MEPHISTOPHELES (half aloud)
They speak, as if to me they gave
Report, not of a moat—but of a grave.
A marsh along the mountain chain
Infecteth what’s already won;
Also the noisome pool to drain—
My last, best triumph then were won:
To many millions space I thus should give,
Though not secure, yet free to toil and live;
Green fields and fertile; men, with cattle blent,
Upon the newest earth would dwell content,
Settled forthwith upon the firm-based hill,
Up-lifted by a valiant people’s skill;
Within, a land like Paradise; outside,
E’en to the brink, roars the impetuous tide,
And as it gnaws, striving to enter there,
All haste, combined, the damage to repair.
Yea, to this thought I cling, with virtue rife,
Wisdom’s last fruit, profoundly true:
Freedom alone he earns as well as life,
Who day by day must conquer them anew.
So girt by danger, childhood bravely here,
Youth, manhood, age, shall dwell from year to year;
Such busy crowds I fain would see,
Upon free soil stand with a people free;
Then to the moment might I say;
Linger awhile, so fair thou art!
Nor can the traces of my earthly day
Through ages from the world depart!
In the presentiment of such high bliss,
The highest moment I enjoy—’tis this.
(FAUST sinks back, the LEMURES lay hold
of him and
lay him upon the ground.)
* * * * *
[Footnote 1: For lack of space, scientists and historians have been excluded.]
[Footnote 2: The chief original sources for the life of Goethe are his own autobiographic writings, his letters, his diaries, and his conversations. Of the autobiographic writings the most important are (1) Poetry and Truth from my Life, which ends with the year 1775; (2) Italian Journey, covering the period from September, 1786, to June, 1788; (3) Campaign in France and Siege of Antwerp, dealing with episodes of the years 1792 and 1793; (4) Annals (Tag- und Jahreshefte), which are useful for his later years down to 1823. His letters, forty-nine volumes in all, and his diaries, thirteen volumes, are included in the great Weimar edition of Goethe’s works. His conversations, so far as they were recorded, have been well edited by W. von Biedermann, ten volumes, Leipzig, 1889-1896.]
[Footnote 3: This earlier version was long supposed to be lost, but in 1910 a copy of the original manuscript was discovered at Zuerich and published. Its six books correspond very nearly to the first four of the final version.]
[Footnote 4: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 5: Adapted from E.A. Bowring.]
[Footnote 6: Translator: E.A. Bowring. (All poems in this section translated by E.A. Bowring, W.E. Aytoun and Theodore Martin appear by permission of Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.)]