Goethe: Faust (1832)

Faust has sold his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles, in return for riches and, in this scene, women.

Faust, then Margareta passing by.

FAUST. Pray take my arm, fair lady.

Let me dare To give you escort homeward, if I may.

MARGARETA. No ladyship am I, nor am I fair,

And need no escort, Sir, to find my way. (Exit.)

FAUST. By Heaven, there goes a maid of rarest beauty:

I never saw a girl more exquisite,

With such an air of goodness and of duty,

And yet the mettle of a lively wit.

Her cheek's soft light, the crimson of her lips,

Will shine for me, outlasting time's eclipse:

For on my soul she printed, as she passed,

Her looks so tender-eyed and so downcast;

And in her brevity, when she replied,

She seemed enchanting youth personified. (Mephistopheles enters.)

Listen! The girl, go win her, Sir, for me!

MEPHISTOPHELES. The girl—what girl?

FAUST. That passed just now.

MEPHISTOPHELES.  She's just been to her priest, in penitence.

Confessing sins; and he absolved the lot.

I overheard her, lurking round the spot, 

And know her for a thing of innocence:

Sinless the girl attends confession-hour,

And over her the devil has no power.

FAUST. But, none the less, she must be turned fourteen.

MEPHISTOPHELES.  There speaks the lad who plays the libertine,

And thinks he has a right to every flower,

Knowing no grace or honourable name

Beyond his reach, to pluck it and devour

It often can't be done, Sir, all the same.

FAUST. Spare me, Professor Plausible, your saws

And plaguey discourse on the moral laws.

To cut the story short, I tell you plain,

Unless her sweet young loveliness has lain

Within my arms' embrace this very night,

The stroke of twelve shall end our pact outright.

MEPHISTOPHELES.  Consider the requirements of the case:

A fortnight is the minimum of space,

To engineer the proper time and place.

FAUST. Give me the girl and seven hours of grace

I wouldn't ask the devil for assistance

To overcome the little thing's resistance.

MEPHISTOPHELES.  Quite like a rake of Paris, Sir, already!

But I advise a strategy more steady,

For what's the good of snatching at your joy?

The pleasure's far more wonderful, my boy,

If first you make a dainty to and fro,

Prepare the darling with love's puppet-show,

And pet her, like your novelistic stallions,

After the manner of the best Italians.

FAUST. That's nothing to the hunger of my heart.


 Pray hear me now, Sir, pleasantry apart,

 I tell you once for all, that lovely girl

 Is never to be taken in a whirl.

 We stand to lose by forcing of the pace,

 When gentle subterfuge would meet our case.

FAUST. Get me a trifle from that angel's nest,

Or lead me to the dwelling of my dove !

Get me the kerchief that has touched her breast,

Or bring her girdle for my thoughts of love!


To prove to you the loyalty and zeal

With which I serve the passion that you feel,

I'll guide your eager steps without delay,

And you shall stand within her room this day.

FAUST. And shall I see her? - have her?

MEPHISTOPHELES.  No, good Sir, She's on a visit to a cottager;

But you, meanwhile, may pass sweet hours away

And breathe her aura to your heart's content,

And nurse the thoughts of love's enravishment.

FAUST. Can we go now?

MEPHISTOPHELES.   It is too early yet.

FAUST.  Prepare a gift, the best that wealth can get. (Exit.)


Presents, so soon? - He'll win her, past a doubt!

Full many a pretty place I know

With treasure buried long ago,

I'll go and get the baubles sorted out.

Question:  What values are being explored in this excerpt?