MEPHISTOPHELES

 

 

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“We can say that Faustus makes a choice, and that he is responsible for his choice, but there is in the play a suggestion—sometimes explicit, sometimes only dimly implicit—that Faustus comes to destruction not merely through his own actions but through the actions of a hostile cosmos that entraps him. In this sense, too, there is something of Everyman in Faustus. The story of Adam, for instance, insists on Adam’s culpability; Adam, like Faustus, made himself, rather than God, the center of his existence. And yet, despite the traditional expositions, one cannot entirely suppress the commonsense response that if the Creator knew Adam would fall, the Creator rather than Adam is responsible for the fall; Adam ought to have been created of better stuff.” [― Sylvan Barnet, Doctor Faustus]

 

 

 

 

MEPHISTOPHELES

 

Since thou, O Lord, approachest us once more,    

And how it fares with us, to ask art fain,           30

Since thou hast kindly welcom’d me of yore,         

Thou see’st me also now among thy train.             

Excuse me, fine harangues I cannot make,            

Though all the circle look on me with scorn;          

My pathos soon thy laughter would awake,                   35

Hadst thou the laughing mood not long forsworn.              

Of suns and worlds I nothing have to say,              

I see alone mankind’s self-torturing pains.             

The little world-god still the self-same stamp retains,        

And is as wondrous now as on the primal day.               40

Better he might have fared, poor wight,  

Hadst thou not given him a gleam of heavenly light;          

Reason, he names it, and doth so              

Use it, than brutes more brutish still to grow.       

With deference to your grace, he seems to me             45

Like any long-legged grasshopper to be, 

Which ever flies, and flying springs,          

And in the grass its ancient ditty sings.     

Would he but always in the grass repose!              

In every heap of dung he thrusts his nose.                       50

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THE LORD

 

Hast thou naught else to say? Is blame    

In coming here, as ever, thy sole aim?     

Does nothing on the earth to thee seem right?     

 

MEPHISTOPHELES

 

No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, in sad plight.             

Men, in their evil days, move my compassion;               55

Such sorry things to plague is nothing worth.        

 

THE LORD

 

Know’st thou my servant, Faust?

 

MEPHISTOPHELES

 

                The doctor?      

 

THE LORD

 

                Right.  

 

MEPHISTOPHELES

 

He serves thee truly in a wondrous fashion.                    60

Poor fool! His food and drink are not of earth.     

An inward impulse hurries him afar,          

Himself half conscious of his frenzied mood;         

From heaven claimeth he the fairest star,              

And from the earth craves every highest good,              65

And all that’s near, and all that’s far,        

Fails to allay the tumult in his blood.         

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THE LORD

 

Though in perplexity he serves me now,  

I soon will lead him where more light appears;     

When buds the sapling, doth the gardener know           70

That flowers and fruit will deck the coming years.              

 

MEPHISTOPHELES

 

What wilt thou wager? Him thou yet shall lose,    

If leave to me thou wilt but give,

Gently to lead him as I choose!   

 

THE LORD

 

So long as he on earth doth live,          75

So long ’tis not forbidden thee.   

Man still must err, while he doth strive.   

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MEPHISTOPHELES

 

I thank you; for not willingly        

I traffic with the dead, and still aver         

That youth’s plump blooming cheek I very much prefer.             80

I’m not at home to corpses; ’tis my way, 

Like cats with captive mice to toy and play.           

 

THE LORD

 

Enough! ’tis granted thee! Divert              

This mortal spirit from his primal source; 

Him, canst thou seize, thy power exert             85

And lead him on thy downward course,   

Then stand abash’d, when thou perforce must own,          

A good man in his darkest aberration,      

Of the right path is conscious still.             

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MEPHISTOPHELES

 

’Tis done! Full soon thou’lt see my exultation;               90

As for my bet no fears I entertain.             

And if my end I finally should gain,            

Excuse my triumphing with all my soul.    

Dust he shall eat, ay, and with relish take,              

As did my cousin, the renowned snake.

 

[Goethe – The Prologue in Heaven: Faust]

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~ by meanderingsofthemuse on November 19, 2013.

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