Far from the feasting, in the bedroom
Sits loyal Amor and quakes with dread:
What if the guests become too zestful,
Break the peace of the bridal bed?
A mystical and holy shimmer
Flows from his pale flames of gold;
For you both a whirl of incense
Readies pleasures manifold.
How throbs your heart as chiming timepiece
Chases noisy guests away;
Any moment, lips you burn for
Nought will utter, nought gainsay.
You hasten with her to the temple,
There to consummate your bliss;
The guardian holds aloft his flambeau,
Still and small as a taper is.
How she trembles with your kisses,
Bosom, lips, and cheeks, and brow:
His severities are shivers,
Your derring-do is duty now.
Quick, Amor helps you undress her,
He has half your enterprise;
Roguish, then, but also modest,
He'll be closing both his eyes.
Welcome and Farewell
My heart beat fast, a horse! away!
Quicker than thought I am astride,
Earth now lulled by end of day,
Night hovering on the mountainside.
A robe of mist around him flung,
The oak a towering giant stood,
A hundred eyes of jet had sprung
From darkness in the bushy wood.
Atop a hill of cloud the moon
Shed piteous glimmers through the mist,
Softly the wind took flight, and soon
With horrible wings around me hissed.
Night made a thousand ghouls respire,
Of what I felt, a thousanth part---
My mind, what a consuming fire!
What a glow was in my heart!
You I saw, your look replied,
Your sweet felicity, my own,
My heart was with you, at your side,
I breathed for you, for you alone.
A blush was there, as if your face
A rosy hue of Spring had caught,
For me---ye gods!---this tenderness!
I hoped, and I deserved it not.
Yet soon the morning sun was there,
My heart, ah, shrank as leave I took:
How rapturous your kisses were,
What anguish then was in your look!
I left, you stood with downcast eyes,
In tears you saw me riding off:
Yet, to be loved, what happiness!
What happiness, ye gods, to love!
The Magic Net
Do I see a contest yonder?
See I miracles or pastimes?
Beauteous urchins, five in number,
'Gainst five sisters fair contending,--
Measured is the time they're beating--
At a bright enchantress' bidding.
Glitt'ring spears by some are wielded,
Threads are others nimbly twining,
So that in their snares, the weapons
One would think, must needs be captured,
Soon, in truth, the spears are prison'd;
Yet they, in the gentle war-dance,
One by one escape their fetters
In the row of loops so tender,
That make haste to seize a free one
Soon as they release a captive.
So with contests, strivings, triumphs,
Flying now, and now returning,
Is an artful net soon woven,
In its whiteness like the snow-flakes,
That, from light amid the darkness,
Draw their streaky lines so varied,
As e'en colours scarce can draw them.
Who shall now receive that garment
Far beyond all others wish'd-for?
Whom our much-loved mistress favour
As her own acknowledged servant?
I am blest by kindly Fortune's
Tokens true, in silence pray'd for!
And I feel myself held captive,
To her service now devoted.
Yet, e'en while I, thus enraptured,
Thus adorn'd, am proudly wand'ring,
See! yon wantons are entwining,
Void of strife, with secret ardour,
Other nets, each fine and finer,
Threads of twilight interweaving,
Moonbeams sweet, night-violets' balsam.
Ere the net is noticed by us,
Is a happier one imprison'd,
Whom we, one and all, together
Greet with envy and with blessings.
The water washed, the water rose;
A fellow fishing sat
And watched his bobbin coolly drift,
His blood was cool as that.
A while he sits, a while he harks
---Like silk the ripples tear,
And up in swirls of foam arose
A girl with dripping hair.
She sang to him, she spoke to him:
"Cajole my minnows so
With lore of men, with lure of men,
To death's unholy glow?
If you could know my silver kin,
What cozy hours they passed,
You'd settle under, clothes and all
---A happy life at last.
"The sun, it likes to bathe and bathe;
The moon---now doesn't she?
And don't they both, to breathe the wave,
Look up more brilliantly?
You're not allured by lakes of sky,
More glorious glossy blue?
Not by your very face transformed
In this eternal dew?"
The water washed, the water rose;
It lapped his naked toe,
As longing for the one he loved
He yearned to sink below.
She spoke to him, she sang to him;
The fellow, done for then,
Half yielded too as half she drew,
Was never seen again.
Stars, you are unfortunate, I pity you,
Beautiful as you are, shining in your glory,
Who guide seafaring men through stress and peril
And have no recompense from gods or mortals,
Love you do not, nor do you know what love is.
Hours that are aeons urgently conducting
Your figures in a dance through the vast heaven,
What journey have you ended in this moment,
Since lingering in the arms of my beloved
I lost all memory of you and midnight.
On Laden Twigs
On laden twigs of bushes,
There, loved one, to be seen,
The fruit let this uncover,
Spikey, encased and green.
Long clenched they have been hanging
A bough that swaying wanders
Cradles them patiently.
Yet always from within them
The swelling seed has matured,
Longs to be out in the open,
Of sun and air assured.
The casing bursts, and joyful
Each one breaks loose from its trap;
So too my songs are dropping
Profusely into your lap.
At midnight, far from gladly at that hour,
A small, small boy along the churchyard I
Walked to my father's vicarage; star on star,
Oh how they shone, to richly lit the sky;
When later I, moved farther though not far,
Must see the loved one, must because she drew me,
Above me stars and northern lights at war,
Going and coming I felt bliss flow through me;
Until at last the full moon made a rift,
So bright, so clear within the dark of me,
And even thought, grown willing, limber, swift
Embraced both past and future easily;
The Beautiful Night
Now I leave this cottage lowly,
Where my love hath made her home,
And with silent footstep slowly
Through the darksome forest roam,
Luna breaks through oaks and bushes,
Zephyr hastes her steps to meet,
And the waving birch-tree blushes,
Scattering round her incense sweet.
Grateful are the cooling breezes
Of this beauteous summer night,
Here is felt the charm that pleases,
And that gives the soul delight.
Boundless is my joy; yet, Heaven,
Willingly I'd leave to thee
Thousand such nights, were one given
By my maiden loved to me!
The stones in the streamlet I make my bright pillow,
And open my arms to the swift-rolling billow,
That lovingly hastens to fall on my breast.
Then fickleness soon bids it onwards be flowing;
A second draws nigh, its caresses bestowing,--
And so by a twofold enjoyment I'm blest.
And yet thou art trailing in sorrow and sadness
The moments that life, as it flies, gave for gladness,
Because by thy love thou'rt remember'd no more!
Oh, call back to mind former days and their blisses!
The lips of the second will give as sweet kisses
As any the lips of the first gave before!
The Muses' Son
Through field and wood to stray,
And pipe my tuneful lay,--
'Tis thus my days are pass'd;
And all keep tune with me,
And move in harmony,
And so on, to the last.
To wait I scarce have power
The garden's earliest flower,
The tree's first bloom in Spring;
They hail my joyous strain,--
When Winter comes again,
Of that sweet dream I sing.
My song sounds far and near,
O'er ice it echoes clear,
Then Winter blossoms bright;
And when his blossoms fly,
Fresh raptures meet mine eye,
Upon the well-till'd height.
When 'neath the linden tree,
Young folks I chance to see,
I set them moving soon;
His nose the dull lad curls,
The formal maiden whirls,
Obedient to my tune.
Wings to the feet ye lend,
O'er hill and vale ye send
The lover far from home;
When shall I, on your breast,.
Ye kindly muses, rest,
And cease at length to roam?
The Beauteous Flower
SONG OF THE IMPRISONED COUNT.
I KNOW a flower of beauty rare,
Ah, how I hold it dear!
To seek it I would fain repair,
Were I not prison'd here.
My sorrow sore oppresses me,
For when I was at liberty,
I had it close beside me.
Though from this castle's walls so steep
I cast mine eyes around,
And gaze oft from the lofty keep,
The flower can not be found.
Whoe'er would bring it to my sight,
Whether a vassal he, or knight,
My dearest friend I'd deem him.
I blossom fair,--thy tale of woes
I hear from 'neath thy grate.
Thou doubtless meanest me, the rose.
Poor knight of high estate!
Thou hast in truth a lofty mind;
The queen of flowers is then enshrin'd,
I doubt not, in thy bosom.
Thy red, in dress of green array'd,
As worth all praise I hold;
And so thou'rt treasured by each maid
Like precious stones or gold.
Thy wreath adorns the fairest face
But still thou'rt not the flower whose grace
I honour here in silence.
The rose is wont with pride to swell,
And ever seeks to rise;
But gentle sweethearts love full well
The lily's charms to prize,
The heart that fills a bosom true,
That is, like me, unsullied too,
My merit values duly.
In truth, I hope myself unstain'd,
And free from grievous crime;
Yet I am here a prisoner chain'd,
And pass in grief my time,
To me thou art an image sure
Of many a maiden, mild and pure,
And yet I know a dearer.
That must be me, the pink, who scent
The warder's garden here;
Or wherefore is he so intent
My charms with care to rear?
My petals stand in beauteous ring,
Sweet incense all around I fling,
And boast a thousand colours.
The pink in truth we should not slight,
It is the gardener's pride
It now must stand exposed to light,
Now in the shade abide.
Yet what can make the Count's heart glow
Is no mere pomp of outward show;
It is a silent flower.
Here stand I, modestly half hid,
And fain would silence keep;
Yet since to speak I now am bid,
I'll break my silence deep.
If, worthy Knight, I am that flower,
It grieves me that I have not power
To breathe forth all my sweetness.
The violet's charms I prize indeed,
So modest 'tis, and fair,
And smells so sweet; yet more I need
To ease my heavy care.
The truth I'll whisper in thine ear:
Upon these rocky heights so drear,
I cannot find the loved one.
The truest maiden 'neath the sky
Roams near the stream below,
And breathes forth many a gentle sigh,
Till I from hence can go.
And when she plucks a flow'ret blue,
And says "Forget-me-not!"--I, too,
Though far away, can feel it.
Ay, distance only swells love's might,
When fondly love a pair;
Though prison'd in the dungeon's night,
In life I linger there
And when my heart is breaking nigh,
"Forget-me-not!" is all I cry,
And straightway life returneth
Faust - Part 1 (Dedication)
Ye wavering forms draw near again as ever
When ye long since moved past my clouded eyes.
To hold you fast, shall I this time endeavour?
Still does my heart that strange illusion prize?
Ye crowd on me! 'Tis well! Your might assever
While ye from mist and murk around me rise.
As in my youth my heart again is bounding,
Thrilled by the magic breath your train surrounding.
Ye bring with you glad days and happy faces.
Ah, many dear, dear shades arise with you;
Like some old tale that Time but half erases,
First Love draws near to me and Friendship too.
The pain returns, the sad lament retraces
Life's labyrinthine, erring course anew
And names the good souls who, by Fortune cheated
Of lovely hours, forth from my world have fleeted.
They do not hear the melodies I'm singing,
The souls to whom my earliest lays I sang;
Dispersed that throng who once to me were clinging,
The echo's died away that one time rang.
Now midst an unknown crowd my grief is ringing,
Their very praise but gives my heart a pang,
While those who once my song enjoyed and flattered,
If still they live, roam through the wide world scattered.
And I am seized with long-unwonted yearning
Toward yonder realm of spirits grave and still.
My plaintive song's uncertain tones are turning
To harps aeolian murmuring at will.
Awe binds me fast; tear upon tear falls burning,
My stern heart feels a gentle, tender thrill;
What I possess, as if far off I'm seeing,
And what has vanished, now comes into being.
PRELUDE ON THE STAGE
MANAGER. DRAMATIC POET. JESTER.
Manager. Ye two that have so often stood by me
In time of need and tribulation,
Come, say: what hope in any German nation
For what we undertake have ye?
I much desire to give the crowd a pleasure,
In chief, because they live and let us live.
The posts, the boards are up, and here at leisure
The crowd expects a feast in what we'll give.
They're sitting now with eyebrows raised,
Quite calmly there, would gladly be amazed.
I know how one can make all minds akin,
Yet so embarrassed I have never been.
In truth, accustomed to the best they're not,
But they have read a really awful lot.
How shall we plan that all be fresh and new
And with a meaning, yet attractive too?
For I do like to see them crowding, urging,
When toward our booth the stream sets in apace
And with its powerful, repeated surging
Pours through the strait and narrow gate of grace,
When still in broad daylight, ere it is four,
They fight and push their way up to the wicket
And as the famine-stricken at the baker's door
They nearly break their necks to get a ticket.
This miracle, upon such varied folk, the poet
Alone can work; today, my friend, oh, show it!
Poet. I beg you, of that motley crowd cease telling
At sight of whom the spirit takes to flight!
Enveil from me the billowing mass compelling
Us to its vortex with resistless might.
No, lead me to the tranquil, heavenly dwelling
Where only blooms for poets pure delight,
Where Love and Friendship give the heart their blessing,
With godlike hand creating and progressing.
Ah, all that from the bosom's depths sprang flowing,
All that from shy and stammering lips has passed,
Sometimes success and sometimes failure knowing,
To each wild moment's power a prey is cast.
Oft only after years, in credit growing,
Doth it appear in perfect form at last.
What gleams is born but for the moment's pages;
The true remains, unlost to after-ages.
Jester. Could I but hear no more of after-ages!
Suppose the thought of them my mind engages,
Who'd give the present world its fun?
That will it have and ought to have it too.
The presence of a gallant chap, revealed to you,
I think, is also worth while being shown.
Who pleasantly can just himself impart,
Is not embittered by the people's whim;
He likes to have a crowd surrounding him,
More certainly to stir and thrill each heart.
So do be good, show you can set the fashion.
Let Fantasy be heard with all her chorus:
Sense, Reason, Sentiment, and Passion;
Yet mark you well! bring Folly too before us!
Manager. But, more than all, do let enough occur!
Men come to look, to see they most prefer.
If, as they gaze, much is reeled off and spun,
So that the startled crowd gapes all it can,
A multitude you will at once have won;
You then will be a much-loved man.
You can compel the mass by mass alone;
Each in the end will seek out something as his own.
Bring much and you'll bring this or that to everyone
And each will leave contented when the play is done.
If you will give a piece, give it at once in pieces!
Ragout like this your fame increases.
Easy it is to stage, as easy to invent.
What use is it, a whole to fashion and present?
The Public still will pick it all to pieces.
Poet. You do not feel how bad such handiwork must be,
How little that becomes the artist true!
I see, neat gentlemanly botchery
Is now a sovereign rule with you.
Manager. Reproof like this leaves me quite unoffended!
A man who does his work, effectively intended,
Must stick to tools that are the best for it.
Reflect! You have a tender wood to split;
And those for whom you write, just see!
If this one's driven hither by ennui,
Another leaves a banquet sated with its vapours;
And- what the very worst will always be-
Many come fresh from reading magazines and papers.
Men haste distraught to us as to the masquerade,
And every step but winged by curiosity;
The ladies give a treat, all in their best arrayed,
And play their part without a fee.
Why do you dream in lofty poet-land?
Why does a full house make you gay?
Observe the patrons near at hand!
They are half cold, half coarse are they.
One, when the play is over, hopes a game of cards;
A wild night on a wench's breast another chooses.
Why then, with such an aim, poor silly bards,
Will you torment so much the gracious Muses?
Give only more and ever, ever more, I say.
Then from the goal you nevermore can stray.
Seek to bewilder men- that is my view.
But satisfy them? That is hard to do.-
What is attacking you? Pain or delight?
Poet. Go hence and seek yourself another slave!
What! Shall the poet take that highest right,
The Right of Man, that Right which Nature gave,
And wantonly for your sake trifle it away?
How doth he over every heart hold sway?
How doth he every element enslave?
Is it not the harmony that from his breast doth start,
Then winds the world in turn back in his heart?
When Nature forces lengths of thread unending
In careless whirling on the spindle round,
When all Life's inharmonic throngs unblending
In sullen, harsh confusion sound,
Who parts the changeless series of creation,
That each, enlivened, moves in rhythmic time?
Who summons each to join the general ordination,
In consecrated, noble harmonies to chime?
Who bids the storm with raging passion lower?
The sunset with a solemn meaning glow?
Who scatters Springtime's every lovely flower
Along the pathway where his love may go?
Who twines the verdant leaves, unmeaning, slighted,
Into a wreath of honour, meed of every field?
Who makes Olympus sure, the gods united?
That power of Man the Poet has revealed!
Jester. Then use these handsome powers as your aid
And carry on this poet trade
As one a love-adventure carries!
By chance one nears, one feels, one tarries!
And, bit by bit, one gets into a tangle.
Bliss grows, then comes a tiff, a wrangle;
One is enrapt, now one sees pain advance,
And ere one is aware, it is a real romance!
So let us also such a drama give!
Just seize upon the full life people live!
Each lives it though it's known to few,
And grasp it where you will, there's interest for you.
In motley pictures with a little clarity,
Much error and a spark of verity,
Thus can the best of drinks be brewed
To cheer and edify the multitude.
Youth's fairest bloom collects in expectation
Before your play and harks the revelation.
Then from your work each tender soul, intent,
Absorbs a melancholy nourishment.
Then now one thought and now another thought you start;
Each sees what he has carried in his heart.
As yet they are prepared for weeping and for laughter;
They still revere the flight, illusion they adore.
A mind once formed finds naught made right thereafter;
A growing mind will thank you evermore.
Poet. Then give me back the time of growing
When I myself was growing too,
When crowding songs, a fountain flowing,
Gushed forth unceasing, ever new;
When still the mists my world were veiling,
The bud its miracle bespoke;
When I the thousand blossoms broke,
Profusely through the valleys trailing.
Naught, yet enough had I when but a youth,
Joy in illusion, yearning toward the truth.
Give impulse its unfettered dower,
The bliss so deep 'tis full of pain,
The strength of hate, Love's mighty power,
Oh, give me back my youth again!
Jester. Youth, my good friend, you need most in the fight
When enemies come on, hard pressing,
When, clinging to your necks so tight,
The dearest maidens hang caressing,
When, from afar, a wreath entrances,
Luring to hard-won goal the runner's might,
When, after madly whirling dances,
A man carousing drinks away the night.
But on the lyre's familiar strings
To play with grace and spirit ever
And sweep with lovely wanderings
Toward goals you choose for your endeavour,
That is your duty, aged sirs,
And we revere you for it no less dearly.
Age makes not childish, as one oft avers;
It finds us still true children merely.
Manager. Words have been interchanged enough,
Let me at last see action too.
While compliments you're turning- idle stuff!
Some useful thing might come to view.
Why talk of waiting for the mood?
No one who dallies ever will it see.
If you pretend you're poets- good!
Command then, poets, poetry!
What we're in need of, that full well you know,
We want to sip strong drink, so go
And start the brew without delay!
Never is done tomorrow what is not done today
And one should let no day slip by.
With resolution seize the possible straightway
By forelock and with quick, courageous trust;
Then holding fast you will not let it further fly
And you will labour on because you must.
Upon our German stage, you are aware,
Each tries out what he wishes to display,
So in your work for me today
Scenes, mechanism you are not to spare.
Use both the lights of heaven, great and small;
The stars above are yours to squander;
Nor water, fire, nor rocky wall,
Nor beasts nor birds are lacking yonder.
Thus in our narrow house of boards preside
And on through all Creation's circle stride;
And wander on, with speed considered well,
From Heaven, through the world, to Hell!
PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN
The LORD. The HEAVENLY HOSTS.
The THREE ARCHANGELS come forward.
Raphael. The Sun intones, in ancient tourney
With brother-spheres, a rival song,
Fulfilling its predestined journey,
With march of thunder moves along.
Its aspect gives the angels power,
Though none can ever solve its ways;
The lofty works beyond us tower,
Sublime as on the first of days.
Gabriel. And swift beyond where knowledge ranges,
Earth's splendour whirls in circling flight;
A paradise of brightness changes
To awful shuddering depths of night.
The sea foams up, widespread and surging
Against the rocks' deep-sunken base,
And rock and sea sweep onward, merging
In rushing spheres' eternal race.
Michael. And rival tempests roar and shatter,
From sea to land, from land to sea,
And, raging, form a circling fetter
Of deep, effective energy.
There flames destruction, flashing, searing,
Before the crashing thunder's way;
Yet, Lord, Thy angels are revering
The gentle progress of Thy day.
The Three. Its aspect gives the angels power,
Since none can solve Thee nor Thy ways;
And all Thy works beyond us tower,
Sublime as on the first of days.
Mephistopheles. Since you, O Lord, once more draw near
And ask how all is getting on, and you
Were ever well content to see me here,
You see me also midst your retinue.
Forgive, fine speeches I can never make,
Though all the circle look on me with scorn;
Pathos from me would make your sides with laughter shake,
Had you not laughter long ago forsworn.
Of suns and worlds I've naught to say worth mention.
How men torment them claims my whole attention.
Earth's little god retains his same old stamp and ways
And is as singular as on the first of days.
A little better would he live, poor wight,
Had you not given him that gleam of heavenly light.
He calls it Reason, only to pollute
Its use by being brutaler than any brute.
It seems to me, if you'll allow, Your Grace,
He's like a grasshopper, that long-legged race
That's made to fly and flying spring
And in the grass to sing the same old thing.
If in the grass he always were reposing!
But in each filthy heap he keeps on nosing
The Lord. You've nothing more to say to me?
You come but to complain unendingly?
Is never aught right to your mind?
Mephistopheles. No, Lord! All is still downright bad, I find.
Man in his wretched days makes me lament him;
I am myself reluctant to torment him.
The Lord. Do you know Faust?
Mephistopheles. The Doctor?
The Lord. Yes, my servant!
Forsooth, he serves you most peculiarly.
Unearthly are the fool's drink and his food;
The ferment drives him forth afar.
Though half aware of his insensate mood,
He asks of heaven every fairest star
And of the earth each highest zest,
And all things near and all things far
Can not appease his deeply troubled breast.
The Lord. Although he serves me now confusedly,
I soon shall lead him forth where all is clear.
The gardener knows, when verdant grows the tree,
That bloom and fruit will deck the coming year.
Mephistopheles. What will you wager? Him you yet shall lose,
If you will give me your permission
To lead him gently on the path I choose.
The Lord. As long as on the earth he shall survive,
So long you'll meet no prohibition.
Man errs as long as he doth strive.
Mephistopheles. My thanks for that, for with the dead I've never got
Myself entangled of my own volition.
I like full, fresh cheeks best of all the lot.
I'm not at home when corpses seek my house;
I feel about it as a cat does with a mouse.
The Lord. 'Tis well! So be it granted you today!
Divert this spirit from its primal source
And if you can lay hold on him, you may
Conduct him downward on your course,
And stand abashed when you are forced to say:
A good man, though his striving be obscure,
Remains aware that there is one right way.
Mephistopheles. All right! But long it won't endure!
I have no fear about my bet, be sure!
When I attain my aim, do not protest,
But let me triumph with a swelling breast.
Dust shall he eat, and that with zest,
As did the famous snake, my near relation.
The Lord. In that too you may play your part quite free;
Your kind I never did detest.
Of all the spirits of negation
The wag weighs least of all on me.
Mankind's activity can languish all too easily,
A man soon loves unhampered rest;
Hence, gladly I give him a comrade such as you,
Who stirs and works and must, as devil, do.
But ye, real sons of God, lift up your voice,
In living, profuse beauty to rejoice!
May that which grows, that lives and works forever,
Engird you with Love's gracious bonds, and aught
That ever may appear, to float and waver,
Make steadfast in enduring thought!
Heaven closes, the ARCHANGELS disperse.
Mephistopheles [alone]. I like to see the Old Man not infrequently,
And I forbear to break with Him or be uncivil;
It's very pretty in so great a Lord as He
To talk so like a man even with the Devil.