A rogue perchance!—For where’s the
Who to our face, direct, will Truth expound?
Children to edify, each knows the way,
To add or to subtract, now grave, now gay.
For learning there’s in very truth a time;
For teaching, I perceive, you now are prime.
While a few suns and many moons have waned,
A rich experience you have doubtless gained!
Experience! Froth and scum alone,
Not with the mind of equal birth!
Confess! what men have always known,
As knowledge now is nothing worth.
MEPHISTOPHELES (after a pause)
I long have thought myself a fool;
Now shallow to myself I seem, and dull.
That pleases me! Like reason that doth sound;
The first old man of sense I yet have found!
I sought for hidden treasures, genuine gold—
And naught but hideous ashes forth I bore!
Confess that pate of yours, though bare and old,
Than yonder hollow skull is worth no more!
Thou know’st not, friend, how rude is thy reply.
In German to be courteous is to lie.
MEPHISTOPHELES (still moving his wheel-chair ever nearer to the proscenium, to the pit)
Up here I am bereft of light and air;
I perhaps shall find a refuge with you there?
When at their worst, that men would something be,
When they are naught, presumptuous seems to me.
Man’s life is in the blood, and where, in sooth,
Pulses the blood so strongly as in youth?
That’s living blood, which with fresh vigor rife,
The newer life createth out of life.
There all is movement, something there is done;
Falleth the weak, the able presses on!
While half the world we ’neath our sway have brought,
What have ye done? Slept, nodded, dream’d, and thought,
Plan after plan rejected;—nothing won.
Age is, in sooth, a fever cold,
With frost of whims and peevish need:
When more than thirty years are told,
As good as dead one is indeed:
You it were best, methinks, betimes to slay.
The devil here has nothing more to say.
Save through my will, no devil dares to be.