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FAUST, PART 1 (1808)

by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Men's wretchedness in soothe I so deplore,
Not even I would plague the sorry creatures more.
Now I have studied philosophy,
medicine and the law,
and unfortunately, theology,
wearily sweating, yet I stand now,
poor fool, no wiser than I was before;
I am called Master, even Doctor,
and for these last ten years have led
my students by the nose--up, down,
crosswise and crooked. Now I see
that we know nothing finally.
Dear friend, all theory is gray,
And green the golden tree of life.
Youth, my good friend, you certainly require
When foes in battle round you press,
When a fair maid, her heart on fire,
Hangs on your neck with fond caress,
When from afar, the victor's crown,
Allures you in the race to run;
Or when in revelry you drown
Your sense, the whirling dance being done.
Now spring's reviving glance has freed
the ice from stream and river.
The valley turns green with joy of hope.
Old winter, growing impotent, crawls back
to the rough mountains; as he flees, he hurls
fitful gusts of icy-kerneled sleet
in streaks on the green meadows.
But the sun allows no whiteness;
growth and creation stir and strive
to cover everything with color.
O full-orb'd moon, did but thy rays
Their last upon mine anguish gaze!
Beside this desk, at dead of night,
Oft have I watched to hail thy light:
Then, pensive friend! o'er book and scroll,
With soothing power, thy radiance stole!
In thy dear light, ah, might I climb,
Freely, some mountain height sublime,
Round mountain caves with spirits ride,
In thy mild haze o'er meadows glide,
And, purged from knowledge-fumes, renew
My spirit, in thy healing dew!
When in his study pent the whole year through,
Man views the world, as through an optic glass,
On a chance holiday, and scarcely then,
How by persuasion can he govern men?
That which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.
Ay! what 'mong men as knowledge doth obtain!
Who on the child its true name dares bestow?
The few who somewhat of these things have known,
Who their full hearts unguardedly reveal'd,
Nor thoughts, nor feelings, from the mob conceal'd,
Have died on crosses, or in flames been thrown!
What a man knows not, he to use requires,
And what he knows, he cannot use for good.
E'en hell hath its peculiar laws.
Methinks, by most, 'twill be confess'd
That Death is never quite a welcome guest.
Forbear to trifle longer with thy grief,
Which, vulture-like, consumes thee in this den.
What lies beyond doesn't worry me.
Suppose you break this world to bits, another may arise.
My joy springs from this earth,
this sun shines on my sorrows.
When I leave here, let come what must.
What do I care about it now, if hereafter
men hate or love, or if in those other spheres
there be an Above or a Below?
Happy is he who has the pure truth in him.
He will regret no sacrifice that keeps it.
In the end, you are exactly--what you are.
Put on a wig with a million curls,
put the highest heeled boots on your feet,
yet you remain in the end just what you are.


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