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Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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[Margaret on FAUST'S arm, MARTHA and MEPHISTOPHELES, walking up and down.]

Margaret. I feel the gentleman is only sparing me,
So condescends that I am all confused.
A traveller is so much used
To bear with things good-naturedly.
I know too well, my poor talk hardly can
Amuse you, an experienced man.
Faust. One glance from you, one word, more entertains
Than all the wisdom that this world contains.

[He kisses her hand.]

Don't incommode yourself! How can my hand be kissed by you?
It is so ugly and so rough!
What work is there that I've not had to do?
My mother's more than strict enough.

[They pass on.]

Martha. And you, sir, are you always on the go?
Mephistopheles. Alas, that business, duty, drive us so!
With how much pain one goes from many a place,
And even so, one simply must not stay.
Martha. In active years perhaps' tis well this way,
Thus freely round and round the world to race;
But then the evil times come on apace,
And as a bachelor to drag on to the grave alone,
That has been good for no one, you must own.
Mephistopheles. With dread I see it far away.
Martha. Then, worthy sir, consider while you may!

[They pass on.]

Margaret. Yes, out of sight is out of mind!
To you so easy is this courtesy;
But many friends you always find,
More sensible than I can be.
Faust. O dear one! Trust me, that which men call sense
Is oft but vanity and narrowness.
Margaret. But why? Tell me.
Faust. Ah, that simplicity, that innocence,
That neither its own sacred value knows!
That lowliness, humility, those gifts supreme
That loving Nature's bounteous hand bestows-
Margaret. Though you may think of me a moment only,
I'll have, ah, time enough to think of you and dream.
Faust. You are then often lonely?
Margaret. Yes, for our household is but small,
And yet one has to look to all.
We have no maid - must cook, sweep, sew, and knit,
And early run about and late;
And Mother is in all of it
So accurate!
Not that in spending she must feel confined;
We could branch out far more than many do.
My father left a pretty property behind,
A house outside the town, a little garden too.
Yet now I've pretty quiet days. My brother,
He is a soldier lad.
My little sister's dead.
A deal of trouble with the child did I go through;
Yet once more would I gladly undertake the bother,
I loved the child so much.
Faust. An angel, if like you.
Margaret. I brought it up and it was fond of me.
Father had died when it was born;
We gave our mother up for lost, so worn
And wretched, lying there, was she.
And she grew well so slowly, bit by bit,
She could not think of suckling it
Herself, the poor babe pitifully wee,
And so I brought it up, and quite alone,
With milk and water; so it became my own.
Upon my arm and in my lap it threw
Itself about, was friendly too, and grew.
Faust. You've surely felt the purest happiness.
Margaret. But also many weary hours, I must confess.
The wee thing's cradle stood at night
Beside my bed; it scarcely might
Just stir; I was awake;
Sometimes I had to give it drink, sometimes to take
It in with me, sometimes from bed arise
And dandle up and down the room to hush its cries;
And at the wash-tub stand at daylight's break,
Then to the marketing and to the hearth attend.
Tomorrow too just like today, so without end.
Thus, sir, one's spirits are not always of the best,
But in return one relishes both food and rest.

[They pass on.]

Martha. Poor women have things hard, it's true;
A bachelor's not easy to convert.
Mephistopheles. It but depends upon the like of you,
For then my present ways I might desert.
Martha. Speak out, sir, is there none you've ever met?
Has your heart never bound itself as yet?
Mephistopheles. One's own good wife and hearth, we're told,
Are worth as much as pearls and gold.
Martha. I mean, if you have never felt a passion?
Mephistopheles. I've always been received in very courteous fashion.
Martha. I mean: has love in earnest never stirred your breast?
Mephistopheles. With ladies one should never dare to jest.
Martha. Ah, you don't understand me!
Mephistopheles. That distresses me!
And yet I understand - most kindly would you be.

[They pass on.]

Faust. Did you, O little angel, straightway recognize
Me when I came into the garden?
Margaret. Did you not see that I cast down my eyes?
Faust. That liberty I took, you'll pardon?
The daring impudence that day
When coming from the church you went your way?
Margaret. I was confused; to me it never had
Occurred; no one could say of me what's bad.
Ah, thought I, in your manner, then, has he
Seen something bold, unmaidenly?
It seemed to strike him right away
To have some dealings with this girl without delay.
Yet I confess I know not why my heart
Began at once to stir to take your part.
But with myself I was right vexed, it's true,
That I could not become more vexed toward you.
Faust. Sweet darling!
Margaret. Wait a bit!

[She plucks a star-flower and picks off the petals, one after the other.]

Faust. What's that? A nosegay?
Margaret. No,
It's just a game.
Faust. What?
Margaret. You will laugh at me, do go!

[She pulls off the petals and murmurs.]

Faust. What are you murmuring?
Margaret [half aloud]. He loves me - loves me not!
Faust. Sweet, heavenly vision!
Margaret [goes on]. Loves me - not - loves me - not-

[Plucking off the last petal with lovely joy.]

He loves me!
Faust. Yes, my child! and let this blossom's word
Be oracle of gods to you! He loves you!
You understand that word and what it means? He loves you!

[He seizes both her hands.]

Margaret. I'm all a-tremble!
Faust. Oh, shudder not! But let this look,
Let this hand-pressure say to you
What is unspeakable:
To give one's self up wholly and to feel
A rapture that must be eternal!
Eternal! - for its end would be despair.
No! no end! no end!

[Margaret presses his hands, frees herself, and runs away. He stands a moment in thought and then follows her.]

Martha [coming]. The night comes on.
Mephistopheles. Yes, and we must away.
Martha. I'd ask you make a longer stay;
But it's a wicked place, here roundabout,
As if no one had naught to carry through
And naught to do
But gape at all the neighbours going in and out.
One's talked about, do all one may.
And our dear couple?
Mephistopheles. Up that walk I saw them whirr,
The wanton butterflies!
Martha. He seems to take to her.
Mephistopheles. And she to him. So runs the world away.


[Margaret runs in, hides behind the door, holds the tip of her
fingers to her lips, and peers through the crevice.]

Margaret. He's coming!
Faust [enters]. Rogue, it's thus you tease!
I've caught you!

[He kisses her.]

Margaret [embracing him and returning the kiss].
Best of men, I love you from my heart?

[Mephistopheles knocks.]

Faust [stamping]. Who's there?
Mephistopheles. A friend!
Faust. A beast!
Mephistopheles. I think it's time to part.
Martha [enters]. Yes, sir, it's late.
Faust. Mayn't I escort you, please?
Margaret. My mother would - Good-by!
Faust. Must I go then?
Martha. Adieu!
Margaret. But soon to meet again!

[Faust and MEPHISTOPHELES exeunt.]

Margaret. Dear God! The things that such a man
Can think of! Everything! I only can
Stand there before him shamed and quivering
And answer "Yes" to everything.
I am a poor unknowing child, and he-
I do not see what he can find in me.


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