The Witch’s Kitchen – an excerpt from Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

[An excerpt from Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in which we meet a witch, and Mephistopheles acquires a potion for Faust’s edification. Perhaps it will bring him youth and renewed vigour. Faust reveals his prejudice and contempt for an obvious charlatan. He is an educated man, superior. These tricks are beneath him. Faust is not a witch and the things of witches – like potions – are not to his taste. Would he consider an entheogen as a legitimate route to God? Like this potion, it would surely just bring him closer to the Devil.]

Wherein, Sirs, can I be of use?

Give us a goblet of the well-known juice!
But, I must beg you, of the oldest brewage;
The years a double strength produce.

With all my heart! Now, here’s a bottle,
Wherefrom, sometimes, I wet my throttle,
Which, also, not the slightest, stinks;
And willingly a glass I’ll fill him.
Yet, if this man without due preparation drinks,
As well thou know’st, within an hour ’twill kill him.

He is a friend of mine, with whom it will agree,
And he deserves thy kitchen’s best potation:
Come, draw thy circle, speak thine adjuration,
And fill thy goblet full and free!

(with fantastic gestures draws a circle and places mysterious
articles therein; meanwhile the glasses begin to ring, the
caldron to sound, and make a musical accompaniment.
Finally she brings a great book, and stations in the circle
the Apes, who are obliged to serve as reading-desk, and to
hold the torches. She then beckons FAUST to approach.

Now, what shall come of this? the creatures antic,
The crazy stuff, the gestures frantic,–
All the repulsive cheats I view,–
Are known to me, and hated, too.

O, nonsense! That’s a thing for laughter;
Don’t be so terribly severe!
She juggles you as doctor now, that, after,
The beverage may work the proper cheer.
( He persuades FAUST to step into the circle .)

( begins to declaim, with much emphasis, from the book )
See, thus it’s done!
Make ten of one,
And two let be,
Make even three,
And rich thou ‘It be.
Cast o’er the four!
From five and six
(The witch’s tricks)
Make seven and eight,
‘Tis finished straight!
And nine is one,
And ten is none.
This is the witch’s once-one’s-one!

She talks like one who raves in fever.

Thou’lt hear much more before we leave her.
‘Tis all the same: the book I can repeat,
Such time I’ve squandered o’er the history:
A contradiction thus complete
Is always for the wise, no less than fools, a mystery.
The art is old and new, for verily
All ages have been taught the matter,–
By Three and One, and One and Three,
Error instead of Truth to scatter.
They prate and teach, and no one interferes;
All from the fellowship of fools are shrinking.
Man usually believes, if only words he hears,
That also with them goes material for thinking!

THE WITCH ( continues )
The lofty skill
Of Science, still
From all men deeply hidden!
Who takes no thought,
To him ’tis brought,
‘Tis given unsought, unbidden!

What nonsense she declaims before us!
My head is nigh to split, I fear:
It seems to me as if I hear
A hundred thousand fools in chorus.

O Sibyl excellent, enough of adjuration!
But hither bring us thy potation,
And quickly fill the beaker to the brim!
This drink will bring my friend no injuries:
He is a man of manifold degrees,
And many draughts are known to him.
( The WITCH, with many ceremonies, pours the drink into a
cup; as FAUST sets it to his lips, a light flame arises.
Down with it quickly! Drain it off!
‘Twill warm thy heart with new desire:
Art with the Devil hand and glove,
And wilt thou be afraid of fire?

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