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Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

translated by George Madison Priest
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[Faust walking thoughtfully up and down. MEPHISTOPHELES joins him.]

Mephistopheles. By every despised love! By the red-hot fires of Hell!
Would I knew something worse, to curse by it as well!
Faust. What is the matter? What's so badly vexing you?
I've never seen before a face that looked that way.
Mephistopheles. Off to the Devil I'd betake myself this day
If I myself were not a devil too!
Faust. What has gone wrong? Why thus behave?
It suits you well to rant and rave!
Mephistopheles. Just think, the gems for Gretchen that I got,
A wretched priest has bagged the lot!
The mother gets to see the stuff
And starts at once to feel a secret shuddering.
The woman has a scent that's fine enough,
Forever in her prayer-book she delights to snuff,
And smells it out in every single thing
If it be sacred or profane;
So in those gems she noses till it's plain
That they held little blessing, little good.
"My child," she cried, "to keep unrighteous gain
Perturbs the soul, consumes the blood.
We'll dedicate it to the Mother of our Lord,
With heavenly manna She'll reward!"
Then Gretchen drew her mouth askew;
She thought: "It is a gift-horse, it is true,
And surely godless is not he
Who brought it here so handsomely."
The mother summoned in a priest who came
And when he'd scarce perceived the game,
Got much contentment from the sight.
He said: "So one is minded right!
Who overcometh, winneth a crown.
The Church hath a good stomach ever,
Whole countries hath she gobbled down,
And yet hath over-eaten never;
The Church alone, dear ladies, best
Can all unrighteous goods digest."
Faust. That is a custom that men oft pursue;
A Jew and king can do it too.
Mephistopheles. With that he bagged brooch, chain, and rings,
As if mere toadstools were the things,
And thanked them neither less nor more
Than were it a basketful of nuts he bore.
He promised them all heavenly pay
And greatly edified thereby were they.
Faust. And Gretchen?
Mephistopheles. Now sits restless. What she would
She knows not, neither what she should,
Thinks of the jewels night and day,
Still more on him who brought them to her.
Faust. The darling's grief distresses me.
Quick! get new ornaments to woo her.
The first ones were not much to see.
Mephistopheles. Oh yes, Milord thinks all is mere child's-play!
Faust. Make haste and do things as I like them done.
Into her neighbour's graces win your way!
Devil, don't be like mush and move so slow.
Fetch some new ornaments - up, now, and run!
Mephistopheles. Yes, gracious sir, with all my heart I'll go.

[Exit FAUST.]

Such an enamoured fool would puff and blow
Sun, moon, and stars into thin air
Just as a pastime for his lady fair.


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