EVENING. A SMALL AND NEAT ROOM
MARGARET (braiding and binding up her hair)
I would give something now to know
Who yonder gentleman could be!
He had a gallant air, I trow,
And doubtless was of high degree:
That written on his brow was seen—
Nor else would he so bold have been.
Come in! tread softly! be discreet!
FAUST (after a pause)
Begone and leave me, I entreat!
MEPHISTOPHELES (looking round)
Not every maiden is so neat.
FAUST (gazing round)
Welcome sweet twilight, calm and blest,
That in this hallow’d precinct reigns!
Fond yearning love, inspire my breast,
Feeding on hope’s sweet dew thy blissful pains!
What stillness here environs me!
Content and order brood around.
What fulness in this poverty!
In this small cell what bliss profound!
[He throws himself on the leather arm-chair beside the bed.]
Receive me thou, who hast in thine embrace,
Welcom’d in joy and grief the ages flown!
How oft the children of a by-gone race
Have cluster’d round this patriarchal throne!
Haply she, also, whom I hold so dear,
For Christmas gift, with grateful joy possess’d,
Hath with the full round cheek of childhood, here,
Her grandsire’s wither’d hand devoutly press’d.
Maiden! I feel thy spirit haunt the place,
Breathing of order and abounding grace.
As with a mother’s voice it prompteth thee
The pure white cover o’er the board to spread,
To stew the crisping sand beneath thy tread.
Dear hand! so godlike in its ministry!
The hut becomes a paradise through thee!
[He raises the bed curtain.]
How thrills my pulse with strange delight!
Here could I linger hours untold;
Thou, Nature, didst in vision bright,
The embryo angel here unfold.
Here lay the child, her bosom warm
With life; while steeped in slumber’s dew,
To perfect grace, her godlike form,
With pure and hallow’d weavings grew!
And thou! ah here what seekest thou?
How quails mine inmost being now!
What wouldst thou here? what makes thy heart so sore?
Unhappy Faust! I know thee now no more.
Do I a magic atmosphere inhale?
Erewhile, my passion would not brook delay!
Now in a pure love-dream I melt away.
Are we the sport of every passing gale?
Should she return and enter now,
How wouldst thou rue thy guilty flame!
Proud vaunter—thou wouldst hide thy brow—
And at her feet sink down with shame.
Quick! quick! below I see her there.