JOHANN GOETHE

FAUST

The First Part
OF THE TRAGEDY

NIGHT.
In a high-vaulted, narrow Gothic chamber FAUST, restless in his chair by his desk.

Faust. I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology
All through and through with ardour keen!
Here now I stand, poor fool, and see
I'm just as wise as formerly.
Am called a Master, even Doctor too,
And now I've nearly ten years through
Pulled my students by their noses to and fro
And up and down, across, about,
And see there's nothing we can know!
That all but burns my heart right out.
True, I am more clever than all the vain creatures,
The Doctors and Masters, Writers and Preachers;
No doubts plague me, nor scruples as well.
I'm not afraid of devil or hell.
To offset that, all joy is rent from me.
I do not imagine I know aught that's right;
I do not imagine I could teach what might
Convert and improve humanity.
Nor have I gold or things of worth,
Or honours, splendours of the earth.
No dog could live thus any more!
So I have turned to magic lore,
To see if through the spirit's power and speech
Perchance full many a secret I may reach,
So that no more with bitter sweat
I need to talk of what I don't know yet,
So that I may perceive whatever holds
The world together in its inmost folds,
See all its seeds, its working power,
And cease word-threshing from this hour.
Oh, that, full moon, thou didst but glow
Now for the last time on my woe,
Whom I beside this desk so oft
Have watched at midnight climb aloft.
Then over books and paper here
To me, sad friend, thou didst appear!
Ah! could I but on mountain height
Go onward in thy lovely light,
With spirits hover round mountain caves,
Weave over meadows thy twilight laves,
Discharged of all of Learning's fumes, anew
Bathe me to health in thy healing dew.
Woe! am I stuck and forced to dwell
Still in this musty, cursed cell?
Where even heaven's dear light strains
But dimly through the painted panes!
Hemmed in by all this heap of books,
Their gnawing worms, amid their dust,
While to the arches, in all the nooks,
Are smoke-stained papers midst them thrust,
Boxes and glasses round me crammed,
And instruments in cases hurled,
Ancestral stuff around me jammed-
That is your world! That's called a world!
And still you question why your heart
Is cramped and anxious in your breast?
Why each impulse to live has been repressed
In you by some vague, unexplained smart?
Instead of Nature's living sphere
In which God made mankind, you have alone,
In smoke and mould around you here,
Beasts' skeletons and dead men's bone.
Up! Flee! Out into broad and open land!
And this book full of mystery,
From Nostradamus' very hand,
Is it not ample company?
The stars' course then you'll understand
And Nature, teaching, will expand
The power of your soul, as when
One spirit to another speaks. 'Tis vain
To think that arid brooding will explain
The sacred symbols to your ken.
Ye spirits, ye are hovering near;
Oh, answer me if ye can hear!

      He opens the book and perceives the sign of the Macrocosm.

What rapture, ah! at once is flowing
Through all my senses at the sight of this!
I feel a youthful life, its holy bliss,
Through nerve and vein run on, new-glowing.
Was it a god who wrote these signs that still
My inner tumult and that fill
My wretched heart with ecstasy?
Unveiling with mysterious potency
The powers of Nature round about me here?
Am I a god? All grows so clear to me!
In these pure lineaments I see
Creative Nature's self before my soul appear.
Now first I understand what he, the sage, has said:
"The world of spirits is not shut away;
Thy sense is closed, thy heart is dead!
Up, Student! bathe without dismay
Thy earthly breast in morning-red!"

      He contemplates the sign.

Into the whole how all things blend,
Each in the other working, living!
How heavenly powers ascend, descend,
Each unto each the golden vessels giving!
On pinions fragrant blessings bringing,
From Heaven through Earth all onward winging,
Through all the All harmonious ringing!
What pageantry! Yet, ah, mere pageantry!
Where shall I, endless Nature, seize on thee?
Thy breasts are- where? Ye, of all life the spring,
To whom both Earth and Heaven cling,
Toward whom the withering breast doth strain-
Ye gush, ye suckle, and shall I pine thus in vain?

      He turns the book over impatiently and perceives the sign of the EARTH-SPIRIT.

How differently upon me works this sign!
Thou, Spirit of the Earth, I feel, art nigher.
I feel my powers already higher,
I glow already as from some new wine.
I feel the courage, forth into the world to dare;
The woe of earth, the bliss of earth to bear;
With storms to battle, brave the lightning's glare;
And in the shipwreck's crash not to despair!
Clouds gather over me-
The moon conceals her light-
The lamp fades out!
Mists rise- red beams dart forth
Around my head- there floats
A horror downward from the vault
And seizes me!
Spirit invoked! near me, I feel, thou art!
Unveil thyself!
Ha! how it rends my heart!
To unknown feeling
All my senses burst forth, reeling!
I feel my heart is thine and to the uttermost!
Thou must! Thou must! though my life be the cost!

      He clutches the book and utters the sign of the SPIRIT in a tone of mystery. A ruddy flame flashes up;
the SPIRIT appears in the flames.

Spirit. Who calls to me?
Faust [turning away]. Appalling apparition!
Spirit. By potent spell hast drawn me here,
Hast long been tugging at my sphere,
And now-
Faust. Oh woe! I can not bear thy vision!
Spirit. With panting breath thou hast implored this sight,
Wouldst hear my voice, my face wouldst see;
Thy mighty spirit-plea inclineth me!
Here am I!- what a pitiable fright
Grips thee, thou Superman! Where is the soul elated?
Where is the breast that in its self a world created
And bore and fostered it? And that with joyous trembling
Expanded as if spirits, us, resembling?
Where art thou, Faust, whose voice rang out to me,
Who toward me pressed with all thy energy?
Is it thou who, by my breath surrounded,
In all the deeps of being art confounded?
A frightened, fleeing, writhing worm?
Faust. Am I, O form of flame, to yield to thee in fear?
'Tis I, I'm Faust, I am thy peer!
Spirit. In the tides of life, in action's storm,
Up and down I wave,
To and fro weave free,
Birth and the grave,
An infinite sea,
A varied weaving,
A radiant living,
Thus at Time's humming loom it's my hand that prepares
The robe ever-living the Deity wears.
Faust. Thou who dost round the wide world wend,
Thou busy spirit, how near I feel to thee!
Spirit. Thou art like the spirit thou canst comprehend,
Not me!


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