Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust

XIX

Night

Street Before Margaret’s Door

Valentine (a soldier, Margaret’s brother)

When I have sat at some carouse.
Where each to each his brag allows,
And many a comrade praised to me
His pink of girls right lustily,
With brimming glass that spilled the toast,
And elbows planted as in boast:
I sat in unconcerned repose,
And heard the swagger as it rose.
And stroking then my beard, I’d say,
Smiling, the bumper in my hand:
“Each well enough in her own way.
But is there one in all the land
Like sister Margaret, good as gold —
One that to her can a candle hold?”
Cling! clang! “Here’s to her!” went around
The board: “He speaks the truth!” cried some;
“In her the flower o’ the sex is found!”
And all the swaggerers were dumb.
And now! — I could tear my hair with vexation.
And dash out my brains in desperation!
With turned-up nose each scamp may face me,
With sneers and stinging taunts disgrace me,
And, like a bankrupt debtor sitting,
A chance-dropped word may set me sweating!
Yet, though I thresh them all together,
I cannot call them liars, either.

But what comes sneaking, there, to view?
If I mistake not, there are two.
If he’s one, let me at him drive!
He shall not leave the spot alive.

Faust, Mephistopheles

Faust

How from the window of the sacristy
Upward th’eternal lamp sends forth a glimmer,
That, lessening side-wards, fainter grows and dimmer,
Till darkness closes from the sky!
The shadows thus within my bosom gather.

Mephistopheles

I’m like a sentimental tom-cat, rather,
That round the tall fire-ladders sweeps,
And stealthy, then, along the coping creeps:
Quite virtuous, withal, I come,
A little thievish and a little frolicsome.
I feel in every limb the presage
Forerunning the grand Walpurgis-Night:
Day after to-morrow brings its message,
And one keeps watch then with delight.

Faust

Meanwhile, may not the treasure risen be,
Which there, behind, I glimmering see?

Mephistopheles

Shalt soon experience the pleasure,
To lift the kettle with its treasure.
I lately gave therein a squint —
Saw splendid lion-dollars in ‘t.

Faust

Not even a jewel, not a ring,
To deck therewith my darling girl?

Mephistopheles

I saw, among the rest, a thing
That seemed to be a chain of pearl.

Faust

That’s well, indeed! For painful is it
To bring no gift when her I visit.

Mephistopheles

Thou shouldst not find it so annoying,
Without return to be enjoying.
Now, while the sky leads forth its starry throng,
Thou’lt hear a masterpiece, no work completer:
I’ll sing her, first, a moral song,
The surer, afterwards, to cheat her.

      (Sings to the cither.)

What dost thou here

In daybreak clear,

Kathrina dear,

Before thy lover’s door?

Beware! the blade

Lets in a maid.

That out a maid

Departeth nevermore!

The coaxing shun

Of such an one!

When once ’tis done

Good-night to thee, poor thing!

Love’s time is brief:

Unto no thief

Be warm and lief,

But with the wedding-ring!

Valentine (comes forward)

Whom wilt thou lure? God’s element!
Rat-catching piper, thou! — perdition!
To the Devil, first, the instrument!
To the Devil, then, the curst musician!

Mephistopheles

The cither’s smashed! For nothing more ’tis fitting.

Valentine

There’s yet a skull I must be splitting!

Mephistopheles (to Faust)

Sir Doctor, don’t retreat, I pray!
Stand by: I’ll lead, if you’ll but tarry:
Out with your spit, without delay!
You’ve but to lunge, and I will parry.

Valentine

Then parry that!

Mephistopheles

      Why not? ’tis light.

Valentine

That, too!

Mephistopheles

      Of course.

Valentine

         I think the Devil must fight!

How is it, then? my hand’s already lame:

Mephistopheles (to Faust)

Thrust home!

Valentine (jails)

   O God!

Mephistopheles

         Now is the lubber tame!

But come, away! ’Tis time for us to fly;
For there arises now a murderous cry.
With the police ’twere easy to compound it,
But here the penal court will sift and sound it.

[Exit with Faust.

Martha (at the window)

Come out! Come out!

Margaret (at the window)

      Quick, bring a light!

Martha (as above)

They swear and storm, they yell and fight!

People

Here lies one dead already — see!

Martha (coming from the house)

The murderers, whither have they run?

Margaret (coming out)

Who lies here?

People

      ’Tis thy mother’s son!

Margaret

Almighty God! what misery!

Valentine

I’m dying! That is quickly said,
And quicker yet ’tis done.
Why howl, you women there? Instead,
Come here and listen, every one!

(All gather around him)

My Margaret, see! still young thou art,
But not the least bit shrewd or smart,
Thy business thus to slight:
So this advice I bid thee heed —
Now that thou art a whore indeed,
Why, be one then, outright!

Margaret

My brother! God! such words to me?

Valentine

In this game let our Lord God be!
What’s done’s already done, alas!
What follows it, must come to pass.
With one begin’st thou secretly,
Then soon will others come to thee,
And when a dozen thee have known,
Thou’rt also free to all the town.
When Shame is born and first appears,
She is in secret brought to light,
And then they draw the veil of night
Over her head and ears;
Her life, in fact, they’re loath to spare her.
But let her growth and strength display,
She walks abroad unveiled by day,
Yet is not grown a whit the fairer.
The uglier she is to sight,
The more she seeks the day’s broad light.
The time I verily can discern
When all the honest folk will turn
From thee, thou jade! and seek protection
As from a corpse that breeds infection.
Thy guilty heart shall then dismay thee.
When they but look thee in the face:—
Shalt not in a golden chain array thee,
Nor at the altar take thy place!
Shalt not, in lace and ribbons flowing,
Make merry when the dance is going!
But in some corner, woe betide thee!
Among the beggars and cripples hide thee;
And so, though even God forgive,
On earth a damned existence live!

Martha

Commend your soul to God for pardon,
That you your heart with slander harden!

Valentine

Thou pimp most infamous, be still!
Could I thy withered body kill,
’Twould bring, for all my sinful pleasure,
Forgiveness in the richest measure.

Margaret

My brother! This is Hell’s own pain!

Valentine

I tell thee, from thy tears refrain!
When thou from honor didst depart
It stabbed me to the very heart.
Now through the slumber of the grave
I go to God as a soldier brave.

      (Dies.)

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