Fallen angel

( from Faust by Goethe, around 1808,
Translation by David Luke)

( Gustave Doré’s depiction of Satan from John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ )

MEPHISTOPHELES
Your Grace, since you have called on us again
To see how things are going, and since you
Have been quite pleased to meet me now and then,
I thought I’d come and join your retinue….
The solar system I must leave unsung,
And to mankind’s woes lend my humble tongue.
The little earth-god still persists in his old ways,
Ridiculous as ever, as in his first days.
He’d have improved if you’d not given
Him a mere glimmer of the light of heaven;
He calls it Reason, and it only has increased
His power to be beastlier than a beast….

THE LORD
And that is all you have to say?
Must you complain each time you come my way?
Is nothing right on your terrestrial scene?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, sir! The earth’s as bad as it has always been
I really feel quite sorry for mankind;
Tormenting them myself’s no fun, I find.

THE LORD
Do you know Faust?…
He serves me, but still serves me in confusion;
I will soon lead him into clarity.
A gardener knows, one day this yougn green tree
Will blossom and bear fruit in rich profusion.

MEPHISTOPHELES
If I may be his guide, you’ll lose him yet;
I’ll subtly lead him my way, if you’ll let
Me do so; shall we have a bet?

THE LORD
He lives on earth, and while he is alive
You have my leave for the attempt;
Man errs, till he has ceased to strive.

( Photo by Oleg Trofimych )

FAUST
My sweet young lady, if I may
I will escort you on your way.

GRETCHEN
I’m not a lady and I’m not sweet,
I can get home on my own two feet.

(She frees herself and walks on.)

FAUST
By God, but that’s a lovely girl!
More lovely than I’ve ever met.
So virtuous, so decent, yet
A touch of sauciness as well!
Her lips so red, her cheeks so bright –
All my life I’ll not forget that sight.
It stirred my very heart to see
Her eyes cast down so modestly,
And how she put me in my place,
With so much charm and so much grace!
(Enter MEPHISTOPHELES )
Look, you must get that girl for me!

MEPHISTOPHELES
Which one?

FAUST
She’s just gone by.

MEPHISTOPHELES
She’s just been making her confession.
Her priest gave her full absolution:
I sneaked up and was listening.
She’s a poor innocent little thing,
With nothing whatever to confess.
I’ve no power over her, I fear.

FAUST Why not? She’s past her fourteenth year.

MEPHISTOPHELES
Come, this is Randy Andy talk!
You’d leave no flower on its stalk.
Pluck every favour, every prize That’s pleased your self-conceited eyes –
But some things have to be eschewed.

FAUST
Now hear me, Dr. Rectitude!
Leave out the legal preachment stuff,
And let me tell you: either by
Tonight that sweet young thing shall lie
Between my arms, or you and I
Will have been together long enough.

MEPHISTOPHELES
Be practical, my dear good sir!
I need two weeks of sniffing round
To find out how to get at her.

* * *

MEPHISTOPHELES
Here’s quite a heavy box with nice things in it;
I got it – somewhere else. Now then,
Into her cupboard with it, quick, before we’re seen.
I tell you, when she finds that stuff
She’ll go out of her mind; I’ve put enough
Jewellery in there to seduce a queen. A child’s a child, of course, and play’s just play…

 

( Photo from www.az.lib.ru )

MEPHISTOPHELES
By the pangs of despised love! By the fires of hell!
I wish I knew something worse, to curse it as well!

FAUST
Whatever’s the matter? You do look odd.
What a sour face for a fine day!

MEPHISTOPHELES
May the devil take me, I would say,
If I weren’t the Devil myself, by God.

FAUST
Are you right in the head? Excuse me if I smile;
These rages aren’t your usual style.

MEPHISTOPHELES
Just think: those jewels for Gretchen that I got,
A priest has been and swiped the lot! –
Her mother took one look, and hey!
She had the horrors straight away.

That woman’s got a good nose all right,
Snuffling her prayer-book day and night,
With any commodity she can tell
Profane from sacred by the smell;
And as for those jewels, she knew soon enough
There was something unholy about that stuff.
‘My child’, she exclaimed, ‘ill-gotten wealth
Poisons one’s spiritual health.
To God’s blessed Mother it must be given,
And she will reward us with manna from heaven!’
Now Meg’s face fell, poor little minx!
It’s a gift-horse after all, she thinks,
And whoever so kindly brought it – how can
There be anything godless about such a man?
Ma sends for the priest, and he, by glory!

Has no sooner heard their little story
And studied the spoils with great delight,
Than he says: ‘Dear ladies, you are quite right!
Who resists the tempter shall gain a crown.
The Church can digest all manner of meat,
It’s never been known to over-eat
Although it has gulped whole empires down;
Holy Church’s stomach alone can take
Ill-goten goods without stomach-ache!’…

So he sweeps every ring and chain and brooch,
As if they were peanuts, into his pouch;
Takes it no less for granted, indeed,
Than if it were all just chickenfeed –
Promises them celestial reward
And leaves them thanking the blessed Lord…

( ‘Your tears are burning my heart’
Photo by Zasvet Diafragmovich Vyderzhkin )

GRETCHEN (singing alone)
My heart’s so heavy,
My heart’s so sore,
How can ever my heart
Be at peace any more?

How dead the whole world is,
How dark the day,
How bitter my life is
Now he’s away!

My poor head’s troubled,
Oh what shall I do?
My poor mind’s broken
And torn in two.

My heart’s so heavy,
My heart’s so sore,
How can ever my heart
Be at peace any more?

When I look from my window
It’s him I must see;
I walk out wondering
Where can he be?

Oh his step so proud
And his head so high
And the smile on his lips
And the spell of his eye,

And his voice, like a stream
Of magic it is,
And his hand pressing mine
And his kiss, his kiss!

My heart’s so heavy,
My heart’s so sore,
How can ever my heart
Be at peace any more?

My body’s on fire
With wanting him so;
Oh when shall I hold him
And never let go

And kiss him at last
As I long to do,
And swoon on his kisses
And die there too!

 

( Photo from www.photosight.ru )

FAUST
Don’t be afraid! Oh, let my eyes,
My hands on your hands tell you what
No words can say:
To give oneself entirely and to feel
Ecstasy that must last for ever!
For ever! – For its end would be despair.
No, never-ending! Never ending! …

GRETCHEN
I look at you, dear Faust, and somehow
My will is yours, it’s not my own now.
Already I’ve done so many things for you,
There’s almost nothing left to do.

( ‘Good morning, darling!’
Photo by Irina Filatova )

VALENTINE (Gretchen’s brother)
I’m dying; it’s a thing soon said,
And even sooner the thing’s real. You women-folk, why weep and wail? Just hear me speak before I’m dead.
Meg, listen: you’re still a poor young chit,
You’ve not yet got the hang of it,
You’re bungling things, d’you see?
Just let me tell you in confidence:
Since you’re a whore now, have some sense
And do it properly!

GRETCHEN
My brother! God! What do you mean!

VALENTINE
Leave God out of this little scene!
What’s done is done, I’m sorry to say.
And things must go their usual way.
You started in secret with one man;
Soon others will come where he began,
And when a dozen have joined the queue
The whole town will be having you!

Let me tell you about disgrace:
It enters the world as a secret shame,
Born in the dark without a name,
With the hood of night about its face.
It’s something that you’ll long to kill.
But as it grows, it makes its way
Even into the light of day;
It’s bigger, but it’s ugly still!
The filthier its face has grown,
The more it must be seen and shown.

There’ll come a time, and this I know,
All decent folk will abhor you so,
You slut! that like a plague-infected Corpse you’ll be shunned, you’ll be rejected, They’ll look at you and your heart will quail,
Their eyes will all tell the same tale!
You’ll have no gold chains or jewellery then,
Never stand in church by the altar again,
Never have any pretty lace to wear
At the dance, for you’ll not be dancing there!
Into some dark corner may you creep
Among beggars and cripples to hide and weep;
And let God forgive you as he may –
But on earth be cursed till your dying day!

( Photo by Dmitry Galaganov )

GRETCHEN
Oh my God, I bow
To your righteous judgement!…
Oh heavenly Father, save me now..

MEPHISTOPHELES
She is judged and condemned!

A VOICE (from above)
No; she has found me!

( Photo by Frida )

THE END

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