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     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses

17) ... Zwei Seelen wohnen ach in meiner Brust ...

Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen;
Die eine hält, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt mit klammernden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.
Two souls alas! are dwelling in my breast;
And each is fain to leave its brother.
The one, fast clinging, to the world adheres
With clutching organs, in love's sturdy lust;
The other strongly lifts itself from dust
To yonder high, ancestral spheres.

It happens quite often, that we want two different things at the same time and therefore these verses are similar to many situations in our lives. Therefore they are famous. In this precise context it is not quite clear, what are the two incompatible things that Faust desires. Seeing Faust in his surrounding one could believe that it is the sensuality on the one side and the spirituality on the other side. But when looking at the text we see that it does not fit with the situation of Faust in this moment. He described his wish to follow the sun and leaving the night behind, that he can drink of the eternal light. This desire expresses his wish to leave this world, but Wagner in his eternal boring dialogue only understands that Faust would like to turn into a bird. In this desire Wagner cannot understand him at all. Much more interesting is flying from one page to the other and these "spiritual pleasures" seem to him much more interesting. Faust answers with the verses above the question about these "spiritual pleasures". Therefore it's legitimate to believe that in this context the verses do not mean, what they would normally mean.