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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The Antechamber of the Duke,furnished in magnificent modern style.
Secretary. Secular Priest.
Tread silently into this deathly silence!
The palace is as quiet as the tomb.
The Duke is sleeping, and the servants all,
Touch’d by his grief, are bent in sympathy.
He sleeps! I bless’d him as I saw him lie
Wrapp’d in unconsciousness upon his pillow
Peacefully breathing. The excess of woe
Has yielded to the healing balm of Nature.
The moment that shall wake him, that I fear—
A man of grief before you will appear!
I am prepar’d to see him, doubt it not.
An hour or two ago the tidings came
That fair Eugenie had been thrown and kill’d.
You must confirm it: say that she was brought
Unto your chapel as the nearest place
That they could take her from the treacherous ground,
Where, boldly courting death, she forc’d her steed.
And in the meantime she is far away?
With breathless haste the speeding coursers fly.
To whom entrust you such a weighty task?
The prudent goodwife who is wholly ours.
To what far region have you sent the maid?
The port that lies most distant in this realm.
And will a foreign shore receive her next?
The favoring wind will bear her quickly hence.
And will they here forever think her dead?
The purport of thy fiction shall decide.
And so this error from the very first
Will sway the fortune of all coming time.
Her very grave is feign’d, and for her body
A mask shall cheat the eye. Her lovely image
Shall shatter in a thousand pieces. Horror
Shall sear my wretched hearer’s loving heart,
As though with fire, because of this misfortune.
All think her dead, she disappears forever
Within the ashes, gray, of nothingness.
Then each of us will quickly turn to life,
And in the tumult of the busy world
Forget that she too, though so far away,
Still breathes the air of life among the living.
Dost thou with utter boldness face the deed?
Will not remorse remain with bitter sting?
Thou askest such a question? We are firm.
An inward dissatisfaction oftentimes
Against our will accompanies an action.
What do I hear? art thou become repentant,
Or wilt thou only test me if I be
A worthy pupil in the arts thou teachest?
Never sufficiently do men reflect!
They should reflect before the deed’s begun.
’Tis not too late before the deed is done.
For me the door of forethought is shut fast.
The time for that was when I still delay’d
Within the Paradise of simple joys:
When, bounded by the garden’s cosy hedge,
I grafted trees that I myself had planted,
And fed my table from the narrow beds,
When still contentment in the little house
Supplied a sense of having wealth unbounded,
And when, according to my light, I spoke
Unto the congregation from my heart,
A friend with friends, a father with his children,
And gave my hand to aid the worthy man,
And stopp’d the bad man and the sin he did.
Oh, would that some beneficent spirit had then
Turn’d from my door thy hesitating steps,
Whereto thou, weary, thirsty from the chase,
Didst come to knock and with thy flattering ways,
Thy wily words, didst lay a spell upon me!
That beauteous day on which our friendship hung
Peace spread her wings and fled forever from me!
We brought thee many pleasures, did we not?
And many anxious wants which weight me down.
I felt my poverty to see the rich.
Anxiety oppress’d me, for I lack’d;
And in my need I ask’d for help from others.
You brought me aid: dearly I pay for it.
You took me as the comrade of your fortune.
You took me as the complice of your deeds—
Nay, rather should I say the slave, for such
You made the once free now abandon’d man.
You gave him pay forsooth, but yet denied
The sole reward which he had dared to ask.
Have faith that we shall load thee down ere long
With honors, benefices and estates.
But those are not the things that I expect.
And now what new demand hast thou conceiv’d?
You use me as a tool devoid of feelings
Thus once again. This noble child ye thrust
Forth from the living circle of her friends.
’Tis I must palliate, must hide the deed,
Yet you determine and I have no voice.
Henceforth I ask to join your secret conclave
Where frightful deeds are plann’d, where every man
Proud of his strength and genius bends the course
Of monstrous actions unavoidable.
That thou so closely art with us allied
Gives thee a new and potent claim upon us.
With weighty secrets shalt thou soon be trusted.
And so be patient and control thyself.
I am, and far more patient than you think.
Long since I saw the purport of your plans.
He only merits secret consecration
Who through presentiment anticipates.
What dost thou guess? What dost thou know?
Be spared until we meet at midnight’s hour.
Alas! this maiden’s melancholy fate
Has vanish’d like a brook in ocean’s tide,
When I consider how ye lift yourselves
In secret in a mighty party schism,
And hope, by treacherous wiles, to oust the King,
And foist yourselves as rulers on the land.
Not you alone, for others also strive
In rivalry with you to reach your goal.
And so ye undermine the throne and State.
Who shall be rescued from the impending fate?
Hush! Some one comes! Hide in this secret closet.
When it is time I’ll summon thee to enter.
O baleful light! thou call’st me back to life,
Thou bringest me to knowledge of the world
And of myself again. How barren, bare and hollow
Lies all before me now, and burn’d to ashes!
A heap of ruins is my happiness!
If each and every of thy faithful friends
Who suffer with thee at this hour could bear
A portion of thy sorrows, how would’st thou
Not feel thyself renew’d in strength and courage!
The wound to love like love itself remains
Incurable, unending! Now I know
The terrible disaster which befalls
The man who misses his accustom’d weal.
Oh, why did you allow these well-known walls
To shine upon me with their bravery
Of gold and color, calling back the days—
The yesterdays—of my complete delight
With chilling sense of loss? Why did you not
Envelop halls and chambers with black crape,
So that the everlasting shades of night,
Without me as within, might cast their gloom?
Oh, would that still thy many blessings might
In spite of loss seem something in thy sight!
A dream embodied, free from spirit bonds!
She was the living soul that fill’d this house.
Whene’er I wak’d how sweet before mine eyes
Hover’d the image of the lovely maiden!
Here oft I found a leaflet from her hand,
A soulful, heartfelt word for morning greeting!
How oft the wish to give her father joy
Express’d itself in fresh melodious verse!
The hope of seeing her alone reliev’d
The weary hours of slow laborious days!
And when delay and hindrance clogg’d the wheels,
With what impatience hast thou yearn’d for her,
As the rash lover yearns to see his mistress.
Make no compare between the fire of youth
Devouring selfishly the thing it clutches
And that ecstatic glow a father feels
Who, fill’d with contemplation rapt, rejoices
At all development of wondrous powers,
At all the giant strides in culture’s path.
The present is the pledge that love demands.
The future is the parent’s treasur’d boon.
There lie the spreading acres of his hopes,
And there the ripening harvest of his joys!
Alas! these boundless pleasures thou hast lost;
This ever blossoming hope is now destroy’d.
And have I lost it? But a moment since
Its perfect glory fill’d my joyful soul.
Alas! ’tis gone! Let your laments arise.
Let grief destroy this solid edifice
Which age too generous has preserv’d till now!
Accurs’d be all that’s left to me! accurs’d!
And all that shakes and totters now be welcome!
Boil up, ye floods, break o’er the dykes and change
The land to sea! Ye raging gulfs, o’erwhelm
In dire destruction ship and crew and treasure!
Spread out, ye war-compelling ranks, and drown
The fields with gore and every form of death!
Flash forth, ye lightning bolts, across the waste
And blast the haughty heads of solid towers,
Cast stone from stone, let flames arise and scourge
With horrid fury all the haunts of men,
That I, ring’d round by universal sorrow,
May bend before the Fate that hounds me!
This unexpected tragedy so monstrous
Weighs fearfully upon thee, noble Duke!
Most suddenly it came, not unforewarn’d!
A happy Fate brought her from realms of death,
And in my arms she came to life again.
I saw with hasty passing glance the horror
Which now confronts me with its frozen stare.
I should have punish’d then her recklessness,
Have set my face with sternest opposition
Against her daring, and have check’d the madness
Which blindly deem’d itself invulnerable,
Immortal, and which sent her from the cliff,
Through wood and stream and thicket like a bird.
How should such deeds made certain by success
Have given presentiment of coming woe?
The presage of these woes full well I felt
When I the last—when I the last time saw—
Yea! speak it out—the devastating word
That builds a hedge of darkness round thy way!
Oh, would that I had seen her once again!
Perchance, I might have warded off this blow!
I would have knelt before her, would have pray’d,
Have warn’d her, with a father’s faithful warning,
To spare herself and me, and for the sake Of future fortune to attempt no risk,
Of future fortune to attempt no risk,
Though tempted by the madness of the chase.
Alas! this hour was not vouchsaf’d to me!
And now I’ve lost my precious child forever.
She is no more! Her boldness only grew
From having easily escap’d that fall.
And no one there to warn her, none to guide!
The discipline of childhood was forgotten!
Whose hands did I entrust with such a treasure?
The hands compliant, pampering, of a woman!
No stringent word to bend my daughter’s will
In ways of temperate reasonableness!
With freedom uncontroll’d she let her roam
O’er every field that offer’d reckless daring.
I felt it oft and often half confess’d
That she was ill watch’d by her governess.
Oh, cast not blame upon that hapless creature!
In company with deathless grief she wanders,
God knows in what far land, now, unconsol’d!
She fled! for who could look thee in the face
If conscious that the least reproach were due?
Oh, let me wreak my wrath on blameless others
Lest in despair I tear myself in pieces!
For I myself must bear the blame, though heavy.
Did I not with my foolish fond beginnings
Tempt death and danger on my darling’s head?
It was my pride to see the maiden win
The mastery of every undertaking.
And now I pay the fearful price in full.
In carriage, in the saddle should she shine,
A heroine for guiding foaming steeds!
Or diving through the water did she seem
A goddess to command the elements.
And so she thought to conquer every danger.
Ah me! instead of giving preservation
The wont of danger now has brought her death!
The wont of duty’s grand behests has brought
Death to the ne’er-to-be-forgotten maiden!
And shall I wake thy pain
By telling of the childlike noble action?
Her aged, first and highly-honored friend
And teacher, from this city dwells remote,
In melancholy, pain, misanthropy.
’Twas she alone was able to console him.
Compassion put this on her as a duty;
But often when she wish’d to visit him
Her governess denied her. But she plann’d
To compass it. She boldly used the hours
Devoted to her morning ride to dash
With splendid wild impetuosity
And visit the aged, well-beloved man.
A single groom alone was in the secret.
This time he must have put the saddle on
As we suspect; for he cannot be found.
The wretched man and that unhappy woman
Both vanish’d from the world from fear of thee.
Fortunate both! who nothing have to fear,
Whose sorrow for their master’s vanish joy
Has lightly chang’d to mere anxiety.
I too have naught to fear, have naught to hope,
So let me hear the whole and spare me not
The least detail! My soul is iron wrought.
Duke. Secretary. Secular Priest.
Until this very moment, honor’d Prince,
Have I refrain’d from calling in a man
Who, also sad, appears before thee now.
He is the priest who from the hand of death
Receiv’d thy daughter, and when hope was none
Of saving her, with all a father’s care
Provided everything that love could do.
Duke. Secular Priest.
How earnestly, exalted Prince, have I
Cherish’d the wish to come before thy presence!
Now it is gratified, but at a moment
When thou and I with thee art bent with grief!
Unwelcome messenger, e’en so, be welcome!
Thou hast beheld her last, thy heart has felt
The pathos of her last long yearning look,
Her last word hast thou reverently heard.
Her last sigh hast thou met with kind response.
Oh, tell me, did she speak? What were her words?
Remember’d she her father? Dost thou bring me
A heartfelt “farewell” from her dying lips?
We bid the unwelcome messenger be welcome
So long as he is silent and our hearts
Hold room for hope, for doubting still hold room.
Bad tidings spoken are detestable.
Why dost thou hesitate? What deeper grief
Can I experience? She is no more.
And peace and silence at this moment hover
Above her tomb. Whate’er she may have suffer’d
Is past for her: for me begins. But speak.
A universal calamity is death.
Consider thus the evil which has come,
And let the path by which she pass’d away
Be hid in darkness like the shades of night.
Not every one can tread the flowery path
That leads unto the silent realm of shadows.
With forceful pain destruction often comes
And brings through pangs of hell eternal peace.
She suffer’d much?
She suffer’d much, not long.
There was a moment while my darling suffer’d,
A moment that she cried in vain for aid!
And I, where was I then? What enterprise,
What scene of pleasure chain’d me at the time?
Did nothing presage what a woful thing
Was come to rend in fragments all my life?
Her cry I heard not, and I felt no sign
Of that misfortune struck so surely home.
Far-working holy sympathy’s foreboding
Is but a fable. Sensitive and firm,
Shut in by his environment, man feels
The present good or else the present evil;
And love itself is deaf to distant sounds.
The very utmost comfort speech can give
I feel how little can avail thee now.
A word can wound more readily than heal;
And grief, renew’d, forever strives in vain
To bring again the days of vanish’d joy.
And was there then no skill, no art availing
To call the fleeting spirit back to life?
What was thy first expedient? Oh, tell me,
What didst thou do to save her? Thou didst not
Leave any means untried!
Alas! Too late
When I had found her was it to devise.
Then if forever I must mourn the loss
Of her young life’s delightful power
Let me deceive my grief with deeper grief,
Let me immortalize her dear remains!
Come, let us visit her! Where does she lie?
A worthy chapel holds the maiden’s tomb,
Kept consecrate and silent! From the altar
Across the iron bars I see the spot;
And while I live my prayers for her shall rise.
Oh, come and lead me thither! With us twain
Shall go the wisest of all wise physicians.
Her beauteous body we will snatch perforce
Before corruption work. With choicest drugs
We will preserve the treasure of her body;
And of the atoms which erewhile were join’d
In that incomparable, priceless form,
None shall return unto the dust again.
What can I say? Must I confess the whole?
Thou canst not go! Alas! the form distorted,
No stranger could behold it without horror!
And in a father’s eyes—it could not be!
No, God forbid! thou must not look upon her.
What new device of torment threatens me?
Oh, let me hold my peace, that words of mine
May not abuse remembrance of the lost!
Let me conceal the appalling sight of her
Dragg’d through the thicket, through the mangling rocks,
Disabled and disfigur’d and distorted,
Bleeding and crush’d, unrecognizable,
And lifeless, hanging from my arm. And I
With flooding tears—I bless’d the solemn hour
When I renounc’d a father’s holy hope.
Thou hast not been a father. Thou art one
Of those self-seeking, hard, self-centred men
Who let their narrow lives unfruitful run,
To end in gloom. So get thee gone! I hate
The very sight of thee!
I knew ’twas so.
Who could forgive the bringer of such tidings?
[Turns to go.
Forgive me and remain! Hast ever seen
A picture limn’d by art’s consummate skill
That once and once again thy recollection
Has striven to catch in all its wondrous beauty?
Oh, if thou hadst, then hadst thou surely never
So ruthlessly destroy’d the image which, for me,
Built with its thousand lines of loveliness,
Was all the world of fortune and of joy,—
And pleasure in remembrance so dispell’d!
What should I do? Conduct thee to the tomb
Bedew’d with countless tears from strangers’ eyes
Before I laid the rotting corpse away
To fall in mouldering peaceful dissolution!
Silence! unfeeling man! thou only add’st
New torments to the pain thou think’st to soothe.
Ah, woe! the elements, no longer rul’d
By that fair spirit of order, now destroy
In noiseless conflict what was godlike once.
If o’er her growth and swift development
Paternal fancy hover’d, full of care,
So now before the insistence of despair
The joy of life is turn’d to dust and ashes.
What light and air have made in fleeting form
Is kept for long within the sealed tomb.
The custom of the ancients was a wise one:
That when the active spirit pass’d away
The agency of purifying fire
Should solve the long and earnest work of nature,
Completed in the noble human form.
And when the flames their ruddy billows toss’d
Rolling to heaven and ’mid the clouds was seen
The eagle’s mighty wing significant,
Then tears were dried and friends forsaken gaz’d
With vision clarified up to the realms
Where sat the new-crown’d god upon Olympos.
Oh, gather for me in a costly urn
The sad remains of flesh consum’d to ashes,
So that the yearning arms outstretch’d in vain
May clasp reality, that I may press
Against my breast so full of emptiness
The painfulest possession of my life!
Ever more bitter grief becomes by grieving.
By grieving grief at last becomes enjoyment.
Oh, would that wandering ever on and on
I, laden with my melancholy burden
Of shrunken ashes, might with feeble footsteps
In expiation come where last I saw her.
There lay she dead within my arms, and there
Deceiv’d I saw her come to life again.
I thought I clasp’d her, thought I held her fast,
But now she is forever torn from me.
But there will I immortalize my sorrow.
A tribute to her rescue did I vow,
Enraptur’d by the marvel of my dream.
E’en now the gardener’s skilful hand is making
Through wood and fell a labyrinth of paths,
Enclosing round about the sacred spot
Where to his heart my royal master press’d
My daughter, and her princely birth confess’d.
Where henceforth symmetry and just proportion
Would grace the spot which brought me happiness.
There not a hand shall labor! Half completed
This plan shall be an emblem of my fate.
But the memorial—that I still shall found.
Heap’d up of unhewn bowlders, orderless,
There will I wander, there in silence dwell
Till Death at last shall bring desir’d relief.
Oh, let me there, like stone, dream life away,
Until the slender trace of former care
Shall vanish from this melancholy desert.
In freedom shall the meadow green with grass
And bough with bough in wildness intertwine,
The bending birch’s head shall sweep the ground,
The tender saplings wax to mighty trees,
And moss shall clothe around the slippery stems.
Time passes without note: for she is gone
By whose development I mark’d the years.
And will that man whose pleasure oft has been
To mingle in the beneficent whirl of life
Allow himself to shun the busy world
And choose the monotony of loneliness,
Because a burden unendurable
Has roll’d upon him with its threatening doom?
Go forth! with eagle swiftness through the land,
Through foreign kingdoms, that before thy mind
The world and all its glories may arise.
What have I in the world to look for now,
When she no longer meets my eye who was
The only object that I cared to see?
Shall stream and mountain, vale and wood and fell,
In varied panorama pass before me,
And only wake the bitter need I feel
To hold once more the form so dearly lov’d?
From mountain-top down to the ocean wide
What would the wealth of nature be to me—
Recalling me to poverty and loss?
But novel wealth lies close before thy hand!
’Tis through the eye undimm’d of youth alone
That things familiar vivified can stir us;
When the enthusiasm long despis’d
Comes to us pleasantly from childish lips.
And so I plann’d to show her all the realm,
The peopled plains, the forest depths, the rivers,
And all the boundless majesty of ocean,
So that the intoxication of her gaze
When turn’d upon the infinite of space
Should fill my soul with infinite of love!
If thou, exalted Prince, didst not aspire
To spend the glorious days of fullest life
In contemplation, if activity
In doing for unnumber’d multitudes
Gave thee the precedent unto the throne
For noble service in the common good,
Instead of accident of kingly birth,
Thus in the name of all I summon thee:
Take courage! Let the melancholy hours
Which darken thy horizon be, for others,
Through consolation, counsel, aid, no less
Than for thyself, bright hours of happiness.
How shallow and disgusting such a life,
Where every motion, every impulse brings
Ever new need of motion, need of impulse,
And no desir’d result at last rewards.
That did I see in her alone: for her
I strove and won with pleasure keen
That I might build a realm of pleasing fortune.
So I was genial, was a friend to all,
Obliging, quick, in deed and counsel lavish.
“It is the father in me that they love,”
I said; “they thank the father, and, in time,
The daughter will they welcome as their friend.”
No time is left for sentimental musings!
Exalted Prince, quite different thoughts demand thee.
Shall I the secret hazard? I the humblest
Among thy servitors? The eager glances
Of all are turn’d to thee, these dubious days,
Thy solid worth, thy strength undeviating.
The happy man alone feels worth and strength!
The pain intense of woes intolerable
Are bail unto the moment for vast meaning.
Let me have pardon if I boldly wage
To speak the confidential tidings out!
How from below fermenting passions seethe!
How ineffectual the force above!
Not every one has sight to see but thou
More than the multitude in which I move.
Oh, do not falter now the storm draws nigh,
But seize the helm and guide the weltering ship
For the advantage of thy fatherland.
Forget thy grief: else will a thousand fathers
Like thee their children mourn, a thousand children
Call vainly for their fathers, and the cries
Of mourning mothers echo horribly
Against the pitiless hollow prison walls.
Oh, bring an offering of thy grief and pain
Unto the altar of the common weal.
And all whom thou wilt rescue from this doom
Thou shalt in compensation win as children.
From gloomy corners do not raise again
The swarm opaque of spectres to oppress me,
Which through my daughter’s wonder-working power
Were often bann’d and readily put to flight.
That all-compelling might of love is vanish’d
Which sang unto my soul in pleasant dreams.
Now heavy on me weighs with solid pressure
The actual present, threatening to crush me.
Away! away! Take me from out the world!
And if the robe in which thou movest lie not,
Then lead me to the place where patience dwells,—
Unto the monastery, and leave me there
In universal silence, silent, bowed,
To sink, a weary mortal, to the vault.
Me scarcely it becomes to recommend
The world to thee: yet boldly will I speak!
Not in the grave nor yet upon the grave
The noble man will waste his wealth of longing.
He turns unto himself, and full of wonder
He finds the lost again within his heart.
The fact that such a treasure still remains
When far and farther flies the treasure lost,
That is the torment which the parted member
Forever torn away must still renew
Upon the pang-wrench’d, palpitating body.
Dismember’d life who can unite again?
Annihilated! who rebuild?
The spirit of man for whom is nothing lost
Which once was priz’d and held in firm possession.
So lives Eugenie still, within thy mind,
Which she erewhile sustain’d, in which she stirr’d
Perception of the wondrous works of Nature.
Still as a lofty pattern doth she work,
Protecting thee from common things and bad
Which, every hour, may meet thee. And the glory
Reflected from her noble truth will banish
The empty falsehood that would sting thee.
So through her power feel that thy strength is doubled,
And give her back a life invulnerable
Which can be shatter’d by no earthly force.
Nay, let some intricate net of death encoil me
With gloomy glowering web of woven dreams.
And, O thou image, perfect in thy beauty,
Remain for me forever young and changeless!
Around me let the pure light of thine eyes
Forever shine! Where’er my steps may wander
Do thou go with me, pointing out the way
Amid the thorny labyrinth of earth!
Thou art no figment of a dream! I see thee!
Just as thou wast, art thou. Almighty God
Conceiv’d thee perfect, perfect wast thou made.
Thou art a portion of the Infinite,
The Endless, and thou art forever mine.