• Part I: Prologue In Heaven

    (God, the Heavenly Hosts, and then Mephistopheles.)

    (The Three Archangels step forward.)


    The Sun sings out, in ancient mode,
    His note among his brother-spheres,
    And ends his pre-determined road,
    With peals of thunder for our ears.
    The sight of him gives Angels power,
    Though none can understand the way:
    The inconceivable work is ours,
    As bright as on the primal day.


    And swift, and swift, beyond conceiving,
    The splendour of the Earth turns round,
    A Paradisial light is interleaving,
    With night’s awesome profound.
    The ocean breaks with shining foam,
    Against the rocky cliffs deep base,
    And rock and ocean whirl and go,
    In the spheres’ swift eternal race.


    And storms are roaring in their race
    From sea to land, and land to sea,
    Their raging forms a fierce embrace,
    All round, of deepest energy.
    The lightning’s devastations blaze
    Along the thunder-crashes’ way:
    Yet, Lord, your messengers, shall praise
    The gentle passage of your day.

    All Three

    The sight of it gives Angels power
    Though none can understand the way,
    And all your noble work is ours,
    As bright as on the primal day.


    Since, O Lord, you near me once again,
    To ask how all below is doing now,
    And usually receive me without pain,
    You see me too among the vile crowd.
    Forgive me: I can’t speak in noble style,
    And since I’m still reviled by this whole crew,
    My pathos would be sure to make you smile,
    If you had not renounced all laughter too.
    You’ll get no word of suns and worlds from me.
    How men torment themselves is all I see.
    The little god of Earth sticks to the same old way,
    And is as strange as on that very first day.
    He might appreciate life a little more: he might,
    If you hadn’t lent him a gleam of Heavenly light:
    He calls it Reason, but only uses it
    To be more a beast than any beast as yet.
    He seems to me, saving Your Grace,
    Like a long-legged grasshopper: through space
    He’s always flying: he flies and then he springs,
    And in the grass the same old song he sings.
    If he’d just lie there in the grass it wouldn’t hurt!
    But he buries his nose in every piece of dirt.


    Have you nothing else to name?
    Do you always come here to complain?
    Does nothing ever go right on the Earth?


    No, Lord! I find, as always, it couldn’t be worse.
    I’m so involved with Man’s wretched ways,
    I’ve even stopped plaguing them, myself, these days.


    Do you know, Faust?


    The Doctor?

    My servant, first!


    In truth! He serves you in a peculiar manner.
    There’s no earthly food or drink at that fool’s dinner.
    He drives his spirit outwards, far,
    Half-conscious of its maddened dart:
    From Heaven demands the brightest star,
    And from the Earth, Joy’s highest art,
    And all the near and all the far,
    Fails to release his throbbing heart.


    Though he’s still confused at how to serve me,
    I’ll soon lead him to a clearer dawning,
    In the green sapling, can’t the gardener see
    The flowers and fruit the coming years will bring.


    What do you wager? I might win him yet!
    If you give me your permission first,
    I’ll lead him gently on the road I set.


    As long as he’s alive on Earth,
    So long as that I won’t forbid it,
    For while man strives he errs.


    My thanks: I’ve never willingly seen fit
    To spend my time amongst the dead,
    I much prefer fresh cheeks instead.
    To corpses, I close up my house:
    Or it’s too like a cat with a mouse.


    Well and good, you’ve said what’s needed!
    Divert this spirit from his source,
    You know how to trap him, lead him,
    On your downward course,
    And when you must, then stand, amazed:
    A good man, in his darkest yearning,
    Is still aware of virtue’s ways.


    That’s fine! There’s hardly any waiting.
    My wager’s more than safe I’m thinking.
    When I achieve my goal, in winning,
    You’ll let me triumph with a swelling heart.
    He’ll eat the dust, and with an art,
    Like the snake my mother, known for sinning.


    You can appear freely too:
    Those like you I’ve never hated.
    Of all the spirits who deny, it’s you,
    The jester, who’s most lightly weighted.
    Man’s energies all too soon seek the level,
    He quickly desires unbroken slumber,
    So I gave him you to join the number,
    To move, and work, and play the devil.
    But you the genuine sons of light,
    Enjoy the living beauty bright!
    Becoming, that works and lives forever,
    Embrace you in love’s limits dear,
    And all that may as Appearance waver,
    Fix firmly with everlasting Idea!

    (Heaven closes, and the Archangels separate.)

    Mephistopheles (alone)

    I like to hear the Old Man’s words, from time to time,
    And take care, when I’m with him, not to spew.
    It’s very nice when such a great Gentleman,
    Chats with the devil, in ways so human, too!

    NEXT: Part I Scene I: Night


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How Big is Infinity? Georg Cantor math's uncertainty absolute certainty belief cling to a certainty Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann faust goethe Kurt Gödel-incompleteness theorem Alan Turing-unprobable uncomputability

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