Front Page Titles (by Subject) WALPURGIS-NIGHT. - Goethe's Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther)
Return to Title Page for Goethe’s Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
WALPURGIS-NIGHT. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 2.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
The Hartz Mountains.
District of Schierke and Elend.
A broomstick dost thou not at least desire?
The roughest he-goat fain would I bestride,
By this road from our goal we’re still far wide.
While fresh upon my legs, so long I naught require,
Except this knotty staff. Beside,
What boots it to abridge a pleasant way?
Along the labyrinth of these vales to creep,
Then scale these rocks, whence, in eternal spray,
Adown the cliffs the silvery fountains leap:
Such is the joy that seasons paths like these!
Spring weaves already in the birchen trees;
E’en the late pine-grove feels her quickening powers;
Should she not work within these limbs of ours?
Naught of this genial influence do I know!
Within me all is wintry. Frost and snow
I should prefer my dismal path to bound.
How sadly, yonder, with belated glow
Rises the ruddy moon’s imperfect round,
Shedding so faint a light at every tread
One’s sure to stumble ’gainst a rock or tree!
An Ignis Fatuus I must call instead.
Yonder one burning merrily, I see.
Holla! my friend, may I request your light?
Why should you flare away so uselessly?
Be kind enough to show us up the height!
Through reverence, I hope I may subdue
The lightness of my nature; true,
Our course is but a zigzag one.
So man, forsooth, he thinks to imitate!
Now, in the devil’s name, for once go straight,
Or out at once your flickering life I’ll blow!
That you are master here is obvious quite;
To do your will, I’ll cordially essay;
Only reflect! The hill is magic-mad to-night;
And if to show the path you choose a meteor’s light,
You must not wonder should we go astray.
Faust, Mephistopheles, Ignis Fatuus.
[In alternate song.
To-whit! To-whoo! It sounds more near;
Pewit, owl, and jay appear,
All awake, around, above!
Paunchy salamanders too
Crawl, long-limbed, the bushes through!
And, like snakes, the roots of trees
Coil themselves from rock and sand,
Stretching many a wondrous band,
Us to frighten, us to seize;
From rude knots with life embued,
Polyp-fangs abroad they spread,
To snare the wanderer! ’Neath our tread,
Mice, in myriads, thousand-hued,
Through the heath and through the moss!
And the fire-flies’ glittering throng,
Wildering escort, whirls along,
Here and there, our path across.
Tell me, stand we motionless,
Or still forward do we press?
All things round us whirl and fly,
Rocks and trees make strange grimaces,
Dazzling meteors change their places,
How they puff and multiply!
Now grasp my doublet—we at last
Have reached a central precipice,
Whence we a wondering glance may cast,
How Mammon lights the dark abyss.
How through the chasms strangely gleams,
A lurid light, like dawn’s red glow,
Pervading with its quivering beams,
The gorges of the gulf below!
There vapors rise, there clouds float by,
And here through mist the splendor shines;
Now, like a fount, it bursts on high,
Now glideth on in slender lines;
Far-reaching, with a hundred veins,
Through the far valley see it glide,
Here, where the gorge the flood restrains,
At once it scatters far and wide;
Anear, like showers of golden sand
Strewn broadcast, sputter sparks of light:
And mark yon rocky walls that stand
Ablaze, in all their towering height!
Sir Mammon for this festival,
Grandly illumes his palace hall!
To see it was a lucky chance;
E’en now the boist’rous guests advance.
How the fierce tempest sweeps around!
Upon my neck it strikes with sudden shock!
Cling to these ancient ribs of granite rock,
Else it will hurl you down to yon abyss profound.
A murky vapor thickens night.
Hark! Through the woods the tempests roar!
The owlets flit in wild affright.
Split are the columns that upbore
The leafy palace, green for aye:
The shiver’d branches whirr and sigh,
Yawn the huge trunks with mighty groan,
The roots, upriven, creak and moan!
In fearful and entangled fall,
One crashing ruin whelms them all,
While through the desolate abyss,
Sweeping the wreck-strown precipice,
The raging storm-blasts howl and hiss!
Hear’st thou voices sounding clear,
Distant now and now more near?
Hark! the mountain ridge along,
Streameth a raving magic-song!
(In chorus.) Now to the Brocken the witches hie,
The stubble is yellow, the corn is green;
Thither the gathering legions fly,
And sitting aloft is Sir Urian seen:
O’er stick and o’er stone they go whirling along,
Witches and he-goats, a motley throng.
Alone old Baubo’s coming now;
She rides upon a farrow sow.
Honor to her, to whom honor is due!
Forward, Dame Baubo! Honor to you!
A goodly sow and mother thereon,
The whole witch chorus follows anon.
Which way didst come?
There I peep’d in an owlet’s nest.
With her broad eye she gazed in mine!
Drive to the devil, thou hellish pest!
Why ride so hard?
She has graz’d my side;
Look at the wounds, how deep and how wide!
(In chorus.) The way is broad, the way is long;
What mad pursuit! What tumult wild!
Scratches the besom and sticks the prong;
Crush’d is the mother, and stifled the child.
(Half chorus.) Like house-encumber’d snail we creep;
While far ahead the women keep,
For when to the devil’s house we speed,
By a thousand steps they take the lead.
The Other Half.
Not so, precisely do we view it;—
They with a thousand steps may do it;
But let them hasten as they can,
With one long bound ’tis clear’d by man.
(Above.) Come with us, come with us from Felsensee.
(From below.) Aloft to you we would mount with glee!
We wash, and free from all stain are we,
Yet barren evermore must be!
The wind is hush’d, the stars grow pale,
The pensive moon her light doth veil;
And whirling on, the magic choir,
Sputter forth sparks of drizzling fire.
(From below.) Stay! stay!
(From above.) What voice of woe
Calls from the cavern’d depths below?
(From below.) Take me with you! Oh take me too!
Three centuries I climb in vain,
And yet can ne’er the summit gain!
To be with my kindred I am fain.
Broom and pitchfork, goat and prong,
Mounted on these we whirl along;
Who vainly strives to climb to-night,
Is evermore a luckless wight!
(Below.) I hobble after, many a day;
Already the others are far away!
No rest at home can I obtain—
Here too my efforts are in vain!
Chorus of Witches.
Salve gives the witches strength to rise;
A rag for a sail does well enough;
A goodly ship is every trough;
To-night who flies not, never flies.
And when the topmost peak we round,
Then alight ye on the ground;
The heath’s wide regions cover ye
With your mad swarms of witchery!
[They let themselves down.
They crowd and jostle, whirl and flutter!
They whisper, babble, twirl and splutter!
They glimmer, sparkle, stink and flare—
A true witch-element! Beware!
Stick close! else we shall sever’d be.
Where art thou?
(In the distance.) Here!
Already whirl’d so far away!
The master then indeed I needs must play.
Give ground! Squire Voland comes! Sweet folk, give ground!
Here, doctor, grasp me! With a single bound
Let us escape this ceaseless jar;
Even for me too mad these people are.
Hard by there shineth something with peculiar glare,
Yon brake allureth me; it is not far;
Come, come along with me! we’ll slip in there.
Spirit of contradiction! Lead! I’ll follow straight!
’Twas wisely done, however, to repair
On May-night to the Brocken, and when there,
By our own choice ourselves to isolate!
Mark, of those flames the motley glare!
A merry club assembles there.
In a small circle one is not alone.
I’d rather be above, though, I must own!
Already fire and eddying smoke I view;
The impetuous millions to the devil ride;
Full many a riddle will be there untied.
Ay! and full many a one be tied anew.
But let the great world rave and riot!
Here will we house ourselves in quiet.
A custom ’tis of ancient date,
Our lesser worlds within the great world to create!
Young witches there I see, naked and bare,
And old ones, veil’d more prudently.
For my sake only courteous be!
The trouble’s small, the sport is rare.
Of instruments I hear the cursed din—
One must get used to it. Come in! come in!
There’s now no help for it. I’ll step before,
And introducing you as my good friend,
Confer on you one obligation more.
How say you now? ’Tis no such paltry room;
Why only look, you scarce can see the end.
A hundred fires in rows disperse the gloom;
They dance, they talk, they cook, make love and drink:
Where could we find aught better, do you think?
To introduce us, do you purpose here
As devil or as wizard to appear?
Though I am wont indeed to strict incognito,
Yet upon gala-days one must one’s orders show.
No garter have I to distinguish me,
Nathless the cloven foot doth here give dignity.
Seest thou yonder snail? Crawling this way she hies;
With searching feelers, she, no doubt,
Hath me already scented out;
Here, even if I would, for me there’s no disguise.
From fire to fire, we’ll saunter at our leisure,
The gallant you, I’ll cater for your pleasure.
(To a party seated round some expiring embers.)
Old gentlemen, apart, why sit ye moping here?
Ye in the midst should be of all this jovial cheer,
Girt round with noise and youthful riot;
At home one surely has enough of quiet.
In nations put his trust who may,
Whate’er for them one may have done;
The people are like women, they
Honor your rising stars alone!
Too far from truth and right they wander now;
I must extol the good old ways,
For truly when all spoke our praise,
Then was the golden age, I trow.
Ne’er were we ’mong your dullards found,
And what we ought not, that we did of old;
Yet now are all things turning round,
Just when we most desired them fast to hold.
Who, as a rule, a treatise now would care
To read, of even moderate sense?
As for the rising generation, ne’er
Has youth displayed such arrogant pretence.
(Suddenly appearing very old.)
Since for the last time I the Brocken scale,
That folk are ripe for doomsday, now one sees;
And just because my cask begins to fail,
So the whole world is also on the lees.
Stop, gentlemen, nor pass me by,
Of wares I have a choice collection:
Pray honor them with your inspection.
Lose not this opportunity!
No fellow to my booth you’ll find
On earth, for ’mong my store there’s naught,
Which to the world, and to mankind,
Hath not some direful mischief wrought.
No dagger here which hath not flow’d with blood,
No bowl which hath not pour’d into some healthy frame
Hot poison’s life-consuming flood,
No trinket, but hath wrought some woman’s shame,
No weapon but hath cut some sacred tie,
Or from behind hath stabb’d an enemy.
Gossip! For wares like these the time’s gone by.
What’s done is past! what’s past is done!
With novelties your booth supply;
Now novelties attract alone.
May this wild scene my senses spare!
This, may in truth be call’d a fair!
Upward the eddying concourse throng;
Thinking to push, thyself art push’d along.
Who’s that, pray?
Mark her well! That’s Lilith.
Adam’s first wife. Of her rich locks beware!
That charm in which she’s parallel’d by few;
When in its toils a youth she doth ensnare,
He will not soon escape, I promise you.
There sit a pair, the old one with the young;
Already they have bravely danced and sprung!
Here there is no repose to-day.
Another dance begins; we’ll join it, come away!
(Dancing with the young one.)
Once a fair vision came to me;
Therein I saw an apple tree,
Two beauteous apples charm’d mine eyes;
I climb’d forthwith to reach the prize.
The Fair One.
Apples still fondly ye desire,
From paradise it hath been so.
Feelings of joy my breast inspire
That such too in my garden grow.
(With the old one.) Once a weird vision came to me;
Therein I saw a rifted tree.
It had a . . . . . ;
But as it was it pleas’d me too.
The Old One.
I beg most humbly to salute
The gallant with the cloven foot!
Let him a . . . have ready here,
If he a . . . does not fear.
Accursed mob! How dare ye thus to meet?
Have I not shown and demonstrated too,
That ghosts stand not on ordinary feet?
Yet here ye dance, as other mortals do!
The Fair One.
(Dancing.) Then at our ball, what doth he here?
(Dancing.) Oh! He must everywhere appear.
He must adjudge, when others dance;
If on each step his say’s not said,
So is that step as good as never made.
He’s most annoy’d, so soon as we advance;
If ye would circle in one narrow round,
As he in his old mill, then doubtless he
Your dancing would approve,—especially
If ye forthwith salute him with respect profound!
Still here! what arrogance! unheard of quite!
Vanish; we now have fill’d the world with light!
Laws are unheeded by the devil’s host;
Wise as we are, yet Tegel hath its ghost!
How long at this conceit I’ve swept with all my might,
Lost is the labor: ’tis unheard of quite!
The Fair One.
Cease here to teaze us any more, I pray.
Spirits, I plainly to your face declare:
No spiritual control myself will bear,
Since my own spirit can exert no sway.
[The dancing continues.
To-night, I see, I shall in naught succeed;
But I’m prepar’d my travels to pursue,
And hope, before my final step indeed,
To triumph over bards and devils too.
Now in some puddle will he take his station,
Such is his mode of seeking consolation;
Where leeches, feasting on his blood, will drain
Spirit and spirits from his haunted brain.
(ToFaust,who has left the dance.)
But why the charming damsel leave, I pray,
Who to you in the dance so sweetly sang?
Ah! in the very middle of her lay,
Out of her mouth a small red mouse there sprang.
Suppose there did! One must not be too nice:
’Twas well it was not gray, let that suffice.
Who ’mid his pleasures for a trifle cares?
Then saw I—
Mephisto, seest thou there
Standing far off, a lone child, pale and fair?
Slow from the spot her drooping form she tears,
And seems with shackled feet to move along;
I own, within me the delusion’s strong,
That she the likeness of my Gretchen wears.
Gaze not upon her! ’Tis not good! Forbear!
’Tis lifeless, magical, a shape of air,
An idol. Such to meet with, bodes no good;
That rigid look of hers doth freeze man’s blood,
And well-nigh petrifies his heart to stone:—
The story of Medusa thou hast known.
Ay, verily! a corpse’s eyes are those,
Which there was no fond loving hand to close.
That is the bosom I so fondly press’d,
That my sweet Gretchen’s form, so oft caress’d!
Deluded fool! ’Tis magic, I declare!
To each she doth his lov’d one’s image wear.
What bliss! what torture! vainly I essay
To turn me from that piteous look away.
How strangely doth a single crimson line
Around that lovely neck its coil entwine,
It shows no broader than a knife’s blunt edge!
Quite right. I see it also, and allege
That she beneath her arm her head can bear,
Since Perseus cut it off.—But you I swear
Are craving for illusion still!
Come then, ascend you little hill!
As on the Prater all is gay,
And if my senses are not gone,
I see a theatre,—what’s going on?
They are about to recommence;—the play
Will be the last of seven, and spick-span new—
’Tis usual here that number to present—
A dilettante did the piece invent,
And dilettanti will enact it too.
Excuse me, gentlemen; to me’s assign’d
As dilettante to uplift the curtain.
You on the Blocksberg I’m rejoic’d to find,
That ’tis your most appropriate sphere is certain.