Shall I yield, thing of flame, to thee?
Faust, and thine equal, I am he!
In the currents of life, in action’s storm,
I float and I wave
With billowy motion!
Birth and the grave,
O limitless ocean,
A constant weaving
With change still rife,
A restless heaving,
A glowing life—–
Thus time’s whirring loom unceasing I ply,
And weave the life-garment of deity.
Thou, restless spirit, dost from end to end
O’ersweep the world; how near I feel to thee!
Thou’rt like the spirit, thou dost comprehend,
Not me! [Vanishes.]
FAUST (deeply moved)
I, God’s own image!
And not rank with thee! [A knock.]
Oh death! I know it-’tis my famulus—
My fairest fortune now escapes!
That all these visionary shapes
A soulless groveller should banish thus!
[WAGNER in his dressing gown and night-cap, a lamp in his hand. FAUST turns round reluctantly.]
Pardon! I heard you here declaim;
A Grecian tragedy you doubtless read?
Improvement in this art is now my aim,
For now-a-days it much avails. Indeed
An actor, oft I’ve heard it said, as teacher,
May give instruction to a preacher.
Ay, if your priest should be an actor too,
As not improbably may come to pass.
When in his study pent the whole year through,
Man views the world, as through an optic glass,
On a chance holiday, and scarcely then,
How by persuasion can he govern men?
If feeling prompt not, if it doth not flow
Fresh from the spirit’s depths, with strong control
Swaying to rapture every listener’s soul,
Idle your toil; the chase you may forego!
Brood o’er your task! Together glue,
Cook from another’s feast your own ragout,
Still prosecute your paltry game,
And fan your ash-heaps into flame!
Thus children’s wonder you’ll excite,
And apes’, if such your appetite;
But that which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.
The speaker in delivery, will find
Success alone; I still am far behind.
A worthy object still pursue!
Be not a hollow tinkling fool!
Sound understanding, judgment true,
Find utterance without art or rule;
And when in earnest you are moved to speak,
Then is it needful cunning words to seek?
Your fine harangues, so polish’d in their kind,
Wherein the shreds of human thought ye twist,
Are unrefreshing as the empty wind,
Whistling through wither’d leaves and autumn mist!