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ACT II. - 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.
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High-vaulted, Narrow Gothic Chamber.
(Stepping from behind a curtain. While he raises it and looks back,Faustis seen, stretched upon an old-fashioned bed.)
Lie there, ill-starr’d one! In love’s chain,
Full hard to loose, he captive lies!
Not soon his senses will regain
Whom Helena doth paralyze.
Above, around, on every side
I gaze, uninjur’d all remains:
Dimmer, methinks, appear the color’d panes,
The spiders’ webs are multiplied,
Yellow the paper, and the ink is dry;
Yet in its place each thing I find;
And here the very pen doth lie,
Wherewith himself Faust to the Devil sign’d,
Yea, quite dried up, and deeper in the bore,
The drop of blood, I lur’d from him of yore—
O’erjoy’d to own such specimen unique
Were he who objects rare is fain to seek;—
Here on its hook hangs still the old fur cloak,
Me it remindeth of that merry joke,
When to the boy I precepts gave, for truth,
Whereon, perchance, he’s feeding now, as youth.
The wish comes over me, with thee allied,
Envelop’d in thy worn and rugged folds,
Once more to swell with the professor’s pride!
How quite infallible himself he holds;
This feeling to obtain your savans know;
The devil parted with it long ago.
[He shakes the fur cloak which he has taken down; crickets, moths and chafers fly out.
Chorus of Insects.
We welcome thy coming,
O’erjoy’d I am my progeny to know!
We’re sure to reap in time, if we but sow.
I shake the old fur-mantle as before,
And here and there outflutters one or more.
Above, around, hasten, beloved elves,
In hundred thousand nooks to hide yourselves!
’Mid boxes there of bygone time,
Here in these age-embrowned scrolls,
In broken potsherds, foul with grime,
In yonder skulls’ now eyeless holes!
Amid such rotten, mouldering life,
Must foolish whims for aye be rife.
[Slips into the fur-mantle.
Come shroud my shoulders as of yore!
To-day I’m principal once more;
But useless ’tis, to bear the name:
Where are the folk to recognize my claim?
[He pulls the bell, which emits a shrill penetrating sound, at which the halls shake and the doors spring open.
(Tottering up the long dark passage.) What a clamor! What a quaking!
Stairs are rocking, walls are shaking:
Through the windows’ quivering sheen,
Are the stormful lightnings seen;
Springs the ceiling,—thence, below,
Lime and mortar rattling flow:
And, though bolted fast, the door
Is undone by magic power!
There, in Faust’s old fleece bedight,
Stands a giant,—dreadful sight!
At his glance, his beck, at me!
I could sink upon my knee.
Shall I fly, or shall I stay?
What will be my fate to-day!
Come hither, friend!—Your name is Nicodemus?
Most honor’d Sir, such is my name.—Oremus!
That we’ll omit.
O joy, me you do not forget.
I know it well: old, and a student yet;
My mossy friend, even a learned man
Still studies on, because naught else he can:
Thus a card-house each builds of medium height;
The greatest spirit fails to build it quite.
Your master, though, that title well may claim—
The noble Doctor Wagner, known to fame,
First in the learned world! ’Tis he, they say,
Who holds that world together; every day
Of wisdom he augments the store!
Who crave omniscience, evermore
In crowds upon his teaching wait;
He from the rostrum shines alone;
The keys doth like Saint Peter own,
And doth of Hell and Heaven ope the gate;
As before all he glows and sparkles,
No fame, no glory but grows dim,
Even the name of Faustus darkles!
Inventor there is none like him.
Pardon, most honor’d Sir, excuse me, pray—
If I presume your utterance to gainsay—
This bears not on the question any way;
A modest mind is his allotted share.
The disappearance, unexplain’d as yet,
Of the great man, his mind doth sorely fret;
Comfort from his return and health are still his prayer.
The chamber, as in Doctor Faustus’ day,
Maintains, untouch’d, its former state,
And for its ancient lord doth wait.
Venture therein I scarcely may.
What now the aspect of the stars?—
Awe-struck the very walls appear;
The door-posts quiver’d, sprang the bars—
Else you yourself could not have enter’d here.
Where then bestow’d himself hath he?
Lead me to him! bring him to me!
Alas! Too strict his prohibition
Scarce dare I, without his permission.
Months, on his mighty work intent,
Hath he, in strict seclusion spent.
Most dainty ’mong your men of books,
Like charcoal-burner now he looks,
With face begrim’d from ear to nose;
His eyes are blear’d, while fire he blows;
Thus for the crisis still he longs;
His music is the clang of tongs.
Admittance unto me deny?
To hasten his success, the man am I.
[ExitFamulus. Mephistophelesseats himself with a solemn air.
Scarce have I taken my post, when lo!
Stirs from behind a guest, whom well I know;
Of the most recent school, this time, is he,
And quite unbounded will his daring be.
(Storming along the passage.) Open find I door and gate!
If Lethe’s murky flood not yet hath pass’d,
Old Sir, through your bald pate, that sideways bends,
The scholar recognize, who hither wends,
Outgrown your academic rods at last.
The same I find you, as of yore;
But I am now the same no more.
Glad am I that I’ve rung you here.
I priz’d you then not slightingly;
In grub and chrysalis appear
The future brilliant butterfly.
A childish pleasure then you drew
From collar, lace, and curls.—A queue
You probably have never worn?—
Now to a crop I see you shorn.
All resolute and bold your air—
But from the absolute forbear!
We’re in the ancient place, mine ancient Sir,
But think upon time’s onward flow,
And words of double-meaning spare!
Quite otherwise we hearken now.
You fool’d the simple, honest youth;
It cost but little art in sooth,
To do what none to-day will dare.
If to the young the naked truth one speaks,
It pleases in no wise the yellow beaks;
But afterwards, when in their turn
On their own skin the painful truth they learn,
They think, forsooth, from their own head it came;
“The master was a fool,” they straight proclaim.
A rogue perchance!—For where’s the teacher found
Who to our face, direct, will Truth expound?
Children to edify, each knows the way,
To add or to subtract, now grave, now gay.
For learning there’s in very truth a time;
For teaching, I perceive, you now are prime.
While a few suns and many moons have wan’d,
A rich experience you have doubtless gain’d!
Experience! Froth and scum alone,
Not with the mind of equal birth!
Confess! what men have always known,
As knowledge now is nothing worth.
(After a pause.) I long have thought myself a fool;
Now shallow to myself I seem, and dull.
That pleases me! Like reason that doth sound;
The first old man of sense I yet have found!
I sought for hidden treasures, genuine gold—
And naught but hideous ashes forth I bore!
Confess that pate of yours, though bare and old,
Than yonder hollow skull is worth no more!
(Good-naturedly.) Thou know’st not, friend, how rude is thy reply.
In German to be courteous is to lie.
(Still moving his wheel-chair ever nearer to the proscenium, to the pit.)
Up here I am bereft of light and air;
I perhaps shall find a refuge with you there?
When at their worst, that men would something be,
When they are naught, presumptuous seems to me.
Man’s life is in the blood, and where, in sooth,
Pulses the blood so strongly as in youth?
That’s living blood, which with fresh vigor rife,
The newer life createth out of life.
There all is movement, something there is done;
Falleth the weak, the able presses on!
While half the world we ’neath our sway have brought,
What have ye done? Slept, nodded, dream’d and thought,
Plan after plan reject’d;—nothing won.
Age is, in sooth, a fever cold,
With frost of whims and peevish need:
When more than thirty years are told,
As good as dead one is indeed:
You it were best, methinks, betimes to slay.
The devil here has nothing more to say.
Save through my will, no devil dares to be.
(Aside.) The devil now prepares a fall for thee!
The noblest mission this of youth’s estate.
The world was not, till it I did create;
The radiant Sun I led from out the sea;
Her changeful course the Moon began with me;
The Day array’d herself my steps to meet,
The Earth grew green, and blossom’d me to greet;
At my command, upon you primal Night,
The starry hosts unveil’d their glorious light.
Who, beside me, the galling chains unbound,
Which cramping thought had cast your spirits round?
But I am free, as speaks my spirit-voice,
My inward light I follow, and rejoice;
Swift I advance, enraptur’d, void of fear,
Brightness before me, darkness in the rear.
Go, in thy pride, Original, thy way!—
True insight would, in truth, thy spirit grieve!
What wise or stupid thoughts can man conceive,
Unponder’d in the ages pass’d away?—
Yet we for him need no misgiving have;
Chang’d will he be, when a few years are past;
Howe’er absurdly may the must behave,
Nathless it yields a wine at last.—
(To the younger part of the audience, who do not applaud.)
Though to my words you’re somewhat cold,
Good children, me you don’t offend;
Reflect! The devil, he is old;
Grow old then, him to comprehend!
After the fashion of the middle ages; cumbrous, useless apparatus, for fantastic purposes.
(At the furnace.) Soundeth the bell, the fearful clang
Thrills through these sooty walls; no more
Upon fulfilment waits the pang
Of hope or fear;—suspense is o’er;
The darknesses begin to clear,
Within the inmost phial glows
Radiance, like living coal, that throws,
As from a splendid carbuncle, its rays;
Athwart the gloom its lightning plays,
A pure white lustre doth appear;
O may I never lose it more!—
My God! what rattles at the door?
(Entering.) Welcome! As friend I enter here.
Hail to the star that rules the hour!
On breath and utterance let a ban be laid!
Soon will be consummate a work of power.
(In a whisper.) What is it, then?
A man is being made.
A man? and pray what loving pair
Have in your smoke-hole their abode?
Nay! Heaven forbid! As nonsense we declare
The ancient procreative mode;
The tender point, life’s spring, the gentle strength
That took and gave, that from within hath press’d,
And seiz’d, intent itself to manifest
The nearest first, the more remote at length,—
This from its dignity is now dethron’d!
The brute indeed may take delight therein,
But man, by whom such mighty gifts are own’d,
Must have a purer, higher origin.
[He turns to the furnace.
It flashes, see!—Now may we trustful hold,
That if, of substances a hundred-fold,
Through mixture,—for on mixture it depends—
The human substance duly we compose,
And then in a retort enclose,
And cohobate; in still repose
The work is perfect’d, our labor ends.
[Again turning to the furnace.
It forms! More clear the substance shows!
Stronger, more strong, conviction grows!
What Nature’s mystery we once did style,
That now to test, our reason tries,
And what she organiz’d erewhile,
We now are fain to crystallize.
Who lives, doth much experience glean;
By naught in this world will he be surpris’d;
Already in my travel-years I’ve seen,
Full many a race of mortals crystallized.
(Still gazing intently on the phial.)
It mounts, it glows, and doth together run,
One moment, and the work is done!
As mad, a grand design at first is view’d;
But we henceforth may laugh at fate,
And so a brain, with thinking-power imbu’d,
Henceforth your living thinker will create.
[Surveying the phial with rapture.
The glass resounds, with gracious power possess’d;
It dims, grows clear; living it needs must be!
And now in form of beauty dress’d,
A dainty mannikin I see.
What more can we desire, what more mankind?
Unveil’d is now what hidden was of late;
Give ear unto this sound, and you will find,
A voice it will become, articulate.
(In the phial, toWagner.)
Now, Fatherkin, how goes it? ’Twas no jest!
Come let me to thy heart be fondly press’d—
Lest the glass break, less tight be thine embrace!
This is the property of things: the All
Scarcely suffices for the natural;
The artificial needs a bounded space.
But thou, Sir Cousin, Rogue, art thou too here?
At the right moment! Thee I thank. ’Tis clear
To us a happy fortune leadeth thee;
While I exist, still must I active be,
And to the work forthwith myself would gird;
Thou’rt skill’d the way to shorten.
Just one word!
I oft have been asham’d that knowledge fail’d,
When old and young with problems me assail’d.
For instance: no one yet could comprehend,
How soul and body so completely blend,
Together hold, as ne’er to part, while they
Torment each other through the livelong day.
Forbear! The problem solve for me,
Why man and wife so wretchedly agree?
Upon this point, my friend, thou’lt ne’er be clear;
The mannikin wants work, he’ll find it here.
What’s to be done?
(Pointing to a side door.)
Yonder thy gifts display!
(Still gazing into the phial.)
A very lovely boy, I needs must say!
[The side door opens;Faustis seen stretched upon a couch.
[The phial slips fromWagner’shands, hovers overFaust,and sheds a light upon him.
Girt with beauty!—Water clear
In the thick grove; fair women, who undress;
Most lovely creatures!—grows their loveliness:
But o’er the rest one shines without a peer,
As if from heroes, nay from gods she came;
In the transparent sheen her foot she laves;
The tender life-fire of her noble frame
She cools in yielding crystal of the waves.—
Of swiftly moving wings what sudden noise?
What plash, what plunge the liquid glass destroys?
The maidens fly, alarmed; alone, the queen,
With calm composure gazes on the scene:
With womanly and proud delight, she sees
The prince of swans press fondly to her knees,
Persistent, tame; familiar now he grows.—
But suddenly upfloats a misty shroud,
And with thick-woven veil doth overcloud
The loveliest of all lovely shows.
Why thou in sooth canst everything relate!
Small as thou art, as phantast thou art great.
I can see nothing—
I believe it. Thou,
Bred in the north, in the dark ages, how,
In whirl of priesthood and knight-errantry,
Have for such sights, thy vision free!
In darkness only thou’rt at home.
Ye brown, repulsive blocks of stone,
Arch-pointed, low, with mould o’ergrown!
Should he awake, new care were bred,
He on the spot would straight be dead.
Wood-fountains, swans, fair nymphs undress’d,
Such was his dream, presageful, rare;
In place like this how could he rest,
Which I, of easy mood, scarce bear!
Away with him!
I like your plan, proceed!
Command the warrior to the fight,
The maiden to the dancers lead!
They’re satisfied, and all is right.
E’en now a thought occurs, most bright;
’Tis classical Walpurgis-night—
Most fortunate! It suits his bent,
So bring him straightway to his element!
Of such I ne’er have heard, I frankly own.
Upon your ear indeed how should it fall?
Only romantic ghosts to you are known;
Your genuine ghost is also classical.
But whitherward to travel are we fain?
Your antique colleagues are against my grain.
North-westward, Satan, lies thy pleasure-ground;
But, this time, we to the south-east are bound.—
An ample vale Peneios floweth through,
’Mid bush and tree its curving shores it laves;
The plain extendeth to the mountain caves,
Above it lies Pharsalus, old and new.
Alas! Forbear! Forever be eschew’d
Those wars of tyranny and servitude!
I’m bored with them: for they, as soon as done,
Straight recommence; and no one calls to mind
That he in sooth is only play’d upon
By Asmodeus, who still lurks behind.
They battle, so ’tis said, for freedom’s rights—
More clearly seen, ’tis slave ’gainst slave who fights.
Leave we to men their nature, quarrel-prone!
Each must defend himself, as best he can,
From boyhood up; so he becomes a man.
The question here is, how to cure this one?
Hast thou a means, here let it tested be;
Canst thou do naught, then leave the task to me.
Full many a Brocken-piece I might essay,
But bolts of heathendom foreclose the way.
The Grecian folk were ne’er worth much, ’tis true,
Yet with the senses’ play they dazzle you;
To cheerful sins the human heart they lure,
While ours are reckon’d gloomy and obscure.
And now what next?
Of old thou wert not shy;
And if I name Thessalian witches,—why,
I something shall have said,—of that I’m sure.
(Lustfully.) Thessalian witches—well! the people they
Concerning whom I often have inquir’d.
Night after night, indeed, with them to stay,
That were an ordeal not to be desir’d;
But for a trial trip—
The mantle there
Reach hither, wrap it round the knight!
As heretofore, the rag will bear
Both him and thee; the way I’ll light.
(Alarmed.) And I?
At home thou wilt remain:
Thee most important work doth there detain;
The ancient scrolls unfolding, cull
Life’s elements, as taught by rule;
And each with other then combine with care;
Upon the What, more on the How, reflect!
Meanwhile as through a piece of world I fare,
I may the dot upon the “I” detect.
Then will the mighty aim accomplish’d be;
Such high reward deserves such striving;—wealth,
Honor and glory, lengthen’d life, sound health,
Knowledge withal and virtue—possibly.
Farewell! That grieves my heart full sore!
I fear indeed I ne’er shall see thee more.
Now to Peneios forth we wend!
We must not slight our cousin’s aid.
(To the spectators.)
At last, in sooth, we all depend
On creatures, we ourselves have made.
To this night’s ghastly fête, as oftentimes before,
I hither come, Erichtho, I, the gloomy one;
Not so atrocious, as the sorry poet-throng
Me in excess have slander’d. . . They no measure know
In censure and applause. . . O’erwhiten’d seems to me,
With waves of dusky tents, the valley, far and wide,
Night-phantom of that dire and most appalling night.
How often ’tis repeated! Will for evermore
Repeat itself for aye. . . empire none gladly yields
To others; none to him, by force who master’d it
And forceful reigns. For each, his inmost self to rule
How impotent soe’er, ruleth right joyously
His neighbor’s will, as prompts his own imperious mind. . . .
Nathless a great example here was battled through;
Here force ’gainst force more potent takes its stand,
Freedom’s fair chaplet breaks, with thousand blossoms rife,
The stubborn laurel bends around the victor’s brow.
Of greatness’ budding-day here Pompey dream’d; and there,
Watching the wavering balance, Cæsar wakeful lay!
Strength they shall measure. Knows the world who here prevail’d.
Brightly the watch-fires burn, diffusing ruddy flames;
Reflex of blood, once spill’d, does from the soil exhale,
And by the night’s most rare and wondrous splendor lur’d,
Hither the legions throng of Hellas’ mythic lore.
Round every fire dim shapes, phantoms of ancient days,
Flit wavering to and fro, or there recline at ease. . .
The moon, not fully orb’d, of clearest light serene,
Uprising, lustre mild diffuses all around.
Vanish the spectral tents, the fires are burning blue.
But lo! above my head, what sudden meteor sails!
It shines, and doth illume a ball corporeal.
I snuff the scent of life. Me it beseemeth not
The living to approach, to whom I noxious am;
That brings me ill-repute, and nothing profits me.
Already it sinks down. With caution I retire.
The Aerial Travellers above.
(Touching the ground.) Where is she?
That I cannot say,
But here perchance inquire for her you may.
Till breaks the dawn, with speed, do thou,
From fire to fire, still seeking, wend;
He nothing more need fear, I trow,
Who, to the Mothers, ventur’d to descend.
My part to play, I also claim;
And for our weal naught better know,
Than that, forthwith, from flame to flame,
Seeking his own adventures each should go.
Then us once more to re-unite,
Show, little friend, thy sounding light!
Thus shall it sound, thus glitter too!
[The glass rings, and emits a powerful light.
And now away to marvels new!
(Alone.) Where is she?—Now no further question make! . . .
If this were not the sod, her form that bare,
This not the wave that brake to welcome her,
Yet ’tis the air, that once her language spake!
Here! through a wonder, here on Grecian land!
I felt at once the soil whereon I stand:
As me, the sleeper, a new spirit fired,
An Antæus in heart, I rise inspir’d.
Assembled here objects most strange I find.
Searching, through this flame-labyrinth I’ll wind.
(Prying around.) As I these little fires still wander through,
I find myself a stranger everywhere;
Quite naked most, some shirted here and there:
The Sphinxes shameless, and the Griffins too,
And winged things, with tresses, hurrying past,
Before, behind, within mine eye are glass’d . . .
At heart indecent are we, truth to speak,
Yet all too life-like find I the Antique;
It by the modern mind must be controll’d,
And overgloss’d, in fashions manifold. . . .
A crew repulsive! Yet, a stranger guest,
In courteous phrase be my salute express’d. . . .
All hail! ye beauteous ladies, graybeards wise!
(Snarling.) Not Graybeards—Griffins! It the temper tries
To hear one’s self styled gray. In every word
Some echo of its origin is heard:
Grim, grievous, grizzl’d, grimy, graveyards, gray,
In etymology accord, and they
Still put us out of tune.
Yet all the same,
The “Gri” contents you in your honor’d name.
(As above.) Of course! For the alliance prov’d may be,
Oft blam’d indeed, but prais’d more frequently.
Let each one gripe at beauty, empire, gold,
Fortune still aids the Griper if he’s bold.
(Of the colossal kind.) Of gold ye speak. Thereof we much had stor’d,
And pil’d in rocks and caves our secret hoard;
The Arimaspians found it, bore it off—
So far away that now at us they scoff.
We’ll bring them straightway to confession.
Not on this night of jubilee!
Ere morning, all will squander’d be;
For this time we retain possession.
(Who has seated himself between the Sphinxes.) How soon, well-pleas’d, I grow familiar here!
I understand them, man by man.
Our spirit-tones into your ear
We breathe, embody them you can.
Until we know thee better, tell thy name.
Full many a title I ’mong men may claim.
Are Britons here? They travel far to trace
Renowned battlefields, and waterfalls,
Old musty classic sites, and ruin’d walls.
A worthy goal for them this very place;
Of me their ancient plays would testify;
I there was seen as Old Iniquity.
How came they upon that?
I know not.
That may be.
To read the starry volume hast thou power?
What sayest to the aspect of the hour?
(Looking up.) Star shooteth after star, bright the shorn moon doth shine,
And I’m content this cozy place within;
I warm myself against thy lion’s skin.
Aloft to climb were hurtful, I opine.
Propose some riddles, some charades!—Begin!
Thyself declare, a riddle that indeed.
Only essay thine inmost self to read:
“Needful to pious, as to bad men found;
Armor to those, ascetic fence to test,
Comrade to these, in every desperate quest.
And both alike to Zeus, a merry jest.”
(Snarling.) I like him not!
(Snarling more loudly.)
What wants he here?
The brute belongs not to this sphere!
(Brutally.) Thou thinkest, maybe, that the stranger’s nail,
To scratch with, like thy talons, can’t avail?
Let’s try, forthwith!
(Mildly.) Here thou mayst ever dwell;
But from our midst thyself wilt soon expel.
In thine own land art wont thyself to please.
If I mistake not, here thou’rt ill at ease.
Enticing art thou, when above descried;
But with the beast below, I’m horrified.
Thou false one, thou shalt bitterly repent:
These paws are sound: but as for thee,
With thy shrunk hoof thou’rt not content,
It seems, in our society.
What birds are those, on poplar bough
Swinging, the river banks along?
Beware! the noblest have ere now
Been master’d by the Sirens’ song!
(Mocking them in the same melody.)
Dainty novelties,—there ring
From the throat, and from the string
Tones that sweetly interweave.
Trills on me away are thrown;
Tickle they mine ear alone,
But untouch’d my heart they leave.
Speak not of hearts, for, I believe,
A leathern wallet in its place,
Shrivell’d, would better suit thy face.
(Entering.) The spectacle contents me;—wondrous creatures,
Ill-favor’d, yet with large and stalwart features.
E’en now, I augur an auspicious fate;
Whither doth me that earnest glance translate?
[Pointing to theSphinxes.
Once before such took Œdipus his stand;
[Pointing to theSirens.
Writhed before such Ulyss in hempen band?
[Pointing to theAnts.
By such the mightiest treasure was upstor’d.
[Pointing to theGriffins.
With true and faithful watch, these kept the hoard.
I feel new life my being penetrate;
Great are the forms, the memories are great!
Once thou such shapes had scouted, now
Thou seemest friendly to their kind;
E’en monsters welcome are, I trow,
To him who would the lov’d one find.
(To theSphinxes.) Ye women shapes, straight must ye answer me:
Hath one of you chanc’d Helena to see?
We reach not to her day; the last was slain
By Hercules; some tidings thou mayst gain
From Chiron, canst thou him detain.
Round on this ghostly night he doth career;
If he will answer thee, thy goal is near.
Thou, for certain, shalt not fail! . . .
Noble one, their guile beware!
As Ulysses to the mast,—
Thee let our good counsel bind.
Canst thou noble Chiron find,
Thy desire wilt gain at last.
(Peevishly.) What croaks, on pinions rushing by?
So swiftly they elude the eye,
In single file they hurrying fly;
The hunter they would tire, I ween.
Like storm of wintry tempest, these,
Scarce reach Alcides’ arrows keen—
They are the swift Stymphalides;
Their croaking too is kindly meant,
With foot of goose and vulture beak;
To mingle in our sphere they seek,
Their cousinship to prove intent.
(Scared.) There whiz some other forms of ill—
For fear of these you need not quake:
These are the heads of the Lernæan snake,
Shorn from the trunk, and think they’re something still.
But say what meaneth this distress?
This troubled air, this restlessness?
Where would you go? Be off, I say!
The group, that yonder meets mine eye,
Leads you to turn your neck awry.
Be not constrain’d! Begone! Away!
And greet full many a visage fair!
The Lamiæ, wantons sly, are there,
With forehead bold, and winning smile,
As they the Satyr-race beguile:
With them the goat’s foot all may dare.
You’ll stay, that I may find you here again.
Yea! mingle with the airy train!
From Egypt we the custom own,
That each a thousand years should keep her throne.
And to our place, if due respect ye pay,
We rule the lunar, rule the solar day.
Surrounded by waters andNymphs.
(Approaching the stream.)
Yes, I’m awake! Let them have sway,
These peerless shapes, as in their play
Follows mine eye, in eager quest.
How strange the feeling! What are these?
Dreams are they? Are they memories?
Already once wert thou so bless’d.
Athwart thick-woven copse and bush
Still waters glide;—they do not rush,
Scarcely they rustle as they flow:
From every side their currents bright
A hundred crystal springs unite,
And form a sloping bath below.
Young nymphs, whose limbs of graceful mould,
The gazer’s raptur’d eyes behold,
Are in the liquid mirror glass’d!
Bathing with joyance all-pervading,
Now boldly swimming, shyly wading,
With shout and water-fight at last.
Contented might I be with these,
Mine eye be charm’d with what it sees;
Yet to yon covert’s leafy screen
My yearning glance doth forward press,
The verdant wealth of whose recess
Shrouds from my gaze the lofty queen.
Most wonderful! Swans now draw near;
Forth from the bays their course they steer,
Oaring with majestic grace;
Floating, tenderly allied,
But with self-complacent pride,
Head and beak they move apace!
But one seems before the rest,
Joyfully the wave to breast,
Sailing swift, without a peer;
Swells his plumage, wave on wave,
That the answering flood doth lave;—
He the hallow’d spot doth near. . . .
Now the others swim together,
To and fro, with shining feather;
Soon in splendid strife, they scare
All the timid maids away;
That, from duty swerving, they
For themselves alone may care.
As it seems, the earth indeed
Echoes ’neath a hurrying steed.
Hither a rider swift doth scour—
Endow’d with spirit and with power—
Borne by a snow-white steed is he. . . .
I err not, him I seek is found—
Of Philyra the son renown’d!—
Halt! Chiron! Halt! I’d speak with thee. . . .
How now! what would’st thou?
Thy course arrest!
I pause not.
Take me with thee; grant my quest!
Mount! So I can inquire, as on we fare,
Whither art bound? Thou standest on the banks;
Prepar’d I am, thee through the stream to bear.
(Mounting.) Where’er thou wilt. Have evermore my thanks. . . .
The mighty man, the pedagogue of old
Whose fame it was, a hero-race to mould:
The noble Argonauts, with all their peers,
Who form’d the poet’s world, in bygone years—
That pass we over! Pallas’ self indeed
As Mentor is not honor’d; to my thought,
All, in the end, in their own way proceed,
As though, in sooth, they never had been taught.
The leech who names each plant, who knows
All roots, e’en that which deepest grows,
Wounds who assuageth, sickness who doth chase,
In mind and body’s strength I here embrace—
Were hero wounded on the field,
Counsel and aid I could impart;
But, in the end, to priests I yield,
And women-herbalists my healing art.
In thee the truly great man speaks,
To words of praise who stops his ears;
Who acts, while privacy he seeks,
As were he one of many peers.
Well skill’d thou seemest, to beguile
People and prince with glozing wile.
At least by thee ’twill be confess’d,—
The greatest of thy time hast seen, the best;
Hast with the noblest vied, in earnest strife,
And liv’d of demigods the arduous life!
But ’mong those figures of heroic mould,
In virtue whom pre-eminent didst hold?
In the high circle of the Argonauts,
Each valiant was in fashion of his own,
And, by the virtue which inspir’d his thoughts,
Where others fail’d, he could suffice alone;
The Dioscuri ever did prevail
Where youthful bloom and beauty turn’d the scale;
Resolve, prompt deeds for others’ welfare, these
The portion fair of the Boreades;
Reflective, wary, strong, in council wise,
So Jason lorded, dear to woman’s eyes.
Then Orpheus, tender, contemplative still;—
Smote he the lyre, all own’d his wondrous skill.
Lynceus, through rocks and shoals, who, keen of sight,
Guided the holy ship, by day and night.
In fellowship is danger fronted best,
Where one achieves, extoll’d by all the rest.
Of Hercules to me wilt naught impart?
Alas! wake not the longing in my heart. . . .
Never had Phœbus met my gaze,
Ares, or Hermes,—such their name;
When, as divine what all men praise
Before my raptured vision came!
A monarch born, in youth array’d
With glorious beauty; homage due
He to his elder brother paid,
And to the loveliest women too;
His second bears not Mother Earth,
Nor Hebe leads to heaven again;
Song strives in vain to tell his worth,
Tortur’d is marble too, in vain!
To give such form to mortal ken
The sculptor’s boasted power is weak.
The fairest hast portray’d of men,
Now of the loveliest woman speak!
What! Woman’s beauty! Empty phrase,
Too oft an image void of life;
The being only can I praise,
Joy-giving and with gladness rife.
For Beauty in herself is bless’d;
Grace makes resistless, where possess’d,
Like Helena, whom once I bare.
Her thou hast borne?
Yea! On this back.
Was I not ’mazed enough? Alack!
And now such seat must bless me!
By my hair
Me hath she grasp’d, as thou dost now.
I lose myself! Oh, tell me, how?
She is in truth my sole desire!
Her, whence and whither didst thou bear?
Easy to tell what you require.
Their little sister, then the robbers’ prey,
The Dioscuri had redeem’d; but they,—
The ravishers, not wont to be subdu’d,
Took courage, and with stormful rage pursu’d;
The brothers, with their sister, urg’d their way
Towards the marsh, that near Eleusis lay:
The brothers waded; plashing, over it I swam;
Then off she sprang, and fondly press’d
My mane, all dripping; self-possess’d,
She sooth’d and thank’d, with sweet reserve and coy!
How charming was she! Young, of eld the joy!
Just seven years old. . . .
The philologues, I see,
As they themselves deceiv’d, so have they thee.
Unique, in sooth, your mythologic dame:
After his pleasure her the poet shows;
Forever young, old age she never knows;
Her figure, love-inspiring, aye the same;
Ravish’d when young, courted when youth is flown—
Enough, no bonds of time the poets own.
So let her also by no time be bound!
At Pheræ by Achilles she was found
Beyond time’s limits—happiness how rare!
In spite of destiny, love triumph’d there;
And should I not, with powerful longing rife,
Draw forth that matchless figure into life,
The deathless being, born of gods the peer,
Tender as great, sublime yet ever dear?
Thou saw’st her once, whom I to-day have seen,
Charming as fair, fair as desir’d, I ween!
Enthrall’d is my whole being, heart and brain;
I cease to live, unless I her obtain!
Stranger! Thou art enraptur’d, as men deem;
Yet among spirits, brain-struck thou dost seem.
’Tis well this madness hath assail’d thee here,
Since, only for some moments, every year,
My wont it is to Manto to repair;
She, Æsculapius’ child, in silent prayer
Implores her sire, who honor thus would gain,
Now to illumine the physicians’ brain,
That from rash death-strokes they henceforth refrain—
To me the dearest of the Sibyl’s guild,
Not wildly mov’d, with helpful kindness fill’d;
After a brief delay, thy perfect cure,
Through power of simples, can her art secure.
But cured I would not be! My mind is strong!
Then were I abject like the vulgar throng!
Scorn not the healing of the noble fount.
We now are at the place; with speed, dismount.
Whither, upon this night, with horror fraught,
Me, through the pebbly stream, to land hast brought?
Here Rome and Hellas madly spurn’d in fight,
(Olympus left, Peneios to the right,)
The mightiest realm that e’er in sand was lost;
The monarch flies, triumphs the burgher host.
Look up! Here stands, significantly near,
The fane eternal, bath’d in moonlight clear.
Right! Open but thine eyes! I’m here!
(Awaking.) Welcome! Thou hast not fail’d, I see.
Still stands thy temple-home for thee!
Unwearied roam’st thou far and wide?
In quiet dost thou aye abide,
While I in ceaseless change delight?
I wait, time circles me.—This wight?
Him hath this ill-reputed night
Caught in its whirl, and hither brought.
Helen, with mind and sense distraught,
Helen, he for himself would win,
But how and where he knows not to begin;
Worthy is he thy healing art to prove.
Who the impossible desires, I love.
[Chironis already far away.
Enter, bold man, be joy thy meed!
This gloomy path to Proserpine doth lead.
She at Olympus’ hollow foot
Doth lurk for unallow’d salute.
In bygone time I Orpheus smuggled here;
Do thou fare better! Forward! Do not fear!
The Upper Peneios, as before.
Plunge into Peneios’ flood!
There beseems to swim rejoicing,
Song on song in chorus voicing,
For the unhallow’d people’s good.
Without water health is none!
In bright bands to the Ægean,
Speed we now with sounding pæan;
Every joy will then be won.
Back the foaming wave is rushing,
In its bed it flows no more;
Quakes the earth, the floods are gushing,
Bursting smokes the pebbly shore.
Let us fly! Come, every one!
Bodes this marvel good to none.
Hence! each noble, joyous guest,
Seaward to our gladsome fest,
Where the wavelets’ glittering band
Lightly swelling, lave the strand;
There where Luna, mirror’d true,
Moistens us with holy dew!
There is life’s unfetter’d motion—
Here an earthquake’s dire commotion!
Hence! Ye wise ones, fly apace!
Horror reigneth in this place.
(Bellowing and blustering in the depths.) Once more heave with might and main,
With the shoulders bravely strain:
So the upper world we gain,
Where to us must all things bend!
What a most unpleasant quaking,
Hideous storm-blast, awe-awaking!
What a heaving, what a throe,
Surging, swaying, to and fro!
Horror not to be endur’d!
But our post we’ll not forsake,
Though all Hell were loose to break.
Now uprears itself a dome,
Wonderful. With age long hoar,
He it is who built of yore
Delos’ isle amid the foam,
Heaving it from out the sea,
For her, a mother soon to be;
Striving, pressing, upward-tending,
Arms wide-stretching, back low-bending,
Atlas-like, amid the surf
Shale he raises, grass and turf,
Pebbles, gravel, loam and sand,
Tranquil cradle of our strand:
Crosswise, he a track did wrest
From the valley’s tranquil vest:
Caryatid, of giant mould,
He, with strength that ne’er grows old,
Bears, half buried, earth his zone,
A huge scaffolding of stone—
But his course must here be stay’d!
Sphinxes here their stand have made.
That have I wrought, myself alone,
This will mankind at last declare;
Had I not shaken, and upthrown,
How had the world been now so fair?
Into the pure ethereal blue,
Their crests how should you mountains raise,
Had I not heav’d them forth to view,
To charm the painter’s raptur’d gaze,
What time (my sires meanwhile surveying,
Chaos and Night), myself I bare
Stoutly, and, with the Titans playing,
Pelion and Ossa toss’d like balls in air?
Madly we rag’d, by youthful heat possess’d,
Till, fairly wearied out at last,
With malice, on Parnassus’ crest,
We, like twin-caps both mountains cast. . . .
There with the Muses’ hallowed choir,
Apollo finds a glad retreat;
For Zeus too, and his bolts of fire,
I rais’d aloft his glorious seat.
So now, have I, with direful strain,
Press’d from the depths to upper air,
And joyous dwellers call amain
New life henceforth with me to share.
Primeval had been deem’d, I trow,
What here hath struggled into birth,
Had we ourselves not witness’d how
It tore itself from out the earth.
Now upwards bushy groves themselves extend,
Rocks pressing upon rocks still forward tend;
Yet not for this shall any sphinx retreat:
Untroubled we retain our sacred seat.
Gold in leaflets, gold in flitters,
Through the crannies how it glitters;
Let none rob you of the prize—
Up! to seize it, Emmets, rise!
Chorus of Ants.
In with it; pile the golden heap!
Upon it we our claws will lay;
Bolts of the surest fashion, they
The greatest treasure safe will keep.
Eldest of the Pigmies.
Ants and Dactyls.
The Cranes of Ibycus.
[They disperse, croaking in the air.
(On the plain.) The Northern witches I could curb; with these,
Your foreign spirits, I am ill at ease.
The Blockberg is convenient when you roam:
Go where you may, you find yourself at home;
For us Dame Ilsa watches on her stone,
Heinrich is cheerful on his mountain-throne,
The Snorers grunt if Elend but appears,
Yet all is settled for a thousand years;
But here, stand still or walk, and who can know
Whether the ground upheaves not from below?
Through a smooth valley merrily I wind,
And all at once there rises from behind
A mountain,—scarce a mountain,—yet of height
To intercept the sphinxes from my sight. . . .
Adown the valley many a flame aspires;
Round some adventure quiver still the fires . . .
Dances, and round me hovers to entice,
An amorous crew, with many a coy device.
But soft:—Accustom’d to forbidden sweets,
One seeks to snatch them, wheresoe’er one meets!
(Standing still.) Accursed Fate! Dupes truly styl’d!
From Adam downward, fool’d, beguil’d!
We age—but who’s in wisdom school’d?
Wert not enough already fool’d?
We know how good for naught these creatures;
Pinch’d at the waist, with painted features;
No soundness in their bodies slim;—
Grasp where we may, rotten is every limb:
We know, we see, we handle it in life—
And yet we dance, if but the carrion fife!
(Stopping.) Hold! He considers, lingers, stands;
Meet him, lest he escape your hands!
(Advancing.) Push on! nor, like a simpleton,
Let web of doubt entangle thee!
For if of witches there were none,
The devil who would devil be!
Round this hero circle we!
Love for one within his breast,
Soon itself will manifest.
By this light’s uncertain gleam
Beauteous damosels ye seem,
So from blame shall you be free.
(Rushing in.) And I also! One with you,
Now admit me to your crew!
One too many, she I ween
Spoiler of our sport hath been.
Thee doth thy cousin dear salute,
Empusa with the Ass’s foot!
Thine but a horse’s hoof, yet thee,
Cousin, I greet most courteously!
Myself unknown I fancied here—
And yet, alas, near kinsfolk meet;
From Hartz to Hellas, far and near,
So runs the rede, you’ll cousins greet!
I with resolve can act, can take
Full many a shape; but for thy sake,
That I to thee do honor pay,
The Ass’s head I don to-day.
I see, with people of this sort,
Relationship doth much import;
Yet come what may, ’tis all the same;
The Ass’s head I must disclaim.
This hag avoid! She comes to scare
Whatever lovely seems and fair;
What lovely was and fair before,
When she draws near, is so no more.
These smooth slim cousins, short or tall,
Make me suspicious, one and all;
I fear, those rosy cheeks behind,
Some metamorphoses to find.
Come, take thy choice; we many are.
Catch hold! If reigns thy lucky star,
Thou of the lot mayst draw the best.
What means this hankering delay?
The wooer wretchedly dost play,
With haughty mien and lofty crest!
Amid our troop now see him glide;
Throw by degrees your masks aside,
And be your proper selves confess’d!
I’ve made my choice, the fairest, she . . .
Dry as a besom! Woe is me!
And this? . . . a fright, oh, wretched lot!
Deserv’st thou better? Think it not!
The little one I fain would clasp. . . .
A lizard glides from out my grasp,
And serpent-like her polish’d hair.
Anon a taller one I catch. . . .
A thyrsus-staff alone I snatch,
That for a head doth pine-cone wear.
Where will this end? . . . One plump and round,
With whom some solace may be found—
I’ll try my fortune once again!—
Right flabby, squashy; such a prize,
Your Oriental dearly buys. . . .
But ah! The puff-ball bursts in twain!
Quick as lightning, disunite!
Hover ye, in dusky flight,
Round the intruding witch’s son,
In uncertain, ghastly rings,
Flitter mice, on noiseless wings!
Too cheaply he’ll escape anon.
(Shaking himself.) I have not grown much wiser, that is clear.
The North’s absurd, absurd ’tis also here;
Ghosts here as there, a devilish crew,
Folk are insipid, poets too!
’Tis here a masquerade as there,
A sensual dance, as everywhere;
At beauty’s mask I clutch’d amain—
And seiz’d, what made me stand aghast. . . .
Yet to deceive myself I’m fain,
If only longer it would last!
[Losing his way among the rocks.
Where am I? Whither tend my pains?
Where was a path, there chaos reigns;
I by smooth roads have hither sped,
Rude bowlders now impede my tread;
I clamber up and down in vain—
My sphinxes, where shall I regain?
Ne’er had I dream’d so mad a thing:
Such mountain in a single night!
A bold witch-journey is this flight,
Their Blockberg with them here they bring!
(From the natural rock.)
Hither ascend! My mountain old
Its form primeval still doth hold—
My steep and rocky steps revere,
Extremest branch of Pindus—here,
Unshaken have I rear’d my head,
When over me Pompeius fled;
Yon phantom shape that cheats the eye
Away, when crows the cock, will fly:
Such fables oft arise, I see,
And disappear as suddenly.
Honor to thee, thou reverend head;
With lofty oak-strength garlanded,
Moonshine, however clear and bright,
Faileth to pierce thy rayless night!—
But, ’mong the bushes, comes this way
A light, that gleams with modest ray.
How fitly all things happen thus;
In truth! it is Homunculus!—
Whither away, thou tiny friend?
Flitting from place to place, I wend.
In the best sense full fain I am to be;
And long impatiently my glass to break;
Only, from what I’ve seen and see,
Courage I lack the step to take.
But now, in confidence to speak,
Of two philosophers the track I seek;
I hearken’d, their discourse I overheard;
And Nature—Nature—was their only word:
Apart from these I would not go,
Somewhat of earthly being they must know,
And doubtless I at last shall learn
Whither most wisely I myself may turn.
Thy course shape thou thyself. Be wise!
For where your ghosts find entrance, there
Welcome is your philosopher:
That you his art and favor may delight,
A dozen new ones he brings forth to light.
Unless thou errest, reason dormant lies;
Wilt thou exist, through thine own effort rise!
Such good advice should not neglected be.
So now away! Of this we more shall see.
(ToThales.) To yield is adverse to thy stubborn mind;
To bring conviction, needs there further proof?
The wave yields willingly to every wind,
But from the beetling crag still keeps aloof.
Through fiery vapor came this rock to birth.
Moisture hath gender’d all that lives on earth.
(Between them.) To walk beside you, suffer me!
I also greatly long to be.
Hast thou, O Thales, ever in one night,
Such mountain out of slime brought forth to light?
Never was Nature, with her living powers,
Measur’d by scale of days and nights and hours;
By law each shape she fashioneth, and hence,
E’en in the grand there is no violence.
Yet such was here! Plutonic savage fire,
Æolian vaporous force, explosive, dire,
Burst through the ancient crusts of level earth,
And a new mountain came forthwith to birth.
Why further press the case? at any rate,
’Tis there, and that is well. In such debate,
Leisure and precious time away one flings,
Your patient folk to keep in leading-strings.
Quickly with myrmidons the mountain teems,
The clefts to people: forth there streams
Of pigmies, ants and gnomes, a living tide,
And other tiny bustling things beside.
After the Great hast ne’er aspir’d,
But hermit-like hast liv’d retir’d;
To lordship if thyself canst bring,
Forthwith I’ll have thee crown’d as king.
What says my Thales?
Not with my consent;
With dwarfs we are with dwarfish deeds content:
While with the great the dwarf doth greatness win.
See there: of cranes the swarthy cloud,
They threaten the excited crowd,
And so would threat the king; with beak
Sharp-pointed and with talons fierce,
Down-swooping, they the pigmies pierce;
Fateful, their stormful ire they wreak;
A crime the herons doom’d to slaughter,
Brooding around their tranquil water;
But that death-shower of arrowy rain,
For bloody vengeance cries amain,
And doth with rage their kindred fill,
The pigmies’ guilty blood to spill.
Of what avail helm, spear and shield?
What helps the dwarf the heron’s plume?
How ant and dactyl shun their doom!
Wavers the host,—they fly, they yield.
(After a pause, solemnly.)
If I, till now, the powers subterrain praise,
I, in this hour, my prayers to heaven upraise. . . .
Thou thron’d aloft, eternal, aye the same,
Threefold in aspect, and threefold in name,
Amid my people’s woe I cry to thee,
Diana, Luna, Hecatè!
Deep pondering mind, expander of the breast,
Mighty within, though outwardly at rest,
Unclose the gulfs abyssmal of thy shade,
Be without spells thine ancient might display’d!
And greater, ever greater draweth near
The goddess’ throne, her full-orbed sphere,
Enormous, fearful to the gaze!
Its fire grows redder through the haze. . . .
No nearer! Threatening orb, I pray;—
Ourselves and land and sea thou’lt sweep away!
Was it then true that dames of Thessaly
Through sinful trust in magic, thee
Have downward from thy pathway sung,
From thee have powers most baleful wrung? . . .
The glittering shield, behold, it darkles!
Sudden it splits, and flares and sparkles!
What a hissing! what a rattling!
Thunder and storm-blast fiercely battling!—
Humbled I fall before thy throne—
Pardon! myself invok’d it, I alone.
[Throws himself on his face.
What hath this man not seen and heard!
I know not rightly how with us it far’d.
Like him I have not felt it. Ne’ertheless
The hours are out of tune, we must confess,
And Luna calmly as before,
In her own place aloft doth soar.
Behold the pigmies’ seat! The mound
Is pointed now, before ’twas round.
Convulsion huge I felt; a rock
Down from the moon, with sudden shock,
Hath fallen; and both friend and foe
Were crush’d and slaughter’d at a blow!
Yet arts like these I needs must praise,
That, working with creative might,
Upwards and downwards, could upraise,
This mountain in a single night.
Peace! ’Twas but fancy. That vile brood,—
To swift destruction let them fare!
That thou wert not their king, is good.
Now to the sea’s glad feast repair!
Strange guests are honor’d and expected there.
(Clambering up the opposite side.)
Up rocky stairs and steep must I to-day,
Through ancient oaks’ gnarl’d roots make toilsome way.
Upon my Hartz the piny atmosphere
Savors of pitch, and that to me is dear,
’Tis next to brimstone . . . Here, among the Greeks,
E’en for a trace of it one vainly seeks.
Inquisitive I am, and must inquire
Wherewith they feed hell-torment and hell-fire.
In thine own land be prudently at home;
Thou hast not wit enough abroad to roam.
Towards home thou should’st not turn thy thought; while here
The honor of the sacred oaks revere.
The lost will aye in thought arise;
What we are used to, is our Paradise.
But say, what triple object do I trace,
By the dim light, in yonder cavern’s shade?
The Phorkyads! Go, venture to the place,
And speak to them, if thou art undismay’d!
And wherefore not? . . . I see it with amaze.
Proud as I am, e’en I must needs confess,
Their like I ne’er have seen; their ugliness
That of our hellish hags o’ersways!
Sins reprobated long,—will they
Waken henceforth the least dismay,
If men this threefold dread survey?
We would not suffer them to dwell
On threshold of our dreariest Hell;
Rooted in Beauty’s land of fame,
Here to be styl’d antique they claim. . . .
They stir themselves, to scent me they appear,
Like vampire-bats, their twitter meets mine ear.
Give me the eye, my sisters, forth to gaze,
So near our fane who boldly thus delays!
Most honor’d! To approach you give me leave,
That I your threefold blessing may receive.
As still unknown indeed I come to you,
Yet am, methinks, a distant cousin too.
Gods ancient and rever’d I’ve seen of yore,
Deeply have Ops and Rhea bow’d before;
Your own and Chaos’ sisters, yesternight,
Or night before, the Parcæ, met my sight;
Yet on your like I ne’er before have gaz’d.
Silent I am, delighted and amaz’d.
Intelligent this spirit seems to be.
That you no bard hath sung, surprises me.
And say, most worthy ones, how hath it been
That of your charms no pictur’d forms are seen?
Your shapes should sculpture labor to retain,
Not Juno, Pallas, Venus, and their train!
Immers’d in solitude and night profound,
Such thought no entrance to our mind hath found!
How should it, from the world retir’d, when ye,
Yourselves by none beheld, can no one see!
You in such regions rather should reside
Where art and splendor reign in equal pride,
Where from a marble block, with genius rife,
Steps forth each day a hero into life,
Silence! in us wake no longings new:
What would it profit us, if more we knew?
In night begot, to things of night allied,
Unto ourselves scarce known, unknown to all beside.
Not much, indeed, in such case can one say.
But each himself to others can convey:
One eye, one tooth suffices for you three;
So would it tally with mythology,
In two the being of the three to blend,
And your third semblance unto me to lend,
But for brief space.
One of the Phorkyads.
What think you, may we try?
We’ll venture—but without or tooth or eye.
With these the very best away you’ve ta’en;
Imperfect the stern image would remain!
One of the Phorkyads.
Press one eye close—full easily ’tis done;
Now of your canine teeth display but one—
Forthwith, in profile, perfect and complete,
Our sisterly resemblance we shall greet.
Much honor! Be it so!
So be it!
(As aPhorkyadin profile.)
Here stand I Chaos’ well-beloved son!
Daughters of Chaos we, by ancient right.
Me now they call, oh shame, hermaphrodite!
What beauty our new triad gives to view!
Of eyes, and eke of teeth, we now have two.
Now must I shroud myself from mortal sight,
In pool of hell the devils to affright.
Rocky bays of the Ægean Sea.
The moon pausing in the zenith.
(Reclined upon the cliffs around, fluting and singing.) Thou whom from thy realm supernal,
Downward drew, with rites nocturnal,
Weird Thessalian sorceresses,
With thy glance, all things that blesses,
Now illume the throng that presses
Through the waves with billowy motion,
Flooding all the rippling ocean
With the splendor of thy light!
Luna fair, thy vassals greet thee;
Be propitious, we entreat thee!
(As wonders of the sea.) Sing aloud, with shriller singing,
Let it, through broad ocean ringing,
Call its people, far and near!—
From the storm’s dread whirlpools hiding,
We in stillest depths were biding;
Gracious song allures us here.
See, we deck ourselves enraptur’d,
With the treasures we have captur’d,
Golden chain and clasp and gem,
Spangled zone and diadem;
All this fruitage is your prey;
Down to us these shipwreck’d treasures,
You have lur’d with your sweet measures,
You, the Dæmons of our bay!
Well we know, through sea-waves gliding,
In their crystal depths abiding,
Live the fishes, sorrow-free;
Yet blithe roamers, hither thronging,
We to-day to know are longing
That ye more than fishes be.
Ere your song hath hither brought us,
Of this question we’ve bethought us;
Sisters, Brothers, hasten we!
Briefest journey, doubt dispelling,
Yieldeth proof sufficing, telling
That we more than fishes be!
In a twinkling, straight away,
Sped to Samothrace have they.
Vanish’d with a favoring wind!
What their purpose? what to gain,
Where the high Cabiri reign?
Gods they are, the strangest, who,
Self-evolv’d, are ever new,
Yet to their own nature blind.
Kindly linger on thy height,
Gracious Luna, that the night
Tarry may, lest daylight breaking
Drive us hence, our haunts forsaking!
(On the shore, toHomunculus.)
Thee to old Nereus gladly would I lead;
Not distant are we from his cave indeed;
But sour he is and obstinate,
Moreover hath a stubborn pate!
The race entire of mortal kind
Is never to the grumbler’s mind.
But he the future can disclose,
Hence each to him due reverence shows,
And gives him honor at his post;
To many he hath rendered aid.
Let’s knock, that trial may be made!
At once my glass and flame it will not cost.
Men’s voices are they, that mine ear hath heard?
With anger straight mine inmost heart is stirr’d!
Forms—striving still, who high as gods would soar,
Yet to be like themselves, doom’d evermore.
Long years could I have dwelt in godlike rest,
But ever was impell’d to aid the best;
And when at last I saw the accomplish’d deed,
It was as though they ne’er had heard my rede.
Yet people trust in thee, thou Ocean Seer;
Wise art thou; chase us not! This flamelet here,
That man’s similitude doth wear, survey,
In everything thy counsel he’ll obey.
Counsel! What good to men hath counsel brought?
On stubborn ears fall prudent words in vain;
Oft as the deed dire punishment hath wrought,
Self-will’d as ever mortals aye remain.
How fatherly I Paris warn’d, or e’er
His lust another’s consort did ensnare!
On Hellas’ shore fearless he stood and bold;
What I in spirit saw, I there foretold:
The reeking winds, the upstreaming ruddy glow,
Rafters ablaze, murder and death below,
Troy’s day of doom—fast bound in deathless rhyme,
A terror and a portent for all time.
The scoffer mock’d the old man’s oracle;
He follow’d his own lust, and Ilion fell,
A giant corpse, slowly its death-pangs ceas’d,—
To Pindus’ eagles a right welcome feast.
Ulysses too—did I not oft presage
To him dark Circe’s wiles, the Cyclop’s rage,
His own delay, his comrades’ reckless vein,
And what not else? And hath it brought him gain?
Till, sorely batter’d, he full late, at last,
By favoring wave on friendly shore was cast.
Such conduct to the sage must needs give pain;
Yet still the good man trieth once again.
A grain of thanks that richly him repays.
Tons of ingratitude still overweighs.
I and this youngster no slight boon require.
Wisely to be is now his sole desire.
Spoil not for me my present mood, most rare!
Far other aims to-day engross my care;
My daughters I’ve invok’d to come to me,
The Dorides, the Graces of the sea.
Neither Olympos nor your region bears
Form so replete with grace, so lithe as theirs.
From Dragons of the sea, with loveliest motion,
They cast themselves upon the steeds of Ocean,
One with the element that round them plays,
The very foam would seem their forms to raise.
’Mid rainbow-hues of Venus’ pearly car,
Comes Galatea, beauty’s choicest star,
Who, since on us hath Cypris ceas’d to smile,
As goddess honored is on Paphos’ Isle;
And so for long the gracious one doth own,
As heiress, temple-town and chariot-throne.
Away! Harsh words, and hatred in the heart
Have in the Father’s raptur’d hour no part.
Away to Proteus! Ask that being strange
The secret of existence and of change.
[He retires towards the sea.
We by this step, it seems, have nothing won;
For if we light on Proteus, straight he’s gone,
And if he wait, he only says at last
Things that perplex, and make one stand aghast.
Yet, once for all, such counsel thou dost need;
So then to try him, onward let us speed!
(On the rocks above.)
To our peaceful revel speeding,
The Cabiri we are leading;
Where their power the hapless shieldeth,
Kindly sway there Neptune wieldeth.
There of them should seven be.
Where then are the other three?
(Repeated in full Chorus.)
Though they have won the fleece of gold,
We! ye! have the Cabiri.
These uncouth figures, I am fain
For earthen pots to take them,
Gainst them the wise ones strike amain
Their stubborn heads, and break them!
The very thing they most desire.
The rusty coin is valued higher.
(Unperceived.) This pleases me, the old in fable:
The stranger ’tis, the more respectable!
Where art thou, Proteus?
(Ventriloquizing, now near, now far away.) Here! and here!
I pardon the stale jest; appear,
And with a friend vain words forego!
From a false place dost speak, I know.
(As from a distance.) Farewell!
He’s close at hand. Now brightly flare,
He’s curious as a fish; where’er
He hide himself, that flame, be sure,
Hither forthwith will him allure.
Full light I’ll pour, yet care must take
Lest with the shock the glass should break.
(In the form of a gigantic porpoise.) What shines with radiancy so dear?
Good! If thou wish it, thou canst draw more near;
Let the slight trouble vex thee not. I pray,
Thyself upon two human feet display.
’Tis solely by our leave, and courtesy,
That what we now conceal, who wills may see.
(In a noble form.) Thy sophist’s tricks, it seems, dost still employ.
Thy figure to transform still gives thee joy.
[He has uncoveredHomunculus.
(Astonished.) A glittering dwarflein! Ne’er beheld before!
Fain to exist, he counsel doth implore.
He is, from him I heard it, come to earth
Only half-form’d, through some mysterious birth.
Fairly endow’d with qualities ideal,
The power he lacks, firmly to grasp the real,
Till now the glass alone to him gives weight;
But he at once would be incorporate.
A genuine virgin’s son art thou;
Born ere thou shouldest be, I trow!
(In a whisper.) Further it seemeth critical to me;
He an hermaphrodite appears to be.
The sooner ’twill succeed; where’er
He comes, he happily will fare.
With much reflection we may here dispense;
In the broad sea thy being must commence;
On a small scale one there begins,
Well pleas’d the smallest to devour;
Till, waxing step by step, one wins,
For loftier achievement, ampler power.
A tender air is wafted here;
Dear is to me the breeze, the fragrance dear!
Right, dearest youth! Farther away
Still more delightful ’twill be found;
Ineffable the airs that play
This narrow tongue of land around.
Thence, near enough, the train we see,
Now floating hither. Come with me!
I too will go with thee; proceed!
A threefold spirit-step, wondrous indeed!
Telchines of Rhodes.
(Upon hippocampi and sea-dragons, bearing Neptune’s trident.)
The trident we forg’d, wherewith Neptune assuages
Old Ocean’s wild waves, when most fiercely he rages:
His clouds when the Thunderer spreads o’er the skies,
To their rolling terrific then Neptune replies;
And when from on high the jagg’d lightning doth leap,
Then wave after wave dashes up from the deep;
And all that in anguish their joint rage o’erpower’d,
Long whirl’d to and fro, by the depth is devour’d;
To-day then the sceptre to us hath he lent.—
Now joyously float we, serene and content!
Thou loveliest Queen of yon o’ervaulting sphere,
The praise of thy brother with rapture dost hear:
To Rhodus’ blest island an ear thou dost lend,
Thence one deathless pæan to him doth ascend.
The day-course he opens and with fiery gaze,
When finish’d his journey, our troop he surveys;
The cities and hills, shore and wave, yield delight
To the glorious God, and are lovely and bright.
No mist hovers o’er us, and should one draw near,
A ray and a zephyr—the island is clear:
His form the high god beholds multiplied there,
As stripling, as giant, the Mighty, the Fair—
The power of the gods it was we who began
To portray in the form, not unworthy, of man.
Obey the noble inspiration,
And at its source begin creation,
Make ready for the great emprise!
By laws eternal still ascending,
Through myriad forms of being wending,
To be a man in time thou’lt rise.
In spirit come to boundless ocean:
Unfetter’d there in every motion,
At thine own pleasure thou shalt wend;
But let not higher rank allure thee;
Attaining manhood, I assure thee,
Then all with thee is at an end!
As it may happen; good it seems to me,
In one’s own day a stalwart man to be.
(ToThales.) One of your stamp, perchance! For they
Abide awhile, nor pass away;
Since ’mong the troops of spirits pale,
As pass the centuries, thy form I hail.
(On the rocks.)
(ApproachingThales.) Yonder ring, an airy vision
Nightly wanderer might maintain;
But with juster intuition,
Other views we entertain:
Doves they are, whose escort playeth
Round my daughter’s pearly car;
Wondrous art their movement swayeth,
Learn’d by them in days afar.
That I also hold for best,
Peace that yieldeth to the good,
If in warm and silent nest
Something holy still doth brood.
(On sea-bulls, sea-calves, and sea-rams.) In the rugged Cyprian caves,
Shelter’d from the shocks of Ocean,
From the earthquake’s dire commotion,
Fann’d by Zephyr’s viewless waves,
There, as in the days afar,
We, with conscious rapture, are
Guardians of Cythera’s car,
And through breathings of the night,
Through the rippling wavelets bright,
Viewless still to mortal sight,
We the loveliest daughter lead.
Us nor winged lion scares,
Nor eagle, as our task we ply,
Nor cross, nor crescent, though it flares
Aloft, emblazon’d in the sky;
To and fro, alternate swaying,
Each the other driving, slaying,
Fields and towns in ashes laying:
Thus with joyous speed,
Onward our loveliest mistress we lead.
Circling still, with gentle motion,
(Passing in chorus beforeNereus,mounted upon dolphins.)
Precious indeed the twofold gain:
To show compassion, and delight obtain!
Would ye enjoy your captur’d treasure!
Then mould each youth to be a man;
Powerless am I to do your pleasure;
Accord your prayer Zeus only can.
The waves, whose foam around you playeth,
All steadfastness in love ignore,
And if its spell no longer swayeth,
Then place them quietly ashore.
[Galateaapproaches in the shell chariot.
’Tis thou, my beloved one!
O Sire! what delight!
Linger, ye dolphins, enchain’d is my sight.
Gone already! They forsake me,
Speeding on with circling motion!
What to them the heart’s emotion!
Oh! that with them they would take me!
Yet such rapture yields one gaze,
The livelong year it well repays.
Hail! all hail! The cry renew!
Blooms my spirit, pierced through
By the Beautiful, the True! . . .
All from water sprang amain!
All things water doth sustain:
Ocean grant thy deathless reign!
Were no clouds by thee outspread,
No rich brooklets by thee fed,
On their course no rivers sped,
And no streamlets perfected,
What then were the world, what were ocean and plain?
’Tis thou, who the freshness of life dost maintain.
(Chorus of the collective circles.)
’Tis thou, from whom freshness of life pours amain!
Far distant now they wheel and turn,
And vainly glance for glance must yearn;
Circle in circle wide extending,
The countless throngs, in order blending,
Urge o’er the waves their glad career.
But Galatea’s pearly throne,
Behold I still, behold; alone
Now it glitters like a star
’Midst, the crowd; with radiance tender,
Shines through the press the lov’d one’s splendor;
Though so far, so very far,
Still it shimmers bright and clear,
Ever true and ever near!
But lo! what new mystery, fraught with surprise,
Reveals itself now, ’mid yon crowds, to our eyes?
What flames round the shell, round the feet of my child?
Now strongly it glitters, now sweetly, now mild,
As if by the pulses of love it were sway’d!
Homunculus is it, by Proteus betray’d . . .
A yearning majestic these symptoms disclose,
Presageful they tell of his passionate throes;
Against the bright throne he’ll be shatter’d! It glows,
It flashes, it sparkles, abroad now it flows!
What marvel illumines the billows, which dash
Against one another in glory? They flash,
They waver, they hitherward glitter, and bright
All forms are ablaze in the pathway of night;
And all things are gleaming, by fire girt around.
Prime source of creation, let Eros be crown’d!
[* ]A Thessalian witch consulted by Pompey.