mephistopheles.
We'll give the thing consideration,
When next we meet again! But now
Might I for once, with leave retire?

Faust.
Why thou shouldst ask I do not see.
Now that I know thee, when desire
Shall prompt thee, freely visit me.
Window and door give free admission.
At least there's left the chimney flue.

Mephistopheles.
Let me confess there's one small prohibition

Lies on thy threshold, 'gainst my walking through,
The wizard-foot--

Faust.
Does that delay thee?
The Pentagram disturbs thee? Now,
Come tell me, son of hell, I pray thee,
If that spell-binds thee, then how enteredst thou?
Thou shouldst proceed more circumspectly!

Mephistopheles.
Mark well! the figure is not drawn correctly;
One of the angles, 'tis the outer one,
Is somewhat open, dost perceive it?

Faust.
That was a lucky hit, believe it!
And I have caught thee then? Well done!
'Twas wholly chance--I'm quite astounded!

Mephistopheles.
The poodle took no heed,
as through the door he bounded;
The case looks differently now;
The devil can leave the house no-how.

Faust.
The window offers free emission.

Mephistopheles.
Devils and ghosts are bound by this condition:

The way they entered in, they must come out. Allow
In the first clause we're free, yet not so in the second.

Faust.
In hell itself, then, laws are reckoned?
Now that I like; so then, one may, in fact,
Conclude a binding compact with you gentry?

Mephistopheles.
Whatever promise on our books finds entry,
We strictly carry into act.
But hereby hangs a grave condition,
Of this we'll talk when next we meet;
But for the present I entreat
Most urgently your kind dismission.

Faust.
Do stay but just one moment longer, then,
Tell me good news and I'll release thee.

Mephistopheles.
Let me go now! I'll soon come back again,
Then may'st thou ask whate'er shall please thee.

Faust.
I laid no snare for thee, old chap!
Thou shouldst have watched and saved thy bacon.
Who has the devil in his trap
Must hold him fast, next time he'll not so soon be taken.

Mephistopheles.
Well, if it please thee, I'm content to stay
For company, on one condition,
That I, for thy amusement, may
To exercise my arts have free permission.

Faust.
I gladly grant it, if they be
Not disagreeable to me.

Mephistopheles.
Thy senses, friend, in this one hour
Shall grasp the world with clearer power
Than in a year's monotony.
The songs the tender spirits sing thee,
The lovely images they bring thee
Are not an idle magic play.
Thou shalt enjoy the daintiest savor,
Then feast thy taste on richest flavor,
Then thy charmed heart shall melt away.
Come, all are here, and all have been
Well trained and practised, now begin!

Spirits.
Vanish, ye gloomy
Vaulted abysses!
Tenderer, clearer,
Friendlier, nearer,
Ether, look through!
O that the darkling
Cloud-piles were riven!
Starlight is sparkling,
Purer is heaven,
Holier sunshine
Softens the blue.
Graces, adorning
Sons of the morning--
Shadowy wavings--
Float along over;
Yearnings and cravings
After them hover.
Garments ethereal,
Tresses aerial,
Float o'er the flowers,
Float o'er the bowers,
Where, with deep feeling,
Thoughtful and tender,
Lovers, embracing,
Life-vows are sealing.
Bowers on bowers!
Graceful and slender
Vines interlacing!
Purple and blushing,
Under the crushing
Wine-presses gushing,
Grape-blood, o'erflowing,
Down over gleaming
Precious stones streaming,
Leaves the bright glowing
Tops of the mountains,
Leaves the red fountains,
Widening and rushing,
Till it encloses
Green hills all flushing,
Laden with roses.
Happy ones, swarming,
Ply their swift pinions,
Glide through the charming
Airy dominions,
Sunward still fleering,
Onward, where peering
Far o'er the ocean,
Islets are dancing
With an entrancing,
Magical motion;
Hear them, in chorus,
Singing high o'er us;
Over the meadows
Flit the bright shadows;
Glad eyes are glancing,
Tiny feet dancing.
Up the high ridges
Some of them clamber,
Others are skimming
Sky-lakes of amber,
Others are swimming
Over the ocean;--
All are in motion,
Life-ward all yearning,
Longingly turning
To the far-burning
Star-light of bliss.

Mephistopheles.
He sleeps! Ye airy, tender youths, your numbers
Have sung him into sweetest slumbers!
You put me greatly in your debt by this.
Thou art not yet the man that shall hold fast the devil!
Still cheat his senses with your magic revel,
Drown him in dreams of endless youth;
But this charm-mountain on the sill to level,
I need, O rat, thy pointed tooth!
Nor need I conjure long, they're near me,
E'en now comes scampering one, who presently will hear me.

The sovereign lord of rats and mice,
Of flies and frogs and bugs and lice,
Commands thee to come forth this hour,
And gnaw this threshold with great power,
As he with oil the same shall smear--
Ha! with a skip e'en now thou'rt here!
But brisk to work! The point by which I'm cowered,
Is on the ledge, the farthest forward.
Yet one more bite, the deed is done.--
Now, Faust, until we meet again, dream on!

Faust.
[Waking.] Again has witchcraft triumphed o'er me?
Was it a ghostly show, so soon withdrawn?
I dream, the devil stands himself before me--wake, to find a poodle gone!