Fiction > Harvard Classics > J. W. von Goethe > Faust. Part I
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832).  Faust. Part I.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Faust. Part I
 
500–999
 
 
That they will let us join them presently.        500
 
THE FIRST

Not I! restraints of all kinds I detest.
Quick! let us catch the wild-game ere it flies,
The hand on Saturday the mop that plies,
Will on the Sunday fondle you the best.
 
BURGHER

No, this new Burgomaster, I like him not, God knows,
        505
Now, he’s in office, daily more arrogant he grows;
And for the town, what doth he do for it?
Are not things worse from day to day?
To more restraints we must submit;
And taxes more than ever pay.        510
 
BEGGAR  (sings)

    Kind gentleman and ladies fair,
    So rosy-cheek’d and trimly dress’d,
    Be pleas’d to listen to my prayer,
    Relieve and pity the distress’d.
    Let me not vainly sing my lay!        515
    His heart’s most glad whose hand is free.
    Now when all men keep holiday,
    Should be a harvest-day to me.
 
ANOTHER BURGHER

On holidays and Sundays naught know I more inviting
Than chatting about war and war’s alarms,        520
When folk in Turkey, up in arms,
Far off, are ’gainst each other fighting.
We at the window stand, our glasses drain,
And watch adown the stream the painted vessels gliding
Then joyful we at eve come home again,        525
And peaceful times we bless, peace long-abiding.
 
THIRD BURGHER

Ay, neighbour! So let matters stand for me!
There they may scatter one another’s brains,
And wild confusion round them see—
So here at home in quiet all remains!        530
 
OLD WOMAN  (to the BURGHERS’ DAUGHTERS)
 
Heyday! How smart! The fresh young blood!
Who would not fall in love with you?
Not quite so proud! ’Tis well and good!
And what you wish, that I could help you to.        535
 
BURGHER’S DAUGHTER

Come, Agatha! I care not to be seen
Walking in public with these witches. True,
My future lover, last St. Andrew’s E’en,
In flesh and blood she brought before my view.
 
ANOTHER

And mine she show’d me also in the glass,
        540
A soldier’s figure, with companions bold;
I look around, I seek him as I pass,
In vain, his form I nowhere can behold.
 
SOLDIERS

    Fortress with turrets
    And walls high in air,        545
    Damsel disdainful,
    Haughty and fair,
    There be my prey!
    Bold is the venture,
    Costly the pay!        550
 
    Hark how the trumpet
    Thither doth call us,
    Where either pleasure
    Or death may befall us.
    Hail to the tumult!        555
    Life’s in the field!
    Damsel and fortress
    To us must yield.
    Bold is the venture,
    Costly the pay!        560
    Gaily the soldier
    Marches away.
 
FAUST AND WAGNER
 
FAUST

Loosed from their fetters are streams and rills
Through the gracious spring-tide’s all-quickening glow;        565
Hope’s budding joy in the vale doth blow;
Old Winter back to the savage hills
Withdraweth his force, decrepid now.
Thence only impotent icy grains
Scatters he as he wings his flight,        570
Striping with sleet the verdant plains;
But the sun endureth no trace of white;
Everywhere growth and movement are rife,
All things investing with hues of life:
Though flowers are lacking, varied of dye,        575
Their colours the motley throng supply.
Turn thee around, and from this height,
Back to the town direct thy sight.
Forth from the hollow, gloomy gate,
Stream forth the masses, in bright array.        580
Gladly seek they the sun to-day;
The Lord’s Resurrection they celebrate:
For they themselves have risen, with joy,
From tenement sordid, from cheerless room,
From bonds of toil, from care and annoy,        585
From gable and roof’s o’er-hanging gloom,
From crowded alley and narrow street,
And from the churches’ awe-breathing night,
All now have come forth into the light.
Look, only look, on nimble feet,        590
Through garden and field how spread the throng,
How o’er the river’s ample sheet,
Many a gay wherry glides along;
And see, deep sinking in the tide,
Pushes the last boat now away.        595
E’en from yon far hill’s path-worn side,
Flash the bright hues of garments gay.
Hark! Sounds of village mirth arise;
This is the people’s paradise.
Both great and small send up a cheer;        600
Here am I man, I feel it here.
 
WAGNER

Sir Doctor, in a walk with you
There’s honour and instruction too;
Yet here alone I care not to resort,
Because I coarseness hate of every sort.        605
This fiddling, shouting, skittling, I detest;
I hate the tumult of the vulgar throng;
They roar as by the evil one possess’d,
And call it pleasure, call it song.
 
PEASANTS(under the linden-tree)
        610
 
Dance and song
 
  The shepherd for the dance was dress’d,
  With ribbon, wreath, and coloured vest,
  A gallant show displaying.
  And round about the linden-tree,        615
  They footed it right merrily.
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  So fiddle-bow was braying
 
  Our swain amidst the circle press’d,        620
  He push’d a maiden trimly dress’d,
  And jogg’d her with his elbow;
  The buxom damsel turn’d her head,
  “Now that’s a stupid trick!” she said
      Juchhe! Juchhe!        625
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  Don’t be so rude, good fellow!
 
  Swift in the circle they advanced,
  They danced to right, to left they danced,
  And all the skirts were swinging.        630
  And they grew red, and they grew warm,
  Panting, they rested arm in arm,
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  To hip their elbow bringing.        635
 
  Don’t make so free! How many a maid
  Has been betroth’d and then betray’d;
  And has repented after!
  Yet still he flatter’d her aside,
  And from the linden, far and wide,        640
      Juchhe! Juchhe!
      Juchheisa! Heisa! He!
  Rang fiddle-bow and laughter.
 
OLD PEASANT

Doctor, ’tis really kind of you,
To condescend to come this way,        645
A highly learned man like you,
To join our mirthful throng to-day.
Our fairest cup I offer you,
which we with sparkling drink have crown’d,
And pledging you, I pray aloud,        650
That every drop within its round,
While it your present thirst allays,
May swell the number of your days.
 
FAUST

I take the cup you kindly reach,
Thanks and prosperity to each!  (The crowd gather round in a circle.)        655
 
OLD PEASANT

Ay, truly! ’tis well done, that you
Our festive meeting thus attend;
You, who in evil days of yore,
So often show’d yourself our friend!
Full many a one stands living here,        660
Who from the fever’s deadly blast,
Your father rescu’d, when his skill
The fatal sickness stay’d at last.
A young man then, each house you sought,
Where reign’d the mortal pestilence.        665
Corpse after corpse was carried forth,
But still unscath’d you issued thence.
Sore then your trials and severe;
The Helper yonder aids the helper here.
 
ALL

Heaven bless the trusty friend, and long
        670
To help the poor his life prolong!
 
FAUST

To Him above in homage bend,
Who prompts the helper and Who help doth send.  (He proceeds with WAGNER.)
 
WAGNER

What feelings, great man, must thy breast inspire,
At homage paid thee by this crowd! Thrice blest        675
Who from the gifts by him possessed
Such benefit can draw! The sire
Thee to his boy with reverence shows;
They press around, inquire, advance,
Hush’d is the fiddle, check’d the dance.        680
Where thou dost pass they stand in rows,
And each aloft his bonnet throws,
But little fails and they to thee,
As though the Host came by, would bend the knee.
 
FAUST

A few steps further, up to yonder stone!
        685
Here rest we from our walk. In times long past,
Absorb’d in thought, here oft I sat alone,
And disciplin’d myself with prayer and fast.
Then rich in hope, with faith sincere,
With sighs, and hands in anguish press’d,        690
The end of that sore plague, with many a tear,
From heaven’s dread Lord, I sought to wrest.
The crowd’s applause assumes a scornful tone.
Oh, could’st thou in my inner being read,
How little either sire or son,        695
Of such renown deserves the meed!
My sire, of good repute, and sombre mood,
O’er nature’s powers and every mystic zone,
With honest zeal, but methods of his own,
With toil fantastic loved to brood;        700
His time in dark alchemic cell,
With brother adepts he would spend,
And there antagonists compel,
Through numberless receipts to blend.
A ruddy lion there, a suitor bold,        705
In tepid bath was with the lily wed.
Thence both, while open flames around them roll’d,
Were tortur’d to another bridal bed.
Was then the youthful queen descried
With varied colours in the flask;—        710
This was our medicine; the patients died,
“Who were restored?” none cared to ask.
With our infernal mixture thus, ere long,
These hills and peaceful vales among,
We rag’d more fiercely than the pest;        715
Myself the deadly poison did to thousands give;
They pined away, I yet must live,
To hear the reckless murderers blest.
 
WAGNER

Why let this thought your soul o’ercast?
Can man do more than with nice skill,        720
With firm and conscientious will,
Practise the art transmitted from the past?
If thou thy sire dost honour in thy youth,
His lore thou gladly wilt receive;
In manhood, dost thou spread the bounds of truth,        725
Then may thy son a higher goal achieve.
 
FAUST

How blest, in whom the fond desire
From error’s sea to rise, hope still renews!
What a man knows not, that he doth require,
And what he knoweth, that he cannot use.        730
But let not moody thoughts their shadow throw
O’er the calm beauty of this hour serene!
In the rich sunset see how brightly glow
Yon cottage homes, girt round with verdant green!
Slow sinks the orb, the day in now no more;        735
Yonder he hastens to diffuse new life.
Oh for a pinion from the earth to soar,
And after, ever after him to strive!
Then should I see the world below,
Bathed in the deathless evening-beams,        740
The vales reposing, every height a-glow,
The silver brooklets meeting golden streams.
The savage mountain, with its cavern’d side,
Bars not my godlike progress. Lo, the ocean,
Its warm bays heaving with a tranquil motion,        745
To my rapt vision opes its ample tide!
But now at length the god appears to sink;
A new-born impulse wings my flight,
Onward I press, his quenchless light to drink,
The day before me, and behind the night,        750
The pathless waves beneath, and over me the skies.
Fair dream, it vanish’d with the parting day!
Alas! that when on spirit-wing we rise,
No wing material lifts our mortal clay.
But ’tis our inborn impulse, deep and strong,        755
Upwards and onwards still to urge our flight,
When far above us pours its thrilling song
The sky-lark, lost in azure light,
When on extended wing amain
O’er pine-crown’d height the eagle soars,        760
And over moor and lake, the crane
Still striveth towards its native shores.
 
WAGNER

To strange conceits oft I myself must own,
But impulse such as this I ne’er have known:
Nor woods, nor fields, can long our thoughts engage,        765
Their wings I envy not the feather’d kind;
Far otherwise the pleasures of the mind,
Bear us from book to book, from page to page!
Then winter nights grow cheerful; keen delight
Warms every limb; and ah! when we unroll        770
Some old and precious parchment, at the sight
All heaven itself descends upon the soul.
 
FAUST

Thy heart by one sole impulse is possess’d;
Unconscious of the other still remain!
Two souls, alas! are lodg’d within my breast,        775
Which struggle there for undivided reign:
One to the world, with obstinate desire,
And closely-cleaving organs, still adheres;
Above the mist, the other doth aspire,
With sacred vehemence, to purer spheres.        780
Oh, are there spirits in the air,
Who float ’twixt heaven and earth dominion wielding,
Stoop hither from your golden atmosphere,
Lead me to scenes, new life and fuller yielding!
A magic mantle did I but possess,        785
Abroad to waft me as on viewless wings,
I’d prize it far beyond the costliest dress,
Nor would I change it for the robe of kings.
 
WAGNER

Call not the spirits who on mischief wait!
Their troop familiar, streaming through the air,        790
From every quarter threaten man’s estate,
And danger in a thousand forms prepare!
They drive impetuous from the frozen north,
With fangs sharp-piercing, and keen arrowy tongues;
From the ungenial east they issue forth,        795
And prey, with parching breath, upon thy lungs;
If, waft’d on the desert’s flaming wing,
They from the south heap fire upon the brain,
Refreshment from the west at first they bring,
Anon to drown thyself and field and plain.        800
In wait for mischief, they are prompt to hear;
With guileful purpose our behests obey;
Like ministers of grace they oft appear,
And lisp like angels, to betray.
But let us hence! Grey eve doth all things blend,        805
The air grows chill, the mists descend!
’Tis in the evening first our home we prize—
Why stand you thus, and gaze with wondering eyes?
What in the gloom thus moves you?
 
FAUST

                Yon black hound
        810
See’st thou, through corn and stubble scampering round?
 
WAGNER

I’ve mark’d him long, naught strange in him I see!
 
FAUST

Note him! What takest thou the brute to be?
 
WAGNER

But for a poodle, whom his instinct serves
His master’s track to find once more.        815
 
FAUST

Dost mark how round us, with wide spiral curves,
He wheels, each circle closer than before?
And, if I err not, he appears to me
A line of fire upon his track to leave.
 
WAGNER

Naught but a poodle black of hue I see;
        820
’Tis some illusion doth your sight deceive.
 
FAUST

Methinks a magic coil our feet around,
He for a future snare doth lightly spread.
 
WAGNER

Around us as in doubt I see him shyly bound,
Since he two strangers seeth in his master’s stead.        825
 
FAUST

The circle narrows, he’s already near!
 
WAGNER

A dog dost see, no spectre have we here;
He growls, doubts, lays him on his belly, too,
And wags his tail—as dogs are wont to do.
 
FAUST

Come hither, Sirrah! join our company!
        830
 
WAGNER

A very poodle, he appears to be!
Thou standest still, for thee he’ll wait;
Thou speak’st to him, he fawns upon thee straight;
Aught thou mayst lose, again he’ll bring,
And for thy stick will into water spring.        835
 
FAUST

Thou’rt right indeed; no traces now I see
Whatever of a spirit’s agency.
’Tis training—nothing more.
 
WAGNER

                A dog well taught
E’en by the wisest of us may be sought.        840
Ay, to your favour he’s entitled too,
Apt scholar of the students, ’tis his due!  (They enter the gate of the town.)
 
STUDY
 
FAUST  (entering with the poodle)

    Now field and meadow I’ve forsaken;
    O’er them deep night her veil doth draw;        845
    In us the better soul doth waken,
    With feelings of foreboding awe,
    All lawless promptings, deeds unholy,
    Now slumber, and all wild desires;
    The love of man doth sway us wholly,        850
    And love to God the soul inspires.
 
Peace, poodle, peace! Scamper not thus; obey me!
Why at the threshold snuffest thou so?
Behind the stove now quietly lay thee,
My softest cushion to thee I’ll throw.        855
As thou, without, didst please and amuse me
Running and frisking about on the hill,
So tendance now I will not refuse thee;
A welcome guest, if thou’lt be still.
 
    Ah! when the friendly taper gloweth,        860
    Once more within our narrow cell,
    Then in the heart itself that knoweth,
    A light the darkness doth dispel.
    Reason her voice resumes; returneth
    Hope’s gracious bloom, with promise rife;        865
    For streams of life the spirit yearneth,
    Ah! for the very fount of life.
 
Poodle, snarl not! with the tone that arises,
Hallow’d and peaceful, my soul within,
Accords not thy growl, thy bestial din.        870
We find it not strange, that man despises
What he conceives not;
That he the good and fair misprizes—
Finding them often beyond his ken;
Will the dog snarl at them like men?        875
 
But ah! Despite my will, it stands confessed,
Contentment welleth up no longer in my breast.
Yet wherefore must the stream, alas, so soon be dry,
That we once more athirst should lie?
Full oft this sad experience hath been mine;        880
Nathless the want admits of compensation;
For things above the earth we learn to pine,
Our spirits yearn for revelation,
Which nowhere burns with purer beauty blent,
Than here in the New Testament.        885
To ope the ancient text an impulse strong
Impels me, and its sacred lore,
With honest purpose to explore,
And render into my love German tongue.  (He opens a volume, and applies himself to it.)
 
’Tis writ, “In the beginning was the Word!”        890
I pause, perplex’d! Who now will help afford?
I cannot the mere Word so highly prize;
I must translate it otherwise,
If by the spirit guided as I read.
“In the beginning was the Sense!” Take heed,        895
The import of this primal sentence weigh,
Lest thy too hasty pen be led astray!
Is force creative then of Sense the dower?
“In the beginning was the Power!”
Thus should it stand: yet, while the line I trace,        900
A something warns me, once more to efface.
The spirit aids! from anxious scruples freed,
I write, “In the beginning was the Deed!”
 
    Am I with thee my room to share,
    Poodle, thy barking now forbear,        905
    Forbear thy howling!
    Comrade so noisy, ever growling,
    I cannot suffer here to dwell.
    One or the other, mark me well,
    Forthwith must leave the cell.        910
    I’m loath the guest-right to withhold;
    The door’s ajar, the passage clear;
    But what must now mine eyes behold!
    Are nature’s laws suspended here?
    Real is it, or a phantom show?        915
    In length and breadth how doth my poodle grow!
    He lifts himself with threat’ning mien,
    In likeness of a dog no longer seen!
    What spectre have I harbour’d thus!
    Huge as a hippopotamus,        920
    With fiery eye, terrific tooth!
    Ah! now I know thee, sure enough!
    For such a base, half-hellish brood,
    The key of Solomon is good.
 
SPIRITS  (without)
        925
 
    Captur’d there within is one!
    Stay without and follow none!
    Like a fox in iron snare,
    Hell’s old lynx is quaking there,
        But take heed!        930
    Hover round, above, below,
        To and fro,
    Then from durance is he freed!
    Can ye aid him, spirits all,
    Leave him not in mortal thrall!        935
    Many a time and oft hath he
    Served us, when at liberty.
 
FAUST

The monster to confront, at first,
The spell of Four must be rehears’d;
 
        Salamander shall kindle,        940
        Writhe nymph of the wave,
        In air sylph shall dwindle,
        And Kobold shall slave.
 
Who doth ignore
The primal Four,        945
Nor knows aright
Their use and might,
O’er spirits will he
Ne’er master be!
 
    Vanish in the fiery glow,        950
    Salamander!
    Rushingly together flow.
    Undine!
    Shimmer in the meteor’s gleam,
    Sylphide!        955
    Hither bring thine homely aid,
    Incubus! Incubus!
    Step forth! I do adjure thee thus!
None of the Four
Lurks in the beast:        960
He grins at me, untroubled as before;
I have not hurt him in the least.
A spell of fear
Thou now shalt hear.
    Art thou, comrade fell,        965
    Fugitive from Hell?
    See then this sign,
    Before which incline
    The murky troops of Hell!
With bristling hair now doth the creature swell.        970
 
    Canst thou, reprobate,
    Read the uncreate,
    Unspeakable, diffused
    Throughout the heavenly sphere,
    Shamefully abused,        975
    Transpierced with nail and spear!
 
Behind the stove, tam’d by my spells,
Like an elephant he swells;
Wholly now he fills the room,
He into mist will melt away.        980
Ascend not to the ceiling! Come,
Thyself at the master’s feet now lay!
Thou seest that mine is no idle threat.
With holy fire I will scorch thee yet!
Wait not the might        985
That lies in the triple-glowing light!
Wait not the might
Of all my arts in fullest measure!
 
MEPHISTOPHELES
(As the mist sinks, comes forward from behind the stove, in the dress of a travelling scholar)
 
Why all this uproar? What’s the master’s pleasure?        990
 
FAUST

This then the kernel of the brute!
A traveling scholar? Why I needs must smile.
 
MEPHISTOPHELES

Your learned reverence humbly I salute!
You’ve made me swelter in a pretty style.
 
FAUST

Thy name?
        995
 
MEPHISTOPHELES

          The question trifling seems from one,
Who it appears the Word doth rate so low;
Who, undeluded by mere outward show,
To Being’s depths would penetrate alone.
 

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