Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust

XVI

Martha’s Garden

Margaret, Faust

Margaret

Promise me, Henry! —

Faust

         What I can!

Margaret

How is’t with thy religion, pray?
Thou art a dear, good-hearted man,
And yet, I think, dost not incline that way.

Faust

Leave that, my child! Thou know’st my love is tender;
For love, my blood and life would I surrender,
And as for Faith and Church, I grant to each his own.

Margaret

That’s not enough: we must believe thereon.

Faust

Must we?

Margaret

   Would that I had some influence!
Then, too, thou honorest not the Holy Sacraments.

Faust

I honor them.

Margaret

      Desiring no possession
’Tis long since thou hast been to mass or to confession.
Believest thou in God?

Faust

         My darling, who shall dare
“I believe in God!” to say?
Ask priest or sage the answer to declare,
And it will seem a mocking play,
A sarcasm on the asker.

Margaret

         Then thou believest not!

Faust

Hear me not falsely, sweetest countenance!
Who dare express Him?
And who profess Him,
Saying: I believe in Him!
Who, feeling, seeing,
Deny His being,
Saying: I believe Him not!
The All-enfolding,
The All-upholding,
Folds and upholds he not
Thee, me, Himself?
Arches not there the sky above us?
Lies not beneath us, firm, the earth?
And rise not, on us shining,
Friendly, the everlasting stars?
Look I not, eye to eye, on thee,
And feel’st not, thronging
To head and heart, the force,
Still weaving its eternal secret,
Invisible, visible, round thy life?
Vast as it is, fill with that force thy heart,
And when thou in the feeling wholly blessed art,
Call it, then, what thou wilt —
Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name to give it!
Feeling is all in all:
The Name is sound and smoke,
Obscuring Heaven’s clear glow.

Margaret

All that is fine and good, to hear it so:
Much the same way the preacher spoke,
Only with slightly different phrases.

Faust

The same thing, in all places,
All hearts that beat beneath the heavenly day —
Each in its language — say;
Then why not I, in mine, as well?

Margaret

To hear it thus, it may seem passable;
And yet, some hitch in’t there must be
For thou hast no Christianity.

Faust

Dear love!

Margaret

I’ve long been grieved to see
That thou art in such company.

Faust

How so?

Margaret

         The man who with thee goes, thy mate,
Within my deepest, inmost soul I hate.
In all my life there’s nothing
Has given my heart so keen a pang of loathing,
As his repulsive face has done.

Faust

Nay, fear him not, my sweetest one!

Margaret

I feel his presence like something ill.
I’ve else, for all, a kindly will,
But, much as my heart to see thee yearneth,
The secret horror of him returneth;
And I think the man a knave, as I live!
If I do him wrong, may God forgive!

Faust

There must be such queer birds, however.

Margaret

Live with the like of him, may I never!
When once inside the door comes he,
He looks around so sneeringly,
And half in wrath:
One sees that in nothing no interest he hath:
’Tis written on his very forehead
That love, to him, is a thing abhorréd.
I am so happy on thine arm,
So free, so yielding, and so warm,
And in his presence stifled seems my heart.

Faust

Foreboding angel that thou art!

Margaret

It overcomes me in such degree,
That wheresoe’er he meets us, even,
I feel as though I’d lost my love for thee.
When he is by, I could not pray to Heaven.
That burns within me like a flame,
And surely, Henry, ’tis with thee the same.

Faust

There, now, is thine antipathy!

Margaret

But I must go.

Faust

      Ah, shall there never be
A quiet hour, to see us fondly plighted,
With breast to breast, and soul to soul united?

Margaret

Ah, if I only slept alone!
I’d draw the bolts to-night, for thy desire;
But mother’s sleep so light has grown,
And if we were discovered by her,
’Twould be my death upon the spot!

Faust

Thou angel, fear it not!
Here is a phial: in her drink
But three drops of it measure,
And deepest sleep will on her senses sink.

Margaret

What would I not, to give thee pleasure?
It will not harm her, when one tries it?

Faust

If ’twould, my love, would I advise it?

Margaret

Ah, dearest man, if but thy face I see,
I know not what compels me to thy will:
So much have I already done for thee,
That scarcely more is left me to fulfil.

[Exit.

(Enter Mephistopheles.)

Mephistopheles

The monkey! Is she gone?

Faust

         Hast played the spy again?

Mephistopheles

I’ve heard, most fully, how she drew thee.
The Doctor has been catechised, ’tis plain;
Great good, I hope, the thing will do thee.
The girls have much desire to ascertain
If one is prim and good, as ancient rules compel:
If there he’s led, they think, he’ll follow them as well.

Faust

Thou, monster, wilt nor see nor own
How this pure soul, of faith so lowly,
So loving and ineffable —
The faith alone
That her salvation is — with scruples holy
Pines, lest she hold as lost the man she loves so well!

Mephistopheles

Thou, full of sensual, super-sensual desire,
A girl by the nose is leading thee.

Faust

Abortion, thou, of filth and fire!

Mephistopheles

And then, how masterly she reads physiognomy!
When I am present she’s impressed, she knows not how;
She in my mask a hidden sense would read:
She feels that surely I’m a genius now —
Perhaps the very Devil, indeed!
Well, well — to-night —?

Faust

         What’s that to thee?

Mephistopheles

Yet my delight ’twill also be!

Faust

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