Goethe's Faust

Scene XXI



District of Schierke and Elend.



DOST thou not wish a broomstick-steed's assistance?

The sturdiest he-goat I would gladly see:

The way we take, our goal is yet some distance.


So long as in my legs I feel the fresh existence.

This knotted staff suffices me.

What need to shorten so the way?

Along this labyrinth of vales to wander,

Then climb the rocky ramparts yonder,

Wherefrom the fountain flings eternal spray,

Is such delight, my steps would fain delay.

The spring-time stirs within the fragrant birches,

And even the fir-tree feels it now:

Should then our limbs escape its gentle searches?


I notice no such thing, I vow!

'Tis winter still within my body:

Upon my path I wish for frost and snow.

How sadly rises, incomplete and ruddy,

The moon's lone disk, with its belated glow,

And lights so dimly, that, as one advances,

At every step one strikes a rock or tree!

Let us, then, use a Jack-o'-lantern's glances:

I see one yonder, burning merrily.

Ho, there! my friend! I'll levy thine attendance:

Why waste so vainly thy resplendence?

Be kind enough to light us up the steep!


My reverence, I hope, will me enable

To curb my temperament unstable;

For zigzag courses we are wont to keep.


Indeed? he'd like mankind to imitate!

Now, in the Devil's name, go straight,

Or I'll blow out his being's flickering spark!


You are the master of the house, I mark,

And I shall try to serve you nicely.

But then, reflect: the mountain's magic-mad to-day,

And if a will-o'-the-wisp must guide you on the way,

You mustn't take things too precisely.


(in alternating song)

We, it seems, have entered newly

In the sphere of dreams enchanted.

Do thy bidding, guide us truly,

That our feet be forwards planted

In the vast, the desert spaces!

See them swiftly changing places,

Trees on trees beside us trooping,

And the crags above us stooping,

And the rocky snouts, outgrowing,—

Hear them snoring, hear them blowing!

O'er the stones, the grasses, flowing

Stream and streamlet seek the hollow.

Hear I noises? songs that follow?

Hear I tender love-petitions?

Voices of those heavenly visions?

Sounds of hope, of love undying!

And the echoes, like traditions

Of old days, come faint and hollow.

Hoo-hoo! Shoo-hoo! Nearer hover

Jay and screech-owl, and the plover,—

Are they all awake and crying?

Is't the salamander pushes,

Bloated-bellied, through the bushes?

And the roots, like serpents twisted,

Through the sand and boulders toiling,

Fright us, weirdest links uncoiling

To entrap us, unresisted:

Living knots and gnarls uncanny

Feel with polypus-antennae

For the wanderer. Mice are flying,

Thousand-colored, herd-wise hieing

Through the moss and through the heather!

And the fire-flies wink and darkle,

Crowded swarms that soar and sparkle,

And in wildering escort gather!

Tell me, if we still are standing,

Or if further we're ascending?

All is turning, whirling, blending,

Trees and rocks with grinning faces,

Wandering lights that spin in mazes,

Still increasing and expanding!


Grasp my skirt with heart undaunted!

Here a middle-peak is planted,

Whence one seeth, with amaze,

Mammon in the mountain blaze.


How strangely glimmers through the hollows

A dreary light, like that of dawn!

Its exhalation tracks and follows

The deepest gorges, faint and wan.

Here steam, there rolling vapor sweepeth;

Here burns the glow through film and haze:

Now like a tender thread it creepeth,

Now like a fountain leaps and plays.

Here winds away, and in a hundred

Divided veins the valley braids:

There, in a corner pressed and sundered,

Itself detaches, spreads and fades.

Here gush the sparkles incandescent

Like scattered showers of golden sand;—

But, see! in all their height, at present,

The rocky ramparts blazing stand.


Has not Sir Mammon grandly lighted

His palace for this festal night?

'Tis lucky thou hast seen the sight;

The boisterous guests approach that were invited.


How raves the tempest through the air!

With what fierce blows upon my neck 'tis beating!


Under the old ribs of the rock retreating,

Hold fast, lest thou be hurled down the abysses there!

The night with the mist is black;

Hark! how the forests grind and crack!

Frightened, the owlets are scattered:

Hearken! the pillars are shattered.

The evergreen palaces shaking!

Boughs are groaning and breaking,

The tree-trunks terribly thunder,

The roots are twisting asunder!

In frightfully intricate crashing

Each on the other is dashing,

And over the wreck-strewn gorges

The tempest whistles and surges!

Hear'st thou voices higher ringing?

Far away, or nearer singing?

Yes, the mountain's side along,

Sweeps an infuriate glamouring song!

WITCHES (in chorus)

The witches ride to the Brocken's top,

The stubble is yellow, and green the crop.

There gathers the crowd for carnival:

Sir Urian sits over all.

And so they go over stone and stock;

The witch she——-s, and——-s the buck.


Alone, old Baubo's coming now;

She rides upon a farrow-sow.


Then honor to whom the honor is due!

Dame Baubo first, to lead the crew!

A tough old sow and the mother thereon,

Then follow the witches, every one.


Which way com'st thou hither?


O'er the Ilsen-stone.

I peeped at the owl in her nest alone:

How she stared and glared!


Betake thee to Hell!

Why so fast and so fell?


She has scored and has flayed me:

See the wounds she has made me!

WITCHES (chorus)

The way is wide, the way is long:

See, what a wild and crazy throng!

The broom it scratches, the fork it thrusts,

The child is stifled, the mother bursts.

WIZARDS (semichorus)

As doth the snail in shell, we crawl:

Before us go the women all.

When towards the Devil's House we tread,

Woman's a thousand steps ahead.


We do not measure with such care:

Woman in thousand steps is theft.

But howsoe'er she hasten may,

Man in one leap has cleared the way.

VOICE (from above)

Come on, come on, from Rocky Lake!

VOICE (from below)

Aloft we'd fain ourselves betake.

We've washed, and are bright as ever you will,

Yet we're eternally sterile still.


The wind is hushed, the star shoots by.

The dreary moon forsakes the sky;

The magic notes, like spark on spark,

Drizzle, whistling through the dark.

VOICE (from below)

Halt, there! Ho, there!

VOICE (from above)

Who calls from the rocky cleft below there?

VOICE (below)

Take me, too! take me, too!

I'm climbing now three hundred years,

And yet the summit cannot see:

Among my equals I would be.


Bears the broom and bears the stock,

Bears the fork and bears the buck:

Who cannot raise himself to-night

Is evermore a ruined wight.

HALF-WITCH (below)

So long I stumble, ill bestead,

And the others are now so far ahead!

At home I've neither rest nor cheer,

And yet I cannot gain them here.


To cheer the witch will salve avail;

A rag will answer for a sail;

Each trough a goodly ship supplies;

He ne'er will fly, who now not flies.


When round the summit whirls our flight,

Then lower, and on the ground alight;

And far and wide the heather press

With witchhood's swarms of wantonness!

(They settle down.)


They crowd and push, they roar and clatter!

They whirl and whistle, pull and chatter!

They shine, and spirt, and stink, and burn!

The true witch-element we learn.

Keep close! or we are parted, in our turn,

Where art thou?

FAUST (in the distance)



What! whirled so far astray?

Then house-right I must use, and clear the way.

Make room! Squire Voland comes! Room, gentle rabble,


Here, Doctor, hold to me: in one jump we'll resume

An easier space, and from the crowd be free:

It's too much, even for the like of me.

Yonder, with special light, there's something shining clearer

Within those bushes; I've a mind to see.

Come on! well slip a little nearer.


Spirit of Contradiction! On! I'll follow straight.

'Tis planned most wisely, if I judge aright:

We climb the Brocken's top in the Walpurgis-Night,

That arbitrarily, here, ourselves we isolate.


But see, what motley flames among the heather!

There is a lively club together:

In smaller circles one is not alone.


Better the summit, I must own:

There fire and whirling smoke I see.

They seek the Evil One in wild confusion:

Many enigmas there might find solution.


But there enigmas also knotted be.

Leave to the multitude their riot!

Here will we house ourselves in quiet.

It is an old, transmitted trade,

That in the greater world the little worlds are made.

I see stark-nude young witches congregate,

And old ones, veiled and hidden shrewdly:

On my account be kind, nor treat them rudely!

The trouble's small, the fun is great.

I hear the noise of instruments attuning,—

Vile din! yet one must learn to bear the crooning.

Come, come along! It must be, I declare!

I'll go ahead and introduce thee there,

Thine obligation newly earning.

That is no little space: what say'st thou, friend?

Look yonder! thou canst scarcely see the end:

A hundred fires along the ranks are burning.

They dance, they chat, they cook, they drink, they court:

Now where, just tell me, is there better sport?


Wilt thou, to introduce us to the revel,

Assume the part of wizard or of devil?


I'm mostly used, 'tis true, to go incognito,

But on a gala-day one may his orders show.

The Garter does not deck my suit,

But honored and at home is here the cloven foot.

Perceiv'st thou yonder snail? It cometh, slow and steady;

So delicately its feelers pry,

That it hath scented me already:

I cannot here disguise me, if I try.

But come! we'll go from this fire to a newer:

I am the go-between, and thou the wooer.

(To some, who are sitting around dying embers:)

Old gentlemen, why at the outskirts? Enter!

I'd praise you if I found you snugly in the centre,

With youth and revel round you like a zone:

You each, at home, are quite enough alone.


Say, who would put his trust in nations,

Howe'er for them one may have worked and planned?

For with the people, as with women,

Youth always has the upper hand.


They're now too far from what is just and sage.

I praise the old ones, not unduly:

When we were all-in-all, then, truly,

Then was the real golden age.


We also were not stupid, either,

And what we should not, often did;

But now all things have from their bases slid,

Just as we meant to hold them fast together.


Who, now, a work of moderate sense will read?

Such works are held as antiquate and mossy;

And as regards the younger folk, indeed,

They never yet have been so pert and saucy.


(who all at once appears very old)

I feel that men are ripe for Judgment-Day,

Now for the last time I've the witches'-hill ascended:

Since to the lees my cask is drained away,

The world's, as well, must soon be ended.


Ye gentlemen, don't pass me thus!

Let not the chance neglected be!

Behold my wares attentively:

The stock is rare and various.

And yet, there's nothing I've collected—

No shop, on earth, like this you'll find!—

Which has not, once, sore hurt inflicted

Upon the world, and on mankind.

No dagger's here, that set not blood to flowing;

No cup, that hath not once, within a healthy frame

Poured speedy death, in poison glowing:

No gems, that have not brought a maid to shame;

No sword, but severed ties for the unwary,

Or from behind struck down the adversary.


Gossip! the times thou badly comprehendest:

What's done has happed—what haps, is done!

'Twere better if for novelties thou sendest:

By such alone can we be won.


Let me not lose myself in all this pother!

This is a fair, as never was another!


The whirlpool swirls to get above:

Thou'rt shoved thyself, imagining to shove.


But who is that?


Note her especially,

Tis Lilith.




Adam's first wife is she.

Beware the lure within her lovely tresses,

The splendid sole adornment of her hair!

When she succeeds therewith a youth to snare,

Not soon again she frees him from her jesses.


Those two, the old one with the young one sitting,

They've danced already more than fitting.


No rest to-night for young or old!

They start another dance: come now, let us take hold!

FAUST (dancing with the young witch)

A lovely dream once came to me;

I then beheld an apple-tree,

And there two fairest apples shone:

They lured me so, I climbed thereon.


Apples have been desired by you,

Since first in Paradise they grew;

And I am moved with joy, to know

That such within my garden grow.

MEPHISTOPHELES (dancing with the old one)

A dissolute dream once came to me:

Therein I saw a cloven tree,

Which had a————————;

Yet,——as 'twas, I fancied it.


I offer here my best salute

Unto the knight with cloven foot!

Let him a—————prepare,

If him—————————does not scare.


Accurséd folk! How dare you venture thus?

Had you not, long since, demonstration

That ghosts can't stand on ordinary foundation?

And now you even dance, like one of us!

THE FAIR ONE (dancing)

Why does he come, then, to our ball?

FAUST (dancing)

O, everywhere on him you fall!

When others dance, he weighs the matter:

If he can't every step bechatter,

Then 'tis the same as were the step not made;

But if you forwards go, his ire is most displayed.

If you would whirl in regular gyration

As he does in his dull old mill,

He'd show, at any rate, good-will,—

Especially if you heard and heeded his hortation.


You still are here? Nay, 'tis a thing unheard!

Vanish, at once! We've said the enlightening word.

The pack of devils by no rules is daunted:

We are so wise, and yet is Tegel haunted.

To clear the folly out, how have I swept and stirred!

Twill ne'er be clean: why, 'tis a thing unheard!


Then cease to bore us at our ball!


I tell you, spirits, to your face,

I give to spirit-despotism no place;

My spirit cannot practise it at all.

(The dance continues)

Naught will succeed, I see, amid such revels;

Yet something from a tour I always save,

And hope, before my last step to the grave,

To overcome the poets and the devils.


He now will seat him in the nearest puddle;

The solace this, whereof he's most assured:

And when upon his rump the leeches hang and fuddle,

He'll be of spirits and of Spirit cured.

(To FAUST, who has left the dance:)

Wherefore forsakest thou the lovely maiden,

That in the dance so sweetly sang?


Ah! in the midst of it there sprang

A red mouse from her mouth—sufficient reason.


That's nothing! One must not so squeamish be;

So the mouse was not gray, enough for thee.

Who'd think of that in love's selected season?


Then saw I—.




Mephisto, seest thou there,

Alone and far, a girl most pale and fair?

She falters on, her way scarce knowing,

As if with fettered feet that stay her going.

I must confess, it seems to me

As if my kindly Margaret were she.


Let the thing be! All thence have evil drawn:

It is a magic shape, a lifeless eidolon.

Such to encounter is not good:

Their blank, set stare benumbs the human blood,

And one is almost turned to stone.

Medusa's tale to thee is known.


Forsooth, the eyes they are of one whom, dying,

No hand with loving pressure closed;

That is the breast whereon I once was lying,—

The body sweet, beside which I reposed!


Tis magic all, thou fool, seduced so easily!

Unto each man his love she seems to be.


The woe, the rapture, so ensnare me,

That from her gaze I cannot tear me!

And, strange! around her fairest throat

A single scarlet band is gleaming,

No broader than a knife-blade seeming!


Quite right! The mark I also note.

Her head beneath her arm she'll sometimes carry;

Twas Perseus lopped it, her old adversary.

Thou crav'st the same illusion still!

Come, let us mount this little hill;

The Prater shows no livelier stir,

And, if they've not bewitched my sense,

I verily see a theatre.

What's going on?


'Twill shortly recommence:

A new performance—'tis the last of seven.

To give that number is the custom here:

'Twas by a Dilettante written,

And Dilettanti in the parts appear.

That now I vanish, pardon, I entreat you!

As Dilettante I the curtain raise.


When I upon the Blocksberg meet you,

I find it good: for that's your proper place.