Faust by Goethe, Excerpt

21 Jul

Granted, this play drops knowledge so casually, it would be fit to transcribe the entire play into this blog post. The excerpts below are passages that struck me from what I read this afternoon:

Line 1785


I’m glad to know it.

But one thing bothers me. Since time

Is short and art is long you should

I think, take some instruction.

Seek the society of a poet

And let that gentleman’s imagination run

And heap pon your honourable dome

Every noble quality:

The lion’s bravery,

The deer’s fleetfootedness,

The Italian’s fiery blood,

Northern steadfastness.

Let him teach you how to marry

Being generous with being sly

And fall in love like a young man

Warmly, impulsively, after a plan.

I wish some such person would come

My way. I’d call him Mr. Microcosm.


What am I then if I can never

Get the crown of the human race

After which all the senses chase?


You are in the end…the thing you are.

Pile wig on curly wig upon your pate

And sock on comic sock beneath your feet

You are the thing you are, still and for ever.

Line 1880


To be honest, I wish I was gone again.

These walls and halls are not at all

A world where I feel comfortable.

I’m cramped and cabined. I never see

Anything green and never a tree.

I sit in lecture rooms and feel

My hearing, sight and thinking fail.



Use your time, it hurries off so fast.

But Organization makes it last.

You should accordingly attend

Collegium Logicum first, my friend.

There you mind will be put to rights

And fitted tightly in Scotch boots

So that in a more considered fashion

It creeps the thought-road from then on

And does not for example flit

Like a will-o’-the-wisp this way and that.

Day by day they’ll teach you how

The things you’ve done just so till now

Heedlessly, like eating and drinking,

You can’t till logic’s put to use.

Though in the factory of thinking

It’s like a weaver’s masterpiece:

One kick and a thousand threads awake,

The shuttles shoot to and fro,

The threads invisibly flow,

Thousandfold and interlinking at a stroke-

Then enter the Philosopher

And prooves these things must be as they are:

The first being thus, the second thus

Therefore the third and fourth are thus

And were the first and second not there

Not would the third and fourth be, ever.

And students marvel everywhere

At this, but none becomes a weaver.

To know a living thing and describe it

First they drive out the vital bit

And hold the parts but not the soul,

Alas, that made the parts a whole.

The Chemists call it encheiresis naturae,

Makes a fool of himself and can’t see why.


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