Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Witches' Kitchen

VI

Witches’ Kitchen

(Upon a low hearth stands a great caldron, under which a fire is burning. Various figures appear in the vapors which rise from the caldron. An ape sits beside it, skims it, and watches lest it boil over. The he-ape, with the young ones, sits near and warms himself. Ceiling and walls are covered with the most fantastic witch-implements.)

Faust, Mephistopheles

Faust

These crazy signs of witches’ craft repel me!
I shall recover, dost thou tell me,
Through this insane, chaotic play?
From an old hag shall I demand assistance?
And will her foul mess take away
Full thirty years from my existence?
Woe’s me, canst thou naught better find!
Another baffled hope must be lamented:
Has Nature, then, and has a noble mind
Not any potent balsam yet invented?

Mephistopheles

Once more, my friend, thou talkest sensibly.
There is, to make thee young, a simpler mode and apter;
But in another book ’tis writ for thee,
And is a most eccentric chapter.

Faust

Yet will I know it.

Mephistopheles

Good! the method is revealed
Without or gold or magic or physician.
Betake thyself to yonder field,
There hoe and dig, as thy condition;
Restrain thyself, thy sense and will
Within a narrow sphere to flourish;
With unmixed food thy body nourish;
Live with the ox as ox, and think it not a theft
That thou manur’st the acre which thou reapest; —
That, trust me, is the best mode left,
Whereby for eighty years thy youth thou keepest!

Faust

I am not used to that; I cannot stoop to try it —
To take the spade in hand, and ply it.
The narrow being suits me not at all.

Mephistopheles

Then to thine aid the witch must call.

Faust

Wherefore the hag, and her alone?
Canst thou thyself not brew the potion?

Mephistopheles

That were a charming sport, I own:
I’d build a thousand bridges meanwhile, I’ve a notion.
Not Art and Science serve, alone;
Patience must in the work be shown.
Long is the calm brain active in creation;
Time, only, strengthens the fine fermentation.
And all, belonging thereunto,
Is rare and strange, howe’er you take it:
The Devil taught the thing, ’tis true,
And yet the Devil cannot make it.
(Perceiving the Animals)
See, what a delicate race they be!
That is the maid! the man is he!
(To the Animals)
It seems the mistress has gone away?

The Animals

      Carousing, to-day!
Off and about,
By the chimney out!

Mephistopheles

What time takes she for dissipating?

The Animals

While we to warm our paws are waiting.

Mephistopheles (to Faust)

How findest thou the tender creatures?

Faust

Absurder than I ever yet did see.

Mephistopheles

Why, just such talk as this, for me,
Is that which has the most attractive features!

(To the Animals)

But tell me now, ye cursed puppets,
Why do ye stir the porridge so?

The Animals

We’re cooking watery soup for beggars.

Mephistopheles

Then a great public you can show.

The He–Ape

(comes up and fawns on Mephistopheles)

O cast thou the dice!

Make me rich in a trice,

Let me win in good season!

Things are badly controlled,

And had I but gold,

So had I my reason.

Mephistopheles

How would the ape be sure his luck enhances.
Could he but try the lottery’s chances!

(In the meantime the young apes have been playing with a large ball, which they now roll forward.)

The He–Ape

The world’s the ball:

Doth rise and fall,

And roll incessant:

Like glass doth ring,

A hollow thing —

How soon will’t spring,

And drop, quiescent?

Here bright it gleams,

Here brighter seems:

I live at present!

Dear son, I say,

Keep thou away!

Thy doom is spoken!

’Tis made of clay,

And will be broken.

Mephistopheles

What means the sieve?

The He–Ape (taking it down)

Wert thou the thief,

I’d know him and shame him.

(He runs to the She–Ape, and lets her look through it.)

Look through the sieve!

Know’st thou the thief,

And darest not name him?

Mephistopheles (approaching the fire)

And what’s this pot?

He–Ape and She–Ape

The fool knows it not!

He knows not the pot,

He knows not the kettle!

Mephistopheles

Impertinent beast!

The He–Ape

Take the brush here, at least,
And sit down on the settle!

(He invites Mephistopheles to sit down.)

Faust

(who during all this time has been standing before a mirror, now approaching and now retreating from it)

What do I see? What heavenly form revealed
Shows through the glass from Magic’s fair dominions!
O lend me, Love, the swiftest of thy pinions,
And bear me to her beauteous field!
Ah, if I leave this spot with fond designing,
If I attempt to venture near,
Dim, as through gathering mist, her charms appear! —
A woman’s form, in beauty shining!
Can woman, then, so lovely be?
And must I find her body, there reclining,
Of all the heavens the bright epitome?
Can Earth with such a thing be mated?

Mephistopheles

Why, surely, if a God first plagues Himself six days,
Then, self-contented, Bravo! says,
Must something clever be created.
This time, thine eyes be satiate!
I’ll yet detect thy sweetheart and ensnare her,
And blest is he, who has the lucky fate,
Some day, as bridegroom, home to bear her.

(Faust gazes continually in the mirror. Mephistopheles,
stretching himself out on the settle, and playing with the
brush, continues to speak
.)

So sit I, like the King upon his throne:
I hold the sceptre, here — and lack the crown alone.

The Animals

(who up to this time have been making all kinds of fantastic movements together bring a crown to Mephistopheles with great noise.)

O be thou so good

With sweat and with blood

The crown to belime!

(They handle the crown awkwardly and break it into two pieces, with which they spring around.)

’Tis done, let it be!

We speak and we see,

We hear and we rhyme!

Faust (before the mirror)

Woe’s me! I fear to lose my wits.

Mephistopheles (pointing to the Animals)

My own head, now, is really nigh to sinking.

The Animals

If lucky our hits,

And everything fits,

’Tis thoughts, and we’re thinking!

Faust (as above)

My bosom burns with that sweet vision;
Let us, with speed, away from here!

Mephistopheles (in the same attitude)

One must, at least, make this admission —
They’re poets, genuine and sincere.

(The caldron, which the She–Ape has up to this time neglected to watch, begins to boil over: there ensues a great flame, which blazes out the chimney. The Witch comes careering down through the flame, with terrible cries.)

The Witch

Ow! ow! ow! ow!

The damnéd beast — the curséd sow!

To leave the kettle, and singe the Frau!

Accurséd fere!

(Perceiving Faust and Mephistopheles.)

What is that here?

Who are you here?

What want you thus?

Who sneaks to us?

The fire-pain

Burn bone and brain!

(She plunges the skimming-ladle into the caldron, and scatters flames towards Faust, Mephistopheles, and the Animals. The Animals whimper.)

Mephistopheles

(reversing the brush, which he has been holding in his hand, and striding among the jars and glasses)

In two! in two!

There lies the brew!

There lies the glass!

The joke will pass,

As time, foul ass!

To the singing of thy crew.

(As the Witch starts back, full of wrath and horror)

Ha! know’st thou me? Abomination, thou!
Know’st thou, at last, thy Lord and Master?
What hinders me from smiting now
Thee and thy monkey-sprites with fell disaster?
Hast for the scarlet coat no reverence?
Dost recognize no more the tall cock’s-feather?
Have I concealed this countenance? —
Must tell my name, old face of leather?

The Witch

O pardon, Sir, the rough salute!
Yet I perceive no cloven foot;
And both your ravens, where are they now?

Mephistopheles

This time, I’ll let thee ‘scape the debt;
For since we two together met,
’Tis verily full many a day now.
Culture, which smooth the whole world licks,
Also unto the Devil sticks.
The days of that old Northern phantom now are over:
Where canst thou horns and tail and claws discover?
And, as regards the foot, which I can’t spare, in truth,
’Twould only make the people shun me;
Therefore I’ve worn, like many a spindly youth,
False calves these many years upon me.

The Witch (dancing)

Reason and sense forsake my brain,
Since I behold Squire Satan here again!

Mephistopheles

Woman, from such a name refrain!

The Witch

Why so? What has it done to thee?

Mephistopheles

It’s long been written in the Book of Fable;
Yet, therefore, no whit better men we see:
The Evil One has left, the evil ones are stable.
Sir Baron call me thou, then is the matter good;
A cavalier am I, like others in my bearing.
Thou hast no doubt about my noble blood:
See, here’s the coat-of-arms that I am wearing!

   (He makes an indecent gesture.)

The Witch (laughs immoderately)

Ha! ha! That’s just your way, I know:
A rogue you are, and you were always so.

Mephistopheles (to Faust)

My friend, take proper heed, I pray!
To manage witches, this is just the way.

The Witch

Wherein, Sirs, can I be of use?

Mephistopheles

Give us a goblet of the well-known juice!
But, I must beg you, of the oldest brewage;
The years a double strength produce.

The Witch

With all my heart! Now, here’s a bottle,
Wherefrom, sometimes, I wet my throttle,
Which, also, not the slightest, stinks;
And willingly a glass I’ll fill him.

(Whispering)

Yet, if this man without due preparation drinks,
As well thou know’st, within an hour ’twill kill him.

Mephistopheles

He is a friend of mine, with whom it will agree,
And he deserves thy kitchen’s best potation:
Come, draw thy circle, speak thine adjuration,
And fill thy goblet full and free!

The Witch

(with fantastic gestures draws a circle and places mysterious articles therein; meanwhile the glasses begin to ring, the caldron to sound, and make a musical accompaniment. Finally she brings a great book, and stations in the circle the Apes, who are obliged to serve as reading-desk, and to hold the torches. She then beckons Faust to approach.)

Faust (to Mephistopheles)

Now, what shall come of this? the creatures antic,
The crazy stuff, the gestures frantic —
All the repulsive cheats I view —
Are known to me, and hated, too.

Mephistopheles

O, nonsense! That’s a thing for laughter;
Don’t be so terribly severe!
She juggles you as doctor now, that, after,
The beverage may work the proper cheer.

(He persuades Faust to step into the circle.)

The Witch

(begins to declaim, with much emphasis, from the book)

See, thus it’s done!

Make ten of one,

And two let be,

Make even three,

And rich thou ‘It be.

Cast o’er the four!

From five and six

(The witch’s tricks)

Make seven and eight,

’Tis finished straight!

And nine is one,

And ten is none.

This is the witch’s once-one’s-one!

Faust

She talks like one who raves in fever.

Mephistopheles

Thou’lt hear much more before we leave her.
’Tis all the same: the book I can repeat,
Such time I’ve squandered o’er the history:
A contradiction thus complete
Is always for the wise, no less than fools, a mystery.
The art is old and new, for verily
All ages have been taught the matter —
By Three and One, and One and Three,
Error instead of Truth to scatter.
They prate and teach, and no one interferes;
All from the fellowship of fools are shrinking.
Man usually believes, if only words he hears,
That also with them goes material for thinking!

The Witch (continues)

The lofty skill

Of Science, still

From all men deeply hidden!

Who takes no thought,

To him ’tis brought,

’Tis given unsought, unbidden!

Faust

What nonsense she declaims before us!
My head is nigh to split, I fear:
It seems to me as if I hear
A hundred thousand fools in chorus.

Mephistopheles

O Sibyl excellent, enough of adjuration!
But hither bring us thy potation,
And quickly fill the beaker to the brim!
This drink will bring my friend no injuries:
He is a man of manifold degrees,
And many draughts are known to him.

(The Witch, with many ceremonies, pours the drink into a cup; as Faust sets it to his lips, a light flame arises.)

Down with it quickly! Drain it off!
’Twill warm thy heart with new desire:
Art with the Devil hand and glove,
And wilt thou be afraid of fire?

(The Witch breaks the circle: Faust steps forth.)

Mephistopheles

And now, away! Thou dar’st not rest.

The Witch

And much good may the liquor do thee!

Mephistopheles (to the Witch)

Thy wish be on Walpurgis Night expressed;
What boon I have, shall then be given unto thee.

The Witch

Here is a song, which, if you sometimes sing,
You’ll find it of peculiar operation.

Mephistopheles (to Faust)

Come, walk at once! A rapid occupation
Must start the needful perspiration,
And through thy frame the liquor’s potence fling.
The noble indolence I’ll teach thee then to treasure,
And soon thou’lt be aware, with keenest thrills of pleasure,
How Cupid stirs and leaps, on light and restless wing.

Faust

One rapid glance within the mirror give me,
How beautiful that woman-form!

Mephistopheles

No, no! The paragon of all, believe me,
Thou soon shalt see, alive and warm.

(Aside)

Thou’lt find, this drink thy blood compelling,
Each woman beautiful as Helen!

Street

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