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Scenes From The Faust Of Goethe
by [?]

[Published in part (Scene 2) in “The Liberal”, No. 1, 1822; in full, by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]




The sun makes music as of old
Amid the rival spheres of Heaven,
On its predestined circle rolled
With thunder speed: the Angels even
Draw strength from gazing on its glance, 5
Though none its meaning fathom may:–
The world’s unwithered countenance
Is bright as at Creation’s day.

And swift and swift, with rapid lightness,
The adorned Earth spins silently, 10
Alternating Elysian brightness
With deep and dreadful night; the sea
Foams in broad billows from the deep
Up to the rocks, and rocks and Ocean,
Onward, with spheres which never sleep, 15
Are hurried in eternal motion.

And tempests in contention roar
From land to sea, from sea to land;
And, raging, weave a chain of power,
Which girds the earth, as with a band.– 20
A flashing desolation there,
Flames before the thunder’s way;
But Thy servants, Lord, revere
The gentle changes of Thy day.

The Angels draw strength from Thy glance, 25
Though no one comprehend Thee may;–
Thy world’s unwithered countenance
Is bright as on Creation’s day.

The sun sounds, according to ancient custom,
In the song of emulation of his brother-spheres.
And its fore-written circle
Fulfils with a step of thunder.
Its countenance gives the Angels strength
Though no one can fathom it.
The incredible high works
Are excellent as at the first day.

And swift, and inconceivably swift
The adornment of earth winds itself round,
And exchanges Paradise-clearness
With deep dreadful night.
The sea foams in broad waves
From its deep bottom, up to the rocks,
And rocks and sea are torn on together
In the eternal swift course of the spheres.

And storms roar in emulation
From sea to land, from land to sea,
And make, raging, a chain
Of deepest operation round about.
There flames a flashing destruction
Before the path of the thunderbolt.
But Thy servants, Lord, revere
The gentle alternations of Thy day.

Thy countenance gives the Angels strength,
Though none can comprehend Thee:
And all Thy lofty works
Are excellent as at the first day.

Note: Such is a literal translation of this astonishing
chorus; it is impossible to represent in another
language the melody of the versification; even the
volatile strength and delicacy of the ideas escape
in the crucible of translation, and the reader is
surprised to find a caput mortuum.–[SHELLEY’S NOTE.])


As thou, O Lord, once more art kind enough
To interest Thyself in our affairs, 30
And ask, ‘How goes it with you there below?’
And as indulgently at other times
Thou tookest not my visits in ill part,
Thou seest me here once more among Thy household.
Though I should scandalize this company, 35
You will excuse me if I do not talk
In the high style which they think fashionable;
My pathos certainly would make You laugh too,
Had You not long since given over laughing.
Nothing know I to say of suns and worlds; 40
I observe only how men plague themselves;–
The little god o’ the world keeps the same stamp,
As wonderful as on creation’s day:–
A little better would he live, hadst Thou
Not given him a glimpse of Heaven’s light 45
Which he calls reason, and employs it only
To live more beastlily than any beast.
With reverence to Your Lordship be it spoken,
He’s like one of those long-legged grasshoppers,
Who flits and jumps about, and sings for ever 50
The same old song i’ the grass. There let him lie,
Burying his nose in every heap of dung.