Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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CATHEDRAL

[Mass, Organ, and Singing.
GRETCHEN among many people, EVIL SPIRIT behind GRETCHEN.]

Evil Spirit. How different, Gretchen, it was with thee,
When thou, still full of innocence,
Here to the altar cam'st,
Out of the well-worn, little book
Didst prattle prayers,
Half childhood's play,
Half God in thy heart!
Gretchen!
Where are thy thoughts?
Within thy heart
What foul misdeed?
Is it for thy mother's soul thou prayest, who
Through thee to long, long torment fell asleep?
Upon thy door-sill, whose the blood?
-Beneath thy heart already
Is there not stirring swelling life
That tortureth itself and thee
With its foreboding presence?
Gretchen. Woe! Woe!
Would I were free of thoughts
That go within me hither and thither
Against my will!
Choir. Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla.

[Sound of the organ.]

Evil Spirit. Wrath grips thee!
The last trumpet sounds!
The graves are trembling!
And thy heart,
From rest in ashes
To flaming torments
Raised up, re-created,
Trembling ascends!
Gretchen. Would were away from here!
It seems to me as if the organ
Would stifle my breathing,
As if my inmost heart
Were melted by the singing.
Choir. Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet adparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit.
Gretchen. I'm stifling here!
The walls and pillars
Imprison me!
The vaulted arches
Crush me! - Air!
Evil Spirit. Hide thyself! Sin and shame
Remain not hidden.
Air? Light?
Woe's thee!
Choir. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?
Evil Spirit. The faces of the Glorified
Will turn away from thee;
To thee their hands to offer
Will the Pure shudder.
Woe!
Choir. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Gretchen. Neighbour! Your smelling-salts!

[She falls in a swoon.]

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