In space. A segment of the Earth is seen in the distance, growing ever smaller, until it seems as distant as a star, indistinguishable from the others. The scene begins in a twilight grey, which slowly darkens to pitch black. ADAM is a very old man. He and LUCIFER are flying through space.

How furiously we have flown. Where are we?

Did you not wish to rise above the earth
To higher spheres, where, if I understood you
Quite correctly, you have heard the cries’
Of fellow spirits?

      That is true, but I
Never imagined the way to be so barren.
This world is all so alien and deserted
That to trespass in it seems a sacrilege,
And I am subject to an inner conflict:
I feel the meanness of an Earth that bound
My aspirations, and long to break its hold,
And yet I’m homesick, breaking free is painful. -
Ah Lucifer! Just look back at our planet,
The flowers were first to vanish from our sight,
And then the trembling branches of the forests;
Our well-known haunts, a hundred favourite nooks
Have levelled down, become a featureless plain.
Whatever thrilled us has been washed away.
Now even the cliffs have shrunk to useless clods,
The thunder-bellied cloud which terrifies
Peasants below, who take it for a portent,
Has thinned to a poor drifting shred of vapour.
The endless grumbling ocean - where is that?
It sits there like a grey patch on the face
Of one poor planet lost among the others,
And this was once the whole wide world to us.
Oh Lucifer! And then there’s her, yes her -
Must she remain below, so far from us? -

Unfortunately, from this eminence
First the beautiful, and then the noble
And the powerful all fade away, until
Nothing’s left but a series of cold figures. -

We’re leaving the very stars behind us now,
I see no end, I feel no obstacle.
What’s life without the striving and the passion?
This deep cold terrifies me, Lucifer!

If this is the limit of your vaunted courage
We should return to playing in the dust.

Who said it was? No, forward, let’s go forward:
It only hurts until the ties are broken,
Each web of rope that holds me to the earth. -
But what is this? I find it hard to breathe,
I’ve little strength, my thoughts are all confused.
The tale that tells how Antaeus could survive
Only until his feet still touched the ground -
Was it more than legend?

      More indeed.
You know me well, the Spirit of the Earth,
It is only I that breathe in you, remember.
Here is the border, the limit of my power,
If you return you live - go on, you perish,
You squirm and wriggle like a worm in water -
That puddle is the whole wide world to you.

Then I defy you, you have failed to scare me. -
My body may be yours, my soul is mine,
The power of thought and truth is infinite,
And came before this material world of yours.

Vain man! Attempt it, what a fall awaits you.
Did her fragrance anticipate the rose,
The form the body, the ray of light the sun?
If only you could see your orphaned spirit
Circling through the endlessness of space,
Seeking vainly for a shred of meaning
Or expression in an alien universe,
But understanding nothing, feeling nothing,
You would shudder. And that is because each sense,
Each single feeling you possess is only
An emanation of this core or matter
Which you have called your Earth, which were it different,
Neither you nor it would have existed.
All your ideas of fair or foul, of blessed
Or cursed, you have gleaned from me alone,
It is my soul that permeates the fabric
Of your little world. Oh, what passes here
For eternal truth might be incredible
Elsewhere and the impossible seem natural.
No gravity exists, life does not move,
What here is air might very well be thought,
What here is light might over there be sound,
A plant-like growth here, there might be a crystal.

You cannot shake me, my spirit will press on.

Adam, Adam, you have but a few minutes:
Go back, on Earth you might achieve true greatness,
But once you have forced your spirit through the ring
Of all existence, God will not permit you
To approach Him - He will shrink and wreck you.

Would earth not also wreck me in the end? -

Oh not the foolish words of that old lie,
Do not repeat them here among the spirits. -
The whole of nature shivers at the sound. -
That is the sacred hidden seal of God,
Reserved unto Himself. Not even the Fruit
Of The Tree of Knowledge could break that seal.

      Then I will.
They fly on. ADAM screams out and freezes
I have perished!

LUCIFER cackling
      And so the old lie has triumphed. -
He pushes ADAM away from himself
This puppet god can now go into orbit
Like a planet on which new life might evolve
All over again to give me fresh employment. -

You laugh too soon. He merely brushed against
The alien world. It’s not so easy to break
The bounds of my realm, Lucifer. - Your home
Is calling you; come to yourself, my son.

ADAM regaining consciousness
I live again. - I sense because I suffer,
But even suffering is sweet to me,
Annihilation is so horrifying. -
O Lucifer, please lead me back to earth,
There where I’ve fought so many useless battles,
I’ll fight again and that will make me happy.

So after all these trials you still believe
That these new battles may not be so useless?
That you will reach your goal? Only humanity
Could remain so incorrigibly childish.

I’m quite untempted by that foolish prospect,
I know that I will fail and fail again
And I don’t care. What other goal is there?
It is the end of an honourable contest,
The goal is death, but life consists of struggle,
The struggle in itself must be the goal.

Oh what a consolation, if your battle
Were fought for some commensurate ideal,
But what you prize today you’ll mock tomorrow,
The cause that fired you then will seem like child’s play. -
Did you not bleed at Chaeronea once
Defending the lost cause of liberty,
And later, did you not join Constantine
In order to establish his great empire?
And were you not a martyr for your faith
And later, with the armoury of science,
Oppose the very faith that you had died for?

That may be true, and yet however false
Ideals they were, they managed to inspire
And raise me up: they all were great and sacred.
It is all one, whatever form it took,
The Cross or science, liberty, ambition,
They all advanced the progress of mankind. -
Oh back to earth, I want to fight again.

Have you so soon forgot the scientist’s words;
Who calculated that the earth would freeze
Pour thousand years - putting an end to struggle?

If science doesn’t challenge that assumption.
But science will, I feel it in my bones. -

And then? - Will there be battles, greatness, power
In that artificial world the human mind
Created round its tidy theorems,
That world which you observed a while ago?

As long as the earth is saved - then it will pass
Like those before, like things that have fulfilled
Their purpose, and once again creative thought
Will re-emerge and breathe life into it.
Take me back now, I’m burning to see what
New doctrine will inspire me in the world
That has been saved.

      Very well then, back. -


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