FAUST MARGARET (passing by)
Fair lady, let it not offend you,
That arm and escort I would lend you!
I'm neither lady, neither fair,
And home I can go without your care.
[She releases herself, and exit.
By Heaven, the girl is wondrous fair!
Of all I've seen, beyond compare;
So sweetly virtuous and pure,
And yet a little pert, be sure!
The lip so red, the cheek's clear dawn,
I'll not forget while the world rolls on!
How she cast down her timid eyes,
Deep in my heart imprinted lies:
How short and sharp of speech was she,
Why, 'twas a real ecstasy!
Hear, of that girl I'd have possession!
The one who just went by.
She, there? She's coming from confession,
Of every sin absolved; for I,
Behind her chair, was listening nigh.
So innocent is she, indeed,
That to confess she had no need.
I have no power o'er souls so green.
And yet, she's older than fourteen.
How now! You're talking like Jack Rake,
Who every flower for himself would take,
And fancies there are no favors more,
Nor honors, save for him in store;
Yet always doesn't the thing succeed.
Most Worthy Pedagogue, take heed!
Let not a word of moral law be spoken!
I claim, I tell thee, all my right;
And if that image of delight
Rest not within mine arms to-night,
At midnight is our compact broken.
But think, the chances of the case!
I need, at least, a fortnight's space,
To find an opportune occasion.
Had I but seven hours for all,
I should not on the Devil call,
But win her by my own persuasion.
You almost like a Frenchman prate;
Yet, pray, don't take it as annoyance!
Why, all at once, exhaust the joyance?
Your bliss is by no means so great
As if you'd use, to get control,
All sorts of tender rigmarole,
And knead and shape her to your thought,
As in Italian tales 'tis taught.
Without that, I have appetite.
But now, leave jesting out of sight!
I tell you, once for all, that speed
With this fair girl will not succeed;
By storm she cannot captured be;
We must make use of strategy.
Get me something the angel keeps!
Lead me thither where she sleeps!
Get me a kerchief from her breast,—
A garter that her knee has pressed!
That you may see how much I'd fain
Further and satisfy your pain,
We will no longer lose a minute;
I'll find her room to-day, and take you in it.
And shall I see—possess her?
Can we go thither?
'Tis too early yet.
A gift for her I bid thee get!
Presents at once? That's good: he's certain to get at her!
Full many a pleasant place I know,
And treasures, buried long ago:
I must, perforce, look up the matter. [Exit.
EVENING A SMALL, NEATLY KEPT CHAMBER
(plaiting and binding up the braids of her hair)
I'd something give, could I but say
Who was that gentleman, to-day.
Surely a gallant man was he,
And of a noble family;
And much could I in his face behold,—
And he wouldn't, else, have been so bold!
Come in, but gently: follow me!
FAUST (after a moment's silence)
Leave me alone, I beg of thee!
MEPHISTOPHELES (prying about)
Not every girl keeps things so neat.
FAUST (looking around)
O welcome, twilight soft and sweet,
That breathes throughout this hallowed shrine!
Sweet pain of love, bind thou with fetters fleet
The heart that on the dew of hope must pine!
How all around a sense impresses
Of quiet, order, and content!
This poverty what bounty blesses!
What bliss within this narrow den is pent!
(He throws himself into a leathern arm-chair near the bed.)
Receive me, thou, that in thine open arms
Departed joy and pain wert wont to gather!
How oft the children, with their ruddy charms,
Hung here, around this throne, where sat the father!
Perchance my love, amid the childish band,
Grateful for gifts the Holy Christmas gave her,
Here meekly kissed the grandsire's withered hand.
I feel, O maid! thy very soul
Of order and content around me whisper,—
Which leads thee with its motherly control,
The cloth upon thy board bids smoothly thee unroll,
The sand beneath thy feet makes whiter, crisper.
O dearest hand, to thee 'tis given
To change this hut into a lower heaven!
(He lifts one of the bed-curtains.)
What sweetest thrill is in my blood!
Here could I spend whole hours, delaying:
Here Nature shaped, as if in sportive playing,
The angel blossom from the bud.
Here lay the child, with Life's warm essence
The tender bosom filled and fair,
And here was wrought, through holier, purer presence,
The form diviner beings wear!
And I? What drew me here with power?
How deeply am I moved, this hour!
What seek I? Why so full my heart, and sore?
Miserable Faust! I know thee now no more.
Is there a magic vapor here?
I came, with lust of instant pleasure,
And lie dissolved in dreams of love's sweet leisure!
Are we the sport of every changeful atmosphere?
And if, this moment, came she in to me,
How would I for the fault atonement render!
How small the giant lout would be,
Prone at her feet, relaxed and tender!
Be quick! I see her there, returning.
Go! go! I never will retreat.
Here is a casket, not unmeet,
Which elsewhere I have just been earning.
Here, set it in the press, with haste!
I swear, 'twill turn her head, to spy it:
Some baubles I therein had placed,
That you might win another by it.
True, child is child, and play is play.
I know not, should I do it?
Ask you, pray?
(He places the casket in the press, and locks it again.)
Now quick, away!
The sweet young maiden to betray,
So that by wish and will you bend her;
And you look as though
To the lecture-hall you were forced to go,—
As if stood before you, gray and loath,
Physics and Metaphysics both!
MARGARET (with a lamp)
It is so close, so sultry, here!
(She opens the window)
And yet 'tis not so warm outside.
I feel, I know not why, such fear!—
Would mother came!—where can she bide?
My body's chill and shuddering,—
I'm but a silly, fearsome thing!
(She begins to sing while undressing)
There was a King in Thule,
Was faithful till the grave,—
To whom his mistress, dying,
A golden goblet gave.
Naught was to him more precious;
He drained it at every bout:
His eyes with tears ran over,
As oft as he drank thereout.
When came his time of dying,
The towns in his land he told,
Naught else to his heir denying
Except the goblet of gold.
He sat at the royal banquet
With his knights of high degree,
In the lofty hall of his fathers
In the Castle by the Sea.
There stood the old carouser,
And drank the last life-glow;
And hurled the hallowed goblet
Into the tide below.
He saw it plunging and filling,
And sinking deep in the sea:
Then fell his eyelids forever,
And never more drank he!
(She opens the press in order to arrange her clothes, and perceives
the casket of jewels.)
How comes that lovely casket here to me?
I locked the press, most certainly.
'Tis truly wonderful! What can within it be?
Perhaps 'twas brought by some one as a pawn,
And mother gave a loan thereon?
And here there hangs a key to fit:
I have a mind to open it.
What is that? God in Heaven! Whence came
Such things? Never beheld I aught so fair!
Rich ornaments, such as a noble dame
On highest holidays might wear!
How would the pearl-chain suit my hair?
Ah, who may all this splendor own?
(She adorns herself with the jewelry, and steps before the
Were but the ear-rings mine, alone!
One has at once another air.
What helps one's beauty, youthful blood?
One may possess them, well and good;
But none the more do others care.
They praise us half in pity, sure:
To gold still tends,
On gold depends
All, all! Alas, we poor!
(FAUST, walking thoughtfully up and down. To him MEPHISTOPHELES.)
By all love ever rejected! By hell-fire hot and unsparing!
I wish I knew something worse, that I might use it for
What ails thee? What is't gripes thee, elf?
A face like thine beheld I never.
I would myself unto the Devil deliver,
If I were not a Devil myself!
Thy head is out of order, sadly:
It much becomes thee to be raving madly.
Just think, the pocket of a priest should get
The trinkets left for Margaret!
The mother saw them, and, instanter,
A secret dread began to haunt her.
Keen scent has she for tainted air;
She snuffs within her book of prayer,
And smells each article, to see
If sacred or profane it be;
So here she guessed, from every gem,
That not much blessing came with them.
"My child," she said, "ill-gotten good
Ensnares the soul, consumes the blood.
Before the Mother of God we'll lay it;
With heavenly manna she'll repay it!"
But Margaret thought, with sour grimace,
"A gift-horse is not out of place,
And, truly! godless cannot be
The one who brought such things to me."
A parson came, by the mother bidden:
He saw, at once, where the game was hidden,
And viewed it with a favor stealthy.
He spake: "That is the proper view,—
Who overcometh, winneth too.
The Holy Church has a stomach healthy:
Hath eaten many a land as forfeit,
And never yet complained of surfeit:
The Church alone, beyond all question,
Has for ill-gotten goods the right digestion."
A general practice is the same,
Which Jew and King may also claim.
Then bagged the spangles, chains, and rings,
As if but toadstools were the things,
And thanked no less, and thanked no more
Than if a sack of nuts he bore,—
Promised them fullest heavenly pay,
And deeply edified were they.
Sits unrestful still,
And knows not what she should, or will;
Thinks on the jewels, day and night,
But more on him who gave her such delight.
The darling's sorrow gives me pain.
Get thou a set for her again!
The first was not a great display.
O yes, the gentleman finds it all child's-play!
Fix and arrange it to my will;
And on her neighbor try thy skill!
Don't be a Devil stiff as paste,
But get fresh jewels to her taste!
Yes, gracious Sir, in all obedience!
Such an enamored fool in air would blow
Sun, moon, and all the starry legions,
To give his sweetheart a diverting show.
THE NEIGHBOR'S HOUSE
God forgive my husband, yet he
Hasn't done his duty by me!
Off in the world he went straightway,—
Left me lie in the straw where I lay.
And, truly, I did naught to fret him:
God knows I loved, and can't forget him!
Perhaps he's even dead! Ah, woe!—
Had I a certificate to show!
Margaret! what's happened thee?
I scarce can stand, my knees are trembling!
I find a box, the first resembling,
Within my press! Of ebony,—
And things, all splendid to behold,
And richer far than were the old.
You mustn't tell it to your mother!
'Twould go to the priest, as did the other.
Ah, look and see—just look and see!
MARTHA (adorning her)
O, what a blessed luck for thee!
But, ah! in the streets I dare not bear them,
Nor in the church be seen to wear them.
Yet thou canst often this way wander,
And secretly the jewels don,
Walk up and down an hour, before the mirror yonder,—
We'll have our private joy thereon.
And then a chance will come, a holiday,
When, piece by piece, can one the things abroad display,
A chain at first, then other ornament:
Thy mother will not see, and stories we'll invent.
Whoever could have brought me things so precious?
That something's wrong, I feel suspicious.
Good Heaven! My mother can that have been?
MARTHA (peeping through the blind)
'Tis some strange gentleman.—Come in!
That I so boldly introduce me,
I beg you, ladies, to excuse me.
(Steps back reverently, on seeing MARGARET.)
For Martha Schwerdtlein I'd inquire!
I'm she: what does the gentleman desire?
MEPHISTOPHELES (aside to her)
It is enough that you are she:
You've a visitor of high degree.
Pardon the freedom I have ta'en,—
Will after noon return again.
Of all things in the world! Just hear—
He takes thee for a lady, dear!
I am a creature young and poor:
The gentleman's too kind, I'm sure.
The jewels don't belong to me.
Ah, not alone the jewelry!
The look, the manner, both betray—
Rejoiced am I that I may stay!
What is your business? I would fain—
I would I had a more cheerful strain!
Take not unkindly its repeating:
Your husband's dead, and sends a greeting.
Is dead? Alas, that heart so true!
My husband dead! Let me die, too!
Ah, dearest dame, let not your courage fail!
Hear me relate the mournful tale!
Therefore I'd never love, believe me!
A loss like this to death would grieve me.
Joy follows woe, woe after joy comes flying.
Relate his life's sad close to me!
In Padua buried, he is lying
Beside the good Saint Antony,
Within a grave well consecrated,
For cool, eternal rest created.
He gave you, further, no commission?
Yes, one of weight, with many sighs:
Three hundred masses buy, to save him from perdition!
My hands are empty, otherwise.
What! Not a pocket-piece? no jewelry?
What every journeyman within his wallet spares,
And as a token with him bears,
And rather starves or begs, than loses?
Madam, it is a grief to me;
Yet, on my word, his cash was put to proper uses.
Besides, his penitence was very sore,
And he lamented his ill fortune all the more.
Alack, that men are so unfortunate!
Surely for his soul's sake full many a prayer I'll proffer.
You well deserve a speedy marriage-offer:
You are so kind, compassionate.
O, no! As yet, it would not do.
If not a husband, then a beau for you!
It is the greatest heavenly blessing,
To have a dear thing for one's caressing.
The country's custom is not so.
Custom, or not! It happens, though.
I stood beside his bed of dying.
'Twas something better than manure,—
Half-rotten straw: and yet, he died a Christian, sure,
And found that heavier scores to his account were lying.
He cried: "I find my conduct wholly hateful!
To leave my wife, my trade, in manner so ungrateful!
Ah, the remembrance makes me die!
Would of my wrong to her I might be shriven!"
The dear, good man! Long since was he forgiven.
"Yet she, God knows! was more to blame than I."
He lied! What! On the brink of death he slandered?
In the last throes his senses wandered,
If I such things but half can judge.
He said: "I had no time for play, for gaping freedom:
First children, and then work for bread to feed 'em,—
For bread, in the widest sense, to drudge,
And could not even eat my share in peace and quiet!"
Had he all love, all faith forgotten in his riot?
My work and worry, day and night?
Not so: the memory of it touched him quite.
Said he: "When I from Malta went away
My prayers for wife and little ones were zealous,
And such a luck from Heaven befell us,
We made a Turkish merchantman our prey,
That to the Soldan bore a mighty treasure.
Then I received, as was most fit,
Since bravery was paid in fullest measure,
My well-apportioned share of it."
Say, how? Say, where? If buried, did he own it?
Who knows, now, whither the four winds have blown it?
A fair young damsel took him in her care,
As he in Naples wandered round, unfriended;
And she much love, much faith to him did bear,
So that he felt it till his days were ended.
The villain! From his children thieving!
Even all the misery on him cast
Could not prevent his shameful way of living!
But see! He's dead therefrom, at last.
Were I in your place, do not doubt me,
I'd mourn him decently a year,
And for another keep, meanwhile, my eyes about me.
Ah, God! another one so dear
As was my first, this world will hardly give me.
There never was a sweeter fool than mine,
Only he loved to roam and leave me,
And foreign wenches and foreign wine,
And the damned throw of dice, indeed.
Well, well! That might have done, however,
If he had only been as clever,
And treated your slips with as little heed.
I swear, with this condition, too,
I would, myself, change rings with you.
The gentleman is pleased to jest.
I'll cut away, betimes, from here:
She'd take the Devil at his word, I fear.
How fares the heart within your breast?
What means the gentleman?
Sweet innocent, thou art!
A moment, ere we part!
Yes, my good dame, a pair of witnesses
Always the truth establishes.
I have a friend of high condition,
Who'll also add his deposition.
I'll bring him here.
Good Sir, pray do!
And this young lady will be present, too?
A gallant youth! has travelled far:
Ladies with him delighted are.
Before him I should blush, ashamed.
Before no king that could be named!
Behind the house, in my garden, then,
This eve we'll expect the gentlemen.
How is it? under way? and soon complete?
Ah, bravo! Do I find you burning?
Well, Margaret soon will still your yearning:
At Neighbor Martha's you'll this evening meet.
A fitter woman ne'er was made
To ply the pimp and gypsy trade!
Yet something is required from us.
One service pays the other thus.
We've but to make a deposition valid
That now her husband's limbs, outstretched and pallid,
At Padua rest, in consecrated soil.
Most wise! And first, of course, we'll make the journey
Sancta simplicitas! no need of such a toil;
Depose, with knowledge or without it, either!
If you've naught better, then, I'll tear your pretty plan!
Now, there you are! O holy man!
Is it the first time in your life you're driven
To bear false witness in a case?
Of God, the world and all that in it has a place,
Of Man, and all that moves the being of his race,
Have you not terms and definitions given
With brazen forehead, daring breast?
And, if you'll probe the thing profoundly,
Knew you so much—and you'll confess it roundly!—
As here of Schwerdtlein's death and place of rest?
Thou art, and thou remain'st, a sophist, liar.
Yes, knew I not more deeply thy desire.
For wilt thou not, no lover fairer,
Poor Margaret flatter, and ensnare her,
And all thy soul's devotion swear her?
And from my heart.
'Tis very fine!
Hold! hold! It will!—If such my flame,
And for the sense and power intense
I seek, and cannot find, a name;
Then range with all my senses through creation,
Craving the speech of inspiration,
And call this ardor, so supernal,
Endless, eternal and eternal,—
Is that a devilish lying game?
And yet I'm right!
Mark this, I beg of thee!
(MARGARET on FAUST'S arm. MARTHA and MEPHISTOPHELES walking up and down.)
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.
A look from thee, a word, more entertains
Than all the lore of wisest brains.
(He kisses her hand.)
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.
And you, Sir, travel always, do you not?
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!
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.
I dread to see how such a fate advances.
Then, worthy Sir, improve betimes your chances!
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.
Trust me, dear heart! what men call sensible
Is oft mere vanity and narrowness.
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—
So you but think a moment's space on me,
All times I'll have to think on you, all places!
No doubt you're much alone?
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.
An angel, if like thee!
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.
The purest bliss was surely then thy dower.
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.
Yes, the poor women are bad off, 'tis true:
A stubborn bachelor there's no converting.
It but depends upon the like of you,
And I should turn to better ways than flirting.
Speak plainly, Sir, have you no one detected?
Has not your heart been anywhere subjected?
The proverb says: One's own warm hearth
And a good wife, are gold and jewels worth.
I mean, have you not felt desire, though ne'er so slightly?
I've everywhere, in fact, been entertained politely.
I meant to say, were you not touched in earnest, ever?
One should allow one's self to jest with ladies never.
MARTHA Ah, you don't understand!
I'm sorry I'm so blind: But I am sure—that you are very kind.
And me, thou angel! didst thou recognize,
As through the garden-gate I came?
Did you not see it? I cast down my eyes.
And thou forgiv'st my freedom, and the blame
To my impertinence befitting,
As the Cathedral thou wert quitting?
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.
Wait a while!
(She plucks a star-flower, and pulls off the leaves, one after
Shall that a nosegay be?
No, it is just in play.
Go! you'll laugh at me.
What murmurest thou?
MARGARET (half aloud)
He loves me—loves me not.
Thou sweet, angelic soul!
Loves me—not—loves me—not—
(plucking the last leaf, she cries with frank delight:)
He loves me!
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.)
I'm all a-tremble!
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.
Ay! we must away.
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?
Flown up the alley yonder,
He seems of her still fonder.
And she of him. So runs the world away!