The Devil for a Companion — Goethe and Shelley
With surprising affability, the Lord in Goethe’s audacious Prologue in Heaven to the great poetic drama of Faust, receives Mephistopheles before the celestial throne. Evidently at ease, the visiting Devil explains that he has often found occasion to call on ‘the old fellow’ up above, and speaks appreciatively of God’s magnanimity in allowing him free access to realms where he hardly belongs: he has always been treated, he says, very civilly. For his part, the Lord accounts for his indulgence thus:
The active spirit of man soon sleeps, and soon
He seeks unbroken quiet; therefore I
Have given him the Devil for a companion,
Who may provoke him to some sort of work,
And must create forever.
KeywordsBurning Mercury Manifold Amid Titan
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© Andrew J. Welburn 1989