Faust recounts what he has learned.

from Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe fiction ~3 min read


Then first set out in Hall on hall,
The costly treasures, One and all!
And coming to
The splendid show,
He’ll think it all the
More, you know,
He won’t be mean,
With you, at least,
He’ll give the fleet,
Feast on feast.
Tomorrow motley birds attend,
I want to take good care of them.

(The cargo is removed.)

(To Faust.)

This splendid fortune you embrace
With wrinkled brow, and gloomy face!
Your noble wisdom has been crowned,
Sea’s reconciled with solid ground:
From the shore, on swifter track,
The sea wills out the ship, and back:
So speak, that here, from your spire,
Your arms might grip the world entire.
From this place the trench was cut,
Here stood the first wooden hut:
A little ditch was traced from here,
Where now vessels’ wakes appear.
Your servants’ toil, your thought so wise,
Have won the Earth and Ocean’s prize.
From here on –


– that accursed here!
That always brings me wretched fear,
To you who are so clever, I say it,
It gives my heart sting on sting,
It’s impossible for me to bear it.
I’m ashamed to even speak the thing.
The old ones up there should yield,
I want the limes as my retreat,
The least tree in another’s field,
Detracts from my whole estate.
There, to stand and look around,
I’ll build a frame from bough to bough,
My gaze revealing, under the sun,
A view of everything I’ve done,
Overseeing, as the eye falls on it,
A masterpiece of the human spirit,
Forging with intelligence,
A wider human residence.
That’s the worst suffering can bring,
Being rich, to feel we lack something.
The bell’s chime, the lindens’ breeze,
Like tombs in churchyards stifle me.
The exercise of my all-conquering will
Is shattered in the sand, here, and lies still.
How can I drive it from my nature!
The bell peals, and I’m an angry creature.



A swamp lies there below the hill,
Infecting everything I’ve done:
My last and greatest act of will
Succeeds when that foul pool is gone.
Let me make room for many a million,
Not wholly secure, but free to work on.
Green fertile fields, where men and herds
May gain swift comfort from the new-made earth.
Quickly settled in those hills’ embrace,
Piled high by a brave, industrious race.
And in the centre here, a Paradise,
Whose boundaries hold back the raging tide,
And though it gnaws to enter in by force,
The common urge unites to halt its course.
Yes, I’ve surrendered to this thought’s insistence,
The last word Wisdom ever has to say:
He only earns his Freedom and Existence,
Who’s forced to win them freshly every day.
Childhood, manhood, age’s vigorous years,
Surrounded by dangers, they’ll spend here.
I wish to gaze again on such a land,
Free earth: where a free race, in freedom, stand.
Then, to the Moment I’d dare say:
‘Stay a while! You are so lovely!’
Through aeons, then, never to fade away
This path of mine through all that’s earthly.
– Anticipating, here, its deep enjoyment,
Now I savour it, that highest moment.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, p. Part II