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     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

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Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses

9) ... habe nun, ach! Philosophie, ...

  FAUST:   FAUST.
Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
Juristerei und Medizin,
Und leider auch Theologie
Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
Und bin so klug als wie zuvor;
Heiße Magister, heiße Doktor gar
Und ziehe schon an die zehen Jahr
Herauf, herab und quer und krumm
Meine Schüler an der Nase herum-
Und sehe, daß wir nichts wissen können!
Das will mir schier das Herz verbrennen.
Zwar bin ich gescheiter als all die Laffen,
Doktoren, Magister, Schreiber und Pfaffen;
Mich plagen keine Skrupel noch Zweifel,
Fürchte mich weder vor Hölle noch Teufel-
Dafür ist mir auch alle Freud entrissen,
Bilde mir nicht ein, was Rechts zu wissen,
Bilde mir nicht ein, ich könnte was lehren,
Die Menschen zu bessern und zu bekehren.
Auch hab ich weder Gut noch Geld,
Noch Ehr und Herrlichkeit der Welt;
Es möchte kein Hund so länger leben!
Drum hab ich mich der Magie ergeben,
Ob mir durch Geistes Kraft und Mund
Nicht manch Geheimnis würde kund;
Daß ich nicht mehr mit saurem Schweiß
Zu sagen brauche, was ich nicht weiß;
Daß ich erkenne, was die Welt
Im Innersten zusammenhält,
Schau alle Wirkenskraft und Samen,
Und tu nicht mehr in Worten kramen.
O sähst du, voller Mondenschein,
Zum letzenmal auf meine Pein,
Den ich so manche Mitternacht
An diesem Pult herangewacht:
Dann über Büchern und Papier,
Trübsel'ger Freund, erschienst du mir!
Ach! könnt ich doch auf Bergeshöhn
In deinem lieben Lichte gehn,
Um Bergeshöhle mit Geistern schweben,
Auf Wiesen in deinem Dämmer weben,
Von allem Wissensqualm entladen,
In deinem Tau gesund mich baden!
Weh! steck ich in dem Kerker noch?
Verfluchtes dumpfes Mauerloch,
Wo selbst das liebe Himmelslicht
Trüb durch gemalte Scheiben bricht!
Beschränkt mit diesem Bücherhauf,
den Würme nagen, Staub bedeckt,
Den bis ans hohe Gewölb hinauf
Ein angeraucht Papier umsteckt;
Mit Gläsern, Büchsen rings umstellt,
Mit Instrumenten vollgepfropft,
Urväter Hausrat drein gestopft-
Das ist deine Welt! das heißt eine Welt!
Und fragst du noch, warum dein Herz
Sich bang in deinem Busen klemmt?
Warum ein unerklärter Schmerz
Dir alle Lebensregung hemmt?
Statt der lebendigen Natur,
Da Gott die Menschen schuf hinein,
Umgibt in Rauch und Moder nur
Dich Tiergeripp und Totenbein.
Flieh! auf! hinaus ins weite Land!
I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology
All through and through with ardour keen!
Here now I stand, poor fool, and see
I'm just as wise as formerly.
Am called a Master, even Doctor too,
And now I've nearly ten years through
Pulled my students by their noses to and fro
And up and down, across, about,
And see there's nothing we can know!
That all but burns my heart right out.
True, I am more clever than all the vain creatures,
The Doctors and Masters, Writers and Preachers;
No doubts plague me, nor scruples as well.
I'm not afraid of devil or hell.
To offset that, all joy is rent from me.
I do not imagine I know aught that's right;
I do not imagine I could teach what might
Convert and improve humanity.
Nor have I gold or things of worth,
Or honours, splendours of the earth.
No dog could live thus any more!
So I have turned to magic lore,
To see if through the spirit's power and speech
Perchance full many a secret I may reach,
So that no more with bitter sweat
I need to talk of what I don't know yet,
So that I may perceive whatever holds
The world together in its inmost folds,
See all its seeds, its working power,
And cease word-threshing from this hour.
Oh, that, full moon, thou didst but glow
Now for the last time on my woe,
Whom I beside this desk so oft
Have watched at midnight climb aloft.
Then over books and paper here
To me, sad friend, thou didst appear!
Ah! could I but on mountain height
Go onward in thy lovely light,
With spirits hover round mountain caves,
Weave over meadows thy twilight laves,
Discharged of all of Learning's fumes, anew
Bathe me to health in thy healing dew.
Woe! am I stuck and forced to dwell
Still in this musty, cursed cell?
Where even heaven's dear light strains
But dimly through the painted panes!
Hemmed in by all this heap of books,
Their gnawing worms, amid their dust,
While to the arches, in all the nooks,
Are smoke-stained papers midst them thrust,
Boxes and glasses round me crammed,
And instruments in cases hurled,
Ancestral stuff around me jammed-
That is your world! That's called a world!
And still you question why your heart
Is cramped and anxious in your breast?
Why each impulse to live has been repressed
In you by some vague, unexplained smart?
Instead of Nature's living sphere
In which God made mankind, you have alone,
In smoke and mould around you here,
Beasts' skeletons and dead men's bone.
Up! Flee! Out into broad and open land!
     

Those who have read Faust in college and there are a lot who have read it in college, most likely do not remember much of the work, but this part they probably do remember. As often the studies at universities seem to be of nothing good, many people will understand the sense of these verses, or to be more precise, they see these verses the description of their situation. They have studied a lot, but it did not really serve them.

If we look at these verses a bit more closely we can see the complexity of Faust's character. His knowledge does not bring him any satisfaction, just the contrary it disillusions him. A "normal" person would be content by knowing more than the others. But Faust is not such a trivial person and therefore his knowledge leads him to disillusion. The "normal" professor when giving classes in a university and he does not ruin his quiet life by asking whether it does matter, what he is telling to his students. To him it is enough that the students listen carefully.

Faust is not that simple. He doubts the value of that what he teaches, he reflects upon knowledge. It is not enough that the other appreciate him for his knowledge, he is more scrupulous. While a "normal" professor passes on his knowledge quietly from one generation to another, be this knowledge valuable or not, Faust cannot stop to doubt. He does not burry himself to his study, he does not resign to teach his student what he actually does not know.

If we have a look at the actual situation at the universities we see, that Faust is an exception. Most of the professors write one book in their early years and pass the rest of time by presenting their book to their students. The author of this chapter knows professor at universities, who do more or less the same in every semester and they do not even do it well. Most part of their time they spend in trying to get a better position (question of image) or they take a semester of investigation (in which they investigate the influence of one guy over the other) and other things like that. If they were just a little bit more like Faust, the universities would be worth their money.
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