Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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GRETCHEN'S ROOM


Gretchen [at her spinning-wheel, alone].
My peace is gone,
-My heart is sore-
I'll find it, ah, never,
No, nevermore!
When he is not near,
My grave is here;
My world is all
Turned into gall.
My poor, poor head
Is all a-craze,
And my poor wits
All in a maze.
My peace is gone,
-My heart is sore-
I'll find it, ah, never,
No, nevermore!
To see him only
At the window I stay,
To meet him only
From home I stray.
His noble form,
His bearing so high,
And his lips so smiling,
And the power of his eye,
His flowing speech's
Magic bliss,
His hands' fond clasp,
And, ah, his kiss!
My peace is gone,
-My heart is sore-
I'll find it, ah, never,
No, nevermore!
My bosom yearns
Toward him to go.
Ah! might I clasp him
And hold him so,
And kiss his lips
As fain would I,
Upon his kisses
To swoon and die!

MARTHA'S GARDEN

[MARGARET. FAUST.]

Margaret. Promise me, Henry!
Faust. What I can!
Margaret. How do you feel about religion? Tell me, pray.
You are a dear, good-hearted man,
But I believe you've little good of it to say.
Faust. Hush, hush, my child! You feel my love for you.
For those I love, I'd give my blood and body too,
Would no one of his feelings or of church bereave.
Margaret. That's not enough. We must believe!
Faust. Must we?
Margaret. Ah, could I but impress you, Henry dear!
The Holy Sacraments you also don't revere.
Faust. I do revere them.
Margaret. But without desire, alas!
It's long since you confessed or went to mass.
Do you believe in God?
Faust. My darling, who dare say:
"I believe in God"? You may
Ask priest or sage, and you'll receive
What only seems to mock and stay
The asker.
Margaret. So you don't believe?
Faust. Sweet vision, don't misunderstand me now!
Who dare name Him?
And who avow:
"I believe in Him?"
Who feels and would
Have hardihood
To say: "I don't believe in Him?"
The All-Enfolder,
The All-Upholder,
Enfolds, upholds He not
You, me, Himself?
Do not the heavens over-arch us yonder?
Does not the earth lie firm beneath?
Do not eternal stars rise friendly
Looking down upon us?
Look I not, eye in eye, on you,
And do not all things throng
Toward your head and heart,
Weaving in mystery eternal,
Invisible, visible, near to you?
Fill up your heart with it, great though it is,
And when you're wholly in the feeling, in its bliss,
Name it then as you will,
Name it Happiness! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for that!
Feeling is all in all;
Name is but sound and smoke,
Beclouding Heaven's glow.
Margaret. That's all quite nice and good to know;
Much the same way the preacher talks of it,
Only in words that differ just a bit.
Faust. Wherever the light of Heaven doth shine,
All hearts repeat it, everywhere, and each
In its own speech;
Then why not I in mine?
Margaret. To hear it thus, it's passable, and still I doubt it;
In spite of it all there is some hitch about it,
For you have no Christianity.
Faust. Dear child!
Margaret. It long has been a grief to me
That I see you in such company.
Faust. How so?
Margaret. The man who is with you as your mate,
Deep in my inmost soul I hate.
In all my whole life there's not a thing
That's given my heart so sharp a sting
As that man's hostile face has done.
Faust. Don't fear him, my precious one!
Margaret. His presence makes my blood run so chill,
And toward all others I bear good-will;
But although to see you I yearn and long,
With uncanny horror that man makes me shrink.
He is a knave, I really do think!
God forgive me if I'm doing him wrong!
Faust. Such queer birds there must also be.
Margaret. I'd not like to live with one like him!
If he but comes inside the door, you see
Him look always so scoffingly
And so half grim.
For nothing has he any real sympathy;
It's written on his forehead, one can see
That in his sight no soul can be dear.
I feel so happy in your arm,
So free, so yielding, and so warm,
And yet my heart grows stifled whenever he is near.
Faust. O you foreboding angel, you!
Margaret. It overcomes me so much too,
That when he but only comes our way,
I even think I've no more love for you,
And when he's there, I nevermore could pray;
That eats into my heart; and so you too
Must feel, dear Henry, as I do.
Faust. You simply have antipathy!
Margaret. I must go now.
Faust. Ah, can there never be
Upon your bosom one calm, little hour of rest,
To mingle soul with soul, press breast to breast?
Margaret. Ah, if I only slept apart!
For you I'd gladly leave the bolt undrawn tonight,
But then my mother's sleep is light;
And were we found by her, dear heart,
I would fall dead upon the spot!
Faust. No need of that! You angel, fear it not!
Here is a little phial Only three
Drops in her drink, and pleasantly
Deep slumber will enfold her like a charm!
Margaret. For your sake what would I not do?
I hope it will not do her harm!
Faust. If so, my love, would I thus counsel you?
Margaret. If I but look at you, O best of men,
I know not what compels me to your will.
I've done so much, your wishes to fulfil,
There's almost nothing left for me to do.

[Exit.]

[Mephistopheles appears.]

Mephistopheles. The little monkey! Is she gone?
Faust. You've spied again!
Mephistopheles. I've heard it all and understood,
The Doctor was put through the catechisms.
I hope that it will do you good.
Girls have a great desire to know, it's true,
If one is sleek and pious, true to ancient isms.
They think: if there he knuckles, us he'll follow too.
Faust. You monster, you've not seen
How this soul true and dear,
Full of the faith she hath,
That quite alone must mean
Eternal bliss to her, torments herself with awful fear
To think the man she loves is doomed by endless wrath.
Mephistopheles. You lover super-sensual, sensual too,
A damsel leads you by the nose.
Faust. O monstrous progeny of fire and filthy spew!
Mephistopheles. And physiognomy quite masterly she knows.
She feels she knows not how when I'm about,
And in my mask a hidden meaning sees.
She feels that I'm a daemon, without doubt,
Perhaps the very Devil, if you please!
Well now - tonight?
Faust. What's that to you?
Mephistopheles. I have my pleasure in it too!

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