The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Volume I Part 49

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Where in their leafy bower Lovers the livelong hour Vow deathless love.

Soft bloometh bud and bower!

Bloometh the grove!

Grapes from the spreading vine Crown the full measure; Fountains of foaming wine Gush from the pressure.

Still where the currents wind, Gems brightly gleam; Leaving the hills behind On rolls the stream; Now into ample seas,

Spreadeth the flood– Laving the sunny leas, Mantled with wood.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FAUST AND MEPHISTO Liezen-Mayer]

Rapture the feather’d throng, Gaily careering, Sip as they float along; Sunward they’re steering; On toward the isles of light Winging their way, That on the waters bright Dancingly play.

Hark to the choral strain, Joyfully ringing!

While on the gra.s.sy plain Dancers are springing; Climbing the steep hill’s side, Skimming the gla.s.sy tide, Wander they there; Others on pinions wide Wing the blue air; All lifeward tending, upward still wending, Toward yonder stars that gleam, Far, far above; Stars from whose tender beam Rains blissful love.

MEPHISTOPHELES

Well done, my dainty spirits! now he slumbers!

Ye have entranc’d him fairly with your numbers!

This minstrelsy of yours I must repay.– Thou art not yet the man to hold the devil fast!– With fairest shapes your spells around him cast, And plunge him in a sea of dreams!

But that this charm be rent, the threshold pa.s.sed, Tooth of rat the way must clear.

I need not conjure long it seems, One rustles. .h.i.therward, and soon my voice will hear.

The master of the rats and mice, Of flies and frogs, of bugs and lice, Commands thy presence; without fear Come forth and gnaw the threshold here, Where he with oil has smear’d it.–Thou Com’st hopping forth already! Now To work! The point that holds me bound Is in the outer angle found.

Another bite–so–now ’tis done– Now, Faustus, till we meet again, dream on.

FAUST (_awaking_)

Am I once more deluded! must I deem That thus the throng of spirits disappear?

The devil’s presence–was it but a dream?

Hath but a poodle scap’d and left me here?

STUDY

FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES

FAUST

A knock? Come in! Who now would break my rest?

MEPHISTOPHELES

‘Tis I!

FAUST

Come in!

MEPHISTOPHELES

Thrice be the words express’d.

FAUST

Then I repeat, Come in!

MEPHISTOPHELES

‘Tis well, I hope that we shall soon agree!

For now your fancies to expel, Here, as a youth of high degree, I come in gold-lac’d scarlet vest, And stiff-silk mantle richly dress’d, A c.o.c.k’s gay feather for a plume, A long and pointed rapier, too; And briefly I would counsel you To don at once the same costume, And, free from trammels, speed away, That what life is you may essay.

FAUST

In every garb I needs must feel oppress’d, My heart to earth’s low cares a prey.

Too old the trifler’s part to play, Too young to live by no desire possess’d.

What can the world to me afford?

Renounce! renounce! is still the word; This is the everlasting song In every ear that ceaseless rings, And which, alas, our whole life long, Hoa.r.s.ely each pa.s.sing moment sings.

But to new horror I awake each morn, And I could weep hot tears, to see the sun Dawn on another day, whose round forlorn Accomplishes no wish of mine–not one.

Which still, with froward captiousness, impains E’en the presentiment of every joy, While low realities and paltry cares The spirit’s fond imaginings destroy.

Then must I too, when falls the veil of night, Stretch’d on my pallet languish in despair.

Appalling dreams my soul affright; No rest vouchsafed me even there.

The G.o.d, who throned within my breast resides, Deep in my soul can stir the springs; With sovereign sway my energies he guides, He cannot move external things; And so existence is to me a weight, Death fondly I desire, and life I hate.

MEPHISTOPHELES

And yet, methinks, by most ’twill be confess’d That Death is never quite a welcome guest.

FAUST

Happy the man around whose brow he binds The bloodstain’d wreath in conquest’s dazzling hour; Or whom, excited by the dance, he finds Dissolv’d in bliss, in love’s delicious bower!

O that before the lofty spirit’s might, Enraptured, I had rendered up my soul!

MEPHISTOPHELES

Yet did a certain man refrain one night Of its brown juice to drain the crystal bowl.

FAUST

To play the spy diverts you then?

MEPHISTOPHELES

I own, Though not omniscient, much to me is known.

FAUST

If o’er my soul the tone familiar, stealing, Drew me from harrowing thought’s bewild’ring maze, Touching the ling’ring chords of childlike feeling, With the sweet harmonies of happier days: So curse I all, around the soul that windeth Its magic and alluring spell, And with delusive flattery bindeth Its victim to this dreary cell!

Curs’d before all things be the high opinion Wherewith the spirit girds itself around!

Of shows delusive curs’d be the dominion, Within whose mocking sphere our sense is bound!

Accurs’d of dreams the treacherous wiles, The cheat of glory, deathless fame!

Accurs’d what each as property beguiles, Wife, child, slave, plough, whate’er its name!