Faust — Part 1 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust — Part 1 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I to the upper ranks do not belong;
Yet if, by me companion’d, thou
Thy steps through life forthwith wilt take;
Upon the spot myself I’ll make
Thy comrade;— Should it suit thy need,
I am thy servant, am thy slave indeed!

And how must I thy services repay?

Thereto thou lengthen’d respite hast!

No! No!
The devil is an egoist I know:
And, for Heaven’s sake, ’tis not his way
Kindness to any one to show.
Let the condition plainly be exprest!
Such a domestic is a dangerous guest.

I’ll pledge myself to be thy servant here,
Still at thy back alert and prompt to be;
But when together yonder we appear,
Then shalt thou do the same for me.

But small concern I feel for yonder world;
Hast thou this system into ruin hurl’d,
Another may arise the void to fill.
This earth the fountain whence my pleasures flow,
This sun doth daily shine upon my woe,
And if this world I must forego,
Let happen then,—what can and will.
I to this theme will close mine ears,
If men hereafter hate and love,
And if there be in yonder spheres
A depth below or height above.

In this mood thou mayst venture it. But make
The compact! I at once will undertake
To charm thee with mine arts. I’ll give thee more
Than mortal eye hath e’er beheld before.

Pasted from <http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3023/pg3023.html>

Goethe’s Mephistopheles’ Conception….

Goethe’s Mephistopheles’ Conception.

“It is a moot question whether Goethe at first conceived Mephistopheles as the Earth-spirit’s envoy, sent for the express purpose of showing Faust about the world, or whether the Devil was thought of as coming of his own accord. Be that as it may, Faust is an experience-drama, and the Devil’s function is to provide the experience. And he is a devil, not the Devil, conceived as the bitter and malignant enemy of God, but a subordinate spirit whose business it is, in the world-economy, to spur man to activity. This he does partly by cynical criticism and opposition, but more especially by holding out the lures of the sensual life. At first Mephistopheles was not thought of as working solely for a reward in the shape of souls captured for eternity, but as playing his part for the diabolical pleasure of so doing. In the course of time, however, Goethe invested him more and more with the costume and traits of the traditionary Devil.”

The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume I. Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English. In Twenty Volumes. (1913).

Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University

Pasted from <http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/11123/pg11123.html>

The Fortunes of Faust….

The Fortunes of Faust.

From the web page:

Historian Jeffrey Burton Russel writes:
“The Faustbook tells how Faustus, abandoning Philosophy, turns to magic. Given the antischolastic bias of the Protestant Reformation, it was natural that the Faustbook should make the figure of the man who sells his soul to Satan a scholar: Faust desires to obtain knowledge by his own efforts rather than receive it by grace. This individualistic rebellion ties Faust’s sin to the original sin of humanity (Adam and Eve’s theft of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge) and to pride (the original sin of Lucifer himself)…
In order to master magical lore, Faustus determines to call up the Devil. Going to the crossroads at night, he inscribes magical circles and characters upon the ground and invokes a spirit (Gaist) by the name of Beelzebub. Here the author deliberately mixes magic and witchcraft, the traditional signs and symbols of hermetic magic with the witch-like invocation of an evil spirit.”
Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern Age (P. 60-61; italics mine)
The spirit which appears first takes the form of a dragon, then turns into a fiery globe, and finally into a greyfriar. It gives it’s name to Faust as “Mephistophiles,” a combination of Greek, Latin, and possibly even Hebrew elements. Russel breaks the name down as such: “Greek mē, “not”; phōs, photos, “light”; and philos, “lover” – yielding “he who is not a lover of the light,” an ironic parody of Lucifer, light-bearer.”

by Jack Faust.
Pasted from <http://vonfaustus.blogspot.ca/2010/06/fortunes-of-faust.html>

Goethe’s Margaret on Mephistopheles

Goethe’s Margaret on Mephistopheles:
Mephistopheles is Faust’s demonic companion who manages Faust’s seduction of her. But she is a pure, devout and innocent young woman and who in her “innermost soul” intuits the evil and the danger in Mephistopheles, and she speaks to Faust.

I’ve long been grieved
To see you in such company.

Why, who?

That man who hangs round you so,
I hate him in my innermost soul:
Nothing in all my life has ever
Given my heart such pain, no, never,
As his repulsive face has done.

From Goethe’s Faust (Scene XVI: Martha’s Garden) at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/FaustIScenesXVItoXXV.htm.

Mephistopheles soon manages the poisoning of her mother at her hands, the murder of her brother at Faust’s, and then her drowning of her child in her madness and her execution for her apparent crimes.

Goethe’s Mephistopheles ruminates on Faust

Goethe’s Mephistopheles ruminates on Faust

Goethe’s Mephistopheles (In Faust’s long gown.)
Reason and Science you despise,
Mans highest powers: now the lies
Of the deceiving spirit must bind you
With those magic arts that blind you,
And Ill have you, totally
Fate gave him such a spirit
It urges him ever onwards, wildly,
And, in his hasty striving, he has leapt
Beyond all earths ecstasies.
Ill drag him through raw life,
Through the meaningless and shallow,
Ill freeze him: stick to him: keep him ripe,
Frustrate his insatiable greed, allow
Food and drink to drift before his eyes:
In vain hell beg for consummation,
And if he werent the devils, why
Hed still go to his ruination!

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

I am the spirit that negates/ever, that denies!/that always denies!

Comparing Goethe’s Faust Translations — Kaufmann and Kline — and Google Translate.

It’s an art form. Translations vary. And rightly so. Even Google is subjective, though it’s but a homunculus or golem:

Here’s the original German:

Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles was entsteht
Ist werth daß es zu Grunde geht;

Drum besser wär’s daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.

Faust. Eine Tragödie von Goethe. (Part 1 about line 1340)

Here’s Walter Kaufmann:

I am the spirit that negates.
And rightly so, for all that comes to be
Deserves to perish wretchedly;
‘Twere better nothing would begin.
Thus everything that your terms, sin,
Destruction, evil represent—
That is my proper element.

– Kaufmann, Walter (1963). “Introduction”. Goethe’s Faust : part one and sections from part two (Anchor books). Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday. p. 47. ISBN 0-385-03114-9

Tony Kline:

I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
In turn deserves to be annihilated:
Better if nothing came to be.
So all that you call Sin, you see,
Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
By Evil is my true element.

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved. From <http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/FaustIScenesItoIII.htm>

Here’s what Google Translate offers.

Here’s Google:

I am the spirit that always denies!
And rightly so; because everything that arises
Is worth that it perishes;

It would be better if nothing happened.
So everything you do is sin,
destruction, in short called evil,
My actual element.

von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. “Faust – Der Tragödie Erster Teil.” Google Translate, Google, . Oct. 2022.

Not bad, Google!