Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - Goethe's Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther)
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ACT III. - 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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Before the Palace of Menelaus in Sparta.
EnterHelena,with a chorus of captive Trojan women.Penthalis,leader of the chorus.
The much admir’d and much upbraided, Helena,
From yonder strand I come, where erst we disembark’d,
Still giddy from the roll of ocean’s billowy surge,
Which, through Poseidon’s favor and through Euros’ might,
On lofty crested backs hither hath wafted us,
From Phrygia’s open field, to our ancestral bays.
Yonder King Menelaus, glad of his return,
With his brave men of war, rejoices on the beach.
But oh, thou lofty mansion, bid me welcome home,
Thou, near the steep decline, which Tyndareus, my sire,
From Pallas’ hill returning, here hath builded up;
Which also was adorn’d beyond all Sparta’s homes,
What time with Clytemnestra, sister-like, I grew,
With Castor, Pollux, too, playing in joyous sport.
Wings of yon brazen portals, you I also hail!
Through you, ye guest-inviting, hospitable gates,
Hath Menelaus once, from many princes chosen,
Shone radiant on my sight, in nuptial sort array’d.
Expand to me once more, that I the king’s behest
May faithfully discharge, as doth the spouse beseem.
Let me within, and all henceforth behind remain,
That, charg’d with doom, till now darkly hath round me storm’d!
For since, by care untroubled, I these sites forsook,
Seeking Cythera’s fane, as sacred wont enjoin’d,
And by the spoiler there was seiz’d, the Phrygian,
Happen’d have many things, whereof men far and wide
Are fain to tell, but which not fain to hear is he
Of whom the tale, expanding, hath to fable grown.
Disparage not, O glorious dame,
Honor’d possession of highest estate!
For sole unto thee is the greatest boon given;
The fame of beauty that all overtowers!
The hero’s name before him resounds,
So strides he with pride;
Nathless at once the stubbornest yields
To beauty, the presence which all things subdues.
Enough! I with my spouse, ship-borne, have hither sped,
And to his city now by him before am sent.
But what the thought he harbors, that I cannot guess.
Come I as consort hither? Come I as a queen?
Come I as victim for the prince’s bitter pangs,
And for the evils dire, long suffer’d by the Greeks?
Conquer’d I am; but whether captive, know I not:
For the Immortal Powers fortune and fame for me
Have doom’d ambiguous; direful ministers that wait
On beauty’s form, who even on this threshold here,
With dark and threat’ning mien, stand bodeful at my side!
Already, ere we left the hollow ship, my spouse
Look’d seldom on me, spake no comfortable word;
As though he mischief brooded, facing me he sat.
But now, when to Eurotas’ deeply curving shores
Steering our course, scarce had our foremost vessel’s beak
The land saluted, spake he, as by God inspir’d:
“Here let my men of war, in order’d ranks, disbark;
I marshal them, drawn up upon the ocean strand;
But thou, pursue thy way, not swerving from the banks,
Laden with fruit, that bound Eurotas’ sacred stream,
Thy coursers guiding o’er the moist, enamell’d meads,
Until thou may’st arrive at that delightful plain,
Where Lacedæmon, once a broad fruit-bearing field,
By mountains stern surrounded lifteth now its walls.
Set thou thy foot within the tower-crown’d princely house,
Assemble thou the maids, whom I at parting left,
And with them summon too the wise old stewardess.
Bid her display to thee the treasures’ ample store,
As by thy sire bequeath’d, and which, in peace and war,
Increasing evermore, I have myself up-piled.
All standing shalt thou find in ancient order; for,
This is the prince’s privilege, that to his home,
When he returns at last, safe everything he finds,
Each in its proper place, as he hath left it there.
For nothing of himself the slave hath power to change.”
Oh, gladden now, with glorious wealth,
Ever increasing, thine eye and heart!
For beautiful chains, the adornment of crowns,
Are priding themselves, in haughty repose;
But step thou in, and challenge them all,
They arm themselves straight;
I joy to see beauty contend for the prize,
With gold, and with pearls, and with jewels of price.
Forthwith hath follow’d next this mandate of my lord:
“Now when in order thou all things hast duly seen,
As many tripods take, as needful thou may’st deem,
And vessels manifold, which he at hand requires,
Who duly would perform the sacrificial rite,
The caldrons, and the bowls, and shallow altar-plates;
Let purest water, too, from sacred fount be there,
In lofty pitchers; further, store of season’d wood,
Quick to accept the flame, hold thou in readiness;
A knife, of sharpest edge, let it not fail at last.
But I all other things to thy sole care resign.”
So spake he, urging me at once to part; but naught,
Breathing the breath of life, the orderer appoints,
That, to the Olympians’ honor, he to slaughter doom’d:
Suspicious seems it! yet, dismiss I further care;
To the high gods’ decree be everything referr’d,
Who evermore fulfil, what they in thought conceive;
It may, in sooth, by men, as evil or as good
Be counted, it by us, poor mortals, must be borne.
Full oft the ponderous axe on high the priest hath rais’d,
In consecration o’er the earth-bow’d victim’s neck.
Nor could achieve the rite, for he was hinder’d,
Or by approaching foe, or intervening God.
What now will happen, canst thou not guess;
Come what come may! Whate’er impends, me it behoves
To ascend, without delay, into the royal house,
Long miss’d, oft yearn’d for, well-nigh forfeited;
Before mine eyes once more it stands, I know not how.
My feet now bear me not so lightly as of yore,
When up the lofty steps I, as a child, have sprung.
(As leader of the Chorus.)
Forsake ye now of song the joy-surrounded path,
And toward the portal-wings turn ye forthwith your gaze!
What see I, sisters? Here, returneth not the queen?
With step of eager haste, comes she not back to us?—
What is it, mighty queen, that in the palace-halls,
Instead of friendly hail, could there encounter thee,
And shatter thus thy being? Thou conceal’st it not;
For I abhorrence see, impress’d upon thy brow,
And noble anger, that contendeth with surprise.
(Who has left the folded doors open, excited.) No vulgar fear beseems the daughter of high Zeus,
And her no lightly-fleeting terror-hand may touch;
But that dire horror which, from womb of ancient Night,
In time primeval rising, still in divers shapes,
Like lurid clouds, from out the mountain’s fiery gorge,
Whirls itself forth, may shake even the hero’s breast.
Thus have the Stygian gods, with horror fraught, to-day
Mine entrance to the house so mark’d, that fain I am,
Back from the oft-time trod, long-yearn’d-for threshold, now,
Like to a guest dismiss’d, departing, to retire.
Yet no, retreated have I hither to the light;
No further shall ye drive me, Powers, whoe’er ye be!
Some expiation I’ll devise, then purified,
The hearth flame welcome may the consort as the lord.
Leader of the Chorus.
Discover, noble queen, to us thy handmaidens,
Devotedly who serve thee, what hath come to pass!
What I have seen ye too, with your own eyes, shall see,
If ancient Night, within her wonder-teeming womb,
Hath not forthwith engulf’d, once more, her ghastly birth;
But yet, that ye may know, with words I’ll tell it you:—
What time the royal mansion’s gloomy inner court,
Upon my task intent, with solemn step I trod,
I wonder’d at the drear and silent corridors.
Fell on mine ear no sound of busy servitors,
No stir of rapid haste, officious, met my gaze;
Before me there appear’d no maid, no stewardess,
Who every stranger erst, with friendly greeting, hail’d.
But when I near’d at length the bosom of the hearth,
There saw I, by the light of dimly smouldering fire,
Crouch’d on the ground, a crone, close-veil’d, of stature huge,
Not like to one asleep, but as absorb’d in thought!
With accent of command I summon her to work,
The stewardess in her surmising, whom perchance
My spouse, departing hence, with foresight there had plac’d;
Yet, closely muffl’d up, still sits she, motionless;
At length, upon my threat, uplifts she her right arm,
As though from hearth and hall she motion’d me away.
Wrathful from her I turn, and forthwith hasten out,
Towards the steps, whereon aloft the Thalamos
Rises adorn’d, thereto the treasure-house hard by;
When, on a sudden, starts the wonder from the floor;
Barring with lordly mien my passage, she herself
In haggard height displays, with hollow eyes, blood-grim’d,
An aspect weird and strange, confounding eye and thought.
Yet speak I to the winds; for language all in vain
Creatively essays to body forth such shapes.
There see herself! The light she ventures to confront!
Here are we master, till the lord and monarch comes;
The ghastly brood of Night doth Phœbus, beauty’s friend,
Back to their caverns drive, or them he subjugates.
[Phorkyasstepping on the threshold, between the door-posts.
Much have I liv’d through, although my tresses
Youthfully waver still round my temples;
Manifold horrors have mine eyes witness’d;
Warfare’s dire anguish, Ilion’s night,
When it fell;
Through the o’erclouded, dust overshadow’d,
Tumult of war, to gods have I hearken’d,
Fearfully shouting; hearken’d while discord’s
Brazen voices clang through the field
Ah, yet standing were Ilion’s
Ramparts; nathless the glowing flames
Shot from neighbor to neighbor roof,
Ever spreading from here and there,
With their tempest’s fiery blast,
Over the night-darken’d city.—
Flying, saw I through smoke and glare,
And the flash of the tongued flames,
Dreadful, threatening gods draw near;
Wondrous figures, of giant mould,
Onward striding through the weird
Gloom of fire-luminous vapor.
Saw I them, or did my mind,
Anguish-torn, itself body forth
Phantoms so terrible—nevermore
Can I tell; but that I this
Horrible shape with eyes behold,
This of a surety know I!
Yea, with my hands could clutch it even,
Did not fear, from the perilous
Venture, ever withhold me.
Trite is the word, yet high and true remains the sense:
That Shame and Beauty ne’er together, hand in hand,
Their onward way pursue, earth’s verdant path along.
Deep-rooted in these twain dwelleth an ancient grudge,
So that, where’er they happen on their way to meet,
Upon her hated rival turneth each her back;
Then onward speeds her course with greater vehemence,
Shame fill’d with sorrow, Beauty insolent of mood,
Till her at length embraces Orcus’ hollow night,
Unless old age erewhile her haughtiness hath tam’d.
You find I now, ye wantons, from a foreign shore,
With insolence o’erflowing, like the clamorous flight
Of cranes, with shrilly scream that high above our heads,
A long and moving cloud, croaking send down their noise,
Which the lone pilgrim lures, wending his silent way,
Aloft to turn his gaze; yet on their course they fare,
He also upon his: so will it be with us.
Who are ye then, that thus around the monarch’s house,
With Mænad rage, ye dare like drunken ones to rave?
Who are ye then that ye the house’s stewardess
Thus bay, like pack of hounds hoarsely that bay the moon?
Think ye, ’tis hid from me, the race whereof ye are?
Thou youthful, war-begotten, battle-nurtur’d brood,
Lewd and lascivious thou, seducers and seduc’d,
Unnerving both the soldier’s and the burgher’s strength!
Seeing your throng, to me a locust-swarm ye seem,
Which, settling down, conceals the young green harvest-field.
Wasters of others’ toil! ye dainty revellers,
Destroyers in its bloom of all prosperity!
Thou conquer’d merchandise, exchang’d and marketed!
Who in the mistress’ presence chides her handmaidens,
Audacious, doth o’erstep her household privilege;
For her alone beseems the praiseworthy to praise,
As also that to punish which doth merit blame.
Moreover with the service am I well content,
Which these have render’d me, what time proud Ilion’s strength
Beleaguer’d stood, and fell and sank; nor less indeed
When we, of our sea-voyage the dreary changeful woe
Endur’d, where commonly each thinks but of himself.
Here also I expect the like from this blithe train;
Not what the servant is, we ask, but how he serves.
Therefore be silent thou, and snarl at them no more!
If thou the monarch’s house till now hast guarded well
Filling the mistress’ place, that for thy praise shall count;
But now herself is come, therefore do thou retire,
Lest chastisement be thine, instead of wellearn’d meed!
The menial train to threat, a sacred right remains,
Which the illustrious spouse of heaven-favor’d lord
Through many a year doth earn of prudent governance.
Since that, now recogniz’d, thy ancient place as queen,
And mistress of the house, once more thou dost resume,
The long-time loosen’d reins grasp thou; be ruler here,
And in possession take the treasures, us with them!
Me before all protect, who am the elder-born,
From this young brood, who seem, thy swanlike beauty near,
But as a basely winged flock of cackling geese!
Leader of the Chorus.
How hideous beside beauty showeth hideousness!
How foolish by discretion’s side shows foolishness!
[Henceforth the choristers respond in turn, stepping forth singly from the Chorus.
Tell us of Father Erebus, tell us of Mother Night!
Speak thou of Scylla, speak of her, thy sister-born!
From thy ancestral tree springs many a monster forth.
To Orcus hence, away! Seek thou thy kindred there!
Who yonder dwell, in sooth, for thee are far too young.
Tiresias, the hoary, go, make love to him!
Orion’s nurse of old, was thy great-granddaughter.
Harpies, so I suspect, did rear thee up in filth.
Thy cherish’d meagreness, whereon dost nourish that?
’Tis not with blood, for which so keenly thou dost thirst.
For corpses dost thou hunger, loathsome corpse thyself!
Within thy shameless jaw the teeth of vampires gleam.
Thine I should stop were I to tell thee who thou art.
First do thou name thyself; the riddle then is solv’d.
Not wrathful, but in grief, step I between you now,
Forbidding such alternate quarrel’s angry noise;
For to the ruler naught more hurtful can befall,
Than, ’mong his trusty servants, sworn and secret strife;
The echo of his mandate then to him no more,
In swift accomplish’d deed responsively returns;
No, stormful and self-will’d, it rages him around,
The self-bewilder’d one, and chiding still in vain.
Nor this alone; ye have in rude unmanner’d wrath
Unblessed images of dreadful shapes evok’d,
Which so encompass me, that whirl’d I feel myself
To Orcus down, despite these my ancestral fields.
Is it remembrance? Was it frenzy seiz’d on me?
Was I all that? and am I? shall I henceforth be
The dread and phantom-shape of those townwasting ones?
The maidens quail: but thou, the eldest, thou dost stand,
Calm and unmov’d; speak, then, to me some word of sense!
Who of long years recalls the fortune manifold,
To him Heaven’s highest favor seems at last a dream.
But thou, so highly favor’d, past all bound or goal,
Saw’st, in thy life-course, none but love-in-flamed men,
Kindled by impulse rash to boldest enterprise.
Theseus by passion stirr’d full early seiz’d on thee,
A man of glorious form, and strong as Heracles.
Forceful he bore me off, a ten-year slender roe,
And in Aphidnus’ keep shut me, in Attica.
But thence full soon set free, by Castor, Pollux too,
In marriage wast thou sought by chosen heroband.
Yet hath Patroclus, he, Pelides’ other self,
My secret favor won, as willingly I own.
But thee thy father hath to Menelaus wed,
Bold rover of the sea, and house-sustainer too.
His daughter gave he, gave to him the kingdom’s sway;
And from our wedded union sprang Hermione.
But while he strove afar, for Crete, his heritage,
To thee, all lonely, came an all too beauteous guest.
Wherefore the time recall of that half-widowhood,
And what destruction dire to me therefrom hath grown!
That voyage unto me, a freeborn dame of Crete,
Hath also capture brought and weary servitude.
As stewardess forthwith, he did appoint thee here,
With much entrusted,—fort and treasure boldly won.
All which thou didst forsake, by Ilion’s tower-girt town
Allur’d, and by the joys, the exhaustless joys of love.
Remind me not of joys. No, an infinitude
Of all too bitter woe o’erwhelm’d my heart and brain.
Nathless ’tis said thou didst in twofold shape appear;
Seen within Ilion’s walls, and seen in Egypt too.
Confuse thou not my brain, distraught and desolate!
Here even, who I am in sooth I cannot tell.
’Tis also said, from out the hollow shadow-realm,
Achilles, passion-fir’d, hath join’d himself to thee,
Whom he hath lov’d of old, ’gainst all resolves of Fate.
As phantom I myself, to him a phantom bound;
A dream it was—thus e’en the very words declare.
I faint, and to myself a phantom I become.
[She sinks into the arms of the semi-chorus.
[Helenahas revived, and again stands in the midst.
Forth emerge from fleeting cloudlets, sun resplendent of this day,
If when veil’d thou could’st delight us, dazzling now thy splendor reigns.
As the world unfolds before thee, thou dost gaze with gracious look.
Though as hideous they revile me, well the beautiful I know.
Giddy from the void I issue, that in fainting round me clos’d,
Rest once more I fain would cherish, for soreweary are my limbs;
Yet the queen it still beseemeth, yea all mortals it beseems,
Self-controll’d, to man their spirits, whatsoe’er of ill may threat.
In thy greatness now thou standest, in thy beauty ’fore us there,
Tells thy glance that thou commandest; what command’st thou? speak it forth!
The delay your strife occasion’d, now prepare ye to retrieve:
Haste, a sacrifice to order, as the king commanded me!
In the palace all is ready: censer, tripod, sharpen’d axe,
For lustration and for incense; now the destin’d victim show!
That to me the king disclos’d not.
Spake it not? O doleful word!
What the sorrow that o’erpowers thee?
Queen, it is thyself art meant!
Oh, woe and wailing!
Thou wilt perish by the axe.
Dreadful—yet surmis’d! Me wretched!
Unavoidable it seems.
And to us, ah what will happen?
She a noble death will die;
But upon the lofty rafter, that upholds the gable-roof,
As in fowling-time the thrushes, ye shall struggle in a row.
[Helenaand the Chorus stand astounded and terrified, in striking, well-arranged groups.
Poor phantoms!—Stand ye there like figures petrified,
In deadly fear to part from day, which is not yours.
Mortals, who phantoms are together like as ye,
Not willingly renounce the sun’s resplendent beams;
Yet from their doom may none save them by force or prayer;
All know it, yet can few with pleasure welcome it!
Enough, ye all are lost. So to the work forthwith!
[She claps her hands; thereupon appear at the door masked dwarfish figures, who execute with alacrity the orders as they are delivered.
Approach, thou swarthy, round, misshapen, goblin train!
Roll yourselves hither! Mischief work ye here at will.
The altar, golden-horn’d, bear ye, and give it place;
And let the gleaming axe o’erlay the silver rim!
The water-vessels fill, wherewith to wash away
Of black polluting gore, the horror-breathing stain;
The costly carpet here outspread upon the dust,
That so the victim may in royal fashion kneel,
And wrapp’d within its folds, although with sever’d head,
Sepulchr’d straight may be, with honorable rites!
Leader of the Chorus.
The queen, absorb’d in thought, beside us stands apart;
Blenching the maidens droop, like meadowgrass when mown;
On me, the eldest, seems a sacred duty laid,
With thee to barter words, thou form of primal eld.
Experienc’d art thou, wise, well-minded seem’st to us,
Although this brainless troop, misjudging, thee revil’d:
Tell then, if thou dost know, of rescue possible.
’Tis easy said. Alone it resteth with the queen
Herself to save, and you her handmaidens with her.
Needful is prompt resolve, and of the quickest too!
Most revered among the Parcæ, wisest of the Sibyls thou,
Sheathed hold the golden scissors, light and life to us proclaim!
For our tender limbs already, feel we dangling, unrejoicing,
Swinging to and fro, that rather in the dance rejoic’d of yore,
Resting then on lover’s breast.
These tremblers leave ye; sorrow feel I, naught of fear;
Yet know’st thou rescue, straight be it with thanks receiv’d!
To sage, far-seeing minds, oft the impossible
As possible doth show. Speak on and tell thy thought!
Speak and tell us, tell us quickly; how may we escape the ghastly,
Odious nooses, that, with menace, like to ornaments the vilest,
Round our necks themselves are coiling? We, poor victims, feel beforehand,
Feel the stifling, feel the choking, if of all the gods, thou, Rhea,
Lofty mother, feel’st no pity!
Have ye patience, to my story’s course protracted
Still to hearken? Manifold its windings are.
Patience enough! For while we hearken still we live.
The man at home who tarries, noble wealth who guards,
And knoweth to cement his dwelling’s lofty walls,
As also to secure his roof ’gainst stress of rain,
With him shall all go well, through the long day of life:
But lightly who o’ersteps, with rash and flying foot,
His threshold’s sacred bounds, by guilty aim impell’d,
Shall find, on his return, the ancient place, indeed,
But alter’d everything, if not completely wreck’d.
Declare, whereto these trite and well-known proverbs here?
Thou should’st relate; stir not what needs must give offence!
True history it is, in no wise a reproof.
As pirate Menelaus steer’d from bay to bay;
Mainland and islands, all he ravag’d as a foe,
With spoil returning home, as it within lies stor’d.
He before Ilion’s walls hath wasted ten long years,
But on his homeward course how many know I not;
Meanwhile how fares it here where stands the lofty house
Of Tyndarus? How fares it with the region round?
Is then reproach in thee so thoroughly ingraft,
That, save to utter blame, thy lips thou canst not move?
Thus stood, for many years, forlorn the sloping ridge
That northwards to the height rises in Sparta’s rear,
Behind Taygetus, whence, still a merry brook,
Downward Eurotas rolls, and then, along our vale,
Broad-flowing among reeds, gives nurture to your swans.
There in the mountain-vale, behind, a stalwart race
Themselves establish’d, pressing from Cimmerian night,
And have uprear’d a fastness, inaccessible,
Whence land and folk around they harry, as they list.
This could they then achieve? Impossible it seems.
They ample time have had; haply, some twenty years.
Is one the lord? Are they a numerous robber-horde?
Not robbers are they, yet is one among them lord.
Of him I speak no blame, though once he sought me here;
He might have taken all, yet did content himself
With some few things—which he free-gifts, not tribute, nam’d.
And what his mien?
Nowise amiss! He pleases me.
A cheerful man he is, courageous, and wellbuilt,
With understanding dower’d, as few among the Greeks.
As barbarous we brand the race, but yet, methinks,
So savage none can be as heroes, not a few,
Who man-devouring pests at Ilion show’d themselves.
His greatness I respect; did trust myself to him.
His fortress! That should ye with your own eyes behold!
’Tis something different from clumsy masonwork
The which your fathers have aloft, at random, pil’d,
Cyclopean like the Cyclops, one unwieldy stone
On stone unwieldy hurling! There quite otherwise,
Upright and level, all is fix’d by square and rule.
Gaze on it from without; upward it strives toward heaven,
So straight, so well adjusted, mirror-smooth like steel;
To clamber there, in sooth, your very thought slides down.
Within are ample courts, broad spaces girt around
With solid mason-work, of divers kinds and use;
Pillars, pilasters, arches, archlets, balconies
Are there, and galleries, for peering out and in,
What are they?
Ajax upon his shield,
A coiled serpent bare, as ye yourselves have seen;
The seven chiefs at Thebes have figur’d emblems borne,
Each one upon his shield, significant and rich:
There moon and star were seen, on heaven’s nightly field,
There goddess, hero, ladder, weapons, torches too,
And what with violence still threatens goodly towns.
Devices of like sort beareth our hero-band,
In color’d splendor, heir’d from primal ancestors;
There lions you behold, eagles, claw too and beak,
Then horns of buffalo, wings, roses, peacocktails,
Bars also, gold and black and silver, blue and red.
Such symbols in their halls hang pendent, row on row,
In halls that know no bound, ample as is the world;
There might ye dance!
O tell us, be there dancers there?
The best; a youthful band, blooming and golden-hair’d;
Of youth they breathe! Of yore so only Paris breath’d,
What time he to the queen approach’d too near.
Quite from thy part! To me declare the final word.
That speakest thou; in earnest say distinctly yes!
Then with that fortress thee I’ll straightway compass.
That little word, and save thyself and us with thee!
How? Shall I harbor fear, lest Menelaus should
So ruthlessly transgress as rage to wreak on me?
Hast thou forgotten how he, thy Deiphobus,
Thy slaughter’d Paris’ brother, in unheard-of guise,
Hath mangl’d, he who strove thy stubborn widowhood
To bend, and gain’d his purpose! Nose and ears he lopp’d,
And mutilated sore; ’twas horror to behold!
That did he unto him; for my sake it was done.
And for his sake, be sure, the like he’ll do to thee.
Not to be shar’d is beauty; her who hath possess’d
Entire, destroyeth rather, cursing partnership.
[Trumpets in the distance; theChorusshudders.
As the shrill trumpets’ blare doth ear and entrails seize,
Reading asunder, so her talons jealousy
Fixes in that man’s breast, who never can forget
What once he own’d, now lost, by him possess’d no more.
Hear’st thou not the horns resounding? Seest thou not the gleam of arms?
Be thou welcome! To thee, lord and monarch! gladly give I reckoning.
But for us?
Ye know full surely: ’fore your eyes her death you see,
Your own death mark too within there; no, for you there is no help.
I have the course devis’d, which next I will pursue.
An adverse Demon art thou, that full well I feel;
And fear thou wilt convert even the good to ill.
Nathless to yonder keep I straight will follow thee.
The rest I know: but what in her deep breast the queen
As mystery conceals, let it remain to all
A secret unreveal’d! Now, ancient one, lead on!
Deepens all at once the darkness. Rayless now dissolves the vapor,
Gray and murky, brown as stone-work. Walls ascend, our glances meeting,
Our free glances meeting sheer. Court is it? deep moat? or cavern?
’Tis in every case appalling! Sisters, ah, we are imprison’d,
’Prison’d now as erst we were!
Inner Court of the Castle,
Surrounded with rich fantastic buildings of the middle ages.
Leader of the Chorus.
Foolish and overswift, true type of womankind,
Dependent on the moment, sport of every gust
Of bale or blessing! Yet not either can ye bear
With constant courage. One still fiercely contradicts
The others, crosswise she by others is gainsaid;
Only in joy and pain ye, with the self-same tone,
Or howl or laugh. Be still and hearken what the queen,
High-soul’d, may here decide both for herself and us.
Where art thou, Pythonissa? Whatsoe’er thy name,
From out the gloomy vaults step forth of this stern keep!
Perchance, art gone to seek this wondrous hero-lord,
To herald my approach, reception kind be-speaking!
So take my thanks and quickly lead me unto him!
My wanderings I would end, repose I wish alone.
Leader of the Chorus.
Vainly thou lookest, queen, round thee on every side;
The hateful form hath vanish’d, or perchance remain’d
In yonder mist, from forth whose bosom hitherward,
We came, I wist not how, swiftly without a step;
Perchance, indeed, in doubt this labyrinth she treads,
Where many castles strangely mingle into one,
Greeting august and high demanding from its lord.
But yonder see above, where move in busy throngs,
In corridors, at casements, and through portals wide,
A crowd of menials passing, swiftly here and there;
Distinguish’d welcome this portends of honor’d guest.
Expands now my heart! O, yonder, behold,
How modestly downward, with lingering step,
A fair youthful throng becomingly move
In march well-appointed! Say, by whose command
Now appeareth well-train’d, and so promptly array’d,
Of blooming boyhood, the glorious race?
What admire I the most? Is it their elegant gait,
Or the tresses that curl round their dazzling white brow,
Or the twin-blooming cheeks, with the hue of the peach,
And shaded like it with soft tender down?
Fain would I bite, but I shrink back in fear;
For in similar venture, replete was the mouth,
I shudder to tell it, with ashes!
[All that theChorushas indicated takes place by degrees.
(After pages and squires have descended in long procession,Faustappears above, on the steps, in knightly court costume of the middle ages; he descends slowly and with dignity.)
Leader of the Chorus.
(Attentively observing him.) If to this man the gods have not, as is their wont,
But for a season lent this wonder-worthy form,
And if his lofty grace, his love-inspiring mien,
Be not their transient gift, success will sure attend
On all he undertakes, be it in strife with men,
Or in the petty war, with fairest women wag’d.
To many others him, in sooth, I must prefer,
Others, the highly priz’d, on whom mine eyes have gaz’d.
With slow, majestic step, by reverence withheld,
The prince do I behold. Towards him turn, O queen!
(Advancing, a man in fetters at his side.) ’Stead of most solemn greeting, as beseemeth,
’Stead of most reverent welcome, bring I thee,
In chains fast manacled, this varlet, who
In duty failing, wrested mine from me.—
Here bend thy knee, before this noblest dame,
To make forthwith confession of thy guilt!—
This is, exalted potentate, the man,
Of rarest vision, from the lofty tower
Appointed round to gaze, the expanse of heaven,
Keenly to overlook, and breadth of earth,
If here or yonder aught present itself,
From the encircling hills, across the vale,
Towards this fortress moving; billowy herds,
Or warlike host perchance; those we defend,
These meet in fight. To-day, what negligence!
Thou comest hither, he proclaims it not;
August reception faileth, honor due
To guest so noble. Forfeited he hath
His guilty life, and in the blood of death,
Well-merited, should lie; but thou alone
May’st punish, or show mercy, at thy pleasure.
High as the honor thou accordest me,
As judge, as potentate, and were it but,
As I suspect, to try me—so will I
The judge’s foremost duty now fulfil,
To give the accus’d a hearing.—Therefore speak!
The ill, myself occasion’d, dare I not
Chastise. Ah, woe is me! What ruthless fate
Pursues me, everywhere the breasts of men
So to befool, that they nor spare themselves
Nor aught that claimeth reverence. Plundering now,
Seducing, fighting, harrying here and there,
Gods, heroes, demigods, yea demons too,
Perplex’d have led me, wandering to and fro;
Singly, the world I madden’d, doubly, more;
Now threefold, fourfold, bring I woe on woe!
This guiltless man discharge, let him go free,
No shame should light upon the god-befool’d.
Fill’d with amaze, O queen, I see at once
The unerring smiter, here the smitten one;
The bow I see, wherefrom hath sped the shaft
This man that wounded. Shaft doth follow shaft,
And me they smite. Them crosswise I perceive,
Feather’d, and whirring round through court and keep.
What am I now? Thou makest, all at once,
My trustiest, rebellious; insecure
My very walls; henceforth my hosts, I fear,
Will serve the conquering unconquer’d queen.
What now remaineth, save myself to yield,
And all I fancied mine, to thy sole sway?
Freely and truly, let me at thy feet,
Acknowledge thee as queen, who, coming here,
Hath won forthwith possession and a throne.
(With a chest, followed by men bearing other chests.)
Hence quickly with the burden boldly earn’d,
Not blam’d in sooth, but yet without reward.
Already all is hers, which in its depths
The castle hides; to offer special gifts
Is bootless. Hence! Treasure on treasure heap,
In order due; of splendor yet unseen
Set forth the exalted pomp; and let the vaults
Glitter like heaven new-born; from lifeless life
A paradise prepare; before her steps,
With eager haste, let carpet, rich in flowers,
Unroll on flowery carpet! Let her tread
Meet dainty footing, and the brightest sheen,
Blinding to all but gods, her glance arrest!
Slight is our lord’s behest; ’tis play,
(ToFaust.) With thee I fain would speak, therefore ascend,
And seat thee at my side! The vacant place
Invites its owner, and secures me mine.
First, kneeling, let my true allegiance be
Accepted, noble lady; let me kiss
The hand that now uplifts me to thy side!
Me as co-regent strengthen of thy realm,
No bound that knows; and for thyself obtain
Adorer, liegeman, warder, all in one!
Full many a wonder do I see and hear;
Amazement strikes me, much I have to ask.
Yet fain I am to know wherefore the speech
Of yonder man sounds strangely, strange and sweet:
Each tone appears accordant with the next,
And hath a word found welcome in the ear,
Another woos caressingly the first.
If thee our people’s utterance thus delights,
O then be sure, their song will ravish thee,
Appeasing to their depths both ear and mind.
Yet were it best this language to essay;
Alternate speech invites it, calls it forth.
How thus to speak so sweetly I would know.
’Tis easy, from the heart the words must flow;
And when with fond desire the bosom yearns,
We look around and ask—
Who with us burns?
The spirit looks nor forward nor behind,
The present only—
There our bliss we find.
Wealth is it, pledge and fortune; I demand,
Who granteth confirmation?
Who would now upbraid our princess
I feel myself so distant, yet so near,
And all too gladly say: Here am I! here!
I tremble: scarcely breathe, words die away:
A dream it is, vanish’d have place and day!
Outworn I feel, and yet as life were new,
With thee entwin’d, to thee the unknown one true.
Forbear to ponder thy strange destiny!
Being is duty, were it momently.
Bold interruption, she annoyingly intrudes!
Not e’en in peril brook I senseless violence.
Ill message hideous make the fairest messenger;
Most hideous thou who dost ill tidings gladly bring.
They shall not profit thee; ay, shatter thou the air
With empty breath. In sooth, no danger lurketh here,
And danger’s self would seem but idle threatening.
[Signals. Explosions from the towers, trumpets and cornets, martial music, a powerful army marches across the stage.
No, straight assembl’d thou shalt see
Our heroes’ close united band!
For woman’s grace none wins but he
Who knows to shield with forceful hand.
[To the leaders, who separate themselves from their columns and step forward.
[Faustdescends, the princes close a circle round him, in order better to hear his instructions and commands.
Our gifts to these are great and glorious:
To every one a goodly land,
Fertile and broad. March on victorious!
Here in the midst take we our stand.
Girt round by waves in sunlight dancing,
Half island, thee—whose hill-chains blend
With Europe’s mountains, widely branching—
Will they in rivalry defend.
Bless’d be this land, all lands transcending,
To every race, for evermore,
Which sees my queen the throne ascending,
As erst her birth it hail’d of yore.
When, ’mid Eurotas’ reedy whisper,
Forth from the shell she burst to light,
Her mighty mother, brothers, sister,
Were blinded by the dazzling sight.
This land, her choicest bloom that layeth
Before thee, waiting thy behest—
Though the wide earth thy sceptre swayeth,
Oh love thy fatherland the best!
What though the sun’s keen arrow coldly playeth,
Upon the mountain summits, jagg’d and bare,
Yet where the rock the verdure overlayeth,
The wild goat nibbling, crops its scanty fare;
The spring leaps forth, united plunge the fountains,
And meadow, gorge, and valley, all are green;
On broken pastures of a hundred mountains,
Spread far and wide, the woolly herds are seen;
With measur’d tread, cautious, in line divided,
By the steep edge, the horned cattle wend;
Yet for them all a shelter is provided,
O’er many a cave the vaulted rock doth bend!
Pan shields them there, and many a nymph appeareth,
In moist and bushy caverns dwelling free;
And yearning after higher spheres, upreareth
Its leafy branches tree close-press’d to tree—
Primeval woods! The giant oak there standing,
Links bough to bough, a stubborn, tortuous, maze;
The gentle maple, with sweet juice expanding,
Shoots clear aloft and with its burden plays—
And motherly for child and lambkin streameth,
’Mid silent shades, warm milk prepar’d for them;
Fruit close at hand, the plain’s ripe nurture, gleameth,
And honey droppeth from the hollow stem.
Pleasure is here a birthright; vying
In gladness cheek and lip are found,
Each in his station is undying,
Content and blooming health abound.
And thus to all his father’s strength unfoldeth
The gentle child, environ’d by sweet day.
Amaz’d we stand; each asks, as he beholdeth:
If gods they be, or men? so fair are they.
So when the part of hind Apollo playeth,
Like him the fairest shepherd-youth appears;
For there where Nature in clear circle swayeth,
Harmoniously are link’d her several spheres.
[Taking his seat besideHelena.
Thus happy Fate hath me, hath thee attended!
Behind us henceforth let the past be thrown!
From God supreme, oh feel thyself descended:
Thou to the primal world belong’st alone.
Thee shall no firm-built fortress capture;
Strong in eternal youth, expands
For us a sojourn, fraught with rapture,
Arcadia, near to Sparta’s lands.
Allur’d to this bless’d region, hither
Hast fled to brightest destiny:
Thrones change to bowers that never wither;
Arcadian be our bliss and free!
[The scene is entirely changed. Close arbors recline against a series of rocky caverns. A shady grove extends to the base of the encircling rocks.FaustandHelenaare not seen. TheChoruslies sleeping, scattered here and there.
How long these maids have slept, in sooth I cannot tell;
Or whether they have dream’d what I before mine eyes
Saw bright and clear, to me is equally unknown.
So wake I them. Amaz’d the younger folk shall be,
Ye too, ye bearded ones, who sit below and wait,
Hoping to see at length these miracles resolv’d.
Arise! Arise! And shake quickly your crisped locks!
Shake slumber from your eyes! Blink not, and list to me!
Only speak, relate, and tell us, what of wonderful hath chanc’d!
We more willingly shall hearken that which we cannot believe;
For we are aweary, weary, gazing on these rocks around.
Children, how, already weary, though you scarce have rubb’d your eyes?
Hearken then! Within these caverns, in these grottoes, in these bowers,
Shield and shelter have been given, as to lovertwain idyllic.
To our lord and to our lady—
How, within there?
From the world; and me, me only, they to secret service call’d.
Highly honor’d stood I near them, yet, as one in trust beseemeth,
Round I gaz’d on other objects, turning hither, turning thither,
Sought for roots, for barks and mosses, with their properties acquainted;
And they thus remain’d alone.
Thou would’st make believe that yonder, world-wide spaces lie within,
Wood and meadow, lake and brooklet; what strange fable spinnest thou!
Yea, in sooth, ye inexperienc’d, there lie regions undiscover’d:
Hall on hall, and court on court; in my musings these I track.
Suddenly a peal of laughter echoes through the cavern’d spaces;
In I gaze, a boy is springing from the bosom of the woman
To the man, from sire to mother: the caressing and the fonding,
All love’s foolish playfulnesses, mirthful cry and shout of rapture,
Alternating, deafen me.
Naked, without wings, a genius, like a faun, with nothing bestial,
On the solid ground he springeth; but the ground, with counteraction,
Up to ether sends him flying; with the second, third rebounding
Touches he the vaulted roof.
Anxiously the mother calleth: Spring amain, and at thy pleasure:
But beware, think not of flying, unto thee is flight denied.
And so warns the faithful father: In the earth the force elastic
Lies, aloft that sends thee bounding; let thy toe but touch the surface,
Like the son of earth, Antæus, straightway is thy strength renew’d.
And so o’er these rocky masses, on from dizzy ledge to ledge,
Leaps he ever, hither, thither, springing like a stricken ball.
But in cleft of rugged cavern suddenly from sight he vanish’d;
And now lost to us he seemeth, mother waileth, sire consoleth,
Anxiously I shrug my shoulders. But again, behold, what vision!
Lie there treasures hidden yonder? Raiment broider’d o’er with flowers
He becomingly hath donn’d;
Tassels from his arms are waving, ribbons flutter on his bosom,
In his hand the lyre all-golden, wholly like a tiny Phœbus,
Boldly to the edge he steppeth, to the precipice; we wonder,
And the parents, full of rapture, cast them on each other’s heart;
For around his brow what splendor! Who can tell what there is shining?
Gold-work is it, or the flaming of surpassing spirit-power?
Thus he moveth, with such gesture, e’en as boy himself announcing
Future master of all beauty, through whose limbs, whose every member,
Flow the melodies eternal: and so shall ye hearken to him,
And so shall ye gaze upon him, to your special wonderment.
[An exquisite, purely melodious lyre-music resounds from the cave. All become attentive, and appear soon to be inwardly moved; henceforth, to the pause indicated, there is a full musical accompaniment.
[She retires behind the rock.
Helena, Faust, Euphorionin the costume indicated above.
[Winding among theChorusand drawing them forth to dance.
(Dancing and singing, they move about in interweaving lines.)
(Entering quickly one by one.)
(Bearing a young maiden.)
[She flames up and flashes into the air.
(Shaking off the last flames.)
[He springs higher up the rock.
[He casts himself into the air; his garments support him for a moment; his head flames, a trail of light follows him.
[A beautiful youth falls at the parents’ feet, we imagine that in the dead we recognize a well-known form; yet suddenly the corporeal part vanishes; the aureole rises like a comet to heaven; dress, mantle and lyre remain lying on the ground.
(From the depths.)
[Full pause. The music ceases.
(ToFaust.) An ancient word, alas, approves itself in me:
That joy and beauty ne’er enduringly are link’d!
Rent is the bond of life, with it the bond of love;
Lamenting both, I say a sorrowful farewell,
And throw myself once more, once only, in thine arms.—
Persephoneia, take the boy, take also me!
[She embracesFaust,her corporeal part vanishes, her garment and veil remain in his arms.
Hold fast what doth of all alone remain to thee,
The garment, loose it not! Already hale
The demons at its skirts, and it would fain
Drag to the nether regions. Hold it fast!
The goddess is it not, whom thou hast lost,
Yet godlike ’tis. Avail thee of the high
Inestimable gift, and upward soar;
Thee o’er all common things ’twill swiftly bear
Through ether, long as there thou canst abide.
We meet again, far, far away from here.
[Helena’sgarments dissolve into clouds, they envelopFaust,raise him aloft, and pass with him from the scene.
(TakesEuphorion’sdress, mantle and lyre from the earth, steps into the proscenium; holding up the spoils, she says:)
[She sits down in the proscenium, at the foot of a pillar.
Now hasten, girls! At length we are from magic free,
From the soul-swaying spell of the Thessalian hag;
Free also from the blare confus’d of jangling tones,
The ear perplexing, and still worse the inner sense.
Away to Hades! Thither hath in haste the queen,
With earnest step, descended. Now, ye faithful maids,
Do ye, without delay, follow upon her track.
Her at the throne we find of the Inscrutable.
Royal ladies, certes, everywhere are content;
E’en in Hades places take they supreme,
Proud to be with their peers allied,
With Persephone in friendship knit;
We, meanwhile, far off in meadows
Deep of asphodel abiding,
With far-reaching poplars,
And unfruitful willows conjoin’d,
What amusement or joy have we!
Flitting, bat-like to twitter—
Whispering, undelightsome, and ghostlike!
Leader of the Chorus.
Who hath no name achiev’d, nor at the noble aims,
Belongs but to the elements; so hence, begone!
My vehement desire is with my queen to be;
Not merit ’tis alone, fidelity as well,
Secure in yonder spheres, the individual life.
A Portion of the Chorus.
We, amid the wavy-trembling of these thousand rustling branches.
Gently lure with dalliance charming from the root the vital currents,
Up into the boughs; with foliage, soon with lavish wealth of blossoms,
We adorn our tresses, floating in the breeze for airy growth.
Falls the fruit, forthwith assemble life-enjoying folk and cattle,
For the grasping, for the tasting, swiftly coming, onward pressing,
And, as ’fore the gods primeval, so all bend around us here.
Where these rocky walls are imag’d in the smooth, far-gleaming mirror,
Moving in the gentle wavelets, soothingly we onward glide,
Listen, hearken, to all music: birdie’s singing, reedy-fluting,
Is it Pan’s loud voice tremendous—voice responsive straight replies:
Whisper is it?—we too whisper; thunders it?—we roll our thunder
In o’erwhelming reprecussion, threefold, tenfold, echoing back.
A Third Portion.
Sisters, we, of spirit mobile, hasten with the brooklets onward;
For yon hill-slopes, richly mantl’d, charm us rising far away.
Ever downwards, ever deeper, in meandering course we water
Now the meadows, then the pastures, then the garden round the house;
There, across the landscape, slender cypress shafts our banks o’erpeering,
Telling of our crystal mirror, upwards into ether soar.
A Fourth Portion.
Roam ye others, at your pleasure; we will circle, we will rustle
Round the slopes so richly planted, on its prop where sprouts the vine.
By the vintager’s emotion, we throughout the livelong day,
See what doubtful issue waiteth on his busy loving care:
Now with hoe, and now with mattock, earth upheaping, pruning, binding,
Prayeth he to all Celestials, chiefly to the Sun-God prays.
Bacchus frets himself, the weakling, little for his faithful vassal,
Rests in arbors, leans in grottoes, toying with the youngest faun;
For his visions what he lacketh, dreaming half inebriate,
Stor’d in skins, in jars and vessels, ready for his use he finds,
Right and left in cool recesses treasur’d for eternal time.
But at length have the Celestials, hath now Helios ’fore them all,
Breathing, moistening, warming, glowing, fill’d the berries’ teeming horn:
Where the vintager in silence labor’d, there is sudden life,
Busy stir in every alley, rustles round from vine to vine;
Baskets creak, and pitchers clatter, and the loaded vine-troughs groan,
All towards the mighty wine-press, to the presser’s sturdy dance;
And so is the sacred fullness of the purely-nurtur’d berries
Rudely trodden; foaming, seething, now it mingles, foully squash’d;
And now splits the ear the cymbal, with the beaker’s brazen tones,
For himself hath Dionysos from his mysteries reveal’d;
Comes he with goat-footed satyrs, reeling nymphs goat-footed too,
And meanwhile unruly brayeth shrill, Silenus’ long-ear’d beast—
Naught is spar’d; all law and order cloven hoofs are treading down—
All the senses whirl distracted, hideously the ear is stunn’d;
Drunkards for their cups are groping, over-full are head and paunch;
Careful one is, there another, yet the tumult waxes loud:
Since the newer must to garner, they the old skins quickly drain.
[The curtain falls.Phorkyas,in the proscenium, rises to a gigantic height, descends from the cothurni, lays aside mask and veil, and reveals herself asMephistopheles,in order, so far as it may be necessary, to comment upon the piece by way of epilogue.