And how must I thy services repay?
Thereto thou lengthen’d respite hast!
The devil is an egoist I know
And, for Heaven’s sake, ’tis not his way
Kindness to any one to show.
Let the condition plainly be exprest!
Such a domestic is a dangerous guest.
I’ll pledge myself to be thy servant here,
Still at thy back alert and prompt to be;
But when together yonder we appear,
Then shalt thou do the same for me.
But small concern I feel for yonder world;
Hast thou this system into ruin hurl’d,
Another may arise the void to fill.
This earth the fountain whence my pleasures flow,
This sun doth daily shine upon my woe,
And if this world I must forego,
Let happen then,—what can and will.
I to this theme will close mine ears,
If men hereafter hate and love,
And if there be in yonder spheres
A depth below or height above.
In this mood thou mayst venture it. But make
The compact! I at once will undertake
To charm thee with mine arts. I’ll give thee more
Than mortal eve hath e’er beheld before.
What, sorry Devil, hast thou to bestow?
Was ever mortal spirit, in its high endeavor,
Fathom’d by Being such as thou?
Yet food thou least which satisfieth never;
Hast ruddy gold, that still doth flow
Like restless quicksilver away;
A game thou hast, at which none win who play—
A girl who would, with amorous eyen,
E’en from my breast a neighbor snare,
Lofty ambition’s joy divine,
That, meteor-like, dissolves in air.
Show me the fruit that, ere ’tis pluck’d, doth rot,
And trees, whose verdure daily buds anew!
Such a commission scares me not;
I can provide such treasures, it is true.
But, my good friend, a season will come round
When on what’s good we may regale in peace.
If e’er upon my couch, stretched at my ease,
Then may my life that instant cease!
Me canst thou cheat with glozing wile
Till self-reproach away I cast,—
Me with joy’s lure canst thou beguile;—
Let that day be for me the last!
Be this our wager!
Sure and fast!
When to the moment I shall say,
“Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”
Then mayst thou fetter me straightway,
Then to the abyss will I depart!
Then may the solemn death-bell sound,
Then from thy service thou art free,
The index then may cease its round,
And time be never more for me!