BY THE UPPER PENEUS
Sirens [by the upper Peneus as before].
Plunge ye in Peneus' flood!
Meetly splashing, swimming, fording,
Linking songs in tones according,
For these ill-starred people's good.
Without water weal is none!
If our goodly bands were faring
To the Aegean, swift repairing,
Every joy would then be won.
Back the foaming wave is going,
Down its bed no longer flowing;
Quakes the ground, the waters choke,
Shores and pebbles crack and smoke.
Let us flee! Come, all! Come on!
For this marvel profits none.
Hence! Ye noble guests and merry,
To the ocean revel hurry,
Glittering where the waves are twinkling,
Heaving gently, shores besprinkling,
There where Luna twofold gloweth,
Holy dew on us bestoweth.
There a life astir and cheerful,
Here an earthquake dire and fearful.
Hence, ye prudent, haste away!
For this place strikes with dismay.
Seismos [growling and blustering in the depths].
Shove again with shoulders straining,
Stoutly all your strength arraigning!
Upper regions we'll be gaining,
Where to us must all give way.
What a most unpleasant quivering,
What a hideous, fearsome shivering!
What a wavering, what a shocking,
Surging to and fro and rocking!
An unbearable affray!
But we shall not change our places,
Though all hell bursts in our faces.
Now a dome- behold the wonder!-
Is arising. Ah, 'tis yonder
Very Ancient, long since hoar,
Who built Delos' isle of yore,
Drove it upward from the billow
For a travailing woman's pillow.
He, with straining, pressing, rending,
Rigid arms and shoulders bending,
Like an Atlas in his gesture,
Heaves up earth and all its vesture,
Loam and stone and sand and gravel,
Quiet shores and calm beds' level.
Thus the valley's placid bosom
Rends he with a power gruesome,
Still most strenuous, never sated,
A colossal caryatid,
Bears an awful weight of boulders,
Buried still up to his shoulders.
But 'twill not come near these spaces;
Sphinxes now are in their places.
Seismos. I, only, wrought this little matter
As men will finally declare;
But for my batter and my clatter
How would this world be now so fair?
How would your mountains stand above there
In clear and splendid ether-blue,
If them I had not worked to shove there?
A picturesque, entrancing view!
Whenas (the primal sires surveying,
Chaos and Night) I saw my honour lost,
I, with the Titans joined in playing,
Hurled Ossa, Pelion too, as balls are tossed.
Thus we raged on in youthful passion
Till vexed and weary at the last
Both mountains we, in wanton fashion,
Like twin peaks on Parnassus cast...
Apollo gladly lingers yonder
There in the muses' blest retreat.
For Jove himself and for his bolts of thunder
I heaved on high his lofty seat.
Thus I, by strainings superhuman,
Pushed from the depths to upper air,
And dwellers glad I loudly summon
New life henceforth with me to share.
Sphinxes. Surely one would call primeval
What so burg-like looms today,
But we saw the earth give way
To the straining, vast upheaval.
A bushy wood is spreading up the side,
While rocks on rocks still roll on like a tide.
A sphinx will never let such things perturb her,
Nor in her sacred seat will aught disturb her.
Griffins. Gold a-spangle, gold a-flitter,
Through the chinks I see it glitter.
Let none rob you of the prize:
Up and claw it, emmets! Rise!
Chorus of Ants.
Whereas the giant ones
Upward could shove it,
Ye nimble, pliant ones,
Swift speed above it!
Scurry ye out and in!
In each cranny
Is every crumb ye win
Wealth for the canny.
Ye must discover it,
The slightest treasure,
Swiftly uncover it
In every fissure.
Toil like the busy bees,
Ye swarms, retrieve it.
Gold only shall ye seize!
What's oreless, leave it!
Griffins. Come, come! Bring in a heap of gold!
Beneath our claws fast will we hold.
They're bolts none others can excel,
They guard the greatest treasure well.
Pygmies. We are in our places truly,
Know not how it did befall.
Whence we came, don't ask unduly,
For we're here now once for all.
As a joyous place to settle,
Suitable is every land;
If a rocky rift shows metal,
Straightway is the dwarf at hand.
Male and female, busy, ready,
Exemplary is each pair;
We know not if once already
This the case in Eden were.
Our lot gratefully we treasure,
For we find things here are best;
Mother Earth brings forth with pleasure
In the east as in the west.
Hath in a night the Earth
The little ones brought to birth,
The smallest she will create too,
They will find each his mate too.
Hasten, in spaces
Pleasant take places!
Haste, the work heeding,
Not strong but speeding!
Peace is still with ye,
Build ye the smithy
For troops to shapen
Armour and weapon.
All ye ants, cluster,
Metals to muster!
Tiny but swarming,
Our orders hear ye
And firewood bear ye!
Heap in a pyre
Charcoal prepare ye!
With bow and arrow
Foes will we harrow!
Herons that wander
By that pond yonder,
Numberless nesting there,
Haughtily breasting there,
Shoot them straightway,
All them together,
In helm and feather
Us to array.
Ants and Dactyls.
Who now will save us!
Iron we're bringing,
Chains to enslave us.
Chains we're not springing,
Not yet the hour;
Heed, then, their power!
The Cranes of Ibycus.
Cries of murder, moan of dying!
Fearful pinions fluttering, flying!
What a groan and moan and fright
Pierces upward to our height!
All have fallen in the slaughter,
Reddened with their blood the water.
Greedy lust, misshapen, cruel,
Steals the heron's noble jewel.
On the helmet now it waves,
Oh, these fat-paunched, bow-legged knaves!
Comrades with our host in motion,
Serried wanderers of the ocean,
Summon we, for vengeance mated,
In a case so near related.
Let none spare his strength or blood!
Hate eternal to this brood!
They disperse in the air, croaking.
Mephistopheles [on the plain].
The northern witches I command, but these,
Spirits so alien, make me ill at ease.
The Blocksberg's a convenient place to roam;
Wherever you are, you find yourself at home.
Dame Ilsa watches for us on her Stone,
Wakeful is Henry on his lofty Throne;
The Snorers snort, in truth, in Elend's ears,
But all remains unchanged a thousand years.
But who knows here, if, where he stand or go,
The ground will not heave upward from below?...
I wander through a level dale quite happily,
And then behind me rises suddenly
A mountain- scarce a mountain, yet in height
Enough to block the sphinxes from my sight.
Here, down the valley, many a fire is glaring,
Its light on these strange scenes and figures flaring...
Still, knavishly confusing, lo! the amorous crew
Flutter and dance before me, flee and woo.
But softly now! Though used to many savours,
Wherever they be, one still seeks novel flavours.
Lamiae [drawing MEPHISTOPHELES after them].
Quicker and quicker!
And never tarry!
Chatting and prating.
It is so merry,
The ancient tricker
To lure behind us
To penance dreary.
Foot-stiff and weary,
On he comes hobbling,
After us wobbling;
He drags his foot,
Hasting to find us.
Vain is his suit.
Mephistopheles [standing still].
Cursed fate! Men are but women's fools!
From Adam down, becozened tools!
Older we grow but who grows wise and steady?
Were you not fooled enough already?
We know that wholly worthless is this race
With pinched-in waist and painted face;
Naught's wholesome in a folk so misbegotten;
Grasp where you will, in every limb they're rotten.
We know it, see it, we can feel it,
And still we dance if but the vile jades reel it!
Lamiae [pausing]. Halt! See him ponder, hesitate, delay!
Turn back to meet him lest he slip away!
Mephistopheles [striding forward]. Go on! nor in the web of doubt
Let yourself be entangled foolishly;
For if no witches were about,
Why, who the devil would a devil be!
Lamiae [most winsomely]. Round this hero circle we;
Surely soon within his breast
Love for one is manifest.
Mephistopheles. True, in this uncertain gleam,
Pretty wenches do you seem,
And you'll hear no slurs from me.
An Empusa [intruding]. Nor slur me! A maiden too,
Let me join your retinue.
Lamiae. In our group she'll never fit,
And our sport? she ruins it.
Empusa [to MEPHISTOPHELES]. From ass-foot Coz Empusa, greeting!
The trusty one whom now you're meeting.
You only have a horse's foot;
Still, take, Sir Coz, my best salute!
Mephistopheles. Strangers alone were here by expectations,
But now, alas! I'm finding near relations.
Indeed, an ancient book doth tell us:
Everywhere cousins from the Hartz to Hellas.
Empusa. I'm swift in acting with decision,
In many forms could meet your vision;
But honour due you I would pay
And so the ass's head I've donned today.
Mephistopheles. I note, with people of this sort
Kinship is stuff of great import;
But come what may, it's all the same,
The ass's head I'd fain disclaim.
Lamiae. Avoid this hag! She doth but scare
Whatever lovely seems and fair;
What fair and lovely was before,
She comes, and see! it is no more!
Mephistopheles. These cousins too, slim and delicious,
Of one and all I am suspicious;
Behind such darling cheeks of roses
I have a fear of metamorphoses.
Lamiae. Just try it, do! We are not few.
Lay hold! and if the game's luck favours you,
Grab for yourself the first, great prize.
What means this lustful, droning tune?
What sort of way is this to spoon?
You strut along and act so wise!
Into our group now see him stride!
Lay one by one your masks aside
And show your nature to his eyes.
Mephistopheles. The fairest have chosen me...
Oh, woe! A withered broomstick, she!
And this one?... Hideous face! Oh, what a lot!
Lamiae. Do you deserve things better? Think it not!
Mephistopheles. The little one I'd like to clasp...
A lizard's slipping from my grasp!
And snake-like is her slippery braid.
Well, then, a tall one I will catch...
And now a thyrsus-pole I snatch!
Only a pine-cone as its head.
Where will this end?... Let's try a fat one.
Perhaps I'll find delight in that one.
A last attempt! Then it will do!
So flabby, fubby, worth a treasure
As Orientals such things measure...
But ah, the puff-ball bursts in two!
Lamiae. Scatter asunder, flicker around him,
Like lightning, in black flight surround him.
The interloping witch's son!
Ye bats, in horrid, changeful reeling,
Whirl ye, on noiseless pinions wheeling!
He'll get off cheap when all is done.
Mephistopheles [shaking himself].
I have not grown much wiser, that seems clear.
The North's absurd, absurd it's also here;
Ghosts here and there are a confounded crew,
Tasteless the people and the poets too.
A masquerade is here, I swear,
A sensual dance as everywhere.
At lovely rows of masks I grasped
And shuddered at the things I clasped...
I gladly lend myself to cheating
But ask to have it not so fleeting.
Losing himself among the rocks.
Where am I? Where does this lead out?
There was a path, now stone-heaps roundabout.
I came along on level ways,
And rubble-stuff now meets my gaze;
I clamber up and down in vain.
My sphinxes- where find them again?
I'd not have dreamed so mad a sight,
Aye, such a mountain in one night!
"A witch-ride" would not name it wrong;
They bring their own Blocksberg along.
Oread [from a natural rock]. Come up to me! My mount is old
And still has its primeval mould.
Revere these cliff-paths steep ascending
And Pindus' last spur far extending!
Unshaken, thus I reared my head
When over my shoulders Pompey fled.
Beside me here this phantom rock
Will vanish at the crow of cock.
Such fairy-tales I often see arise
And perish in like sudden wise.
Mephistopheles. Honour to thee, thou honoured head!
With mighty oaks engarlanded.
Moonbeams, however clear and bright,
Never can pierce thy sable night.-
But by the bushes there I see
A light that's glowing modestly.
How strange that all must happen thus!
In truth, it is Homunculus.
Whence do you come, you little rover?
Homunculus. From place to place I flit and hover
And wish that in the best sense I might be.
My glass I long impatiently to shatter;
Only from what I've seen and see,
I do not like to venture on this matter.
But I'll tell you quite confidentially:
I've tracked two sages whom I've overheard
Say "Nature!" "Nature!"- 'twas their only word.
I will not part me from them, seeing
That they must know this earthly be-ing;
And in the end I'll doubtless learn
Whither most wisely I'm to turn.
Mephistopheles. Accomplish that in your own way.
Wherever ghosts may be appearing,
The sage finds welcome and a hearing;
And that his art and favour may elate,
A dozen new ghosts he'll at once create.
You'll not gain sense, except you err and stray!
You'll come to birth? Do it in your own way!
Homunculus. Good counsel, though, a man should never scout.
Mephistopheles. Proceed, then, and we'll see how things turn out.
Anaxagoras [to THALES]. You will not let your rigid mind be bent.
Is aught more needed to make you assent?
Thales. To every wind the wave bows fain enough,
But from the rugged rock it holds aloof.
Anaxagoras. Through flaming gas arose this rock we're seeing.
Thales. In moisture came organic life to being.
Homunculus [between the two].
Ah, by your side to go, pray, suffer me!
I'm yearning to begin to be.
Anaxagoras. Have you, O Thales, even in one night
Brought such a mountain out of slime to light?
Thales. Nature with all her living, flowing powers
Was never bound by day and night and hours.
By rule she fashions every form, and hence
In great things too there is no violence.
Anaxagoras. But here there was! Plutonic, savage fire,
Aeolian vapours' force, explosive, dire,
Broke through the ancient crust of level earth
And a new mountain straightway came to birth.
Thales. The hill is there; so much at least is gained.
But what is thereby furthered and attained?
Both time and leisure in such strife one poses
And only leads the patient rabble by their noses.
Anaxagoras. Quickly with Myrmidons the hill is teeming,
They occupy the clefts; and now come streaming
Pygmies and ants and fingerlings
And other active little things.
After the great you never have aspired
But hermit-like have lived retired;
If you can wont yourself to sovereignty,
Then crowned as king I'll have you be.
Homunculus. What says my Thales?
Thales. That I won't advise.
With little people little deeds arise;
Among the great, the little man grows great.
See there! The cranes, the swarthy cloud,
They menace the excited crowd
And they would menace thus the king.
With beaks sharp-pointed, talons fierce,
The little ones they tear and pierce;
Already doom comes thundering.
Herons had suffered impious slaughter,
Standing about the tranquil water.
But from that rain of murd'rous engines
Has sprung a blessed, bloody vengeance;
It stirs the rage of brotherhood
And lust for pygmies' impious blood.
Shield, helmet, spear- how profit these?
What use to dwarfs the heron feather?
How ant and dactyl hide together!
The host now wavers, breaks, and flees.
Anaxagoras [after a pause, solemnly].
If till now subterranean I praised,
In this case be my prayer to Heaven raised.
O Thou on high, the same eternally,
In name and form threefold supernally,
By all my people's woe I cry to Thee,
Diana, Luna, Hecate!
Thou breast-expanding One, most deeply pensive One,
Thou peaceful seeming One, mighty intensive One,
Break from the glooms of Thy dark chasm clear,
And without magic let Thine ancient might appear!