• Part I Scene III: The Study

    (Faust enters, with the dog.)

    Faust

    Fields and meadows now I’ve left
    Clothed in deepest night,
    Full of presentiments, a holy dread
    Wakes the better soul in me to light.
    Wild desires no longer stir
    At every restless act of mine:
    Love for Humanity is here,
    And here is Love Divine.

    Quiet, dog! Stop running to and fro!
    Why are you snuffling at the door?
    Lie down now, behind the stove,
    There’s my best cushion on the floor.
    Since you amused us running, leaping,
    Out on the mountainside, with zest,
    Now I take you into my keeping,
    A welcome, and a silent guest.

    Ah, when in our narrow room,
    The friendly lamp glows on the shelf,
    Brightness burns in our inner gloom,
    In the Heart, that knows itself.
    Reason speaks with insistence,
    And Hope once more appears,
    We see the River of Existence,
    Ah, the founts of Life, are near.


    Don’t growl, dog! With this holy sound
    Which I, with all my soul, embrace,
    Your bestial noise seems out of place.
    Men usually scorn the things, I’ve found,
    That, by them, can’t be understood,
    Grumbling at beauty, and the good,
    That to them seems wearisome:
    Can’t a dog, then, snarl like them?

    Oh, yet now I can feel no contentment
    Flow through me, despite my best intent.
    Why must the stream fail so quickly,
    And once again leave us thirsty?
    I’ve long experience of it, yet I think
    I could supply what’s missing, easily:
    We learn to value what’s beyond the earthly,
    We yearn to reach revelation’s brink,
    That’s nowhere nobler or more excellent
    Than where it burns in the New Testament.
    I yearn to render the first version,
    With true feeling, once and for all,
    Translate the sacred original
    Into my beloved German.


    (He opens the volume, and begins.)

    It’s written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Word!’
    Here I stick already! Who can help me? It’s absurd,
    Impossible, for me to rate the word so highly
    I must try to say it differently
    If I’m truly inspired by the Spirit. I find
    I’ve written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Mind’.
    Let me consider that first sentence,
    So my pen won’t run on in advance!
    Is it Mind that works and creates what’s ours?
    It should say: ‘In the beginning was the Power!’
    Yet even while I write the words down,
    I’m warned: I’m no closer with these I’ve found.
    The Spirit helps me! I have it now, intact.
    And firmly write: ‘In the Beginning was the Act!’

    If I’m to share my room with you,
    Dog, you can stop howling too:
    Stop your yapping!
    A fellow who’s always snapping,
    I can’t allow too near me.
    One of us you see,
    Must leave the other free.
    I’ve no more hospitality to show,
    The door’s open, you can go.
    But what’s this I see!
    Can this happen naturally?
    Is it a phantom or is it real?
    The dog’s growing big and tall.
    He rises powerfully,
    It’s no doglike shape I see!
    What a spectre I brought home!
    Like a hippo in the room,
    With fiery eyes, and fearful jaws.
    Oh! Now, what you are, I’m sure!
    The Key of Solomon is good
    For conjuring your half-hellish brood.

    Spirits (In the corridor.)

    Something’s trapped inside!
    Don’t follow it: stay outside!
    Like a fox in a snare
    An old lynx from hell trembles there.
    Be careful what you’re about!
    Float here: float there,
    Under and over,
    And he’ll work his way out.
    If you know how to help him,
    Don’t let yourself fail him!
    Since it’s all done for sure,
    Just for your pleasure.

    Faust

    First speak the Words of the Four
    To encounter the creature.
    Salamander, be glowing,
    Undine, flow near,
    Sylph, disappear,
    Gnome, be delving.

    Who does not know
    The Elements so,
    Their power sees,
    And properties,
    Cannot lord it
    Over the Spirits.

    Vanish in flame,
    Salamander!
    Rush together in foam,
    Undine!
    Shine with meteor-gleam,
    Sylph!
    Bring help to the home,
    Incubus! Incubus!
    Go before and end it thus!

    None of the Four
    Show in the creature.
    He lies there quietly grinning at me:
    I’ve not stirred him enough it seems.
    But you’ll hear how
    I’ll press him hard now.
    My good fellow, are you
    Exiled from Hell’s crew?
    Witness the Symbol
    Before which they bow,
    The dark crowd there!
    Now it swells, with its bristling hair.
    Depraved being!
    Can you know what you’re seeing?
    The uncreated One
    With name unexpressed,
    Poured through Heaven,
    Pierced without redress?

    Spellbound, behind the stove,
    An elephant grows.
    It fills the room, completely,
    It will vanish like mist, I can see.
    Don’t rise to the ceiling!
    Lie down at your master’s feet!
    You see I don’t threaten you lightly.
    I’ll sting you with fire that’s holy!
    Don’t wait for the bright
    Triple glowing Light!
    Don’t wait for
    My highest art!

    (As the mist clears, Mephistopheles steps from behind the stove, dressed as a wandering Scholar.)

    Mephistopheles

    Why such alarms? What command would my lord impart?

    Faust

    This was the dog’s core!
    A wandering scholar? The fact makes me smile.

    Mephistopheles

    I bow to the learned lord!
    You certainly made me sweat, in style.

    Faust

    How are you named?

    Mephistopheles

    A slight question
    For one who so disdains the Word,
    Is so distant from appearance: one
    Whom only the vital depths have stirred.

    Faust

    We usually gather from your names
    The nature of you gentlemen: it’s plain
    What you are, we all too clearly recognise
    One who’s called Liar, Ruin, Lord of the Flies.
    Well, what are you then?

    Mephistopheles

    Part of the Power that would
    Always wish Evil, and always works the Good.

    Faust

    What meaning to these riddling words applies?


    Mephistopheles

    I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
    And rightly so: since everything created,
    In turn deserves to be annihilated:
    Better if nothing came to be.
    So all that you call Sin, you see,
    Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
    By Evil is my true element.

    Faust

    You call yourself a part, yet seem complete to me?

    Mephistopheles

    I’m speaking the truth to you, and modestly.
    Even if Man’s accustomed to take
    His small world for the Whole, that’s his mistake:
    I’m part of the part, that once was - everything,
    Part of the darkness, from which Light, issuing,
    Proud Light, emergent, disputed the highest place
    With its mother Night, the bounds of Space,
    And yet won nothing, however hard it tried,
    Still stuck to Bodily Things, and so denied.
    It flows from bodies, which it beautifies,
    And bodies block its way:
    I hope the day’s not far away
    When it, along with all these bodies, dies.

    Faust

    Now I see the plan you follow!
    You can’t destroy it all, and so
    You’re working on a smaller scale.

    Mephistopheles

    And frankly it’s a sorry tale.
    What’s set against the Nothingness,
    The Something, World’s clumsiness,
    Despite everything I’ve tried,
    Won’t become a nothing: though I’d
    Storms, quakes, and fires on every hand,
    It deigned to stay as sea and land!
    And those Men and creatures, all the damned,
    It’s no use my owning any of that crew:
    How many I’ve already done with too!
    Yet new fresh blood is always going round.
    So it goes on, men make me furious!
    With water, earth and air, of course,
    A thousand buds unfurl
    In wet and dry, warm and cold!
    And if I hadn’t kept back fire of old,
    I’d have nothing left at all.

    Faust

    So you set the Devil’s fist
    That vainly clenches itself,
    Against the eternally active,
    Wholesome, creative force!
    Strange son of Chaos, start
    On something else instead!

    Mephistopheles

    Truly I’ll think about it: more
    Next time, on that head!
    Might I be allowed to go?

    Faust

    I see no reason for you to ask it.
    Since I’ve learnt to know you now,
    When you wish: then make a visit.
    There’s the door, here’s the window,
    And, of course, there’s the chimney.

    Mephistopheles

    I must confess, I’m prevented though
    By a little thing that hinders me,
    The Druid’s-foot on your doorsill –

    Faust

    The Pentagram gives you pain?
    Then tell me, you Son of Hell,
    If that’s the case, how did you gain
    Entry? Are spirits like you cheated?

    Mephistopheles

    Look carefully! It’s not completed:
    One angle, if you inspect it closely
    Has, as you see, been left a little open.

    Faust

    Just by chance as it happens!
    And left you prisoner to me?
    Success created by approximation!

    Mephistopheles

    The dog saw nothing, in his animation,
    Now the affair seems inside out,
    The Devil can’t get out of the house.

    Faust

    Why not try the window then?

    Mephistopheles

    To devils and ghosts the same laws appertain:
    The same way they enter in, they must go out.
    In the first we’re free, in the second slaves to the act.

    Faust

    So you still have laws in Hell, in fact?
    That’s good, since it allows a pact,
    And one with you gentlemen truly binds?

    Mephistopheles

    What’s promised you’ll enjoy, and find,
    There’s nothing mean that we enact.
    But it can’t be done so fast,
    First we’ll have to talk it through,
    Yet, urgently, I beg of you
    Let me go my way at last.

    Faust

    Wait a moment now,
    Tell me some good news first.

    Mephistopheles

    I’ll soon be back, just let me go:
    Then you can ask me what you wish.

    Faust

    I didn’t place you here, tonight.
    You trapped yourself in the lime.
    Who snares the devil, holds him tight!
    He won’t be caught like that a second time.

    Mephistopheles

    I’m willing, if you so wish,
    To stay here, in your company:
    So long as we pass the time, and I insist,
    On arts of mine, exclusively.

    Faust

    Gladly, you’re free to present
    Them, as long as they’re all pleasant.

    Mephistopheles

    My friend you’ll win more
    For your senses, in an hour,
    Than in a whole year’s monotony.
    What the tender spirits sing,
    The lovely pictures that they bring,
    Are no empty wizardry.
    First your sense of smell’s invited,
    Then your palate is delighted,
    And then your touch, you see.
    Now, I need no preparation,
    We’re all here, so let’s begin!

    Spirits

    Vanish, you shadowy
    Vaults above!
    Cheerfully show,
    The friendliest blue
    Of aether, down here.
    Would that shadowy
    Clouds had gone!
    Starlight sparkling
    Milder sun
    Shining clear.
    Heavenly children
    In lovely confusion,
    Swaying and bending,
    Drifting past.
    Affectionate yearning,
    Following fast:
    Their garments flowing
    With fluttering ribbons,
    Cover the gardens,
    Cover the leaves,
    Where with each other
    In deep conversation
    Lover meets lover.
    Leaves on leaves!
    Tendrils’ elation!
    Grapes beneath
    Crushed in a stream,
    Pressed to extreme,
    Crushed to fountain,
    Of foaming wine,
    Trickling, fine,
    Through rocks divine,
    Leaving the heights,
    Spreading beneath,
    Broad as the seas,
    Valleys it fills
    Round the green hills.
    And the wings still,
    Blissfully drunk,
    Fly to the sun,
    Fly to the brightness,
    Towards the islands,
    Out of the waves
    Magically raised:
    Now we can hear
    The choir of joy near,
    Over the meadow,
    See how they dance now,
    All in the air
    Dispersing there.
    Some of them climbing
    Over the mountains,
    Others are swimming
    Over the ocean,
    Others take flight:
    All towards Life,
    All towards distant,
    Love of the stars, and
    Approval’s bliss.

    Mephistopheles

    He’s asleep! Enough, you delicate children of air!
    You’ve sung to him faithfully, I declare!
    I’m in your debt for all this.
    He’s not yet the man to hold devils fast!
    Spellbind him with dream-forms, cast
    Him deep into illusions’ sea:
    Now, for the magic sill I must pass,
    I could use rat’s teeth: no need for me
    To conjure up a lengthier spell,
    One’s rustling here that will do well.

    The Lord of Rats and Mice,
    Of Flies, Frogs, Bugs and Lice,
    Summons you to venture here,
    And gnaw the threshold where
    He stains it with a little oil -
    You’ve hopped, already, to your toil!
    Now set to work! The fatal point,
    Is at the edge, it’s on the front.
    One more bite, then it’s complete –
    Now Faust, dream deeply, till we meet.

    Faust (Waking.)

    Am I cheated then, once again?
    Does the Spirit-Realm’s deep yearning fade:
    So a mere dream has conjured up the devil,
    And only a dog, it was, that ran away?

    Faust
    NEXT: Part I Scene IV: The Study

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