Saturday, October 02, 2021

Goethe - Part II


I surprised myself earlier this year when I read -- and enjoyed -- the first part of Goethe's Faust. That part, which contains the famous 'bargain,' I was able to follow. And as I say, there were parts which I even enjoyed.

Sadly, I struggled to make my way through part two. There's a lot happening here, clearly; but without the necessarily background and training, I found it a challenge to connect each of the five acts, and to understand how Faust himself fit in. The references -- both implicit and explicit -- to Greek drama, too, seem largely to have been lost on me. 

All of that said, there are some beautiful passages in the second part -- most of them, in my reading, unfurling with a sort of organic quality. No doubt, Goethe's language is sweeping, his sense of rhythm and meter highly attuned. And so while I can't claim that I followed the intricacies of the plot or cultural references in part two, I can say that some of this poetry, at least, will stay with me.

Have you wishes without number?
Watch the promise of the dawn!
Lightly you are wrapped in slumber:
Shed this husk and be reborn!
Venture boldly; hesitation
Is for lesser men -- when deeds
Are a noble mind's creation, 
All his enterprise succeeds.

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