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Faust; a Tragedy.  Johann Wolfgang Goethe
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A knock? Walk in! Who comes again to tease me?

'Tis I.

Come in!

Must say it thrice, to please me.

Come in then!

That I like to hear.
We shall, I hope, bear with each other;
For to dispel thy crotchets, brother,
As a young lord, I now appear,
In scarlet dress, trimmed with gold lacing,
A stiff silk cloak with stylish facing,
A tall cock's feather in my hat,
A long, sharp rapier to defend me,
And I advise thee, short and flat,
In the same costume to attend me;
If thou wouldst, unembarrassed, see
What sort of thing this life may be.

In every dress I well may feel the sore
Of this low earth-life's melancholy.
I am too old to live for folly,
Too young, to wish for nothing more.
Am I content with all creation?
Renounce! renounce! Renunciation--
Such is the everlasting song
That in the ears of all men rings,
Which every hour, our whole life long,
With brazen accents hoarsely sings.
With terror I behold each morning's light,
With bitter tears my eyes are filling,
To see the day that shall not in its flight
Fulfil for me one wish, not one, but killing
Every presentiment of zest
With wayward skepticism, chases
The fair creations from my breast
With all life's thousand cold grimaces.
And when at night I stretch me on my bed
And darkness spreads its shadow o'er me;
No rest comes then anigh my weary head,
Wild dreams and spectres dance before me.
The God who dwells within my soul
Can heave its depths at any hour;
Who holds o'er all my faculties control
Has o'er the outer world no power;
Existence lies a load upon my breast,
Life is a curse and death a long'd-for rest.

And yet death never proves a wholly welcome guest.

O blest! for whom, when victory's joy fire blazes,
Death round his brow the bloody laurel windeth,
Whom, weary with the dance's mazes,
He on a maiden's bosom findeth.
O that, beneath the exalted spirit's power,
I had expired, in rapture sinking!

And yet I knew one, in a midnight hour,
Who a brown liquid shrank from drinking.

Eaves-dropping seems a favorite game with thee.

Omniscient am I not; yet much is known to me.

Since that sweet tone, with fond appealing,
Drew me from witchcraft's horrid maze,
And woke the lingering childlike feeling
With harmonies of happier days;
My curse on all the mock-creations
That weave their spell around the soul,
And bind it with their incantations
And orgies to this wretched hole!
Accursed be the high opinion
Hugged by the self-exalting mind!
Accursed all the dream-dominion
That makes the dazzled senses blind!
Curs'd be each vision that befools us,
Of fame, outlasting earthly life!
Curs'd all that, as possession, rules us,
As house and barn, as child and wife!
Accurs'd be mammon, when with treasure
He fires our hearts for deeds of might,
When, for a dream of idle pleasure,
He makes our pillow smooth and light!
Curs'd be the grape-vine's balsam-juices!
On love's high grace my curses fall!
On faith! On hope that man seduces,
On patience last, not least, of all!

Choir of spirits.
[Invisible.] Woe! Woe!
Thou hast ground it to dust,
The beautiful world,
With mighty fist;
To ruins 'tis hurled;
A demi-god's blow hath done it!
A moment we look upon it,
Then carry (sad duty!)
The fragments over into nothingness,
With tears unavailing
All the departed beauty.
Than all sons of men,
Build it again,
Build it up in thy breast anew!
A fresh career pursue,
Before thee
A clearer view,
And, from the Empyrйan,
A new-born Paean
Shall greet thee, too!

Be pleased to admire
My juvenile choir!
Hear how they counsel in manly measure
Action and pleasure!
Out into life,
Its joy and strife,
Away from this lonely hole,
Where senses and soul
Rot in stagnation,
Calls thee their high invitation.

Give over toying with thy sorrow
Which like a vulture feeds upon thy heart;
Thou shalt, in the worst company, to-morrow
Feel that with men a man thou art.
Yet I do not exactly intend
Among the canaille to plant thee.
I'm none of your magnates, I grant thee;
Yet if thou art willing, my friend,
Through life to jog on beside me,
Thy pleasure in all things shall guide me,
To thee will I bind me,
A friend thou shalt find me,
And, e'en to the grave,
Shalt make me thy servant, make me thy slave!

And in return what service shall I render?

There's ample grace--no hurry, not the least.

No, no, the devil is an egotist,
And does not easily "for God's sake" tender
That which a neighbor may assist.
Speak plainly the conditions, come!
'Tis dangerous taking such a servant home.

I to thy service here agree to bind me,
To run and never rest at call of thee;
When over yonder thou shalt find me,
Then thou shalt do as much for me.

I care not much what's over yonder:
When thou hast knocked this world asunder,
Come if it will the other may!
Up from this earth my pleasures all are streaming,
Down on my woes this earthly sun is beaming;
Let me but end this fit of dreaming,
Then come what will, I've nought to say.
I'll hear no more of barren wonder
If in that world they hate and love,
And whether in that future yonder
There's a Below and an Above.

Mephistopheles. In such a mood thou well mayst venture.
Bind thyself to me, and by this indenture
Thou shalt enjoy with relish keen
Fruits of my arts that man had never seen.

And what hast thou to give, poor devil?
Was e'er a human mind, upon its lofty level,
Conceived of by the like of thee?
Yet hast thou food that brings satiety,
Not satisfaction; gold that reftlessly,
Like quicksilver, melts down within
The hands; a game in which men never win;
A maid that, hanging on my breast,
Ogles a neighbor with her wanton glances;
Of fame the glorious godlike zest,
That like a short-lived meteor dances--
Show me the fruit that, ere it's plucked, will rot,
And trees from which new green is daily peeping!

Such a requirement scares me not;
Such treasures have I in my keeping.
Yet shall there also come a time, good friend,
When we may feast on good things at our leisure.

If e'er I lie content upon a lounge of pleasure--
Then let there be of me an end!
When thou with flattery canst cajole me,
Till I self-satisfied shall be,
When thou with pleasure canst befool me,
Be that the last of days for me!
I lay the wager!


And heartily!
Whenever to the passing hour
I cry: O stay! thou art so fair!
To chain me down I give thee power
To the black bottom of despair!
Then let my knell no longer linger,
Then from my service thou art free,
Fall from the clock the index-finger,
Be time all over, then, for me!

Think well, for we shall hold you to the letter.

Full right to that just now I gave;
I spoke not as an idle braggart better.
Henceforward I remain a slave,
What care I who puts on the setter?

I shall this very day, at Doctor's-feast,
My bounden service duly pay thee.
But one thing!--For insurance' sake, I pray thee,
Grant me a line or two, at least.

Pedant! will writing gain thy faith, alone?
In all thy life, no man, nor man's word hast thou known?
Is't not enough that I the fatal word
That passes on my future days have spoken?
The world-stream raves and rushes (hast not heard?)
And shall a promise hold, unbroken?
Yet this delusion haunts the human breast,
Who from his soul its roots would sever?
Thrice happy in whose heart pure truth finds rest.
No sacrifice shall he repent of ever!
But from a formal, written, sealed attest,
As from a spectre, all men shrink forever.
The word and spirit die together,
Killed by the sight of wax and leather.
What wilt thou, evil sprite, from me?
Brass, marble, parchment, paper, shall it be?
Shall I subscribe with pencil, pen or graver?
Among them all thy choice is free.

This rhetoric of thine to me
Hath a somewhat bombastic savor.
Any small scrap of paper's good.
Thy signature will need a single drop of blood.

If this will satisfy thy mood,
I will consent thy whim to favor.

Mephistopheles. Quite a peculiar juice is blood.

Fear not that I shall break this bond; O, never!
My promise, rightly understood,
Fulfils my nature's whole endeavor.
I've puffed myself too high, I see;
To thy rank only I belong.
The Lord of Spirits scorneth me,
Nature, shut up, resents the wrong.
The thread of thought is snapt asunder,
All science to me is a stupid blunder.
Let us in sensuality's deep
Quench the passions within us blazing!
And, the veil of sorcery raising,
Wake each miracle from its long sleep!
Plunge we into the billowy dance,
The rush and roll of time and chance!
Then may pleasure and distress,
Disappointment and success,
Follow each other as fast as they will;
Man's restless activity flourishes still.

No bound or goal is set to you;
Where'er you like to wander sipping,
And catch a tit-bit in your skipping,
Eschew all coyness, just fall to,
And may you find a good digestion!

Now, once for all, pleasure is not the question.
I'm sworn to passion's whirl, the agony of bliss,
The lover's hate, the sweets of bitterness.
My heart, no more by pride of science driven,
Shall open wide to let each sorrow enter,
And all the good that to man's race is given,
I will enjoy it to my being's centre,
Through life's whole range, upward and downward sweeping,
Their weal and woe upon my bosom heaping,
Thus in my single self their selves all comprehending
And with them in a common shipwreck ending.

O trust me, who since first I fell from heaven,
Have chewed this tough meat many a thousand year,
No man digests the ancient leaven,
No mortal, from the cradle to the bier.
Trust one of us--the whole creation
To God alone belongs by right;
He has in endless day his habitation,
Us He hath made for utter night,
You for alternate dark and light.

But then I will!

Now that's worth hearing!
But one thing haunts me, the old song,
That time is short and art is long.
You need some slight advice, I'm fearing.
Take to you one of the poet-feather,
Let the gentleman's thought, far-sweeping,
Bring all the noblest traits together,
On your one crown their honors heaping,
The lion's mood
The stag's rapidity,
The fiery blood of Italy,
The Northman's hardihood.
Bid him teach thee the art of combining
Greatness of soul with fly designing,
And how, with warm and youthful passion,
To fall in love by plan and fashion.
Should like, myself, to come across 'm,
Would name him Mr. Microcosm.

What am I then? if that for which my heart
Yearns with invincible endeavor,
The crown of man, must hang unreached forever?

Thou art at last--just what thou art.
Pile perukes on thy head whose curls cannot be counted,
On yard-high buskins let thy feet be mounted,
Still thou art only what thou art.

Yes, I have vainly, let me not deny it,
Of human learning ransacked all the stores,
And when, at last, I set me down in quiet,
There gushes up within no new-born force;
I am not by a hair's-breadth higher,
Am to the Infinite no nigher.

My worthy sir, you see the matter
As people generally see;
But we must learn to take things better,
Before life pleasures wholly flee.
The deuce! thy head and all that's in it,
Hands, feet and ------ are thine;
What I enjoy with zest each minute,
Is surely not the less mine?
If I've six horses in my span,
Is it not mine, their every power?
I fly along as an undoubted man,
On four and twenty legs the road I scour.
Cheer up, then! let all thinking be,
And out into the world with me!
I tell thee, friend, a speculating churl
Is like a beast, some evil spirit chases
Along a barren heath in one perpetual whirl,
While round about lie fair, green pasturing places.

But how shall we begin?

We sally forth e'en now.
What martyrdom endurest thou!
What kind of life is this to be living,
Ennui to thyself and youngsters giving?
Let Neighbor Belly that way go!
To stay here threshing straw why car'st thou?
The best that thou canst think and know
To tell the boys not for the whole world dar'st thou.
E'en now I hear one in the entry.

I have no heart the youth to see.

The poor boy waits there like a sentry,
He shall not want a word from me.
Come, give me, now, thy robe and bonnet;
This mask will suit me charmingly.
[He puts them on.]
Now for my wit--rely upon it!
'Twill take but fifteen minutes, I am sure.
Meanwhile prepare thyself to make the pleasant tour!

[Exit FAUST.]

Mephistopheles [in FAUST'S long gown].
Only despise all human wit and lore,
The highest flights that thought can soar--
Let but the lying spirit blind thee,
And with his spells of witchcraft bind thee,
Into my snare the victim creeps.--
To him has destiny a spirit given,
That unrestrainedly still onward sweeps,
To scale the skies long since hath striven,
And all earth's pleasures overleaps.
He shall through life's wild scenes be driven,
And through its flat unmeaningness,
I'll make him writhe and stare and stiffen,
And midst all sensual excess,
His fevered lips, with thirst all parched and riven,
Insatiably shall haunt refreshment's brink;
And had he not, himself, his soul to Satan given,
Still must he to perdition sink!

[Enter A SCHOLAR.]

I have but lately left my home,
And with profound submission come,
To hold with one some conversation
Whom all men name with veneration.

Mephistopheles. Your courtesy greatly flatters me
A man like many another you see.
Have you made any applications elsewhere?

Let me, I pray, your teachings share!
With all good dispositions I come,
A fresh young blood and money some;
My mother would hardly hear of my going;
But I long to learn here something worth knowing.

You've come to the very place for it, then.

Sincerely, could wish I were off again:
My soul already has grown quite weary
Of walls and halls, so dark and dreary,
The narrowness oppresses me.
One sees no green thing, not a tree.
On the lecture-seats, I know not what ails me,
Sight, hearing, thinking, every thing fails me.

'Tis all in use, we daily see.
The child takes not the mother's breast
In the first instance willingly,
But soon it feeds itself with zest.
So you at wisdom's breast your pleasure
Will daily find in growing measure.

I'll hang upon her neck, a raptured wooer,
But only tell me, who shall lead me to her?

Ere you go further, give your views
As to which faculty you choose?

To be right learn'd I've long desired,
And of the natural world aspired
To have a perfect comprehension
In this and in the heavenly sphere.

I see you're on the right track here;
But you'll have to give undivided attention.

My heart and soul in the work'll be found;
Only, of course, it would give me pleasure,
When summer holidays come round,
To have for amusement a little leisure.

Use well the precious time, it flips away so,
Yet method gains you time, if I may say so.
I counsel you therefore, my worthy friend,
The logical leisures first to attend.
Then is your mind well trained and cased
In Spanish boots, all snugly laced,
So that henceforth it can creep ahead
On the road of thought with a cautious tread.
And not at random shoot and strike,
Zig-zagging Jack-o'-lanthorn-like.
Then will you many a day be taught
That what you once to do had thought
Like eating and drinking, extempore,
Requires the rule of one, two, three.
It is, to be sure, with the fabric of thought,
As with the chef d'њuvre by weavers wrought,
Where a thousand threads one treadle plies,
Backward and forward the shuttles keep going,
Invisibly the threads keep flowing,
One stroke a thousand fastenings ties:
Comes the philosopher and cries:
I'll show you, it could not be otherwise:
The first being so, the second so,
The third and fourth must of course be so;
And were not the first and second, you see,
The third and fourth could never be.
The scholars everywhere call this clever,
But none have yet become weavers ever.
Whoever will know a live thing and expound it,
First kills out the spirit it had when he found it,
And then the parts are all in his hand,
Minus only the spiritual band!
Encheiresin naturж's the chemical name,
By which dunces themselves unwittingly shame.

Cannot entirely comprehend you.

Better success will shortly attend you,
When you learn to analyze all creation
And give it a proper classification.

I feel as confused by all you've said,
As if 'twere a mill-wheel going round in my head!

The next thing most important to mention,
Metaphysics will claim your attention!
There see that you can clearly explain
What fits not into the human brain:
For that which will not go into the head,
A pompous word will stand you in stead.
But, this half-year, at least, observe
From regularity never to swerve.
You'll have five lectures every day;
Be in at the stroke of the bell I pray!
And well prepared in every part;
Study each paragraph by heart,
So that you scarce may need to look
To see that he says no more than's in the book;
And when he dictates, be at your post,
As if you wrote for the Holy Ghost!

That caution is unnecessary!
I know it profits one to write,
For what one has in black and white,
He to his home can safely carry.

But choose some faculty, I pray!

I feel a strong dislike to try the legal college.

I cannot blame you much, I must acknowledge.
I know how this profession stands to-day.
Statutes and laws through all the ages
Like a transmitted malady you trace;
In every generation still it rages
And softly creeps from place to place.
Reason is nonsense, right an impudent suggestion;
Alas for thee, that thou a grandson art!
Of inborn law in which each man has part,
Of that, unfortunately, there's no question.

My loathing grows beneath your speech.
O happy he whom you shall teach!
To try theology I'm almost minded.

I must not let you by zeal be blinded.
This is a science through whose field
Nine out of ten in the wrong road will blunder,
And in it so much poison lies concealed,
That mould you this mistake for physic, no great wonder.
Here also it were best, if only one you heard
And swore to that one master's word.
Upon the whole--words only heed you!
These through the temple door will lead you
Safe to the shrine of certainty.

Yet in the word a thought must surely be.

All right! But one must not perplex himself about it;
For just where one must go without it,
The word comes in, a friend in need, to thee.
With words can one dispute most featly,
With words build up a system neatly,
In words thy faith may stand unshaken,
From words there can be no iota taken.

Forgive my keeping you with many questions,
Yet must I trouble you once more,
Will you not give me, on the score
Of medicine, some brief suggestions?
Three years are a short time, O God!
And then the field is quite too broad.
If one had only before his nose
Something else as a hint to follow!--

Mephistopheles [aside].
I'm heartily tired of this dry prose,
Must play the devil again out hollow.
The healing art is quickly comprehended;
Through great and little world you look abroad,
And let it wag, when all is ended,
As pleases God.
Vain is it that your science sweeps the skies,
Each, after all, learns only what he can;
Who grasps the moment as it flies
He is the real man.
Your person somewhat takes the eye,
Boldness you'll find an easy science,
And if you on yourself rely,
Others on you will place reliance.
In the women's good graces seek first to be seated;
Their oh's and ah's, well known of old,
So thousand-fold,
Are all from a single point to be treated;
Be decently modest and then with ease
You may get the blind side of them when you please.
A title, first, their confidence must waken,
That your art many another art transcends,
Then may you, lucky man, on all those trifles reckon
For which another years of groping spends:
Know how to press the little pulse that dances,
And fearlessly, with sly and fiery glances,
Clasp the dear creatures round the waist
To see how tightly they are laced.

This promises! One loves the How and Where to see!

Gray, worthy friend, is all your theory
And green the golden tree of life.

I seem,
I swear to you, like one who walks in dream.
Might I another time, without encroaching,
Hear you the deepest things of wisdom broaching?

So far as I have power, you may.

I cannot tear myself away,
Till I to you my album have presented.
Grant me one line and I'm contented!

With pleasure.
[Writes and returns it.]

Scholar [reads]. Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum.
[Shuts it reverently, and bows himself out.]


Let but the brave old saw and my aunt, the serpent, guide thee,
And, with thy likeness to God, shall woe one day betide thee!

Faust [enters].
Which way now shall we go?

Which way it pleases thee.
The little world and then the great we see.
O with what gain, as well as pleasure,
Wilt thou the rollicking cursus measure!

I fear the easy life and free
With my long beard will scarce agree.
'Tis vain for me to think of succeeding,
I never could learn what is called good-breeding.
In the presence of others I feel so small;
I never can be at my ease at all.

Dear friend, vain trouble to yourself you're giving;
Whence once you trust yourself, you know the art of living.

But how are we to start, I pray?
Where are thy servants, coach and horses?

We spread the mantle, and away
It bears us on our airy courses.
But, on this bold excursion, thou
Must take no great portmanteau now.
A little oxygen, which I will soon make ready,
From earth uplifts us, quick and steady.
And if we're light, we'll soon surmount the sphere;
I give thee hearty joy in this thy new career.