Am I too quickly heard? Hath my prayer To yonder sphere The ordered course of Nature stirred? And greater, ever greater, draweth near The goddess' throne, her full-orbed sphere- To gaze upon, appalling, dire! And ruddier, redder glows its fire... No nearer! threatening orb, I pray, Lest Thou wilt sweep us, land, and sea away! Thessalian witches? Can it then be true That Thee once from Thy proper path they drew, By spells of impious magic sung, And fatal gifts from Thee so wrenched and wrung?... The brilliant shield, behold, it darkles! And now it splits and flares and sparkles! What clattering! What hissing yonder! And midst it what wild hurricane and thunder! Humbly I kneel here at Thy throne! Forgive I have invoked it, I alone!
He throws himself on his face.
Thales. What has this man not seen and heard! I know not rightly what occurred; Nor yet like him have I experienced it. They're crazy hours, let us admit. And Luna's swaying comfortably In her old place as formerly. Homunculus. Look at the pygmies' seat! I vow, The hill was round, it's pointed now. I seemed to feel an awful shock; Down from the moon had plunged a rock; At once, without a question, too, Both friend and foe it squashed and slew. High arts like these I have to praise, Which, by some great creative might, Working above, below, could raise This mountain-pile in but one night. Thales. Be calm! 'Twas but like thought in rapid flight. Let them be gone, the nasty brood! That you were not their king is good. Now to the sea's glad fate let us repair. They hope and honour rare guests there.
Mephistopheles [climbing up on the opposite side]. Up steep rock stairways I am forced to fag me, Through stubborn roots of ancient oak trees drag me! Up in my Hartz there is a resinous savour With hints of pitch, and that enjoys my favour Almost like brimstone... In this Grecian place, Of scents like these there's scarcely any trace. I'm curious to know and would inquire Wherewith they feed hell's torments and hell's fire. A Dryad. At home be wise as it befits you there; Abroad you have no cleverness to spare. Homeward you should not turn your thoughts while here; You should the sacred oaks' high worth revere. Mephistopheles. We think of what behind us lies; What we were used to seems a Paradise. But say: What cowers in the cavern there, Threefold in form and dimly lighted? A Dryad. The Phorkyads! Approach them if you dare And speak to them if you are not affrighted. Mephistopheles. Why not?- I see a something and I wonder. I must confess although it hurts my pride: The Like of them I've never yet espied. Why, worse mandrakes, they look yonder... How can the Deadly Sins then ever be Considered ugly in the least degree If one has seen this monstrous trinity? We would not suffer it to dwell Upon the threshold of our grimmest hell. Here in the land of beauty it is rooted, The classic, antique land reputed... They seem to scent me now and stir and chitter; Like vampire bats they peep and twitter. A Phorkyad. Give me the eye, my sisters, to espy Who to our temple dares to come so nigh. Mephistopheles. Most honoured! I approach you, with your leave, That I your threefold blessing may receive. I come, though as a stranger, be it stated, Yet, if I err not, distantly related. Gods ancient and revered I've seen ere now, To Ops and Rhea made my deepest bow. The Fates, your sisters too, whom Chaos bore, I saw them yesterday- or else the day before. But others like yourselves I've never sighted, And I stand mute, amazed, delighted! The Phorkyads. Intelligent this spirit seems to be. Mephistopheles. That no bard sings your praise amazes me. And say! How came it, how could it have been? Your likeness, worthy ones, I've never seen! On you the chisel should try out its art, And not on Juno, Pallas, Venus, and that sort. The Phorkyads. Immersed in stillest night and solitude, We Three have never felt that thought intrude. Mephistopheles. How should it? Since withdrawn from earthly view, Here you see none, nor anyone sees you. But choose in other places to reside Where art and splendour equally preside, Where daily in quick time from marble blocks Heroes leap into life in flocks, Where- The Phorkyads. Silence! Stir in us no longings new! What would it profit if we better knew? We, born in night, akin to night alone, Are almost to ourselves, to others quite, unknown. Mephistopheles. In such a case there is not much to say. To others, though, one can one's self convey. One eye, one tooth, suffices for you three, So it would tally with mythology If into two the being of you three were blended And your third form to me were lended For a brief time. One Phorkyad. What think you? Should we try? The Other Phorkyads. Let's try it! But without the tooth or eye. Mephistopheles. Take these away? The essence then you'll take, For it's the perfect image that they make. One Phorkyad. Press one eye to- quite easily it's done- And of your tusks show only one; At once you will attain our profile meetly And sisterly resemble us completely. Mephistopheles. Much honour! Be it so! The Phorkyads. So be it! Mephistopheles [in profile like a PHORKYAD]. Done! Here stand I, Chaos' well-beloved son! The Phorkyads. Daughters of Chaos we, by undisputed right! Mephistopheles. Oh, shame! They'll call me now hermaphrodite! The Phorkyads. What beauty in the sisters' triad new! We have two eyes, our teeth are two. Mephistopheles. From all eyes I must hide this visage well To fright the devils in the pool of Hell.