I thank you; for not willingly
I traffic with the dead, and still aver
That youth’s plump blooming cheek I very much prefer.
I’m not at home to corpses; ’tis my way,
Like cats with captive mice to toy and play.
Enough! ’tis granted thee! Divert
This mortal spirit from his primal source;
Him, canst thou seize, thy power exert
And lead him on thy downward course,
Then stand abash’d, when thou perforce must own,
A good man in his darkest aberration,
Of the right path is conscious still.
’Tis done! Full soon thou’lt see
As for my bet no fears I entertain.
And if my end I finally should gain,
Excuse my triumphing with all my soul.
Dust he shall eat, ay, and with relish take,
As did my cousin, the renowned snake.
Here too thou’rt free to act without control;
I ne’er have cherished hate for such as thee.
Of all the spirits who deny,
The scoffer is least wearisome to me.
Ever too prone is man activity to shirk,
In unconditioned rest he fain would live;
Hence this companion purposely I give,
Who stirs, excites, and must, as devil, work.
But ye, the genuine sons of heaven, rejoice!
In the full living beauty still rejoice!
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And Seeming’s changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!
[Heaven closes, the, Archangels disperse.]
The ancient one I like sometimes to see,
And not to break with him am always civil;
’Tis courteous in so great a lord as he,
To speak so kindly even to the devil.
FAUST—PART I (1808)
TRANSLATED BY ANNA SWANWICK
A high vaulted narrow Gothic chamber.
FAUST, restless, seated at his desk.
I have, alas! Philosophy,
Medicine, Jurisprudence too,
And to my cost Theology,
With ardent labor, studied through.
And here I stand, with all my lore,
Poor fool, no wiser than before.
Magister, doctor styled, indeed,
Already these ten years I lead,
Up, down, across, and to and fro,
My pupils by the nose,—and learn,
That we in truth can nothing know!
That in my heart like fire doth burn.
’Tis true, I’ve more cunning than all your dull tribe,
Magister and doctor, priest, parson, and scribe;
Scruple or doubt comes not to enthrall me,
Neither can devil nor hell now appal me—