History of Literature

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Illustrations by Eugene Delacroix and Harry Clarke


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "Faust"  Illustrations by Harry Clarke




His eyes meanwhile were sinking,
    And never again drank he.  (She opens the press to put away her clothes, and perceives the casket.)
How comes this lovely casket here? The press
I locked, of that I’m confident.
’Tis very wonderful! What’s in it I can’t guess;
Perhaps ’twas brought by some one in distress,
And left in pledge for loan my mother lent.
Here by a ribbon hangs a little key!
I have a mind to open it and see!
Heavens! only look! what have we here!
In all my days ne’er saw I such a sight!
Jewels! which any noble dame might wear,
For some high pageant richly dight!
This chain—how would it look on me!
These splendid gems, whose may they be?  (She puts them on and steps before the glass.)
Were but the ear-rings only mine!
Thus one has quite another air.
What boots it to be young and fair?
It doubtless may be very fine;
But then, alas, none cares for you,
And praise sounds half like pity too.
Gold all doth lure,
Gold doth secure
All things. Alas, we poor!
FAUST walking thoughtfully up and down. To him MEPHISTOPHELES


By all rejected love! By hellish fire I curse,
Would I knew aught to make my imprecation worse!

What aileth thee? what chafes thee now so sore?
A face like that I never saw before!

I’d yield me to the devil instantly,
Did it not happen that myself am he!

There must be some disorder in thy wit!
To rave thus like a madman, is it fit?

Think! only think! The gems for Gretchen brought,
Them hath a priest now made his own!—
A glimpse of them the mother caught,
And ’gan with secret fear to groan.
The woman’s scent is keen enough;
Doth ever in the prayer-book snuff;
Smells every article to ascertain
Whether the thing is holy or profane,
And scented in the jewels rare,
That there was not much blessing there.
“My child,” she cries, “ill-gotten good
Ensnares the soul, consumes the blood;
With them we’ll deck our Lady’s shrine,
She’ll cheer our souls with bread divine!”
At this poor Gretchen ’gan to pout;
’Tis a gift-horse, at least, she thought,
And sure, he godless cannot be,
Who brought them here so cleverly.
Straight for a priest the mother sent,
Who, when he understood the jest,
With what he saw was well content.
“This shows a pious mind!” Quoth he:
“Self-conquest is true victory.
The Church hath a good stomach, she, with zest,
Whole countries hath swallow’d down,
And never yet a surfeit known.
The Church alone, be it confessed,
Daughters, can ill-got wealth digest.”

It is a general custom, too.
Practised alike by king and jew.



With that, clasp, chain, and ring, he swept
As they were mushrooms; and the casket,
Without one word of thanks, he kept,
As if of nuts it were a basket.
Promised reward in heaven, then forth he hied—
And greatly they were edified.

And Gretchen!

              In unquiet mood
Knows neither what she would or should;
The trinkets night and day thinks o’er,
On him who brought them, dwells still more.

The darling’s sorrow grieves me, bring
Another set without delay!
The first, methinks, was no great thing.

All’s to my gentleman child’s play!

Plan all things to achieve my end!
Engage the attention of her friend!
No milk-and-water devil be,
And bring fresh jewels instantly!

Ay, sir! Most gladly I’ll obey. (FAUST exit.)

Your doting love-sick fool, with ease,
Merely his lady-love to please,
Sun, moon, and stars in sport would puff away.  (Exit.)

MARTHA  (alone)

God pardon my dear husband, he
Doth not in truth act well by me!
Forth in the world abroad to roam,
And leave me on the straw at home.
And yet his will I ne’er did thwart,
God knows, I lov’d him from my heart.  (She weeps.)
Perchance he’s dead!—oh wretched state!—
Had I but a certificate!  (MARGARET comes)


Dame Martha!


                Only think!
My knees beneath me well-nigh sink!
Within my press I’ve found to-day,
Another case, of ebony.
And things—magnificent they are,
More costly than the first, by far.

You must not name it to your mother!
It would to shrift, just like the other.

Nay look at them! now only see!
MARTHA  (dresses her up)

Thou happy creature!

                Woe is me!
Them in the street I cannot wear,
Or in the church, or any where.

Come often over here to me,
The gems put on quite privately;
And then before the mirror walk an hour or so,
Thus we shall have our pleasure too.
Then suitable occasions we must seize,
As at a feast, to show them by degrees:
A chain at first, pearl ear-drops then,—your mother
Won’t see them, or we’ll coin some tale or other.

But, who, I wonder, could the caskets bring?
I fear there’s something wrong about the thing!  (A knock.)
Good heavens! can that my mother be?
MARTHA  (peering through the blind)

’Tis a strange gentleman, I see.
Come in!  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters)

          I’ve ventur’d to intrude to-day.
Ladies, excuse the liberty, I pray.  (He steps back respectfully before MARGARET.)
After dame Martha Schwerdtlein I inquire!

’Tis I. Pray what have you to say to me?
MEPHISTOPHELES  (aside to her)

I know you now,—and therefore will retire;
At present you’ve distinguished company.
Pardon the freedom, Madam, with your leave,
I will make free to call again at eve.
MARTHA  (aloud)

Why, child, of all strange notions, he
For some grand lady taketh thee!



I am, in truth, of humble blood—
The gentleman is far too good—
Nor gems nor trinkets are my own.

Oh ’tis not the mere ornaments alone;
Her glance and mien far more betray.
Rejoiced I am that I may stay.

Your business, Sir? I long to know—

Would I could happier tidings show!
I trust mine errand you’ll not let me rue;
Your husband’s dead, and greeteth you.

Is dead? True heart! Oh misery!
My husband dead! Oh, I shall die!

Alas! good Martha! don’t despair!

Now listen to the sad affair!

I for this cause should fear to love.
The loss my certain death would prove.

Joy still must sorrow, sorrow joy attend.

Proceed, and tell the story of his end!

At Padua, in St. Anthony’s,
In holy ground his body lies;
Quiet and cool his place of rest,
With pious ceremonials blest.

And had you naught besides to bring?

Oh yes! one grave and solemn prayer;
Let them for him three hundred masses sing!
But in my pockets, I have nothing there.

No trinket! no love-token did he send!
What every journeyman safe in his pouch will hoard
There for remembrance fondly stored,
And rather hungers, rather begs than spend!

Madam, in truth, it grieves me sore,
But he his gold not lavishly hath spent.
His failings too he deeply did repent,
Ay! and his evil plight bewail’d still more.

Alas! That men should thus be doomed to woe!
I for his soul will many a requiem pray.

A husband you deserve this very day;
A child so worthy to be loved.

                Ah no,
That time hath not yet come for me.



If not a spouse, a gallant let it be.
Among heaven’s choicest gifts, I place,
So sweet a darling to embrace.

Our land doth no such usage know.

Usage or not, it happens so.

Go on, I pray!

                I stood by his bedside.
Something less foul it was than dung;
’Twas straw half rotten; yet, he as a Christian died.
And sorely hath remorse his conscience wrung.
“Wretch that I was,” quoth he, with parting breath,
“So to forsake my business and my wife!
Ah! the remembrance is my death,
Could I but have her pardon in this life!”—
MARTHA  (weeping)

Dear soul! I’ve long forgiven him, indeed!

“Though she, God knows, was more to blame than I.”

He lied! What, on the brink of death to lie!

If I am skill’d the countenance to read,
He doubtless fabled as he parted hence.—
“No time had I to gape, or take my ease,” he said,
“First to get children, and then get them bread;
And bread, too, in the very widest sense;
Nor could I eat in peace even my proper share.”

What, all my truth, my love forgotten quite?
My weary drudgery by day and night!

Not so! He thought of you with tender care.
Quoth he: “Heaven knows how fervently I prayed,
For wife and children when from Malta bound;—
The prayer hath heaven with favour crowned;
We took a Turkish vessel which conveyed
Rich store of treasure for the Sultan’s court;
It’s own reward our gallant action brought;
The captur’d prize was shared among the crew
And of the treasure I received my due.”



How? Where? The treasure hath he buried, pray?

Where the four winds have blown it, who can say?
In Naples as he stroll’d, a stranger there,—
A comely maid took pity on my friend;
And gave such tokens of her love and care,
That he retained them to his blessed end.

Scoundrel! to rob his children of their bread!
And all this misery, this bitter need,
Could not his course of recklessness impede!

Well, he hath paid the forfeit, and is dead.
Now were I in your place, my counsel hear;
My weeds I’d wear for one chaste year,
And for another lover meanwhile would look out.

Alas, I might search far and near,
Not quickly should I find another like my first!
There could not be a fonder fool than mine,
Only he loved too well abroad to roam;
Loved foreign women too, and foreign wine,
And loved besides the dice accurs’d.

All had gone swimmingly, no doubt,
Had he but given you at home,
On his side, just as wide a range.
Upon such terms, to you I swear,
Myself with you would gladly rings exchange!

The gentleman is surely pleas’d to jest!

Now to be off in time, were best!
She’d make the very devil marry her.  (To MARGARET.)
How fares it with your heart?



                How mean you, Sir?

The sweet young innocent!  (aloud)
                Ladies, farewell!


          But ere you leave us, quickly tell!
I from a witness fain had heard,
Where, how, and when my husband died and was interr’d.
To forms I’ve always been attached indeed,
His death I fain would in the journals read.

Ay, madam, what two witnesses declare
Is held as valid everywhere;
A gallant friend I have, not far from here,
Who will for you before the judge appear.
I’ll bring him straight.

                I pray you do!

And this young lady, we shall find her too?
A noble youth, far travelled, he
Shows to the sex all courtesy.

I in his presence needs must blush for shame.

Not in the presence of a crowned king!

The garden, then, behind my house, we’ll name,
There we’ll await you both this evening.


How is it now? How speeds it? Is’t in train?

Bravo! I find you all aflame!
Gretchen full soon your own you’ll name.
This eve, at neighbour Martha’s, her you’ll meet again;
The woman seems expressly made
To drive the pimp and gipsy’s trade.




      But from us she something would request.

A favour claims return as this world goes.

We have on oath but duly to attest,
That her dead husband’s limbs, outstretch’d repose
In holy ground at Padua.

                Sage indeed!
So I suppose we straight must journey there!

Sancta simplicitas! For that no need!
Without much knowledge we have but to swear.

If you have nothing better to suggest,
Against you plan I must at once protest.

Oh, holy man! methinks I have you there!
In all your life say, have you ne’er
False witness borne, until this hour?
Have you of God, the world, and all it doth contain,
Of man, and that which worketh in his heart and brain,
Not definitions given, in words of weight and power,
With front unblushing, and a dauntless breast?
Yet, if into the depth of things you go,
Touching these matters, it must be confess’d,
As much as of Herr Schwerdtlein’s death you know!

Thou art and dost remain liar and sophist too.

Ay, if one did not take a somewhat deeper view!
To-morrow, in all honour, thou
Poor Gretchen wilt befool, and vow
Thy soul’s deep love, in lover’s fashion.

And from my heart.



                All good and fair!
Then deathless constancy thou’lt swear;
Speak of one all o’ermastering passion,—
Will that too issue from the heart?

When passion sways me, and I seek to frame
Fir utterance for feeling, deep, intense,
And for my frenzy finding no fit name,
Sweep round the ample world with every sense,
Grasp at the loftiest words to speak my flame,
And call the glow, wherewith I burn,
Quenchless, eternal, yea, eterne—
Is that of sophistry a devilish play?

Yet am I right!

                Mark this, my friend,
And spare my lungs; who would the right maintain,
And hath a tongue wherewith his point to gain,
Will gain it in the end.
But come, of gossip I am weary quite;
Because I’ve no resource, thou’rt in the right.
MARGARET on FAUST’S arm. MARTHA with MEPHISTOPHELES walking up and down


I feel it, you but spare my ignorance,
The gentleman to shame me stoops thus low.
A traveller from complaisance,
Still makes the best of things; I know
Too well, my humble prattle never can
Have power to entertain so wise a man.

One glance, one word from thee doth charm me more,
Than the world’s wisdom or the sage’s lore.  (He kisses her hand.)

Nay! trouble not yourself! A hand so coarse,
So rude as mine, how can you kiss!
What constant work at home must I not do perforce!
My mother too exacting is.  (They pass on.)

Thus, sir, unceasing travel is your lot?



Traffic and duty urge us! With what pain
Are we compelled to leave full many a spot,
Where yet we dare not once remain!

In youth’s wild years, with vigour crown’d,
’Tis not amiss thus through the world to sweep;
But ah, the evil days come round!
And to a lonely grave as bachelor to creep,
A pleasant thing has no one found.

The prospect fills me with dismay.

Therefore in time, dear sir, reflect, I pray.  (They pass on.)

Ay, out of sight is out of mind!
Politeness easy is to you;
Friends everywhere, and not a few,
Wiser than I am, you will find.

O dearest, trust me, what doth pass for sense
Full oft is self-conceit and blindness!


Simplicity and holy innocence,—
When will ye learn your hallow’d worth to know!
Ah, when will meekness and humility,
Kind and all-bounteous nature’s loftiest dower—

Only one little moment think of me!
To think of you I shall have many an hour.

You are perhaps much alone?

Yes, small our household is, I own,
Yet must I see to it. No maid we keep,
And I must cook, sew, knit, and sweep,
Still early on my feet and late;
My mother is in all things, great and small,
So accurate!
Not that for thrift there is such pressing need;
Than others we might make more show indeed:
My father left behind a small estate,
A house and garden near the city-wall.
But fairly quiet now my days, I own;
As soldier is my brother gone;
My little sister’s dead; the babe to rear
Occasion’d me some care and fond annoy;
But I would go through all again with joy,
The darling was to me so dear.

An angel, sweet, if it resembled thee!



I reared it up, and it grew fond of me.
After my father’s death it saw the day;
We gave my mother up for lost, she lay
In such a wretched plight, and then at length
So very slowly she regain’d her strength.
Weak as she was, ’twas vain for her to try
Herself to suckle the poor babe, so I
Reared it on milk and water all alone;
And thus the child became as ’twere my own;
Within my arms it stretched itself and grew,
And smiling, nestled in my bosom too.

Doubtless the purest happiness was thine.

But many weary hours, in sooth, were also mine.
At night its little cradle stood
Close to my bed; so was I wide awake
If it but stirred;
One while I was obliged to give it food,
Or to my arms the darling take;
From bed full oft must rise, whene’er its cry I heard,
And, dancing it, must pace the chamber to and fro;
Stand at the wash-tub early; forthwith go
To market, and then mind the cooking too—
To-morrow like to-day, the whole year through.
Ah, sir, thus living, it must be confess’d
One’s spirits are not always of the best;
Yet it a relish gives to food and rest.  (They pass on.)

Poor women! we are badly off, I own;
A bachelor’s conversion’s hard, indeed!

Madam, with one like you it rests alone,
To tutor me a better course to lead.

Speak frankly, sir, none is there you have met?
Has your heart ne’er attach’d itself as yet?

One’s own fire-side and a good wife are gold
And pearls of price, so says the proverb old.

I mean, has passion never stirred your breast?



I’ve everywhere been well received, I own.

Yet hath your heart no earnest preference known?

With ladies one should ne’er presume to jest.

Ah! you mistake!

                I’m sorry I’m so blind
But this I know-that you are very kind.  (They pass on.)

Me, little angel, didst thou recognize,
When in the garden first I came?

Did you not see it? I cast down my eyes.

Thou dost forgive my boldness, dost not blame
The liberty I took that day,
When thou from church didst lately wend thy way?

I was confused. So had it never been;
No one of me could any evil say.
Alas, thought I, he doubtless in thy mien,
Something unmaidenly or bold hath seen?
It seemed as if it struck him suddenly,
Here’s just a girl with whom one may make free!
Yet I must own that then I scarcely knew
What in your favour here began at once to plead;
Yet I was angry with myself indeed,
That I more angry could not feel with you.

Sweet love!

            Just wait awhile!  (She gathers a star-flower and plucks off the leaves one after another.)



                A nosegay may that be?

No! It is but a game.


                Go, you’ll laugh at me!  (She plucks off the leaves and murmurs to herself.)

What murmurest thou?
MARGARET  (half aloud)

                He loves me—loves me not.

Sweet angel, with thy face of heavenly bliss!
MARGARET  (continues)

He loves me—not—he loves me-not—  (Plucking off the last leaf with fond joy.)
                He loves me!

And this flower-language, darling, let it be,
A heavenly oracle! He loveth thee!
Know’st thou the meaning of, He loveth thee?  (He seizes both her hands.)

I tremble so!

              Nay! Do not tremble, love!
Let this hand-pressure, let this glance reveal
Feelings, all power of speech above;
To give oneself up wholly and to feel
A joy that must eternal prove!
Eternal!—Yes, its end would be despair.
No end!—It cannot end!  (MARGARET presses his hand, extricates herself, and runs away. He stands a moment in thought and then follows her.)
MARTHA  (approaching)

Night’s closing.

                Yes, we’ll presently away.

I would entreat you longer yet to stay;
But ’tis a wicked place, just here about;
It is as if the folk had nothing else to do,
Nothing to think of too,
But gaping watch their neighbours, who goes in and out;
And scandal’s busy still, do whatsoe’er one may.
And our young couple?

                They have flown up there.
The wanton butterflies!



                He seems to take to her.

And she to him. ’Tis of the world the way!
(MARGARET runs in, hides behind the door, holds the tip of her finger to her lip, and peeps through the crevice.)

He comes!

          Ah, little rogue, so thou
Think’st to provoke me! I have caught thee now!  (He kisses her.)
MARGARET  (embracing him, and returning the kiss)

Dearest of men! I love thee from my heart!  (MEPHISTOPHELES knocks.)
FAUST  (stamping

Who’s there?

              A friend!

                A brute!

                ’Tis time to part.
MARTHA  (comes)

Ay, it is late, good sir.

                Mayn’t I attend you, then?

Oh no—my mother would—adieu, adieu!

And must I really then take leave of you?


                Ere long to meet again!  (Exeunt FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES.)



Good heavens! how all things far and near
Must fill his mind,—a man like this!
Abash’d before him I appear,
And say to all things only, yes.
Poor simple child, I cannot see,
What ’tis that he can find in me.  (Exit.)

FAUST  (alone)

Spirit sublime! Thou gav’st me, gav’st me all
For which I prayed! Not vainly hast thou turn’d
To me thy countenance in flaming fire:
Gavest me glorious nature for my realm,
And also power to feel her and enjoy;
Not merely with a cold and wondering glance,
Thou dost permit me in her depths profound,
As in the bosom of a friend to gaze.
Before me thou dost lead her living tribes,
And dost in silent grove, in air and stream
Teach me to know my kindred. And when roars
The howling storm-blast through the groaning wood,
Wrenching the giant pine, which in its fall
Crashing sweeps down its neighbour trunks and boughs,
While hollow thunder from the hill resounds;
Then thou dost lead me to some shelter’d cave,
Dost there reveal me to myself, and show
Of my own bosom the mysterious depths.
And when with soothing beam, the moon’s pale orb
Full in my view climbs up the pathless sky,
From crag and dewy grove, the silvery forms
Of by-gone ages hover, and assuage





The joy austere of contemplative thought.
Oh, that naught perfect is assign’d to man,
I feel, alas! With this exalted joy,
Which lifts me near and nearer to the gods,
Thou gav’st me this companion, unto whom
I needs must cling, though cold and insolent,
He still degrades me to myself, and turns
Thy glorious gifts to nothing, with a breath.
He in my bosom with malicious zeal
For that fair image fans a raging fire;
From craving to enjoyment thus I reel
And in enjoyment languish for desire.  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters.)

Of this lone life have you not your fill?
How for so long can it have charms for you?
’Tis well enough to try it if you will;
But then away again to something new!

Would you could better occupy your leisure,
Than in disturbing thus my hours of joy.

Well! Well! I’ll leave you to yourself with pleasure,
A serious tone you hardly dare employ.
To part from one so crazy, harsh, and cross,
Were not in truth a grievous loss.
The live-long day, for you I toil and fret;
Ne’er from his worship’s face a hint I get,
What pleases him, or what to let alone.

Ay truly! that is just the proper tone!
He wearies me, and would with thanks be paid!

Poor Son of Earth, without my aid,
How would thy weary days have flown?
Thee of thy foolish whims I’ve cured,
Thy vain imaginations banished,
And but for me, be well assured,
Thou from this sphere must soon have vanished.
In rocky hollows and in caverns drear,
Why like an owl sit moping here?
Wherefore from dripping stones and moss with ooze embued,
Dost suck, like any toad, thy food?
A rare, sweet pastime. Verily!
The doctor cleaveth still to thee.

Dost comprehend what bliss without alloy
From this wild wand’ring in the desert springs?—
Couldst thou but guess the new life-power it brings,
Thou wouldst be fiend enough to envy me my joy.

What super-earthly ecstasy! at night,
To lie in darkness on the dewy height,
Embracing heaven and earth in rapture high,
The soul dilating to a deity;
With prescient yearnings pierce the core of earth,
Feel in your labouring breast the six-days’ birth,
Enjoy, in proud delight what no one knows,
While your love-rapture o’er creation flows,—
The earthly lost in beatific vision,
And then the lofty intuition—  (With a gesture.)
I need not tell you how—to close!

Fie on you!



            This displeases you? “For shame!”
You are forsooth entitled to exclaim;
We to chaste ears it seems must not pronounce
What, nathless, the chaste heart cannot renounce.
Well, to be brief, the joy as fit occasions rise,
I grudge you not, of specious lies.
But long this mood thou’lt not retain.
Already thou’rt again outworn,
And should this last, thou wilt be torn
By frenzy or remorse and pain.
Enough of this! Thy true love dwells apart,
And all to her seems flat and tame;
Alone thine image fills her heart,
She loves thee with an all-devouring flame.
First came thy passion with o’erpowering rush,
Like mountain torrent, swollen by the melted snow;
Full in her heart didst pour the sudden gush,
Now has thy brooklet ceased to flow.
Instead of sitting throned midst forests wild,
It would become so great a lord
To comfort the enamour’d child,
And the young monkey for her love reward.
To her the hours seem miserably long;
She from the window sees the clouds float by
As o’er the lofty city-walls they fly,
“If I a birdie were!” so runs her song,
Half through the night and all day long.
Cheerful sometimes, more oft at heart full sore;
Fairly outwept seem now her tears,
Anon she tranquil is, or so appears,
And love-sick evermore.

Snake! Serpent vile!

Good! If I catch thee with my guile!

Vile reprobate! go get thee hence;
Forbear the lovely girl to name!
Nor in my half-distracted sense,
Kindle anew the smouldering flame!

What wouldest thou! She thinks you’ve taken flight;
It seems, she’s partly in the right.

I’m near her still—and should I distant rove,
Her I can ne’er forget, ne’er lose her love;
And all things touch’d by those sweet lips of hers,
Even the very Host, my envy stirs.

’Tis well! I oft have envied you indeed,
The twin-pair that among the roses feed.

Pander, avaunt!

                Go to! I laugh, the while you rail,
The power which fashion’d youth and maid,
Well understood the noble trade;
So neither shall occasion fail.
But hence!—A mighty grief I trow!
Unto thy lov’d one’s chamber thou
And not to death shouldst go.



What is to me heaven’s joy within her arms?
What though my life her bosom warms!—
Do I not ever feel her woe?
The outcast am I not, unhoused, unblest,
Inhuman monster, without aim or rest,
Who, like the greedy surge, from rock to rock,
Sweeps down the dread abyss with desperate shock?
While she, within her lowly cot, which graced
The Alpine slope, beside the waters wild,
Her homely cares in that small world embraced,
Secluded lived, a simple, artless child.
Was’t not enough, in thy delirious whirl
To blast the steadfast rocks;
Her, and her peace as well,
Must I, God-hated one, to ruin hurl!
Dost claim this holocaust, remorseless Hell!
Fiend, help me to cut short the hours of dread!
Let what must happen, happen speedily!
Her direful doom fall crushing on my head,
And into ruin let her plunge with me!

Why how again it seethes and glows!
Away, thou fool! Her torment ease!
When such a head no issue sees,
It pictures straight the final close.
Long life to him who boldly dares!
A devil’s pluck thou’rt wont to show;
As for a devil who despairs,
Nothing I find so mawkish here below.

MARGARET  (alone at her spinning wheel)

My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore!
Where him I have not,
  Is the grave; and all
The world to me
  Is turned to gall.
My wilder’d brain
  Is overwrought;
My feeble senses
  Are distraught.
My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore!
For him from the window
  I gaze, at home;
For him and him only
  Abroad I roam.
His lofty step,
  His bearing high,
The smile of his lip,
  The power of his eye,
His witching words,
  Their tones of bliss,
His hand’s fond pressure
  And ah—his kiss!
My peace is gone,
  My heart is sore,
I find it never,
  And nevermore.
My bosom aches
  To feel him near;
Ah, could I clasp
  And fold him here!
Kiss him and kiss him
  Again would I,
And on his kisses
  I fain would die.




Promise me, Henry!

                What I can!

How thy religion fares, I fain would hear.
Thou art a good kind-hearted man,
Only that way not well-disposed, I fear.

Forbear, my child! Thou feelest thee I love;
My heart, my blood I’d give, my love to prove,
And none would of their faith or church bereave.

That’s not enough, we must ourselves believe!

Must we?

          Ah, could I but thy soul inspire!
Thou honourest not the sacraments, alas!

I honour them.

                But yet without desire;
’Tis long since thou hast been either to shrift or mass.
Dost thou believe in God?

                My darling, who dares say,
Yes, I in God believe?
Question or priest or sage, and they
Seem, in the answer you receive,
To mock the questioner.

                Then thou dost not believe?

Sweet one! my meaning do not misconceive!
Him who dare name?
And who proclaim,
Him I believe?
Who that can feel,
His heart can steel,
To say: I believe him not?
The All-embracer,
Holds and sustains he not
Thee, me, himself?
Lifts not the Heaven its dome above?
Doth not the firm-set earth beneath us lie?
And beaming tenderly with looks of love,
Climb not the everlasting stars on high?
Do we not gaze into each other’s eyes?
Nature’s impenetrable agencies,
Are they not thronging on thy heart and brain,
Viewless, or visible to mortal ken,
Around thee weaving their mysterious chain?
Fill thence thy heart, how large soe’er it be;
And in the feeling when thou utterly art blest,
Then call it, what thou wilt,—
Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for it!
’Tis feeling all;
Name is but sound and smoke
Shrouding the glow of heaven.

All this is doubtless good and fair;
Almost the same the parson says,
Only in slightly different phrase.

Beneath Heaven’s sunshine, everywhere,
This is the utterance of the human heart;
Each in his language doth the like impart;
Then why not I in mine?



                What thus I hear
Sounds plausible, yet I’m not reconciled;
There’s something wrong about it; much I fear
That thou art not a Christian.

                My sweet child!

Alas! it long hath sorely troubled me,
To see thee in such odious company.

How so?

        The man who comes with thee, I hate,
Yea, in my spirit’s inmost depths abhor;
As his loath’d visage, in my life before,
Naught to my heart e’er gave a pang so great.

Him fear not, my sweet love!

                His presence chills my blood.
Towards all beside I have a kindly mood;
Yet, though I yearn to gaze on thee, I feel
At sight of him strange horror o’er me steal;
That he’s a villain my conviction’s strong.
May Heaven forgive me, if I do him wrong!

Yet such strange fellows in the world must be!

I would not live with such an one as he.
If for a moment he but enter here,
He looks around him with a mocking sneer,
And malice ill-conceal’d;
That he with naught on earth can sympathize is clear
Upon his brow ’tis legibly revealed,
That to his heart no living soul is dear.
So blest I feel, within thine arms,
So warm and happy,—free from all alarms;
And still my heart doth close when he comes near.

Foreboding angel! check thy fear!

It so o’ermasters me, that when,
Or wheresoe’er, his step I hear,
I almost think, no more I love thee then.
Besides, when he is near, I ne’er could pray.
This eats into my heart; with thee
The same, my Henry, it must be.

This is antipathy!

                I must away.

For one brief hour then may I never rest,
And heart to heart, and soul to soul be pressed?

Ah, if I slept alone! To-night
The bolt I fain would leave undrawn for thee;
But then my mother’s sleep is light,
Were we surprised by her, ah me!
Upon the spot I should be dead.



Dear angel! there’s no cause for dread.
Here is a little phial,—if she take
Mixed in her drink three drops, ’twill steep
Her nature in a deep and soothing sleep.

What do I not for thy dear sake!
To her it will not harmful prove?

Should I advise it else, sweet love?

I know not, dearest, when thy face I see,
What doth my spirit to thy will constrain;
Already I have done so much for thee,
That scarcely more to do doth now remain.  (Exit.)


The monkey! Is she gone?

                Again hast played the spy?

Of all that pass’d I’m well apprized,
I heard the doctor catechised,
And trust he’ll profit much thereby!
Fain would the girls inquire indeed
Touching their lover’s faith and creed,
And whether pious in the good old way;
They think, if pliant there, us too he will obey.

Thou monster, does not see that this
Pure soul, possessed by ardent love,
Full of the living faith,
To her of bliss
The only pledge, must holy anguish prove,
Holding the man she loves, fore-doomed to endless death!

Most sensual, supersensualist? The while
A damsel leads thee by the nose!

Of filth and fire abortion vile!

In physiognomy strange skill she shows;
She in my presence feels she knows not how;
My mask it seems a hidden sense reveals;
That I’m a genius she must needs allow,
That I’m the very devil perhaps she feels.
So then to-night—

                What’s that to you?

I’ve my amusement in it too!

MARGARET and BESSY, with pitchers

Of Barbara hast nothing heard?

I rarely go from home,—no, not a word.



’Tis true: Sybilla told me so to-day!
That comes of being proud, methinks;
She played the fool at last.

                How so?

                They say
That two she feedeth when she eats and drinks.


      She’s rightly served, in sooth,
How long she hung upon the youth!
What promenades, what jaunts there were,
To dancing booth and village fair!
The first she everywhere must shine,
He always treating her to pastry and to wine
Of her good looks she was so vain,
So shameless too, that to retain
His presents, she did not disdain;
Sweet words and kisses came anon—
And then the virgin flower was gone.

Poor thing!

            Forsooth dost pity her?
At night, when at our wheels we sat,
Abroad our mothers ne’er would let us stir.
Then with her lover she must chat,
Or on the bench or in the dusky walk,
Thinking the hours too brief for their sweet talk;
Her proud head she will have to bow,
And in white sheet do penance now!

But he will surely marry her?

                Not he!
He won’t be such a fool! a gallant lad
Like him, can roam o’er land and sea,
Besides, he’s off.

                That is not fair!

If she should get him, ’twere almost as bad!
Her myrtle wreath the boys would tear;
And then we girls would plagued her too,
For we chopp’d straw before her door would strew!  (Exit.)
MARGARET  (walking towards home)

How stoutly once I could inveigh,
If a poor maiden went astray;
Not words enough my tongue could find,
’Gainst others’ sin to speak my mind!
Black as it seemed, I blacken’d it still more,
And strove to make it blacker than before.
And did myself securely bless—
Now my own trespass doth appear!
Yet ah!—what urg’d me to transgress,
God knows, it was so sweet, so dear!


Enclosure between the City-wall and the Gate.
(In the niche of the wall a devotional image of the Mater dolorosa, with flower-pots before it.)

MARGARET  (putting fresh flowers in the pots)

Ah, rich in sorrow, thou,
Stoop thy maternal brow,
And mark with pitying eye my misery!
The sword in thy pierced heart,
Thou dost with bitter smart,
Gaze upwards on thy Son’s death agony.
To the dear God on high,
Ascends thy piteous sigh,
Pleading for his and thy sore misery.
Ah, who can know
The torturing woe,
The pangs that rack me to the bone?
How my poor heart, without relief,
Trembles and throbs, its yearning grief
Thou knowest, thou alone!
Ah, wheresoe’er I go,
With woe, with woe, with woe,
My anguish’d breast is aching!
When all alone I creep,
I weep, I weep, I weep,
Alas! my heart is breaking!
The flower-pots at my window
Were wet with tears of mine,
The while I pluck’d these blossoms,
At dawn to deck thy shrine!
When early in my chamber
Shone bright the rising morn,
I sat there on my pallet,
My heart with anguish torn.
Help! from disgrace and death deliver me!
Ah! rich in sorrow, thou,
Stoop thy maternal brow,
And mark with pitying eye my misery!

VALENTINE  (a soldier, MARGARET’S brother)

When seated ’mong the jovial crowd,
Where merry comrades boasting loud
Each named with pride his favourite lass,
And in her honour drain’d his glass;
Upon my elbows I would lean,
With easy quiet view the scene,
Nor give my tongue the rein until
Each swaggering blade had talked his fill.
Then smiling I my beard would stroke,
The while, with brimming glass, I spoke;
“Each to his taste!—but to my mind,
Where in the country will you find,
A maid, as my dear Gretchen fair,
Who with my sister can compare?”
Cling! Clang! so rang the jovial sound!
Shouts of assent went circling round;
Pride of her sex is she!—cried some;
Then were the noisy boasters dumb.
And now!—I could tear out my hair,
Or dash my brains out in despair!—
Me every scurvy knave may twit,
With stinging jest and taunting sneer!
Like skulking debtor I must sit,
And sweat each casual word to hear!
And though I smash’d them one and all,—
Yet them I could not liars call.
    Who comes this way? who’s sneaking here?
    If I mistake not, two draw near.
    If he be one, have at him;—well I wot
    Alive he shall not leave this spot!


How from yon sacristy, athwart the night,
Its beams the ever-burning taper throws,
While ever waning, fades the glimmering light,
As gathering darkness doth around it close!
So night-like gloom doth in my bosom reign.

I’m like a tom-cat in a thievish vein,
That up fire-ladders tall and steep,
And round the walls doth slyly creep;
Virtuous withal, I feel, with, I confess,
A touch of thievish joy and wantonness.
Thus through my limbs already burns
The glorious Walpurgis night!
After to-morrow it returns,
Then why one wakes, one knows aright!

Meanwhile, the treasure I see glimmering there,
Will it ascend into the open air?

Ere long thou wilt proceed with pleasure,
To raise the casket with its treasure;
I took a peep, therein are stored,
Of lion-dollars a rich hoard.



And not a trinket? not a ring?
Wherewith my lovely girl to deck?

I saw among them some such thing,
A string of pearls to grace her neck.

’Tis well! I’m always loath to go,
Without some gift my love to show.

Some pleasures gratis to enjoy,
Should surely cause you no annoy.
While bright with stars the heavens appear,
I’ll sing a masterpiece of art:
A moral song shall charm her ear,
More surely to beguile her heart.  (Sings to the guitar.)
Kathrina say,
Why lingering stay
At dawn of day
Before your lover’s door?
Maiden, beware,
Nor enter there,
Lest forth you fare,
A maiden never more.
Maiden take heed!
Reck well my rede!
Is’t done, the deed?
Good night, you poor, poor thing!
The spoiler’s lies,
His arts despise,
Nor yield your prize,
Without the marriage ring!
VALENTINE  (steps forward)

Whom are you luring here? I’ll give it you!
Accursed rat-catchers, your strains I’ll end!
First, to the devil the guitar I’ll send!
Then to the devil with the singer too!

The poor guitar! ’tis done for now.

Your skull shall follow next, I trow!

Doctor, stand fast! your strength collect!
Be prompt, and do as I direct.
Out with your whisk, keep close, I pray,
I’ll parry! do you thrust away!

Then parry that!

                Why not?

                That too!

With ease!

            The devil fights for you!
Why how is this? my hand’s already lamed!

Thrust home!
VALENTINE  (falls)




                There! Now the lubber’s tamed!
But quick, away! We must at once take wing;
A cry of murder strikes upon the ear;
With the police I know my course to steer,
But with the blood-ban ’tis another thing.
MARTHA  (at the window)

Without! without!




MARGARET  (at the window)

                Quick, bring a light!
MARTHA  (as above)

They rail and scuffle, scream and fight!

One lieth here already dead!
MARTHA  (coming out)

Where are the murderers? are they fled?
MARGARET  (coming out)

Who lieth here?

                Thy mother’s son.

Almighty God! I am undone!

I’m dying—’tis a soon-told tale,
And sooner done the deed.
Why, women, do ye howl and wail?
To my last words give heed!  (All gather round him.)
My Gretchen see! still young art thou,
Art not discreet enough, I trow,
Thou dost thy matters ill;
Let this in confidence be said:
Since thou the path of shame dost tread,
Tread it with right good will!

My brother! God! what can this mean?

Nor dare God’s holy name profane!
What’s done, alas, is done and past!
Matters will take their course at last;
By stealth thou dost begin with one,
Others will follow him anon;
And when a dozen thee have known,
Thou’lt common be to all the town.
When infamy is newly born,
In secret she is brought to light,
And the mysterious veil of night
O’er head and ears is drawn;
The loathsome birth men fain would slay;
But soon, full grown, she waxes bold,
And though not fairer to behold,
With brazen front insults the day:
The more abhorrent to the sight,
The more she courts the day’s pure light.
The time already I discern,
When thee all honest folk will spurn,
And shun thy hated form to meet,
As when a corpse infects the street.
Thy heart will sink in blank despair,
When they shall look thee in the face!
A golden chain no more thou’lt wear!
Nor near the altar take in church thy place!
In fair lace collar simply dight
Thou’lt dance no more with spirits light!
In darksome corners thou wilt bide,
Where beggars vile and cripples hide,
And e’en though God thy crime forgive,
On earth, a thing accursed, thou’lt live!



Your parting soul to God commend!
Your dying breath in slander will you spend?

Could I but reach thy wither’d frame,
Thou wretched beldame, void of shame!
Full measure I might hope to win
Of pardon then for every sin.

Brother! what agonizing pain!

I tell thee, from vain tears abstain!
’Twas thy dishonour pierced my heart,
Thy fall the fatal death-stab gave.
Through the death-sleep I now depart
To God, a soldier true and brave.  (dies.)



Service, Organ, and Anthem
MARGARET amongst a number of people

How different, Gretchen, was it once with thee,
When thou, still full of innocence,
Here to the altar camest,
And from the small and well-conn’d book
Didst lisp thy prayer,
Half childish sport,
Half God in thy young heart!
What thoughts are thine?
What deed of shame
Lurks in thy sinful heart?
Is thy prayer utter’d for thy mother’s soul,
Who into long, long torment slept through thee?
Whose blood is on thy threshold?
—And stirs there not already ’neath thy heart
Another quick’ning pulse, that even now
Tortures itself and thee
With its foreboding presence?

Woe! Woe!
Oh could I free me from the thoughts
That hither, thither, crowd upon my brain,
Against my will!

    Dies iræ, dies illa,
    Solvet sæclum in favilla.  (The organ sounds.)

Grim horror seizes thee!
The trumpet sounds!
The graves are shaken!
And thy heart
From ashy rest
For torturing flames
A new created,
Trembles into life!

Would I were hence!
It is as if the organ
Choked my breath,
As if the choir
Melted my inmost heart!

    Judex ergo cum sedebit,
    Quidquid latet adparebit,
    Nil inultum remanebit.

I feel oppressed!
The pillars of the wall
Imprison me!
The vaulted roof
Weighs down upon me!—air!

Wouldst hide thee? sin and shame
Remain not hidden!
Air! light!
Woe’s thee!

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus!
Cum vix justus sit securus.

The glorified their faces turn
Away from thee!
Shudder the pure to reach
Their hands to thee!

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus—

Neighbour! your smelling bottle!  (She swoons away.)




A broomstick dost thou not at least desire?
The roughest he-goat fain would I bestride,
By this road from our goal we’re still far wide.

While fresh upon my legs, so long I naught require,
Except this knotty staff. Beside,
What boots it to abridge a pleasant way?
Along the labyrinth of these vales to creep,
Then scale these rocks, whence, in eternal spray,
Adown the cliffs the silvery fountains leap:
Such is the joy that seasons paths like these!
Spring weaves already in the birchen trees;
E’en the late pine-grove feels her quickening powers;
Should she not work within these limbs of ours?

Naught of this genial influence do I know!
Within me all is wintry. Frost and snow
I should prefer my dismal path to bound.
How sadly, yonder, with belated glow
Rises the ruddy moon’s imperfect round,
Shedding so faint a light, at every tread
One’s sure to stumble ’gainst a rock or tree!
An Ignis Fatuus I must call instead.
Yonder one burning merrily, I see.
Holla! my friend! may I request your light?
Why should you flare away so uselessly?
Be kind enough to show us up the height!

Through reverence, I hope I may subdue
The lightness of my nature; true,
Our course is but a zigzag one.

                Ho! ho!
So men, forsooth, he thinks to imitate!
Now, in the devil’s name, for once go straight!
Or out at once your flickering life I’ll blow.

That you are master here is obvious quite;
To do your will, I’ll cordially essay;
Only reflect! The hill is magic-mad to-night;
And if to show the path you choose a meteor’s light,
You must not wonder should we go astray.

Through the dream and magic-sphere,
As it seems, we now are speeding;
Honour win, us rightly leading,
That betimes we may appear
In yon wide and desert region!
Trees on trees, a stalwart legion,
Swiftly past us are retreating,
And the cliffs with lowly greeting;
Rocks long-snouted, row on row,
How they snort, and how they blow!
Through the stones and heather springing,
Brook and brooklet haste below;
Hark the rustling! Hark the singing!
Hearken to love’s plaintive lays;
Voices of those heavenly days—
What we hope, and what we love!
Like a tale of olden time,
Echo’s voice prolongs the chime.
To-whit! To-whoo! It sounds more near;
Plover, owl and jay appear,
All awake, around, above?
Paunchy salamanders too
Peer, long-limbed, the bushes through!
And, like snakes, the roots of trees
Coil themselves from rock and sand,
Stretching many a wondrous band,
Us to frighten, us to seize;
From rude knots with life embued,
Polyp-fangs abroad they spread,
To snare the wanderer! ’Neath our tread,
Mice, in myriads, thousand-hued,
Through the heath and through the moss!
And the fire-flies’ glittering throng,
Wildering escort, whirls along,
Here and there, our path across.
Tell me, stand we motionless,
Or still forward do we press?
All things round us whirl and fly;
Rocks and trees make strange grimaces,
Dazzling meteors change their places,
How they puff and multiply!



Now grasp my doublet-we at last
A central peak have reached, which shows,
If round a wondering glance we cast,
How in the mountain Mammon glows,

How through the chasms strangely gleams,
A lurid light, like dawn’s red glow,
Pervading with its quivering beams,
The gorges of the gulf below!
Here vapours rise, there clouds float by,
Here through the mist the light doth shine;
Now, like a fount, it bursts on high,
Meanders now, a slender line;
Far reaching, with a hundred veins,
Here through the valley see it glide;
Here, where its force the gorge restrains,
At once it scatters, far and wide;
Anear, like showers of golden sand
Strewn broadcast, sputter sparks of light:
And mark yon rocky walls that stand
Ablaze, in all their towering height!

Doth not Sir Mammon for this fête
Grandly illume his palace! Thou
Art lucky to have seen it; now,
The boisterous guests, I feel, are coming straight.

How through the air the storm doth whirl!
Upon my neck it strikes with sudden shock.

Cling to these ancient ribs of granite rock,
Else to yon depths profound it you will hurl.
A murky vapour thickens night.
Hark! Through the woods the tempests roar!
The owlets flit in wild affright.
Hark! Splinter’d are the columns that upbore
The leafy palace, green for aye:
The shivered branches whirr and sigh,
Yawn the huge trunks with mighty groan.
The roots upriven, creak and moan!
In fearful and entangled fall,
One crashing ruin whelms them all,
While through the desolate abyss,
Sweeping the wreck-strewn precipice,
The raging storm-blasts howl and hiss!
Aloft strange voices dost thou hear?
Distant now and now more near?
Hark! the mountain ridge along,
Streameth a raving magic-song!
WITCHES  (in chorus)

    Now to the Brocken the witches hie,
    The stubble is yellow, the corn is green;
    Thither the gathering legions fly,
    And sitting aloft is Sir Urian seen:
    O’er stick and o’er stone they go whirling along,
    Witches and he-goats, a motley throng,

    Alone old Baubo’s coming now;
    She rides upon a farrow sow.

    Honour to her, to whom honour is due!
    Forward, Dame Baubo! Honour to you!
    A goodly sow and mother thereon,
    The whole witch chorus follows anon.
Which way didst come?

                O’er Ilsenstein!
There I peep’d in an owlet’s nest.
With her broad eye she gazed in mine!

Drive to the devil, thou hellish pest!
Why ride so hard?

                She has graz’d my side,
Look at the wounds, how deep and how wide!
WITCHES  (in chorus)

    The way is broad, the way is long;
    What mad pursuit! What tumult wild!
    Scratches the besom and sticks the prong;
    Crush’d is the mother, and stifled the child.
WIZARDS  (half chorus)

    Like house-encumber’d snail we creep;
    While far ahead the women keep,
    For when to the devil’s house we speed,
    By a thousand steps they take the lead.

    Not so, precisely do we view it;—
    They with a thousand steps may do it;
    But let them hasten as they can,
    With one long bound ’tis clear’d by man.
VOICES  (above)

Come with us, come with us from Felsensee.
VOICES  (from below)

Aloft to you we would mount with glee!
We wash, and free from all stain are we,
Yet barren evermore must be!

    The wind is hushed, the stars grow pale,
    The pensive moon her light doth veil;
    And whirling on, the magic choir
    Sputters forth sparks of drizzling fire.
VOICE  (from below)

Stay! stay!
  Voice  (from above)

            What voice of woe

Calls from the cavern’d depths below?
VOICE  (from below)

Take me with you! Oh take me too!
Three centuries I climb in vain,
And yet can ne’er the summit gain!
To be with my kindred I am fain.

    Broom and pitch-fork, goat and prong,
    Mounted on these we whirl along;
    Who vainly strives to climb to-night,
    Is evermore a luckless wight!
DEMI-WITCH  (below)

I hobble after, many a day;
Already the others are far away!
No rest at home can I obtain—
Here too my efforts are in vain!

    Salve gives the witches strength to rise;
    A rag for a sail does well enough;
    A goodly ship is every trough;
    To-night who flies not, never flies.

    And when the topmost peak we round,
    Then alight ye on the ground;
    The heath’s wide regions cover ye
    With your mad swarms of witchery!  (They let themselves down.)

They crowd and jostle, whirl and flutter!
They whisper, babble, twirl, and splutter!
They glimmer, sparkle, stink and flare—
A true witch-element! Beware!
Stick close! else we shall severed be.
Where art thou?
FAUST  (in the distance)


                Already, whirl’d so far away!
The master then indeed I needs must play.
Give ground! Squire Voland comes! Sweet folk, give ground!
Here, doctor, grasp me! With a single bound
Let us escape this ceaseless jar;
Even for me too mad these people are.
Hard by there shineth something with peculiar glare,
Yon brake allureth me; it is not far;
Come, come along with me! we’ll slip in there.

Spirit of contradiction! Lead! I’ll follow straight!
’Twas wisely done, however, to repair
On May-night to the Brocken, and when there
By our own choice ourselves to isolate!

Mark, of those flames the motley glare!
A merry club assembles there.
In a small circle one is not alone.

I’d rather be above, though, I must own!
Already fire and eddying smoke I view;
The impetuous millions to the devil ride;
Full many a riddle will be there untied.

Ay! and full many a riddle tied anew.
But let the great world rave and riot!
Here will we house ourselves in quiet.
A custom ’tis of ancient date,
Our lesser worlds within the great world to create!
Young witches there I see, naked and bare,
And old ones, veil’d more prudently.
For my sake only courteous be!
The trouble’s small, the sport is rare.
Of instruments I hear the cursed din—
One must get used to it. Come in! come in!
There’s now no help for it. I’ll step before
And introducing you as my good friend,
Confer on you one obligation more.
How say you now? ’Tis no such paltry room;
Why only look, you scarce can see the end.
A hundred fires in rows disperse the gloom;
They dance, they talk, they cook, make love, and drink:
Where could we find aught better, do you think?

To introduce us, do you purpose here
As devil or as wizard to appear?

Though I am wont indeed to strict incognito,
Yet upon gala-days one must one’s orders show.
No garter have I to distinguish me,
Nathless the cloven foot doth here give dignity.
Seest thou yonder snail? Crawling this way she hies:
With searching feelers, she, no doubt,
Hath me already scented out;
Here, even if I would, for me there’s no disguise.
From fire to fire, we’ll saunter at our leisure,
The gallant you, I’ll cater for your pleasure.  (To a party seated round some expiring embers.)
Old gentleman, apart, why sit ye moping here?
Ye in the midst should be of all this jovial cheer,
Girt round with noise and youthful riot;
At home one surely has enough of quiet.

In nations put his trust, who may,
Whate’er for them one may have done;
For with the people, as with women, they
Honour your rising stars alone!

Now all too far they wander from the right;
I praise the good old ways, to them I hold,
Then was the genuine age of gold,
When we ourselves were foremost in men’s sight.

Ne’er were we ’mong your dullards found,
And what we ought not, that to do were fair;
Yet now are all things turning round and round,
When on firm basis we would them maintain.

Who, as a rule, a treatise now would care
To read, of even moderate sense?
As for the rising generation, ne’er
Has youth displayed such arrogant pretence.
MEPHISTOPHELES  (suddenly appearing very old)

Since for the last time I the Brocken scale,
That folk are ripe for doomsday, now one sees;
And just because my cask begins to fail,
So the whole world is also on the lees.

Stop, gentlemen, nor pass me by,
Of wares I have a choice collection:
Pray honour them with your inspection.
Lose not his opportunity!
Yet nothing in my booth you’ll find
Without its counterpart on earth; there’s naught,
Which to the world, and to mankind,
Hath not some direful mischief wrought.
No dagger here, which hath not flow’d with blood,
No chalice, whence, into some healthy frame
Hath not been poured hot poison’s wasting flood.
No trinket, but hath wrought some woman’s shame,
No weapon but hath cut some sacred tie,
Or from behind hath stabb’d an enemy.

Gossip! For wares like these the time’s gone by,
What’s done is past! what’s past is done!
With novelties your booth supply;
Us novelties attract alone.

May this wild scene my senses spare!
This, may in truth be called a fair!

Upward the eddying concourse throng;
Thinking to push, thyself art push’d along.

Who’s that, pray?

                Mark her well! That’s Lilith.




Adam’s first wife. Of her rich locks beware!
That charm in which she’s parallel’d by few;
When in its toils a youth she doth ensnare,
He will not soon escape, I promise you.

There sit a pair, the old one with the young;
Already they have bravely danced and sprung!

Here there is no repose to-day.
Another dance begins; we’ll join it, come away!
(dancing with the young one)        Once a fair vision came to me;
        There in I saw an apple-tree,
        Two beauteous apples charmed mine eyes;
        I climb’d forthwith to reach the prize.

        Apples still fondly ye desire,
        From paradise it hath been so.
        Feelings of joy my breast inspire
        That such too in my garden grow.
MEPHISTOPHELES  (with the old one)

        Once a weird vision came to me;
        Therein I saw a rifted tree.
        It had a  .  .  .  .  .  .  ;
        But as it was it pleased me too.

        I beg most humbly to salute
        The gallant with the cloven foot!
        Let him a … have ready here,
        If he a … does not fear.

Accursed mob! How dare ye thus to meet?
Have I not shown and demonstrated too,
That ghosts stand not on ordinary feet?
Yet here ye dance, as other mortals do!
THE FAIR ONE  (dancing)

Then at our ball, what doth he here?
FAUST  (dancing)

Oh! He must everywhere appear.
He must adjudge, when others dance;
If on each step his say’s not said,
So is that step as good as never made.
He’s most annoyed, so soon as we advance;
If ye would circle in one narrow round,
As he in his old mill, then doubtless he
Your dancing would approve,—especially
If ye forthwith salute him with respect profound!

Still here! what arrogance! unheard of quite!
Vanish; we now have fill’d the world with light!
Laws are unheeded by the devil’s host;
Wise as we are, yet Tegel hath its ghost!
How long at this conceit I’ve swept with all my might,
Lost is the labour: ’tis unheard of quite!

Cease here to teaze us any more, I pray.

Spirits, I plainly to your face declare:
No spiritual control myself will bear,
Since my own spirit can exert no sway.  (The dancing continues.)
To-night, I see, I shall in naught succeed;
But I’m prepar’d my travels to pursue,
And hope, before my final step indeed,
To triumph over bards and devils too.

Now in some puddle will he take his station,
Such is his mode of seeking consolation;
Where leeches, feasting on his rump, will drain
Spirits alike and spirit from his brain.  (To FAUST, who has left the dance.)
But why the charming damsel leave, I pray,
Who to you in the dance so sweetly sang?

Ah, in the very middle of her lay,
Out of her mouth a small red mouse there sprang.

Suppose there did! One must not be too nice.
’Twas well it was not grey, let that suffice.
Who ’mid his pleasures for a trifle cares?

Then saw I—


                Mephisto, seest thou there
Standing far off, a lone child, pale and fair?
Slow from the spot her drooping form she tears,
And seems with shackled feet to move along;
I own, within me the delusion’ strong,
That she the likeness of my Gretchen wears.

Gaze not upon her! ’Tis not good! Forbear!
’Tis lifeless, magical, a shape of air,
An idol. Such to meet with, bodes no good;
That rigid look of hers doth freeze man’s blood,
And well-nigh petrifies his heart to stone:—
The story of Medusa thou hast known.

Ay, verily! a corpse’s eyes are those,
Which there was no fond loving hand to close.
That is the bosom I so fondly press’d,
That my sweet Gretchen’s form, so oft caress’d!

Deluded fool! ’Tis magic, I declare!
To each she doth his lov’d one’s image wear.

What bliss! what torture! vainly I essay
To turn me from that piteous look away.




How strangely doth a single crimson line
Around that lovely neck its coil entwine,
It shows no broader than a knife’s blunt edge!

Quite right. I see it also, and allege
That she beneath her arm her head can bear,
Since Perseus cut it off.—But you I swear
Are craving for illusion still!
Come then, ascend yon little hill!
As on the Prater all is gay,
And if my senses are not gone,
I see a theatre,—what’s going on?

They are about to recommence;—the play
Will be the last of seven, and spick-span new—
’Tis usual here that number to present.
A dilettante did the piece invent,
And dilettanti will enact it too.
Excuse me, gentlemen; to me’s assign’d
As dilettante to uplift the curtain.

You on the Blocksberg I’m rejoiced to find,
That ’tis your most appropriate sphere is certain.


Vales, where mists still shift and play,
  To ancient hills succeeding,—
These our scenes;—so we, to-day,
  May rest, brave sons of Mieding.

That the marriage golden be,
  Must fifty years be ended;
More dear this feast of gold to me,
  Contention now suspended.

Spirits, if present, grace the scene.
  And if with me united,
Then gratulate the king and queen,
  Their troth thus newly plighted!

Puck draws near and wheels about,
  In mazy circles dancing!
Hundreds swell his joyous shout,
  Behind him still advancing.

Ariel wakes his dainty air,
  His lyre celestial stringing.—
Fools he lureth, and the fair,
  With his celestial singing.

Wedded ones, would ye agree,
  We court your imitation:
Would ye fondly love as we,
  We counsel separation.

If husband scold and wife retort,
  Then bear them far asunder;
Her to the burning south transport,
  And him the North Pole under.

Flies and midges all unite
  With frog and chirping cricket,
Our orchestra throughout the night,
  Resounding in the thicket!

Yonder doth the bagpipe come!
  Its sack an airy bubble.
Schnick, schnick, schnack, with nasal hum,
  Its notes it doth redouble.

Spider’s foot and midge’s wing,
  A toad in form and feature;
Together verses it can string,
  Though scarce a living creature.

Tiny step and lofty bound,
  Through dew and exhalation;
Ye trip it deftly on the ground,
  But gain no elevation.

Can I indeed believe my eyes?
  Is’t not mere masquerading?
What! Oberon in beauteous guise,
  Among the groups parading!

No claws, no tail to whisk about,
  To fright us at our revel;—
Yet like the gods of Greece, no doubt,
  He too’s a genuine devil.

These that I’m hitting off to-day
  Are sketches unpretending;
Towards Italy without delay,
  My steps I think of bending.

Alas! ill-fortune leads me here,
  Where riot still grows louder;
And ’mong the witches gather’d here
  But two alone wear powder!

Your powder and your petticoat,
  Suit hags, there’s no gainsaying;
Hence I sit fearless on my goat,
  My naked charms displaying.

We’re too well-bred to squabble here,
  Or insult back to render;
But may you wither soon, my dear,
  Although so young and tender.

Nose of fly and gnat’s proboscis,
  Throng not the naked beauty!
Frogs and crickets in the mosses,
  Keep time and do your duty!
WEATHERCOCK  (towards one side)

What charming company I view
  Together here collected!
Gay bachelors, a hopeful crew.
  And brides so unaffected!
WEATHERCOCK  (towards the other side)

Unless indeed the yawning ground
  Should open to receive them,
From this vile crew, with sudden bound,
  To Hell I’d jump and leave them.

With small sharp shears, in insect guise
  Behold us at your revel!
That we may tender, filial-wise,
  Our homage to the devil.

Look now at yonder eager crew,
  How naively they’re jesting!
That they have tender hearts and true,
  They stoutly keep protesting!

Oneself amid this witchery
  How pleasantly one loses;
For witches easier are to me
  To govern than the Muses!

With proper folks when we appear,
  No one can then surpass us!
Keep close, wide is the Blocksberg here
  As Germany’s Parnassus.

How name ye that stiff formal man,
  Who strides with lofty paces?
He tracks the game where’er he can,
  “He scents the Jesuits’ traces.”

Where waters troubled are or clear,
  To fish I am delighted;
Thus pious gentlemen appear
  With devils here united.

By pious people, it is true,
  No medium is rejected;
Conventicles, and not a few,
  On Blocksberg are erected.

Another chorus now succeeds,
  Far off the drums are beating.
Be still! The bitterns ’mong the reeds
  Their one note are repeating.

Each twirls about and never stops,
  And as he can he fareth.
The crooked leaps, the clumsy hops,
  Nor for appearance careth.

To take each other’s life, I trow,
  Would cordially delight them!
As Orpheus’ lyre the beasts, so now
  The bagpipe doth unite them.

My views, in spite of doubt and sneer,
  I hold with stout persistence,
Inferring from the devils here,
  The evil one’s existence.

My every sense rules Phantasy
  With sway quite too potential;
Sure I’m demented if the I
  Alone is the essential.

This entity’s a dreadful bore,
  And cannot choose but vex me;
The ground beneath me ne’er before
  Thus totter’d to perplex me.

Well pleased assembled here I view
  Of spirits this profusion;
From devils, touching angels too,
  I gather some conclusion.

The ignis fatuus they track out,
  And think they’re near the treasure.
Devil alliterates with doubt,
  Here I abide with pleasure.

Frog and cricket in the mosses,—
  Confound your gasconading!
Nose of fly and gnat’s proboscis;—
  Most tuneful serenading!

Sans-souci, so this host we greet,
  Their jovial humour showing;
There’s now no walking on our feet,
  So on our heads we’re going.

In seasons past we snatch’d, ’tis true,
  Some tit-bits by our cunning;
Our shoes, alas, are now danced through,
  On our bare soles we’re running.

From marshy bogs we sprang to light,
  Yet here behold us dancing;
The gayest gallants of the night,
  In glitt’ring rows advancing.

With rapid motion from on high,
  I shot in starry splendour;
Now prostrate on the grass I lie;—
  Who aid will kindly render?

Room! wheel round! They’re coming lo!
  Down sink the bending grasses.
Though spirits, yet their limbs, we know,
  Are huge substantial masses.

Don’t stamp so heavily, I pray;
  Like elephants you’re treading!
And ’mong the elves be Puck to-day,
  The stoutest at the wedding!

If nature boon, or subtle sprite,
  Endow your soul with pinions;—
Then follow to yon rosy height,
  Through ether’s calm dominions!
ORCHESTRA  (pianissimo)

Drifting cloud and misty wreathes
  Are fill’d with light elysian;
O’er reed and leaf the zephyr breathes—
  So fades the fairy vision!


  In misery! despairing! long wandering pitifully on the face of the earth and now imprisoned! This gentle hapless creature, immured in the dungeon as a malefactor and reserved for horrid tortures! That it should come to this! To this!—Perfidious, worthless spirit, and this thou hast concealed from me!—Stand! ay, stand! roll in malicious rage thy fiendish eyes! Stand and brave me with thine insupportable presence! Imprisoned! In hopeless misery! Delivered over to the power of evil spirits and the judgment of unpitying humanity!—And me, the while, thou wert lulling with tasteless dissipations, concealing from me her growing anguish, and leaving her to perish without help!

She is not the first.

Hound! Execrable monster!—Back with him, oh thou infinite spirit! back with the reptile into his dog’s shape, in which it was his wont to scamper before me at eventide, to roll before the feet of the harmless wanderer, and to fasten on his shoulders when he fell! Change him again into his favourite shape, that he may crouch on his belly before me in the dust, whilst I spurn him with my foot, the reprobate!—Not the first!—Woe! Woe! By no human soul is it conceivable, that more than one human creature has ever sunk into a depth of wretchedness like this, or that the first in her writhing death-agony should not have atoned in the sight of all-pardoning Heaven for the guilt of all the rest! The misery of this one pierces me to the very marrow, and harrows up my soul; thou art grinning calmly over the doom of thousands!

Now we are once again at our wit’s end, just where the reason of you mortals snaps! Why dost thou seek our fellowship, if thou canst not go through with it? Wilt fly, and art not proof against dizziness? Did we force ourselves on thee, or thou on us?

Cease thus to gnash thy ravenous fangs at me! I loathe thee!—Great and glorious spirit, thou who didst vouchsafe to reveal thyself unto me, thou who dost know my very heart and soul, why hast thou linked me with this base associate, who feeds on mischief and revels in destruction?

Hast done?

Save her!—or woe to thee! The direst of curses on thee for thousands of years!

I cannot loose the bands of the avenger, nor withdraw his bolts.—Save her!—Who was it plunged her into perdition? I or thou?  (FAUST looks wildly around.)

Would’st grasp the thunder? Well for you, poor mortals, that ’tis not yours to wield! To smite to atoms the being however innocent, who obstructs his path, such is the tyrant’s fashion of relieving himself in difficulties!

Convey me thither! She shall be free!

And the danger to which thou dost expose thyself? Know, the guilt of blood, shed by thy hand, lies yet upon the town. Over the place where fell the murdered one, avenging spirits hover and watch for the returning murderer.

This too from thee? The death and downfall of a world be on thee, monster! Conduct me thither, I say, and set her free!

I will conduct thee. And what I can do,—hear! Have I all power in heaven and upon earth! I’ll cloud the senses of the warder,—do thou possess thyself of the keys and lead her forth with human hand! I will keep watch! The magic steeds are waiting, I bear thee off. Thus much is in my power.

Up and away!

FAUST. MEPHISTOPHELES  (Rushing along on black horses)

What weave they yonder round the Ravenstone?

I know not what they shape and brew.

They’re soaring, swooping, bending, stooping.

A witches’ pack.

                They charm, they strew.

                On! On!

FAUST  (with a bunch of keys and a lamp before a small iron door)

A fear unwonted o’er my spirit falls;
Man’s concentrated woe o’erwhelms me here!
She dwells immur’d within these dripping walls;
Her only trespass a delusion dear!
Thou lingerest at the fatal door,
Thou dread’st to see her face once more?
On! While thou dalliest, draws her death-hour near.  (He seizes the lock. Singing within.)
        My mother, the harlot,
        She took me and slew!
        My father, the scoundrel,
        Hath eaten me too!
        My sweet little sister
        Hath all my bones laid,
        Where soft breezes whisper
        All in the cool shade!
Then became I a wood-bird, and sang on the spray,
Fly away! little bird, fly away! fly away!
FAUST  (opening the lock)

Ah! she forebodes not that her lover’s near,
The clanking chains, the rustling straw, to hear.  (He enters.)
MARGARET  (hiding her face in the bed of straw)

Woe! woe! they come! on bitter ’tis to die!
FAUST  (softly)

Hush! hush! be still! I come to set thee free!
MARGARET  (throwing herself at his feet)

If thou art human, feel my misery!

Thou wilt awake the jailor with thy cry!  (He grasps the chains to unlock them.)
MARGARET  (on her knees)

Who, headsman, unto thee this power
O’er me could give?
Thou com’st for me at midnight-hour.
Be merciful, and let me live!
Is morrow’s dawn not time enough?  (She stands up.)
I’m still so young, so young—
And must so early die!
Fair was I too, and that was my undoing.
My love is now afar, he then was nigh;
Torn lies the garland, the fair blossoms strew’d.
Nay, seize me not with hand so rude!
Spare me! What harm have I e’er done to thee?
Oh let me not in vain implore!
I ne’er have seen thee in my life before!

Can I endure this bitter agony?

I now am at thy mercy quite.
Let me my babe but suckle once again!
I fondled it the live-long night;
They took it from me but to give me pain,
And now, they say that I my child have slain.
Gladness I ne’er again shall know.
Then they sing songs about me,—’tis wicked of the throng—
An ancient ballad endeth so;
Who bade them thus apply the song?
(throwing himself on the ground)

A lover at thy feet bends low,
To loose the bonds of wretchedness and woe.
MARGARET  (throws herself beside him)

Oh, let us kneel and move the saints by prayer!
Look! look! yon stairs below,
Under the threshold there,
Hell’s flames are all aglow!
Beneath the floor,
With hideous noise,
The devils roar!
FAUST  (aloud)

Gretchen! Gretchen!
MARGARET  (listening)

That was my lov’d one’s voice!  (She springs up, the chains fall off.)
Where is he? I heard him calling me.
Free am I! There’s none shall hinder me.
To his neck will I fly,
On his bosom will lie!
Gretchen, he called!—On yon threshold he stood;
Amidst all the howling of hell’s fiery flood,
The scoff and the scorn of its devilish crew,
The tones of his voice, sweet and loving, I knew.

’Tis I!

        ’Tis thou! O say so once again!  (embracing him.)
’Tis he! ’Tis he! where’s now the torturing pain?
Where are the fetters? where the dungeon’s gloom?
’Tis thou! To save me thou art come!
And I am sav’d!—
Already now the street I see
Where the first time I caught a glimpse of thee.
There too the pleasant garden shade,
Where I and Martha for thy coming stay’d.
FAUST  (endeavouring to lead her away)

Come! come away!

                Oh do not haste!
I love to linger where thou stayest.  (caressing him.)

Ah haste! For if thou still delayest,
Our lingering we shall both deplore.

How, dearest? canst thou kiss no more!
So short a time away from me, and yet,
To kiss thou couldst so soon forget!
Why on thy neck so anxious do I feel—
When formerly a perfect heaven of bliss
From thy dear looks and words would o’er me steal?
As thou wouldst stifle me thou then didst kiss!—
Kiss me!
Or I’ll kiss thee!  (She embraces him.)
Woe! woe! Thy lips are cold,—
Are dumb!
Thy love where hast thou left?
Who hath me of thy love bereft?  (She turns away from him.)

Come! Follow me, my dearest love, be bold!
I’ll cherish thee with ardour thousand-fold;
I but entreat thee now to follow me!
MARGARET  (turning towards him)

And art thou he? and art thou really he?

’Tis I! O come!

                Thou wilt strike off my chain,
And thou wilt take me to thine arms again.
How comes it that thou dost not shrink from me?—
And dost thou know, love, whom thou wouldst set free?

Come! come! already night begins to wane.

I sent my mother to her grave,
I drown’d my child beneath the wave.
Was it not given to thee and me—thee too?
’Tis thou thyself! I scarce believe it yet.
Give me thy hand! It is no dream! ’Tis true!
Thine own dear hand!—But how is this? ’Tis wet?
Quick, wipe it off! Meseems that yet
There’s blood thereon.
Ah God! what hast thou done?
Put up thy sword,
I beg of thee!

Oh, dearest, let the past forgotten be!
Death is in every word.

No, thou must linger here in sorrow!
The graves I will describe to thee,
And thou to them must see
The best place give to my mother,
Close at her side my brother,
Me at some distance lay—
But not too far away!
And the little one place on my right breast,
Nobody else will near me lie!
To nestle beside thee so lovingly,
That was a rapture, gracious and sweet!
A rapture I never again shall prove;
Methinks I would force myself on thee, love,
And thou dost spurn me, and back retreat—
Yet ’tis thyself, thy fond kind looks I see.

If thou dost feel ’tis I, then come with me!

What, there? without?

                Yes, forth in the free air.

Ay, if the grave’s without,—If death lurk there!
Hence to the everlasting resting-place,
And not one step beyond!—Thou’rt leaving me?
Oh Henry! would that I could go with thee!

Thou canst! But will it! Open stands the door.

I dare not go! I’ve naught to hope for more.
What boots it to escape? They lurk for me!
’Tis wretched to beg, as I must do,
And with an evil conscience thereto!
’Tis wretched, in foreign lands to stray;
And me they will catch, do what I may!

With thee will I abide.

        Quick! Quick!
        Save thy poor child!
        Keep to the path
        The brook along,
        Over the bridge
        To the wood beyond,
        To the left, where the plank is,
        In the pond.
        Seize it at once!
        It fain would rise,
        It struggles still!
        Save it. Oh save!

Dear Gretchen, more collected be!
One little step, and thou art free!

Were we but only past the hill!
There sits my mother upon a stone—
My brain, alas, is cold with dread!—
There sits my mother upon a stone,
And to and fro she shakes her head;
She winks not, she nods not, her head it droops sore;
She slept so long, she waked no more;
She slept, that we might taste of bliss:
Ah! those were happy times, I wis!

Since here avails nor argument nor prayer,
Thee hence by force I needs must bear.

Loose me! I will not suffer violence!
With murderous hand hold not so fast!
I have done all to please thee in the past!

Day dawns! My love! My love!

                Yes! day draws near.
The day of judgment too will soon appear!
It should have been my bridal! No one tell,
That thy poor Gretchen thou hast known too well.
Woe to my garland!
Its bloom is o’er!
Though not at the dance—
We shall meet once more.
The crowd doth gather, in silence it rolls;
The squares, the streets,
Scarce hold the throng.
The staff is broken,—the death-bell tolls,—
They bind and seize me! I’m hurried along,
To the seat of blood already I’m bound!
Quivers each neck as the naked steel
Quivers on mine the blow to deal—
The silence of the grave now broods around!

Would I had ne’er been born!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (appears without)

Up! or you’re lost.
Vain hesitation! Babbling, quaking!
My steeds are shivering,
Morn is breaking.

What from the floor ascendeth like a ghost?
’Tis he! ’Tis he! Him from my presence chase!
What would he in this holy place?
It is for me he cometh!

                Thou shalt live!

Judgment of God! To thee my soul I give!

Come, come! With her I’ll else abandon thee!

Father, I’m thine! Do thou deliver me!
Ye angels! Ye angelic hosts! descend,
Encamp around to guard me and defend!—
Henry! I shudder now to look on thee!

She now is judged!
VOICES  (from above)

                Is saved!

                Come thou with me!  (Vanishes with FAUST.)
VOICE  (from within, dying away)

Henry! Henry!




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