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
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.)        3510
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,        3515
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!        3520
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.        3525
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;        3530
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.        3535
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,        3540
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!        3545
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.        3555

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        3560
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        3565
Didst lisp thy prayer,
Half childish sport,
Half God in thy young heart!
What thoughts are thine?        3570
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?        3575
—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.)        3585

Grim horror seizes thee!
The trumpet sounds!
The graves are shaken!
And thy heart
From ashy rest        3590
For torturing flames
A new created,
Trembles into life!

Would I were hence!
It is as if the organ        3595
Choked my breath,
As if the choir
Melted my inmost heart!

    Judex ergo cum sedebit,
    Quidquid latet adparebit,        3600
    Nil inultum remanebit.

I feel oppressed!
The pillars of the wall
Imprison me!
The vaulted roof        3605
Weighs down upon me!—air!

Wouldst hide thee? sin and shame
Remain not hidden!
Air! light!
Woe’s thee!        3610

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

The glorified their faces turn
Away from thee!        3615
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,        3625
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!        3630
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        3635
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!        3640
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!        3645

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!        3650
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;        3655
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,        3660
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;        3665
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!        3670
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.        3675
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!        3680
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,        3685
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,        3690
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;        3695
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,        3700
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,        3705
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;        3710
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        3715
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        3720
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        3730
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,        3735
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?        3740
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;        3745
    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.        3755
Which way didst come?

                O’er Ilsenstein!
There I peep’d in an owlet’s nest.
With her broad eye she gazed in mine!        3760

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,        3770
    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,        3775
    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!        3780

    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!        3790
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!        3795
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;        3805
    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—        3810
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.        3820
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        3825
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.        3830

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,        3840
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!        3845
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.        3850
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?        3855

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:        3860
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.)        3865
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,        3875
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,        3880
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.        3885
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,        3895
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.        3900
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!        3905
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!        3920

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;        3925
        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.        3930
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,        3940
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;        3945
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        3950
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;        3955
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,        3965
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.)        3970
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.        3985

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:—        3990
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!        3995

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.


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