Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Garden

XII

Garden

(Margaret on Faust’s arm. Martha and Mephistopheles walking up and down.)

Margaret

I feel, the gentleman allows for me,
Demeans himself, and shames me by it;
A traveller is so used to be
Kindly content with any diet.
I know too well that my poor gossip can
Ne’er entertain such an experienced man.

Faust

A look from thee, a word, more entertains
Than all the lore of wisest brains.

(He kisses her hand.)

Margaret

Don’t incommode yourself! How could you ever kiss it!
It is so ugly, rough to see!
What work I do — how hard and steady is it!
Mother is much too close with me.

         [They pass.

Martha

And you, Sir, travel always, do you not?

Mephistopheles

Alas, that trade and duty us so harry!
With what a pang one leaves so many a spot,
And dares not even now and then to tarry!

Martha

In young, wild years it suits your ways,
This round and round the world in freedom sweeping;
But then come on the evil days,
And so, as bachelor, into his grave a-creeping,
None ever found a thing to praise.

Mephistopheles

I dread to see how such a fate advances.

Martha

Then, worthy Sir, improve betimes your chances!

         [They pass.

Margaret

Yes, out of sight is out of mind!
Your courtesy an easy grace is;
But you have friends in other places,
And sensibler than I, you’ll find.

Faust

Trust me, dear heart! what men call sensible
Is oft mere vanity and narrowness.

Margaret

         How so?

Faust

Ah, that simplicity and innocence ne’er know
Themselves, their holy value, and their spell!
That meekness, lowliness, the highest graces
Which Nature portions out so lovingly —

Margaret

So you but think a moment’s space on me,
All times I’ll have to think on you, all places!

Faust

No doubt you’re much alone?

Margaret

Yes, for our household small has grown,
Yet must be cared for, you will own.
We have no maid: I do the knitting, sewing, sweeping,
The cooking, early work and late, in fact;
And mother, in her notions of housekeeping,
Is so exact!
Not that she needs so much to keep expenses down:
We, more than others, might take comfort, rather:
A nice estate was left us by my father,
A house, a little garden near the town.
But now my days have less of noise and hurry;
My brother is a soldier,
My little sister’s dead.
True, with the child a troubled life I led,
Yet I would take again, and willing, all the worry,
So very dear was she.

Faust

         An angel, if like thee!

Margaret

I brought it up, and it was fond of me.
Father had died before it saw the light,
And mother’s case seemed hopeless quite,
So weak and miserable she lay;
And she recovered, then, so slowly, day by day.
She could not think, herself, of giving
The poor wee thing its natural living;
And so I nursed it all alone
With milk and water: ’twas my own.
Lulled in my lap with many a song,
It smiled, and tumbled, and grew strong.

Faust

The purest bliss was surely then thy dower.

Margaret

But surely, also, many a weary hour.
I kept the baby’s cradle near
My bed at night: if ‘t even stirred, I’d guess it,
And waking, hear.
And I must nurse it, warm beside me press it,
And oft, to quiet it, my bed forsake,
And dandling back and forth the restless creature take,
Then at the wash-tub stand, at morning’s break;
And then the marketing and kitchen-tending,
Day after day, the same thing, never-ending.
One’s spirits, Sir, are thus not always good,
But then one learns to relish rest and food.

         [They pass.

Martha

Yes, the poor women are bad off, ’tis true:
A stubborn bachelor there’s no converting.

Mephistopheles

It but depends upon the like of you,
And I should turn to better ways than flirting.

Martha

Speak plainly, Sir, have you no one detected?
Has not your heart been anywhere subjected?

Mephistopheles

The proverb says: One’s own warm hearth
And a good wife, are gold and jewels worth.

Martha

I mean, have you not felt desire, though ne’er so slightly?

Mephistopheles

I’ve everywhere, in fact, been entertained politely.

Martha

I meant to say, were you not touched in earnest, ever?

Mephistopheles

One should allow one’s self to jest with ladies never.

Martha Ah, you don’t understand!

Mephistopheles

I’m sorry I’m so blind: But I am sure — that you are very kind.

         [They pass.

Faust

And me, thou angel! didst thou recognize,
As through the garden-gate I came?

Margaret

Did you not see it? I cast down my eyes.

Faust

And thou forgiv’st my freedom, and the blame
To my impertinence befitting,
As the Cathedral thou wert quitting?

Margaret

I was confused, the like ne’er happened me;
No one could ever speak to my discredit.
Ah, thought I, in my conduct has he read it —
Something immodest or unseemly free?
He seemed to have the sudden feeling
That with this wench ’twere very easy dealing.
I will confess, I knew not what appeal
On your behalf, here, in my bosom grew;
But I was angry with myself, to feel
That I could not be angrier with you.

Faust

Sweet darling!

Margaret

      Wait a while!

(She plucks a star-flower, and pulls off the leaves, one after the other.)

Faust

         Shall that a nosegay be?

Margaret

No, it is just in play.

Faust

      How?

Margaret

         Go! you’ll laugh at me.

(She pulls off the leaves and murmurs.)

Faust

What murmurest thou?

Margaret (half aloud)

      He loves me — loves me not.

Faust

Thou sweet, angelic soul!

Margaret (continues)

Loves me — not — loves me — not —
(plucking the last leaf, she cries with frank delight:)

He loves me!

Faust

Yes, child! and let this blossom-word
For thee be speech divine! He loves thee!
Ah, know’st thou what it means? He loves thee!

(He grasps both her hands.)

Margaret

I’m all a-tremble!

Faust

O tremble not! but let this look,
Let this warm clasp of hands declare thee
What is unspeakable!
To yield one wholly, and to feel a rapture
In yielding, that must be eternal!
Eternal! — for the end would be despair.
No, no — no ending! no ending!

Martha (coming forward)

The night is falling.

Mephistopheles

      Ay! we must away.

Martha

I’d ask you, longer here to tarry,
But evil tongues in this town have full play.
It’s as if nobody had nothing to fetch and carry,
Nor other labor,
But spying all the doings of one’s neighbor:
And one becomes the talk, do whatsoe’er one may.
Where is our couple now?

Mephistopheles

      Flown up the alley yonder,

The wilful summer-birds!

Martha

      He seems of her still fonder.

Mephistopheles

And she of him. So runs the world away!

ornament

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:14