Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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PLEASING LANDSCAPE


[TWILIGHT]

[Faust, reclining on flowery turf, weary, restless, trying to
sleep. SPIRITS, charming little figures forming a circle,
hovering about.]

Ariel [song accompanied by Aeolian harps].
When in spring the rain of flowers
Hovering sinketh over all,
When the meadows, bright with showers,
Unto all the earth-born call,
Tiny elves with souls propitious
Haste to help where help they can;
Be he blameless, be he vicious,
They lament the luckless man.

Hovering around this head in circles airy,
Look that ye show the noble law of fairy:
Appease the furious conflict in his heart!
Draw out the burning arrows of remorse,
From suffered horrors cleanse his inmost part!
Four pauses makes the night upon its course:
Hasten to fill them with your kindly art!
His head upon a cooling pillow lay,
Then bathe him in the dew from Lethe's stream!
His limbs, cramp-stiffened, soon will freely play
When rest has made him strong for morn's new beam.
Perform the fairest elfin rite,
Restore him to the holy light!
Chorus [singly, or two or more, alternating and together].
When the breezes, warmth exhaling,
Fill the green-encircled plain,
Twilight sinks its mists enveiling,
Brings sweet fragrance in its train,
Softly whispers peace to mortals,
Rocks the heart to childlike rest,
Closes eyelids, daylight's portals,
Of the weary and oppressed.
Night already sinks and darkles,
Holy follows star on star,
Light now bright, now fainter sparkles,
Glitters near and gleams afar,
Glitters, in the lake reflecting,
Gleams in night's clear canopy;
Deepest slumber's bliss perfecting,
Reigns the moon's full majesty.
Now the hours are passed and over,
Pain and bliss have fled away.
Feel it now! Thou wilt recover!
Trust the gleam of new-born day!
Vales grow green and hills are swelling,
Lure to bowers of rest again;
Harvest's coming now foretelling,
Roll the silvery waves of grain.
If thou every wish wouldst gain thee,
Gaze at yonder glory wide!
Lightly do the bonds restrain thee;
Sleep's a shell, cast it aside!
Be the crowd faint-hearted, quailing,
Falter not, but be thou bold!
All is his who never-failing
Understands and swift lays hold.

[A tremendous tumult announces the approach of the sun.]

Ariel. Hark! The storm of hours is nearing!
Sounding loud to spirit-hearing,
Is the new-born day appearing.
Rocky portals grate and shatter,
Phoebus' wheels roll forth and clatter.
What a tumult Light brings near!
Trumpets, trombones are resounding,
Eyes are blinking, ears astounding;
The unheard ye shall not hear.
Slip into a flowery bell
Deeper, deeper; quiet dwell
Under the leaf, in the cliff,
If it strikes you, ye are deaf.
Faust. Refreshed anew life's pulses beat and waken
To greet the mild ethereal dawn of morning;
Earth, through this night thou too hast stood unshaken
And breath'st before me in thy new adorning,
Beginst to wrap me round with gladness thrilling,
A vigorous resolve in me forewarning,
Unceasing strife for life supreme instilling.-
Now lies the world revealed in twilight glimmer,
The wood resounds, a thousand voices trilling;
The vales where mist flows in and out lie dimmer,
But in the gorges sinks a light from heaven,
And boughs and twigs, refreshed, lift up their shimmer
From fragrant chasms where they slept at even;
Tint upon tint again emerges, clearing
Where trembling pearls from flower and leaf drip riven:
All round me is a Paradise appearing.
Look up! - The peaks, gigantic and supernal,
Proclaim the hour most solemn now is nearing.
They early may enjoy the light eternal
That later to us here below is wended.
Now on the alpine meadows, sloping, vernal,
A clear and lavish glory has descended
And step by step fulfils its journey's ending.
The sun steps forth! - Alas, already blinded,
I turn away, the pain my vision rending.
Thus is it ever when a hope long yearning
Has made a wish its own, supreme, transcending,
And finds Fulfillments portals outward turning;
From those eternal deeps bursts ever higher
Too great a flame, we stand, with wonder burning.
To kindle life's fair torch we did aspire
And seas of flame - and what a flame! - embrace us!
Is it Love? Is it Hate? that twine us with their fire,
In alternating joy and pain enlace us,
So that again toward earth we turn our gazing,
Baffled, to hide in youth's fond veils our faces.
Behind me therefore let the sun be blazing!
The cataract in gorges deeply riven
I view with rapture growing and amazing.
To plunge on plunge in a thousand streams it's given,
And yet a thousand, downward to the valleys,
While foam and mist high in the air are driven.
Yet how superb above this tumult sallies
The many-coloured rainbow's changeful being;
Now lost in air, now clearly drawn, it dallies,
Shedding sweet coolness round us even when fleeing!
The rainbow mirrors human aims and action.
Think, and more clearly wilt thou grasp it, seeing
Life is but light in many-hued reflection.

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