Goethe’s Faust – Faust is about to drink a glass of poison

[Faust is about to drink a glass of poison – this excerpt is from the beginning of Goethe’s Faust as he contemplates his failures and limits. Should he just end it all now? This is from Tony Kline’s own translation of Faust, available at his website, http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/Fausthome.htm.]

I salute you, phial of rare potion, I lift you down, with devotion!
In you I worship man’s art and mind,
Embodiment of sweet sleeping draughts:
Extract, with deadly power, refined,
Show your master all his craft!

I see you, and my pain diminishes,
I grasp you, and my struggles grow less,
My spirit’s flood tide ebbs, more and more,
I seem to be where ocean waters meet,
A glassy flood gleams around my feet,

New day invites me to a newer shore.
A fiery chariot sweeps nearer
On light wings! I feel ready, free
To cut a new path through the ether
And reach new spheres of pure activity.

This greater life, this godlike bliss!
You, but a worm, have you earned this?
Choosing to turn your back, ah yes,
On all Earth’s lovely Sun might promise!
Let me dare to throw those gates open,

That other men go creeping by!
Now’s the time, to prove through action
Man’s dignity may rise divinely high,
Never trembling at that void where,
Imagination damns itself to pain,

Striving towards the passage there,
Round whose mouth all Hell’s fires flame:
Choose to take that step, happy to go
Where danger lies, where Nothingness may flow.
Come here to me, cup of crystal, clear!

Free of your ancient cover now appear,
You whom I’ve never, for many a year,
Considered! You shone at ancestral feasts,
Cheering the over-serious guests:
One man passing you to another here.

It was the drinker’s duty to explain in rhyme
The splendour of your many carved designs
Or drain it at a draught, and breathe, in time:
You remind me of those youthful nights of mine.
Now I will never pass you to a friend,

Or test my wits on your art again.
Here’s a juice will stun any man born:
It fills your hollow with a browner liquid.
I prepared it, now I choose the fluid,
At last I drink, and with my soul I bid

A high and festive greeting to the Dawn!

(He puts the cup to his mouth.)

Pasted from <http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/FaustIScenesItoIII.htm>

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