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Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Faust Part II

(Act II: Scenes I to IV)

A. S. Kline ã2003 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.

Act II

Scene I: A High-Arched, Narrow, Gothic Chamber

Formerly Faust’s, Unchanged

Mephistopheles (Entering from behind a curtain. As he holds it up and looks behind him, Faust is seen lying stretched out on an antiquated bed.)

Lie there, unlucky man! One tempted by

The bonds of a love not readily undone!

The man whom Helena shall paralyse

Won’t find it easy to regain his reason.

(Looking around him.)

I look upwards, here, around me, 6570

All’s unaltered, and undamaged:

Stained glass, there, shows darkly,

Spiders have added to their webs:

The ink is dry: the paper’s yellow,

But everything’s still in its place: 6575

Even the quill-pen’s here, on show,

With which Faust and the Devil embraced.

Yes! Deeper in the nib there’s still

A drop of blood, I tempted him to spill.

It’s a unique piece, in my book, 6580

So I’ll wish the great collectors luck.

The old fur-robe, on the hook, too,

Reminds me of a joke or two,

That time when I taught the student,

What, perhaps, in youth, he’s glad he learnt. 6585

Truly the same desire is on me, for

You, smoke-singed gown: you and I,

To flaunt ourselves once more as a professor,

And speak as one who’s always in the right.

How to achieve that all the learned know: 6590

It’s something the Devil lost long ago.

(He shakes the fur as he takes it down, and moths, crickets and beetles fly out.)

Chorus of Insects

Greetings! We’re greeting

Our Patron of old,

We’re floating and buzzing,

To us you’re well known. 6595

Singly, in silence,

You sowed us like plants.

Father, in thousands

We’ve come to the dance.

The jester is snugly 6600

Contained in the breast,

The lice in the fur they

Are sooner expressed.


What a nice surprise, this young brood of mine!

One merely sows, and harvests in due time. 6605

I’ll shake this ancient fleece about,

Here and there, one flutters out. –

Away! Around! In a hundred leavings,

Hurry and hide yourself, you darlings.

There, where the ancient boxes lie, 6610

Here, in the smoky parchment try,

In that broken dusty old pottery,

Or the skull, its eye-sockets empty.

All this jumbled mildewed existence,

Always gives one whims and fancies. 6615

Again let’s dress up as a lecturer!

Today I’ll be the Principal, once more.

But it’s no use naming myself, you see:

Where are the people, to welcome me?

Famulus (A College Servant, tottering here, down the long gallery)

What a noise! What a quake! 6620

The stairs sway, the walls shake:

Through the windows’ trembling colours

I see the lightning gleam above us.

The floor leaps, and, on high,

Plaster, rubble from the sky. 6625

And the door, once tightly locked,

By wondrous force is thrown back. –

There! How fearful! A giant

Look, in Faust’s old garment!

At his gazing, and his pleas, 6630

I want to sink to my knees.

Shall I go? Shall I remain?

Oh, what will happen to me, then!


Here, my friend! – You’re called Nicodemus.


Honoured Sir! That’s my name – Oremus. 6635


Enough of that!


How pleased I am you knew me!


I know you well: a student still, I see,

Mossy Sir! After all, a learned man

Studies hard, and does the best he can.

So one builds a respectable house of cards, 6640

That greater minds can’t finish afterwards.

But he’s a witty fellow, is your master,

Who doesn’t know the noble Doctor Wagner?

He’s the first in all the world of learning!

He’s unique: wisdom, each day increasing,

And all of it he still holds together, 6645

Crowds, around him, panting, gather

Listeners, eaves’-droppers, welcome.

Alone, he shines there at the rostrum.

He holds a key, just like Saint Peter, 6650

That unlocks the lower, and the higher.

He glows and sparkles above the rest,

No name and fame has wider standing:

Even that of Faust has dimmed, at best:

He’s the one who’s always inventing. 6655


Forgive me, honoured Sir, if I dare

To speak, and contradict you, there:

There’s no question of that, I must declare:

Since modesty’s his role, as all discern.

Discovering nothing of the circumstances, 6660

Baffled by the great man’s disappearance:

He seeks all health and comfort in his return.

The room waits for its old master

While Doctor Faustus is away,

Untouched, still, as in his day. 6665

And I scarcely dare to enter.

What can the stars be doing? –

The walls themselves are frightening me:

The doorframes quiver, bolts work free,

Or you yourself couldn’t have got in. 6670


And your great man where is he?

Lead me there: or bring him here to me!


Oh! His warnings are quite clear,

I’m not allowed to interfere.

For months I’ve left him in utter peace, 6675

Till his great work is complete.

He, the most delicate of scholars,

His face looks like a charcoal burner’s,

Blackened now from nose to ears,

Eyes crimson, blowing up the fires, 6680

All the while, so enthusiastic:

Clinking of tongs, that’s his music.


Why would he deny an entrance to me?

I’m one who’d speed his luck, you see.

(The Famulus exits: Mephistopheles sits down, gravely.)

I’ve hardly taken my seat here, 6685

And I see a guest behind my chair.

But he’s one of the new school’s persuasion:

He’ll be arrogant, I think, on this occasion.

Baccalaureus (Storming along the corridor.)

I find the gates and doors are open!

Now there’s room at last for hope then, 6690

That it won’t be merely as before,

A live man, acting as a corpse,

Wasting away, and rotting,

Till he merely dies of living.

These walls and these partitions, 6695

Bow and sink towards perdition,

And if we don’t look about us,

Their decline and fall will rout us.

I’m audacious, no one more so,

But no further in do I go. 6700

What will I find here today?

It’s years since I’ve been this way,

Where timid and innocent

As a freshman I was sent!

Where I trusted in my elders, 6705

Edified by all their blather.

From the dry old books, they knew

They lied to me: what they knew,

Not believing in it truly,

Stealing life itself, from me. 6710

What? ...

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