The Ideal Lovers' dance.

from Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe fiction ~4 min read

Faust

O Queen, amazed, I see them both together:
The certain archer, and the stricken prey:
I see the bow, from which the shaft was loosed,
That wounded him. Arrow after arrow,
Now strikes me. Imagining the feathered whirr
Of arrows crossing every court and hall.
What am I now? My walls you make unsafe
My most faithful servants, you make rebels,
Already I fear my army too obeys
A victorious and unconquered lady.
What’s left to do but add myself as well,
And all that I have vainly imagined mine?
Freely and loyally, before your feet,
Let me acknowledge you as Mistress,
Whose presence wins you throne and ownership.

...

Faust

Quickly, remove the heap that boldness won,
And take no blame for it, but seek no praise.
All is hers already, that the castle
Hides in its lap: you offer these few things
In vain. Go and pile treasure on treasure,
In due order. Present a fine array
Of unseen splendours! Let the vaulted halls
Gleam like the clearest sky, let Paradise
Be created from their dead existence.
Quickly let flowery carpet on carpet
Be unrolled beneath her foot: she’ll step
On softest ground: and let her noble gaze,
Blinding all but the Gods, fall on splendour.

...

Helen (To Faust.)

I wish to speak to you, come here then
Beside me! For the empty place invites
Its lord, and so secures this place for me.

Faust

First, let my loyal dedication please you,
While I kneel, noble lady: let me kiss
The gracious hand that lifts me to your side.
Confirm me as co-regent of a realm
Of unknown borders, win now for yourself
Protector, slave, worshipper all in one!

Helen

So many wonders do I see, and hear
Amazement grips me, there’s much I would know.
But teach me why that man spoke aloud
With curious speech, familiar but strange.
Each sound seeming to give way to the next,
And when a word gave pleasure to the ear,
Another came, as if to caress the first.

Faust

If my people’s speech already pleases you,
O, you’ll be delighted with our singing:
It completely satisfies the heart and mind.
But to be sure of it, we’ll practise too:
Alternate speech entices, calls it, forth.

Helen

You’ll tell me how to speak with lovely art?

Faust

It’s easy, it must pour forth from the heart.
And if the breast then overflows with yearning,
One looks around and asks –

Helen

-who else is burning.

Faust

Not backwards, forwards is the spirit’s sight,
This moment now, alone, –

Helen

-is our delight.

Faust

She’s treasure and commitment, wealth and land:
What confirmation does she give –

Helen

-my hand.

Chorus

Who’s offended that our Princess
Grants the master of the castle
A show of friendliness?
Let’s confess, that we’re as fully
Prisoners, as we’ve been till now
Since the shameful overthrow
Of Ilium, and the anxious,
Sad, and labyrinthine voyage.

Women, used to men’s desires,
Are not particular,
They are proficient.
And they award an equal right
To shepherds with their golden hair,
Dark, fauns perhaps, bristling there,
As opportunity affords,
To bodies in their vigour.
Already they sit closer, closer,
Drawn towards each other,
Shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee,
Hand in hand they sway
Across the thrones’
Soft cushioned, majesty.
Their private raptures
Revealed so boldly
To the eyes of the people.

Helen

I feel so far away and yet so near,
And gladly say now: ‘Here, I am! Here!’

Faust

I scarcely breathe, I tremble, speech is dead:
This is a dream: time and place have fled.

Helen

I seem exhausted, yet created new,
Enmeshed with you, the unknown and the true.

Faust

Don’t seek to analyse so rare a fate!
Our duty is to live: though but a day.

Phorkyas (Entering suddenly.)

Spell the letters in love’s primer,
Only loving, pass your time here,
Passing, let love be sublime here,
But the moment isn’t right.
Don’t you feel it, this dark presage?
Don’t you hear the trumpet’s message?
Your destruction is in sight.
Menelaus with his army
Is advancing on you quickly,
Arm yourself, for bitter fight!
Overwhelmed by the winners,
And defiled, like Deiphobus,
You’ll all pay, for this delight.
First the lighter vessels shatter,
Then, for this one, at the altar,
The newly sharpened axe shines bright.

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