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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/From Faust


Songs from Various Plays, Etc.

FROM FAUST.

I.

DEDICATION.

Ye shadowy forms, again ye're drawing near,
So wont of yore to meet my troubled gaze!
Were it in vain to seek to keep you here?
Loves still my heart that dream of olden days?
Oh, come, then! and in pristine force appear,
Parting the vapoury mist that round me plays!
My bosom finds its youthful strength again,
Feeling the magic breeze that marks your train.

Ye bring the forms of happy days of yore,
And many a shadow loved attends you, too;
Like some old lay, whose dream was well-nigh o'er,
First love appears again, and friendship true;
Upon life's labyrinthine path once more
Is heard the sigh, and grief revives anew;
The friends are told, who, in their hour of pride,
Deceived by fortune, vanished from my side.

No longer do they hear my plaintive song,
The souls to whom I sang in life's young day;
Scattered for ever now thy friendly throng,
And mute, alas! each sweet responsive lay.
My strains but to the careless crowd belong,
Their smiles but sorrow to my heart convey;
And all who heard my numbers erst with gladness,
If living yet, roam o'er the earth in sadness.

Long buried yearnings in my breast arise,
Yon calm and solemn spirit-realm to gain;
Like the Æolian harp's sweet melodies,
My murmuring song breathes forth its changeful strain,
A trembling seizes me, tears fill mine eyes,
And softer grows my rugged heart amain.
All I possess far distant seems to be,
The vanished only seems reality.


II.

PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN.

THE ARCHANGELS' SONG.

RAPHAEL.

The sun still chants, as in old time,
With brother-shepherds in choral song,
And with his thunder-march sublime
Moves his predestined course along.
Strength find the angels in his sight,
Though he by none may fathomed be;
Still glorious is each work of might
As when first formed in majesty.

GABRIEL.

And swift and swift, in wondrous guise,
Revolves the earth in splendour bright,
The radiant hues of Paradise
Alternating with deepest night.
From out the gulf against the rock,
In spreading billows foams the ocean,—
And cliff and sea with mighty shock,
The spheres whirl round in endless motion.

MICHAEL.

And storms in emulation growl
From land to sea, from sea to land,
And fashion, as they wildly howl,
A circling, wonder-working band.
Destructive flames in mad career
Precede thy thunders on their way;
Yet, Lord, Thy messengers revere
The soft mutations of Thy day.

THE THREE.

Strength find the angels in Thy sight
Though none may hope to fathom Thee;
Still glorious are Thy works of might,
As when first formed in majesty.


III.

CHORUS OF ANGELS.

Christ is arisen!
Mortal, all hail!
Thou, of earth's prison
Dreary and frail,
Bursting the veil,
Proudly hast arisen!

CHORUS OF WOMEN.

Rich spices and myrrh,
To embalm Him we brought;
His corpse to inter
His true followers sought.
In pure cerements shrined,
'Twas placed in the bier;
But, alas! we now find
That Christ is not here.

CHORUS OF ANGELS.

Christ is arisen!
Speechless His love,
Who to earth's prison
Came from above,
Trials to prove.
Now is He risen!

CHORUS OF YOUTHS.

Death's gloomy portal
Now hath He rended,—
Living, immortal,
Heavenward ascended;
Freed from His anguish,
Sees He God's throne;
We still must languish,
Earthbound, alone.
Now that He's left us,
Heart-sad we pine;
Why hast Thou left us.
Master divine?

CHORUS OF ANGELS.

Christ is arisen,
Death hath He slain;
Burst ye your prison,
Rend ye each chain!
Songs of praise lead ye,—
Love to show, heed ye,—
Hungry ones feed ye,—
Preaching, on speed ye,—
Coming joys plead ye,—
Then is the Master near,
Then is He here!


IV.

CHORUS OF SPIRITS.

Vanish, dark clouds on high,
Offspring of night!
Let a more radiant beam
Through the blue ether gleam,
Charming the sight!
Would the dark clouds on high
Melt into air!
Stars glimmer tenderly,
Planets more fair
Shed their soft light.
Spirits of heavenly birth,
Fairer than sons of earth,
Quiv'ring emotions true
Hover above;
Yearning affections, too,
In their train move.
See how the spirit band,
By the soft breezes fanned,
Covers the smiling land,—
Covers the leafy grove,
Where happy lovers rove,
Deep in a dream of love,
True love that never dies!
Bowers on bowers rise,
Soft tendrils twine;
While from the press escapes,
Born of the juicy grapes,
Foaming, the wine;
And as the current flows
O'er the bright stones it goes,—
Leaving the hilly lands
Far, far behind,—
Into a sea expands,
Loving to wind
Bound the green mountain's base;
And the glad-wingèd race,
Rapture sip in,
As they the sunny light
And the fair islands bright,
Hasten to win,
That on the billows play
With sweet deceptive ray,
Where in glad choral song
Shout the exulting throng;
Where on the verdant plain
Dancers we see,
Spreading themselves amain
Over the lea.
Some boldly climbing are
O'er the steep brake,
Others are floating far
O'er the smooth lake.
All for a purpose move,
All with life teem,
While the sweet stars above
Blissfully gleam.

V.

MARGAEET AT HER SPINNING-WHEEL.

My heart is sad,
My peace is o'er;
I find it never
And nevermore.

When gone is he,
The grave I see;
The world's wide all
Is turned to gall.

Alas, my head
Is well-nigh crazed;
My feeble mind
Is sore amazed.

My heart is sad,
My peace is o'er;
I find it never
And nevermore.

For him from the window
Alone I spy;
For him alone
From home go I.

His lofty step,
His noble form,
His mouth's sweet smile,
His glances warm,
His voice so fraught
With magic bliss,
His hand's soft pressure,
And, ah, his kiss!

My heart is sad,
My peace is o'er;
I find it never
And nevermore.

My bosom yearns
For his form so fair;
Ah, could I clasp him
And hold him there!

My kisses sweet
Should stop his breath,
And 'neath his kisses
I'd sink in death!


VI.

SCENE.—A GARDEN.

Margaret. Faust.

MARGARET.

Dost thou believe in God?

FAUST.

Doth mortal live
Who dares to say that he believes in God?
Go, bid the priest a truthful answer give,
Go, ask the wisest who on earth e'er trod,—
Their answer will appear to be
Given alone in mockery.

MARGARET.

Then thou dost not believe? This sayest thou?

FAUST.

Sweet love, mistake not what I utter now!
Who knows his name?
Who dares proclaim:
Him I believe?
Who so can feel
His heart to steel
To say: I believe Him not?
The All-Embracer,
The All-Sustainer,
Holds and sustains He not
Thee, me, Himself?
Hang not the heavens their arch o'erhead?
Lies not the earth beneath us, firm?
Gleam not with kindly glances
Eternal stars on high?
Looks not mine eye deep into thine?
And do not all things
Crowd on thy head and heart,
And around thee twine, in mystery eterne,
Invisible, yet visible?
Fill, then, thy heart, however vast, with this,
And when the feeling perfecteth thy bliss,
Oh, call it what thou wilt,
Call it joy! heart! love! God!
No name for it I know!
'Tis feeling all—nought else;
Name is but sound and smoke,
Obscuring heaven's bright glow.

VII.

MARGARET'S PRAYER.

O thou well-tried in grief,
Grant to thy child relief,
And view with mercy this unhappy one!

The sword within thy heart,
Speechless with bitter smart,
Thou lookest up toward thy dying Son.

Thou lookest to God on high,
And breathest many a sigh
O'er His and thy distress, thou holy One!

Who e'er can know
The depth of woe
Piercing my very bone?
The sorrows that my bosom fill,
Its trembhngs, its aye-yearning will
Are known to thee, to thee alone.

Wherever I may go,
With woe, with woe, with woe,
My bosom sad is aching!
I scarce alone can creep,
I weep, I weep, I weep,
My very heart is breaking.

The flowers at my window
My falling tears bedewed,
When I, at dawn of morning,
For thee these flow'rets strewed.

When early to my chamber
The cheerful sunbeams stole,
I sat upon my pallet,
In agony of soul.

Help! rescue me from death and misery!
Oh, thou well-tried in grief,
Grant to thy child relief,
And view with mercy my deep agony!