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Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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Frosch. Will no one drink? and no one laugh?
I'll teach you how to look so wry!
You're everyone like sodden chaff
And always used to blaze sky-high!
Brander. That's your fault; you don't add a single stroke,
No beastliness and not one silly joke.
Frosch [pours a glass of wine over BRANDER'S HEAD].
There you have both!
Brander. You twofold beast!
Frosch. That's what you asked me for, at least!
Siebel. If any quarrel, throw 'em out!
Come, sing with all your lungs, boys, swill and shout!
Up! Holla! Ho!
Altmayer. My God! I'm done for! Here!
Some cotton wool! The fellow bursts my ear.
Siebel. When vaulted ceilings echo back our song,
Then first we feel the bass is deep and strong.
Frosch. Quite right! Then out with him who takes a thing amiss!
Ah! tara lara da!
Altmayer. Ah! tara lara da!
Frosch. The throats are tuned for this!

[He sings.]

Dear Holy Roman Empire! Say,
How does it stick together?

Brander. A nasty song! Shame! a political song!
A wretched song! Thank God each morning, brother,
That for the Roman Empire you don't need to bother!
There is at least one gain I am most thankful for,
That I'm not Kaiser and not Chancellor.
And yet we must not fail to have a ruler. Stay!
Let us elect a Pope! What do you say?
You know the kind of quality that can
Bear down the scale and elevate the man.
Frosch [sings].
Soar aloft, Dame Nightingale,
Ten thousand times my sweetheart hail!
Siebel. No greeting to a sweetheart! I'll not hear of this!
Frosch. You will not hinder me! My sweetheart, hail! A kiss!

[He sings.]

Lift the latch! In silent night.
Lift the latch! The lover wakes.
Drop the latch! The morning breaks.
Siebel. Yes, sing on, praise and brag of her with all your might!
I will in my own time be sure to laugh at you.
She once led me astray, she'll do it to you too.
Give her a kobold for her lovesick yearning!
At some cross-road let him go woo her.
Let some old buck, from Blocksberg' homeward turning,
Still on the gallop, bleat "Good Evening!" to her.
A gallant fellow of real flesh and blood
Is for that wench a deal too good.
I'll hear no greetings to that lass
But such as smash her window-glass.
Brander [pounding on the table].
Give heed Give heed! Lend me your ear!
You, sirs, confess that I know what is what.
Some lovesick folk are sitting here,
And so in honour due their present lot
I must contribute to their night's good cheer.
Give heed! A brand-new song 'twill be!
And sing the chorus lustily!

[He sings.]

There once in a cellar lived a rat,
Had a paunch could scarce be smoother,
For it lived on butter and on fat,
A mate for Doctor Luther.
But soon the cook did poison strew
And then the rat, so cramped it grew
As if it had love in its body.
Chorus [shouting].
As if it had love in its body.
It flew around, and out it flew,
From every puddle swilling,
It gnawed and scratched the whole house through,
But its rage was past all stilling.
It jumped full of in anguish mad,
But soon, poor beast, enough it had,
As if it had love in its body.
As if it had love in its body.
By anguish driven in open day
It rushed into the kitchen,
Fell on the hearth and panting lay,
Most pitiably twitchin'.
Then laughed the poisoner: "Hee! hee! hee!
It's at its last gasp now," said she,
"As if it had love in its body."
"As if it had love in its body."
Siebel. How these dull chaps enjoy themselves! Now that's
A fine old art, so it would seem,
To scatter poison for poor rats!
Brander. They stand so high in your esteem?
Altmayer. See the old tub, so bald and fat!
Misfortune makes him mild and tame;
He sees in any bloated rat
His very own image, quite the same.


Mephistopheles. Before all else I now must let you view
The doings of a jovial crew,
That you may see how smoothly life can flow along.
To this crowd every day's a feast and song.
With little wit and much content,
Each, on his own small round intent,
Is like a kitten with its tail.
While no sick headache they bewail
And while their host will still more credit give,
Joyous and free from care they live.
Brander. Those people come directly from a tour,
You see it in their strange, odd ways;
They've not been here an hour, I'm sure.
Frosch. In truth, you're right! My Leipsic will I praise!
A little Paris, one that cultivates its people.
Siebel. Who are these strangers, do you think?
Frosch. Leave it to me! Give me a brimming drink
And from these chaps I'll worm the truth
As one draws out a young child's tooth.
To me they seem of noble family,
So proud and discontented they appear to be.
Brander. They're mountebanks, I'll lay a bet with you!
Altmayer. Perhaps!
Frosch. Pay heed, I'll make them feel the screw!
Mephistopheles [to FAUST]. These chaps don't scent the Devil out
And would not if he had them by the snout!
Faust. We greet you, sirs!
Siebel. Thanks and to you the same!

[In a low tone, looking at MEPHISTOPHELES askance.]

Why is that fellow's one foot lame?
Mephistopheles. We'll sit with you if you'll permit the liberty.
Instead of some good drink which is not here,
We shall enjoy your company's good cheer.
Altmayer. A very pampered man you seem to be.
Frosch. I guess you started late from Rippach on your way.
Can you have supped with Master Hans tonight?
Mephistopheles. We passed him by without a stop today!
We spoke with him last time. He'd quite
A lot about his cousins to convey,
Charged us with greetings to each one.

[He bows toward FROSCH.]

Altmayer [in a low tone]. You got it then! He knows!
Siebel. A cunning fellow, he!
Frosch. Just wait a bit, I'll get him on the run.
Mephistopheles. If I mistake not, didn't we
Hear practised voices sing in chorus?
In truth, a song must perfectly
Reecho from this vaulted ceiling o'er us!
Frosch. Are you perchance a virtuoso?
Mephistopheles. Oh no! The zest is great, ability but so-so.
Altmayer. Give us a song!
Mephistopheles. A lot, if that way you incline.
Siebel. But let it be a brand-new strain!
Mephistopheles. We have returned quite recently from Spain,
The lovely land of melody and wine.

[He sings.]

A king there once was reigning,
Who cherished a great big flea-
Frosch. Hear that! A flea! Did you quite grasp the jest?
I say, a flea's a tidy guest.
Mephistopheles [sings].
A king there once was reigning,
Who cherished a great big flea;
No little love attaining,
As his own son loved he.
He called his tailor hireling,
The tailor to him flew:
"Ho, measure now the squireling
For coat and breeches too."
Brander. Be sure to tell that man of stitches
That he must measure to a hair,
And if his head is dear to him, I swear,
No wrinkles must be in those breeches!
In silk and velvet splendid
He now was always dressed,
By ribbons gay attended,
A cross upon his breast.
Was minister created,
A mighty star did sport;
Then all his kin, elated,
Became great lords at court.
Lord, lady, and dependent
Were plagued and sore distressed;
The queen and her attendant
Were bitten by the pest.
And yet they dared not whack them
Nor scratch by day or night.
We smother and we crack them
Whenever we feel them bite.
Chorus [shouting].
We smother and we crack them
Whenever we feel them bite.
Frosch. Bravo! Bravo! That was splendid!
Siebel. And so should every flea be ended!
Brander. Point your fingers and squeeze them fine!
Altmayer. Long live freedom! Long live wine!
Mephistopheles. A glass to honour freedom I would gladly clink
If but your wines were better fit to drink.
Siebel. We do not want to hear such talk again!
Mephistopheles. I only fear the landlord might complain;
Else I would treat each worthy guest
With what our cellar offers of the best.
Siebel. Do bring it on! The risk be mine.
Frosch. Produce a good glass and we'll praise your wine.
But don't give us a sample all too small;
If I'm to play the solemn judge at all,
A right good mouthful I require.
Altmayer [in a low tone]. They're from the Rhine, I scented that
Mephistopheles. Fetch me a gimlet!
Brander. Say, why that desire?
You haven't got the casks outside the door?
Altmayer. Back there the landlord keeps his tool-kit placed.
Mephistopheles [taking the gimlet to FROSCH].
Now say, what do you want to taste?
Frosch. What do you mean? Have you so many kinds?
Mephistopheles. I leave the choice to each. Make up your minds!
Altmayer [to FROSCH].
You're licking your chops now! Be careful, steady!
Frosch. 'Tis well! If I'm to choose, it's Rhine wine I propose.
The best of gifts is what the fatherland bestows.
Mephistopheles [boring a hole in the edge of the table at the place
where FROSCH is sitting]. Get us some wax at once, to have the
stoppers ready!
Altmayer. Ah! These are tricks! It's jugglery!
Mephistopheles [to BRANDER]. And you?
Brander. Champagne's the stuff for me,
And bubbling, sparkling, must it be.

[Mephistopheles is boring holes; one of the others has meanwhile
made the stoppers and plugged the holes.]

Brander. What's foreign we can't always shun,
So far from us must good things often be.
A genuine German can't abide the French, not one,
But of their wines he drinks most cheerfully.
Siebel [as MEPHISTOPHELES comes near his place].
I do not like the sour, I'd have you know;
Give me a glass that's really sweet!
Mephistopheles [boring]. You'll see, at once Tokay will flow.
Altmayer. No, gentlemen, just look me in the face! I see't,
You're only fooling us, it is a jest.
Mephistopheles. Oh! Oh! With such a noble guest
That were a bit too much to dare!
Be quick about it and declare!
What kind of wine then shall I serve?
Altmayer. Oh, any! Don't keep asking! I don't care!

[ After all the holes are bored and plugged.]

Mephistopheles [with strange gestures].
Clustered grapes the vine bears!
And horns the he-goat wears!
The wine is juicy, wood the vine;
The wooden table too can give forth wine.
A view of nature, deep and clear!
Only believe! A miracle's here!
Now draw the stoppers and enjoy your fill!
All [while they pull out the stoppers and the wine desired runs
into each one's glass]. O beauteous fountain flowing at our will!
Mephistopheles. But watch, I say, that not a drop you spill!

[They drink repeatedly.]

All [sing].
We're just as happy as cannibals,
As if we were five hundred swine!
Mephistopheles. Behold how happy is this folk - it's free!
Faust. I think now I would like to go away.
Mephistopheles. But first give heed to a display
Of glorious bestiality.
Siebel [drinks carelessly; the wine is spilt upon the ground and
turns into flame]. Help! Hell's on fire! It's burning me!
Mephistopheles [conjuring the flame]. Be quiet, friendly element!

[To the young men.]

This time 'twas but a flame that Purgatory sent.
Siebel. What's that? Just wait! For that you will pay dear.
You don't know who we are, that's clear.
Frosch. Don't try that game a second time, I say!
Altmayer. I think we'd better bid him gently go away.
Siebel. What, sir! You venture to provoke us
And carry on your hocus-pocus?
Mephistopheles. Silence, old wine-butt!
Siebel. Broomstick, you!
Will you insult me to my nose?
Brander. Just wait a bit, 'twill soon be raining blows!
Altmayer [draws a stopper out of the table; fire leaps out at him].
I burn! I burn!
Siebel. It's sorcery!
The rogue's an outlaw! Come, thrust home with me!

[They draw their knives and rush at Mephistopheles.]

Mephistopheles [with solemn gestures].
False form and word appear,
Change place and sense's sphere!
Be there and here!

[They stand amazed and look at each other.]

Altmayer. Where am I? What a lovely land!
Frosch. Vineyards! Do I see right?
Siebel. Grape clusters close at hand!
Brander. Here underneath this foliage green,
See, what a bunch! What grapes are to be seen!

[He seizes SIEBEL by the nose. The others do the same, one to the
other, and raise their knives.]

Mephistopheles [as before]. Error, loose from their eyes the band!
And mark you how the Devil's jesting goes.

[He vanishes with FAUST. The fellows start back from one another.]

Siebel. What's up?
Altmayer. How's this?
Frosch. Was that your nose?
Brander [to SIEBEL]. And yours I'm holding in my hand!
Altmayer. That was a blow, it staggered me down to my toes!
I can't stand up, get me a chair!
Frosch. Out with it, say, what's happened?
Siebel. Where,
Oh, where's that rascal? If I find him now,
He shan't escape alive, I vow.
Altmayer. With my own eyes I saw him riding through
The cellar-door - upon a wine-cask too!
I feel a weight like lead about my feet!

[Turning toward the table.]

My God! I wonder if the wines still flow?
Siebel. It was a swindle, lies, 'twas all a cheat.
Frosch. Yet I drank wine or thought it so.
Brander. But how about the grapes? What was that anyway?
Altmayer. One should believe no miracles? Oh, say!

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