Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FAUST: SCENE 1. PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN, by JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE



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FAUST: SCENE 1. PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The sun makes music as of old
Last Line: To talk so freely with the devil himself.
Subject(s): Faust


The Lord and the Host of heaven.
Enter three Archangels

Raphael
The sun makes music as of old
Amid the rival spheres of Heaven,
On its predestined circle rolled
With thunder speed: the Angels even
Draw strength from gazing on its glance,
Though none its meaning fathom may;
The world's unwithered countenance
Is bright as at creation's day.

Gabriel
And swift and swift, with rapid lightness,
The adorned earth spins silently,
Alternating Elysian brightness
With deep and dreadful night; the sea
Foams in broad billows from the deep
Up to the rocks, and rocks and ocean,
Onward, with spheres which never sleep
Are hurried in eternal motion.

Michael
And tempests in contention roar
From land to sea, from sea to land;
And, raging, weave a chain of power,
Which girds the earth, as with a band.
A flashing desolation there
Flames before the thunder's way;
But thy servants, Lord, revere
The gentle changes of thy day.

Chorus of the three
The Angels draw strength from thy glance,
Though no one comprehend thee may;
Thy world's unwithered countenance
Is bright as on creation's day.

Enter Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles

As thou, O Lord, once more art kind enough
To interest thyself in our affairs,
And ask, "How goes it with you there below?"
And as indulgently at other times
Thou tookest not my visits in ill part,
Thou seest me here once more among thy household.
Though I should scandalize this company,
You will excuse me if I do not talk
In the high style which they think fashionable;
My pathos certainly would make you laugh too,
Had you not long since given over laughing.
Nothing know I to say of suns and worlds;
I observe only how men plague themselves.
The little god o' the world keeps the same stamp
As wonderful as on creation's day.
A little better would he live, hadst thou
Not given him a glimpse of Heaven's light
Which he calls reason, and employs it only
To live more beastily than any beast.
With reverence to your Lordship be it spoken,
He's like one of those long-legged grasshoppers
Who flits and jumps about, and sings forever
The same old song i' the grass. There let him lie,
Burying his nose in every heap of dung.

The Lord
Have you no more to say? Do you come here
Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
Seems nothing's ever right to you on earth?

Mephistopheles
No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
Even I am sorry for man's days of sorrow;
I could myself almost give up the pleasure
Of plaguing the poor things.

The Lord
Knowest thou Faust?

Mephistopheles
The Doctor?

The Lord
Ay; my servant Faust.

Mephistopheles
In truth
He serves you in a fashion quite his own;
And the fool's meat and drink are not of earth.
His aspirations bear him on so far
That he is half aware of his own folly,
For he demands from Heaven its fairest star,
And from the earth the highest joy it bears,
Yet all things far, and all things near, are vain
To calm the deep emotions of his breast.

The Lord
Though he now serves me in a cloud of error,
I will soon lead him forth to the clear day.
When trees look green, full well the gardener knows
That fruits and blooms will deck the coming year.

Mephistopheles
What will you bet? -- now I am sure of winning --
Only, observe you give me full permission
To lead him softly on my path.

The Lord
As long
As he shall live upon the earth, so long
Is nothing unto thee forbidden. Man
Must err till he has ceased to struggle.

Mephistopheles
Thanks.
And that is all I ask; for willingly
I never make acquaintance with the dead.
The full fresh cheeks of youth are food for me,
And if a corpse knocks, I am not at home.
For I am like a cat -- I like to play
A little with the mouse before I eat it.

The Lord
Well, well! it is permitted thee. Draw thou
His spirit from its springs; as thou find'st power
Seize him and lead him on thy downward path;
And stand ashamed when failure teaches thee
That a good man, even in his darkest longings
s well aware of the right way.

Mephistopheles
Well and good.
I am not in much doubt about my bet,
And if I lose, then 't is your turn to crow;
Enjoy your triumph then with a full breast.
Ay; dust shall he devour, and that with pleasure,
Like my old paramour, the famous Snake.

The Lord
Pray come here when it suits you; for I never
Had much dislike for people of your sort.
And, among all the Spirits who rebelled
The knave was ever the least tedious to me.
The active spirit of man soon sleeps, and soon
He seeks unbroken quiet; therefore I
Have given him the Devil for a companion
Who may provoke him to some sort of work
And must create forever. -- But ye, pure
Children of God, enjoy eternal beauty.
Let that which ever operates and lives
Clasp you within the limits of its love;
And seize with sweet and melancholy thoughts
The floating phantoms of its loveliness.

(Heaven closes. The Archangels exeunt.)

Mephistopheles
From time to time I visit the old fellow,
And I take care to keep on good terms with him.
Civil enough is this same God Almighty
To talk so freely with the Devil himself.







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