Fiction > Harvard Classics > J. W. von Goethe > Faust. Part I
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832).  Faust. Part I.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Faust. Part I

Methinks’twere well we pack’d him quietly away.

What, sir! with us your hocus-pocus play!

Silence, old wine-cask!

                How! add insult, too!
Vile broomstick!

                Hold, or blows shall rain on you!
(draws a stopper out of the table; fire springs out against him)

I burn! I burn!

                ’Tis sorcery, I vow!
Strike home! The fellow is fair game, I trow!  (They draw their knives and attack MEPHISTOPHELES.)
MEPHISTOPHELES  (with solemn gestures)

        Visionary scenes appear!
        Words delusive cheat the ear!        2010
        Be ye there, and be ye here!  (They stand amazed and gaze at each other.)

Where am I? What a beauteous land!

Vineyards! unless my sight deceives?

And clust’ring grapes too, close at hand!

And underneath the spreading leaves,
What stems there be! What grapes I see!  (He seizes SIEBEL by the nose. The others reciprocally do the same, and raise their knives.)

Delusion, from their eyes the bandage take!
Note how the devil loves a jest to break!  (He disappears with FAUST; the fellows draw back from one another.)

What was it?


                Was that your nose?

And look, my hand doth thine enclose!

I felt a shock, it went through every limb!
A chair! I’m fainting! All things swim!

Say what has happened, what’s it all about?

Where is the fellow? Could I scent him out,
His body from his soul I’d soon divide!

With my own eyes, upon a cask astride,
Forth through the cellar-door I saw him ride—
Heavy as lead my feet are growing.  (Turning to the table.)        2030
I wonder is the wine still flowing!

’Twas all delusion, cheat and lie.

’Twas wine I drank, most certainly.

But with the grapes how was it, pray?

That none may miracles believe, who now will say?

  A large caldron hangs over the fire on a low hearth; various figures appear in the vapour rising from it. A FEMALE MONKEY sits beside the caldron to skim it, and watch that it does not boil over. The MALE MONKEY with the young ones is seated near, warming himself. The walls and ceiling are adorned with the strangest articles of witch-furniture.

This senseless, juggling witchcraft I detest!
Dost promise that in this foul nest
Of madness, I shall be restored?        2040
Must I seek counsel from an ancient dame?
And can she, by these rites abhorred,
Take thirty winters from my frame?
Woe’s me, if thou naught better canst suggest!
Hope has already fled my breast.        2045
Has neither nature nor a noble mind
A balsam yet devis’d of any kind?

My friend, you now speak sensibly. In truth,
Nature a method giveth to renew thy youth:
But in another book the lesson’s writ;—        2050
It forms a curious chapter, I admit.

I fain would know it.

                Good! A remedy
Without physician, gold, or sorcery:
Away forthwith, and to the fields repair,        2055
Begin to delve, to cultivate the ground,
Thy senses and thyself confine
Within the very narrowest round,
Support thyself upon the simplest fare,
Live like a very brute the brutes among,        2060
Neither esteem it robbery
The acre thou dost reap, thyself to dung;
This is the best method, credit me,
Again at eighty to grow hale and young.

I am not used to it, nor can myself degrade
So far, as in my hand to take the spade.
This narrow life would suit me not at all.

Then we the witch must summon after all.

Will none but this old beldame do?
Canst not thyself the potion brew?        2070

A pretty play our leisure to beguile!
A thousand bridges I could build meanwhile.
Not science only and consummate art,
Patience must also bear her part.
A quiet spirit worketh whole years long;        2075
Time only makes the subtle ferment strong.
And all things that belong thereto,
Are wondrous and exceeding rare!
The devil taught her, it is true;
But yet the draught the devil can’t prepare.  (Perceiving the beasts.)        2080
Look yonder, what a dainty pair!
Here is the maid! the knave is there!
(To the beasts)

It seems your dame is not a home?

        Gone to carouse,
        Out of the house,        2085
        Thro’ the chimney and away!

How long is it her wont to roam?

While we can warm our paws she’ll stay.

What think you of the charming creatures?

I loathe alike their form and features!

Nay, such discourse, be it confessed,
Is just the thing that pleases me the best.
(To the MONKEYS)

Tell me, ye whelps, accursed crew!
What stir ye in the broth about?

Coarse beggar’s gruel here we stew.

Of customers you’ll have a rout.
THE HE-MONKEY  (approaching and fawning on MEPHISTOPHELES)

        Quick! quick! throw the dice,
        Make me rich in a trice,
        Oh give me the prize!
        Alas, for myself!        2100
        Had I plenty of pelf,
        I then should be wise.

How blest the ape would think himself, if he
Could only put into the lottery!  (In the meantime the young MONKEYS have been playing with a large globe, which they roll forwards)

        The world behold;
        Unceasingly roll’d,
        It riseth and falleth ever;
        It ringeth like glass!
        How brittle, alas!
        ’Tis hollow, and resteth never.        2110
        How bright the sphere,
        Still brighter here!
        Now living am I!
        Dear son, beware!
        Nor venture there!        2115
        Thou too must die!
        It is of clay;
        ’Twill crumble away;
        There fragments lie.

Of what use is the sieve?
THE HE-MONKEY  (taking it down)

        The sieve would show,
        If thou wert a thief or no?  (He runs to the SHE-MONKEY, and makes her look through it.)
        Look through the sieve!
        Dost know him the thief,
        And dar’st thou not call him so?        2125
MEPHISTOPHELES  (approaching the fire)

And then this pot?

        The half-witted sot!
        He knows not the pot!
        He know not the kettle!

        Unmannerly beast!
        Be civil at least!

Take the whisk and sit down in the settle!  (He makes MEPHISTOPHELES sit down.)
(who all this time has been standing before a looking-glass, now approaching, and now retiring from it)

What do I see? what form, whose charms transcend
The loveliness of earth, is mirror’d here!
O Love, to waft me to her sphere,        2135
To me the swiftest of thy pinions lend!
Alas! If I remain not rooted to this place,
If to approach more near I’m fondly lur’d,
Her image fades, in veiling mist obscur’d!—
Model of beauty both in form and face!        2140
Is’t possible? Hath woman charms so rare?
In this recumbent form, supremely fair,
The essence must I see of heavenly grace?
Can aught so exquisite on earth be found?

The six days’ labour of a god, my friend,
Who doth himself cry bravo, at the end,
By something clever doubtless should be crown’d.
For this time gaze your fill, and when you please
Just such a prize for you I can provide;
How blest is he to whom kind fate decrees,        2150
To take her to his home, a lovely bride!
(FAUST continues to gaze into the mirror. MEPHISTOPHELES stretching himself on the settle and playing with the whisk, continues to speak.)
Here sit I, like a king upon his throne;
My sceptre this;—the crown I want alone.
The Monkeys  (who have hitherto been making all sorts of strange gestures, bring MEPHISTOPHELES a crown, with loud cries)

        Oh, be so good,
        With sweat and with blood        2155
        The crown to lime!  (They handle the crown awkwardly and break it in two pieces, with which they skip about.)
        ’Twas fate’s decree!
        We speak and see!
        We hear and rhyme.
FAUST  (before the mirror)

Woe’s me! well-nigh distraught I feel!
(pointing to the beasts)
And even my own head almost begins to reel.

        If good luck attend,
        If fitly things blend,        2165
        Our jargon with thought
        And with reason is fraught!
FAUST  (as above)

A flame is kindled in my breast!
Let us begone! nor linger here!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (in the same position)

It now at least must be confessed,
That poets sometimes are sincere.  (The caldron which the SHE-MONKEY has neglected begins to boil over; a great flame arises, which streams up the chimney. The WITCH comes down the chimney with horrible cries.)

Ough! ough! ough! ough!
Accursed brute! accursed sow!
The caldron dost neglect, for shame!
Accursed brute to scorch the dame!  (Perceiving FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES)        2175
Whom have we here?
Who’s sneaking here?
Whence are ye come?
With what desire?
The plague of fire        2180
Your bones consume!  (She dips the skimming-ladle into the caldron and throws flames at FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES, and the MONKEYS. The MONKEYS whimper.)
MEPHISTOPHELES  (twirling the whisk which he holds in his hand, and striking among the glasses and pots)

        Dash! Smash!
        There lies the glass!
        There lies the slime!
        ’Tis but a jest;        2185
        I but keep time,
        Thou hellish pest,
        To thine own chime!  (While the WITCH steps back in rage and astonishment.)
Dost know me! Skeleton! Vile scarecrow, thou!
Thy lord and master dost thou know?        2190
What holds me, that I deal not now
Thee and thine apes a stunning blow?
No more respect to my red vest dost pay?
Does my cock’s feather no allegiance claim?
Have I my visage masked to-day?        2195
Must I be forced myself to name?

Master, forgive this rude salute!
But I perceive no cloven foot.
And your two ravens, where are they?

This once I must admit your plea;—
For truly I must own that we
Each other have not seen for many a day.
The culture, too, that shapes the world, at last
Hath e’en the devil in its sphere embraced;
The northern phantom from the scene hath pass’d,        2205
Tail, talons, horns, are nowhere to be traced!
As for the foot, with which I can’t dispense,
’Twould injure me in company, and hence,
Like many a youthful cavalier,
False calves I now have worn for many a year.        2210
THE WITCH  (dancing)

I am beside myself with joy,
To see once more the gallant Satan here!

Woman, no more that name employ!

But why! what mischief hath it done?

To fable-books it now doth appertain;
But people from the change have nothing won.
Rid of the evil one, the evil ones remain.
Lord Baron call thou me, so is the matter good;
Of other cavaliers the mien I wear.
Dost make no question of my gentle blood;        2220
See here, this is the scutcheon that I bear!  (He makes an unseemly gesture.)
THE WITCH  (laughing immoderately)

Ha! Ha! Just like yourself! You are, I ween,
The same mad wag that you have ever been!

My friend, learn this to understand, I pray!
To deal with witches this is still the way.        2225

Now tell me, gentlemen, what you desire?

Of your known juice a goblet we require.
But for the very oldest let me ask;
Double its strength with years doth grow.

Most willingly! And here I have a flask,
From which I’ve sipp’d myself ere now;
What’s more, it doth no longer stink;
To you a glass I joyfully will give.
If unprepar’d, however, this man drink,
He hath not, as you know, an hour to live.        2235

He’s my good friend, with whom ’twill prosper well;
I grudge him not the choicest of thy store.
Now draw thy circle, speak thy spell,
And straight a bumper for him pour!  (The WITCH, with extraordinary gestures, describes a circle, and places strange things within it. The glasses meanwhile begin to ring, the caldron to sound, and to make music. Lastly, she brings a great book; places the MONKEYS in the circle to serve her as a desk, and to hold the torches. She beckons FAUST to approach.)

Tell me, to what doth all this tend?
Were will these frantic gestures end?
This loathsome cheat, this senseless stuff
I’ve known and hated long enough.

Mere mummery, a laugh to raise!
Pray don’t be so fastidious! She        2245
But as a leech, her hocus-pocus plays,
That well with you her potion may agree.  (He compels FAUST to enter the circle.)  (The WITCH, with great emphasis, begins to declaim the book.)
        This must thou ken:
        Of one make ten,
        Pass two, and then        2250
        Make square the three,
        So rich thou’lt be.
        Drop out the four!
        From five and six,
        Thus essays the witch,        2255
        Make seven and eight.
        So all is straight!
        And nine is one,
        And ten is none,
        This is the witch’s one-time-one!        2260

The hag doth as in fever rave.

To these will follow many a stave.
I know it well, so rings the book throughout;
Much time I’ve lost in puzzling o’er its pages,
For downright paradox, no doubt,        2265
A mystery remains alike to fools and sages,
Ancient the art and modern too, my friend.
’Tis still the fashion as it used to be,
Error instead of truth abroad to send
By means of three and one, and one and three.        2270
’Tis ever taught and babbled in the schools.
Who’d take the trouble to dispute with fools?
When words men hear, in sooth, they usually believe,
That there must needs therein be something to conceive.
THE WITCH  (continues)

        The lofty power
        Of wisdom’s dower,
        From all the world conceal’d!
        Who thinketh not,
        To him I wot,
        Unsought it is reveal’d.        2280

What nonsense doth the hag propound?
My brain it doth well-nigh confound.
A hundred thousand fools or more,
Methinks I hear in chorus roar.

Incomparable Sibyl cease, I pray!
Hand us the liquor without more delay.
And to the very brim the goblet crown!
My friend he is, and need not be afraid;
Besides, he is a man of many a grade,
Who hath drunk deep already.  (The WITCH, with many ceremonies, pours the liquor into a cup; as FAUST lifts it to his mouth, a light flame arises.)        2290

                Gulp it down!
No hesitation! It will prove
A cordial, and your heart inspire!
What! with the devil hand and glove,
And yet shrink back afraid of fire?  (The WITCH dissolves the circle. FAUST steps out.)        2295

Now forth at once! thou dar’st not rest.
And much, sir, may the liquor profit you!

And if to pleasure thee I aught can do,
Pray on Walpurgis mention thy request.

Here is a song, sung o’er, sometimes you’ll see,
That ’twill a singular effect produce.

Come, quick, and let thyself be led by me;
Thou must perspire, in order that the juice
Thy frame may penetrate through every part.
Then noble idleness I thee will teach to prize,        2305
And soon with ecstasy thou’lt recognise
How Cupid stirs and gambols in thy heart.

Let me but gaze one moment in the glass!
Too lovely was that female form!

                Nay! nay!
A model which all women shall surpass,
In flesh and blood ere long thou shalt survey.
As works that draught, thou presently shalt greet
A Helen in each woman thou dost meet.
FAUST (MARGARET passing by)


Fair lady, may I thus make free
To offer you my arm and company?

I am no lady, am not fair,
Can without escort home repair.  (She disengages herself and exit.)

By heaven! This girl is fair indeed!
No form like hers can I recall.        2320
Virtue she hath, and modest heed,
Is piquant too, and sharp withal.
Her cheek’s soft light, her rosy lips,
No length of time will e’er eclipse!
Her downward glance in passing by,        2325
Deep in my heart is stamp’d for aye;
How curt and sharp her answer too,
To ecstasy the feeling grew!  (MEPHISTOPHELES enters.)

This girl must win for me! Dost hear?


        She who but now passed.

                What! She?
She from confession cometh here,
From every sin absolved and free;
I crept near the confessor’s chair.        2335
All innocence her virgin soul,
For next to nothing went she there;
O’er such as she I’ve no control!

She’s past fourteen.

                You really talk
Like any gay Lothario,
Who every floweret from its stalk
Would pluck, and deems nor grace, nor truth,
Secure against his arts, forsooth!
This ne’er the less won’t always do.        2345

Sir Moralizer, prithee, pause;
Nor plague me with your tiresome laws!
To cut the matter short, my friend,
She must this very night be mine,—
And if to help me you decline,        2350
Midnight shall see our compact end.

What may occur just bear in mind!
A fortnight’s space, at least, I need,
A fit occasion but to find.

With but seven hours I could succeed;
Nor should I want the devil’s wile,
So young a creature to beguile.

Like any Frenchman now you speak,
But do not fret, I pray; why seek
To hurry to enjoyment straight?        2360
The pleasure is not half so great,
As when at first around, above,
With all the fooleries of love,
The puppet you can knead and mould
As in Italian story oft is told.        2365

No such incentives do I need.

But now, without offense or jest!
You cannot quickly, I protest,
In winning this sweet child succeed.
By storm we cannot take the fort,        2370
To stratagem we must resort.

Conduct me to her place of rest!
Some token of the angel bring!
A kerchief from her snowy breast,
A garter bring me,—any thing!        2375

That I my anxious zeal may prove,
Your pangs to sooth and aid your love,
A single moment will we not delay,
Will lead you to her room this very day.

And shall I see her?—Have her?

She to a neighbour’s house will go;
But in her atmosphere alone,
The tedious hours meanwhile you may employ,
In blissful dreams of future joy.        2385

Can we go now?

                ’Tis yet too soon.

Some present for my love procure!  (Exit.)

Presents so soon! ’tis well! success is sure!
Full many a goodly place I know,        2390
And treasures buried long ago;
I must a bit o’erlook them now.  (Exit.)
(braiding and binding up her hair)

I would give something now to know,
Who yonder gentleman could be!
He had a gallant air, I trow,        2395
And doubtless was of high degree:
That written on his brow was seen—
Nor else would he so bold have been.  (Exit.)

Come in! tread softly! be discreet!
FAUST  (after a pause)

Begone and leave me, I entreat!
MEPHISTOPHELES  (looking round)

Not every maiden is so neat  (Exit.)
FAUST  (gazing round)

Welcome sweet twilight, calm and blest,
That in this hallow’d precinct reigns!
Fond yearning love, inspire my breast,
Feeding on hope’s sweet dew thy blissful pains!        2405
What stillness here environs me!
Content and order brood around.
What fulness in this poverty!
In this small cell what bliss profound!  (He throws himself on the leather arm-chair beside the bed)
Receive me thou, who hast in thine embrace,        2410
Welcom’d in joy and grief the ages flown!
How oft the children of a by-gone race
Have cluster’d round this patriarchal throne!
Haply she, also, whom I hold so dear,
For Christmas gift, with grateful joy possess’d,        2415
Hath with the full round cheek of childhood, here,
Her grandsire’s wither’d hand devoutly press’d.
Maiden! I feel thy spirit haunt the place,
Breathing of order and abounding grace.
As with a mother’s voice it prompteth thee,        2420
The pure white cover o’er the board to spread,
To strew the crisping sand beneath thy tread.
Dear hand! so godlike in its ministry!
The hut becomes a paradise through thee!
And here—  (He raises the bed-curtain.)        2425
How thrills my pulse with strange delight!
Here could I linger hours untold;
Thou, Nature, didst in vision bright,
The embryo angel here unfold.
Here lay the child, her bosom warm        2430
With life; while steeped in slumber’s dew,
To perfect grace, her godlike form,
With pure and hallow’d weavings grew!
And thou! ah here what seekest thou?
How quails mine inmost being now!        2435
What wouldst thou here? what makes thy heart so sore?
Unhappy Faust! I know thee now no more.
Do I a magic atmosphere inhale?
Erewhile, my passion would not brook delay!
Now in a pure love-dream I melt away.        2440
Are we the sport of every passing gale?
Should she return and enter now,
How wouldst thou rue thy guilty flame!
Proud vaunter—thou wouldst hide thy brow,—
And at her feet sink down with shame.        2445

    Quick! quick! below I see her there.

    Away! I will return no more!

    Here is a casket, with a store
    Of jewels, which I got elsewhere
    Just lay it in the press; make haste!        2450
    I swear to you, ’twill turn her brain;
    Therein some trifles I have placed,
    Wherewith another to obtain.
    But child is child, and play is play.

    I know not—shall I?

                Do you ask?
Perchance you would retain the treasure?
If such your wish, why then, I say,
Henceforth absolve me from my task,
Nor longer waste your hours of leisure.        2460
I trust you’re not by avarice led!
I rub my hands, I scratch my head,—  (He places the casket in the press and closes the lock.)
Now quick! Away!
That soon the sweet young creature may
The wish and purpose of your heart obey;        2465
Yet stand you there
As would you to the lecture-room repair,
As if before you stood,
Arrayed in flesh and blood,
Physics and metaphysics weird and grey!—        2470
Away!  (Exeunt.)
MARGARET  (with a lamp)

        Here ’tis so close, so sultry now,  (She opens the window.)
Yet out of doors ’tis not so warm.
I feel so strange, I know not how—
I wish my mother would come home.        2475
Through me there runs a shuddering—
I’m but a foolish timid thing!  (While undressing herself she begins to sing.)
    There was a king in Thule,
    True even to the grave;
    To whom his dying mistress        2480
    A golden beaker gave.
    At every feast he drained it,
    Naught was to him so dear,
    And often as he drained it,
    Gush’d from his eyes the tear.        2485
    When death came, unrepining
    His cities o’er he told;
    All to his heir resigning,
    Except his cup of gold.
    With many a knightly vassal        2490
    At a royal feast sat he,
    In yon proud hall ancestral,
    In his castle o’er the sea.
    Up stood the jovial monarch,
    And quaff’d his last life’s glow,        2495
    Then hurled the hallow’d goblet
    Into the flood below.
    He saw it splashing, drinking,
    And plunging in the sea;


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.