learn german
     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses

22) ... Ward eines Menschen Geist, in seinem hohen Streben ...

  Ward eines Menschen Geist, in seinem hohen Streben, Von deinesgleichen je gefaßt?  

Was any human spirit, struggling to ascend,
Such as your sort could ever comprehend?


Here again we have some verses that are similar to many situations in our real life. Many people interpret live and everything in it only in their own manner. And often they in the malicious way they do so, they reveal a lot about their character. Probably you know the story of the swan that fell into a nest of ducks. Everyone was making fun of him, because as a young one he was black and he didn't live in an ambience that was convenient for him. But at the end it turned to be a swan and was pretty, elegant and much more beautiful than the ducks, that first were making fun of him. Maybe you also know the poem by Baudelaire.

Souvent, pour s'amuser, les hommes d'équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

A peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à coté d'eux.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguère si beau, qu'il est comique et laid!
L'un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L'autre mime, en boitant, l'infirme qui volait!

Le Poête est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher
Sometimes to entertain themselves,
the men of the crew
Lure upon the deck an unlucky albatross, one of those vast birds of the sea that follow unwearied the voyage through, Flying in slow and elegant circles above the mast.

No sooner have they disentangled him
from their nets
Than this aerial colossus, shorn of his pride,
Goes hobbling pitiably across the planks
and lets His great wings hang
like heavy, useless oars at his side.

How droll is the poor floundering creature,
how limp and weak,
He, but a moment past so lordly, flying in state!
They tease him; One of them tries
to stick a pipe in his beak;
Another mimics with laughter his odd, lurching gait.

The poet is like that wild inheritor of the cloud,
A rider of storms above the range of arrows and slings;
Exiled on earth, at bay amid the jeering crowd,
He cannot walk for his unmanageable wings.

This world has more of these seamen than poets. There are more seamen than albatroses. And there are more people with a malicious character that actually prevents them to sea the beauty of that what others do. In this precise context Mephistopheles believes that he can fulfil Faust's strives with cheap amusements. But he is wrong.