Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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A PRISON


Faust [with a bunch of keys and a lamp, in front of an iron wicket].
A long-unwonted shudder over me falls,
The woe of human lot lays hold on me.
Here then she dwells, within these humid walls,
And all her crime was a fond fantasy.
You hesitate to go her? You fear
Again to see her near?
On! Your faltering brings death lingering here!

[He grasps the lock.]

Someone is singing [inside].
My mother, the whore,
She has murdered me!
My father, the rogue,
He has eaten me,
My sister, so small,
My bones, one and all,
In a cool place did lay.
A forest bird fair I became that day;
Fly away! Fly away!
Faust [unlocking the wicket].
She does not dream her lover listens, near again,
And hears the rustling straw, the clanking chain.

[He steps in.]

Margaret [hiding herself on her pallet].
Woe! Woe! They come! How bitter 'tis to die!
Faust [softly]. Hush! Hush! I come to set you free!
Margaret [grovelling at his feet].
If you're a man, then feel my misery!
Faust. You will wake the warders with your cry!

[He takes hold of the chains, to unlock them.]

Margaret [on her knees]. Who, headsman, ever had this power
Over me to give?
You fetch me at the midnight hour!
Be merciful and let me live!
Will it not be soon enough when the matin's rung?

[She stands up.]

Ah! I am still so young, so young!
And now to die!
It was my ruin that so fair was I.
My love was near, now he is far;
Torn lies the wreath, scattered the flowers are.
Seize me not thus so violently!
What have I done to you? Oh, pity me!
Let me not in vain implore!
I've never, my life long, seen you before!
Faust. Can I survive this misery?
Margaret. You now have power over me.
Let me but nurse my baby once again.
I fondled it the livelong night;
They took it from me, just to give me pain,
And now they say I murdered it outright.
I never shall again be glad.
They're singing songs about me! That is bad
Of people! An old story ends just so.
Who bids them tell it of me, though?
Faust [throws himself down].
Here at your feet a lover lies,
To loose the bondage of these miseries.
Margaret [throws herself beside him].
Oh, let us kneel, call on the saints to hear us!
See! under these steps near us
And the threshold's swell,
Seething all Hell!
The Devil,
In fearful brawling,
Holds awful revel!
Faust [loudly]. Gretchen! Gretchen!
Margaret [listening attentively].
That was my lover calling!

[She springs up. The chains fall off.]

Where is he? I heard him calling! I am free!
No one shall hinder me.
To his neck will I fly,
On his bosom lie!
He called "Gretchen!" He stood at the door of my cell.
Through the midst of the howl and clatter of Hell,
Through the anger and scorn of the devilish crew,
The tones of that sweet, loving voice I knew.
Faust. It's I!
Margaret. It's you! Oh, say it once again!

[Embracing him.]

It's he! It's he! Where's all my misery?
And where the anguish of the gaol? the chain?
It's you! You've come to save me!
And I am saved!
The very street is here anew
Where for the first time I saw you,
And the cheerful garden too
Where I and Martha wait for you.
Faust [urging her to go]. Come! Come with me!
Margaret. Oh, tarry!
So gladly do I tarry where you tarry!

[Caressing him.]

Faust. Hurry!
Unless you hurry,
We must pay for it dearly.
Margaret. What? And can you kiss no more! Is this
My love, away from me a short while merely,
And yet forgotten how to kiss?
Why do I cling about your neck so fearfully?
When once but at a glance, a word, from you,
All Heaven swept me through and through,
And you kissed me as if you'd smother me.
Kiss me! Do!
Or I'll kiss you!

[She embraces him.]

Oh, woe! Your dear lips are so cold,
Are still!
Where has your loving
Been roving?
Who did me this ill?

[She turns away from him.]

Faust. Come! follow me, love, have courage, be bold!
I'll press you to my heart with warmth a thousandfold;
I only beg you now to follow me!
Margaret [turning toward him].
And is it you, then? You, quite certainly?
Faust. It's I! Come with me!
Margaret. You unlock the chain,
You take me in your lap again!
How is it that you do not shrink from me?
And do you know, my love, whom you set free?
Faust. Come! come! The depths of night already wane.
Margaret. My mother I have slain.
My child I've drowned! It's true!
Was it not given to me and you?
To you as well! It's you! I scarce can deem
It real. Give me your hand! It is no dream!
Your darling hand! But ah, it's wet!
Quick wipe it off! It seems that even yet
I see blood run.
Ah, God! What have you done?
Oh, put away
The sword, I pray!
Faust. Let what is done and over, over be!
You're killing me.
Margaret. No, you must stay alive, you must indeed!
I'll tell you how the graves must be.
For them you must take heed
Tomorrow morn for me.
The best place give to my mother,
And close beside her my brother,
Me a little to one side,
A space - but not too wide!
And put the little one here on my right breast.
No one else will lie beside me!
Ah, in your arms to nestle and hide me,
That was a sweet, a lovely bliss!
But now, much as I try, it seems to go amiss.
It seems to me as if I must
Force myself on you and you thrust
Me back, and yet it's you, so kind, so good to see.
Faust. If you feel it is I, then come with me!
Margaret. Out there?
Faust. To freedom!
Margaret. If the grave's out there,
Death lurking near, then come with me!
From here to the eternal bed of rest
And no step further - No!
You go away now? Henry! Oh, that I could go!
Faust. You can! Just will it! Open stands the door.
Margaret. I dare not go; for me there's no hope any more.
Why flee? They'll surely lie in wait for me.
It is so wretched to beg one's way
And with an evil conscience too.
It is so wretched, in unknown parts to stray,
And they will seize me anyway.
Faust. I shall remain with you.
Margaret. Quick! Quick! Begone!
Save your poor child! On! On!
Keep to the way
Along the brook,
Over the bridge
To the wood beyond,
To the left where the plank is
In the pond.
Quick! Seize it! Quick!
It's trying to rise,
It's struggling still!
Save it! Save it!
Faust. Collect your thoughts! And see,
It's but one step, then you are free!
Margaret. If we were only past the hill!
There sits my mother upon a stone,
My brain is seized by cold, cold dread!
There sits my mother upon a stone,
And to and fro she wags her head;
She becks not, she nods not, her head's drooping lower,
She has slept long, she'll wake no more.
She slept and then we were so glad.
Those were happy times we had.
Faust. No prayers help here and naught I say,
So I must venture to bear you away.
Margaret. Let me alone! No, I'll not suffer force!
Don't pounce so murderously on me!
I have done all for love of you.
Faust. My darling! See!
The day is dawning! Darling!
Margaret. Day! Yes, day is dawning! The last day breaks for me!
My wedding-day this was to be!
Tell no one you have been with Gretchen.
My wreath's gone forever!
It is gone and in vain.
We'll see one another again,
But at dances never.
The crowd comes surging, no sound it makes,
The street and square
Cannot hold all there.
The death-bell tolls, the white wand breaks.
How they seize me, bind me with lashes!
Away and to the block I'm sped.
Each neck is wincing at the flashes
As swift the keen blade flashes over my head.
Hushed lies the world as the grave.
Faust. Oh! had I never been born!
Mephistopheles [appears outside]. Off! or you're lost and lorn.
What vain delaying, wavering, prating!
My shivering steeds are waiting,
The morning twilight's near.
Margaret. What rises up from the threshold here?
He! He! Thrust him out!
In this holy place what is he about?
He seeks me!
Faust. You shall live!
Margaret. Judgment of God! My all to thee I give!
Mephistopheles [to FAUST].
Come! Come! Along with her I will abandon you.
Margaret. Thine am I, Father! Rescue me!
Ye angels! Ye heavenly hosts! Appear,
Encamp about and guard me here!
Henry! I shrink from you!
Mephistopheles. She is judged!
A Voice [from above]. She is saved!
Mephistopheles [to FAUST]. Here to me!

[He disappears with FAUST.]

A Voice [from within, dying away]. Henry! Henry!

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