Faust (Goethe)/Scene I

Part I Night

In a narrow, high-vaulted Gothic room, FAUST, seated restlessly in an armchair at his desk.

I've studied, alas, philosophy,
Law and medicine, recto and verso
And how I regret it, theology also
Oh, God, how hard I've slaved away,
With what result? Poor fool that I am,
I'm no whit wiser than when I began!
I've got a Master of Arts degree
On top of that a P.h.D.,
For ten long years, around and about,
Upstairs, downstairs, in and out,
I've led my students by the nose
To what conclusion? That nobody knows,
Or can ever know, the tiniest crumb!
Which is why I feel completely undone.

Of course I'm cleverer than these stuffed shirts,
These Doctors, Masters, Jurists, Priests
I'm not bothered by a doubt or a scruple
I'm not afraid of Hell or the Devil — But the consequence is, my mirth's all gone;
No longer can I fool myself
I'm able to teach men
How to be better, love true worth;
I've got no money or property,
Worldly honors or celebrity
A dog wouldn't put up with this life!
Which is why I've turned to magic
Seeking to know, by ways occult,
From ghostly mouths, many a secret;
So I no longer need to sweat
Painfully explaining what
I don't know anything about;
So I may penetrate the power
That holds the universe together,
Behold the source whence all proceeds
And deal no more in words, words, words.

O full moon, melancholy-bright,
Friend I've watched for, many a night
Till your quiet-shining face
Appeared above my high-piled desk —
If this were only the last time
You looked down on my pain!
If only I might stray at will
Beneath your light, high on the hill
Haunt with spirits upland hollows,
Fade with you in dim-light meadows
And soul no longer gasping in
The stink of learning's midnight lamp,
Bathe in your dews till well again!