Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis. Page: 19
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of the terrible memories of the Gretchen tragedy. Symbols taken from the Bible are the charming
landscape representing paradise and the image of bathing representing rebirth or baptism.
Goethe again pays tribute to Dante by setting the text in Faust's monologue in the form of
a terza rima, a metrical form first used in Dante's Divina Comedia (the terza rima may be
interpreted as representing the Holy Trinity).15 The terza rima form is a 3-lined stanza using a
rhyming pattern of a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c. An example from Scene 4 is:
Des Lebens Pulse schalgen frisch lebendig, -a
Atherische Dammerung milde zu begrtissen; -b
Du, Erde, warst auch diese Nacht bestandig -a
Und atmest neu erquickt zu meinen Fuissen, -b
Beginnest schon mit Lust mich zu umgeben, -c
Du regst und rtihrst ein kra*ftiges Beschliessen, -b
Life's pulses strike fresh and lively,
To greet the mild dawn;
You, earth, were constant through the night,
And breathed, refreshed at my feet.
Begin already with the desire to surround me,
You move and stir, a strong decision strive toward the highest existence,
(trans. Karl Paoletti)
Iambic pentameter, a rhythmic pattern made up of five pairs of unstressed/stressed feet is often
associated with terza rima form. Poets do not always adhere strictly to the unstressed/stressed
rhythm of the iambic pentameter. A common departure is to use a weak ending by the addition of
an unstressed syllable as Goethe does in Faust.
"Des Le/bens Pul/se schla/gen frisch/ lebendig;" (weak ending)
The accents in Schumann's setting of "Des Lebens Pulse schlagen" adhere closely to the
accentuation found in Goethe's poetic meter. Poems, or sections of poems written in a terza rima
form end with either a single line or a couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final
tercet (i.e., c-d-c, d or c-d-c, dd). This is significant information for the interpreter of Faust to
discern as a consequence of Goethe making connections to Dante, not only through a similar
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Paoletti Jr., Karl. Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis., dissertation, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9053/m1/25/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .