Pelleas and Melisande
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Leah Moser and the Online Distributed
Pelleas and Melisande
ALLADINE AND PALOMIDES
_Translated by_ RICHARD HOVEY
STONE AND KIMBALL
PREFACE (by Maurice Maeterlinck)
PELLEAS AND MELISANDE
ALLADINE AND PALOMIDES
On m'a demande plus d'une fois si mes drames, de _La Princesse
Maleine_ a _La Mort de Tintagiles_, avaient ete reellement ecrits pour
un theatre de marionettes, ainsi que je l'avais affirme dans l'edition
originale de cette sauvage petite legende des malheurs de Maleine. En
verite, ils ne furent pas ecrits pour des acteurs ordinaires. Il n'y
avait la nul desir ironique et pas la moindre humilite non plus. Je
croyais sincerement et je crois encore aujourd'hui, que les poemes
meurent lorsque des etres vivants s'y introduisent. Un jour, dans un
ecrit dont je ne retrouve plus que quelques fragments mutiles, j'ai
essaye d'expliquer ces choses qui dorment, sans doute, au fond de
notre instinct et qu'il est bien difficile de reveiller completement.
J'y constatais d'abord, qu'une inquietude nous attendait a tout
spectacle auquel nous assistions et qu'une deception a peu pres
ineffable accompagnait toujours la chute du rideau. N'est-il pas
evident que le Macbeth ou l'Hamlet que nous voyons sur la scene ne
ressemble pas au Macbeth ou a l'Hamlet du livre? Qu'il a visiblement
retrograde dans le sublime? Qu'une grande partie des efforts du poete
qui voulait creer avant tout une vie superieure, une vie plus proche
de notre ame, a ete annulee par une force ennemie qui ne peut se
manifester qu'en ramenant cette vie superieure au niveau de la vie
ordinaire? Il y a peut-etre, me disais-je, aux sources de ce malaise,
un tres ancien malentendu, a la suite duquel le theatre ne fut jamais
exactement ce qu'il est dans l'instinct de la foule, a savoir: _le
temple du Reve_. Il faut admettre, ajoutai-je, que le theatre, du
moins en ses tendances, est un art. Mais je n'y trouve pas la
marque des autres arts. L'art use toujours d'un detour et n'agit pas
directement. Il a pour mission supreme la revelation de i'infini et de
la grandeur ainsi que la beaute secrete, de l'homme. Mais montrer
au doigt a l'enfant qui nous accompagne, les etoiles d'une unit de
Juillet, ce n'est pas faire une oeuvre d'art. Il faut que l'art agisse
comme les abeilles. Elles n'apportent pas aux larves de la ruche les
fleurs des champs qui renferment leur avenir et leur vie. Les larves
mourraient sous ces fleurs sans se douter de rien. Il faut que les
abeilles nourricieres apportent a ces nymphes aveugles l'ame meme
de ces fleurs, et c'est alors seulement qu'elles trouveront sans le
savoir en ce miel mysterieux la substance des ailes qui un jour les
emporteront a leur tour dans l'espace. Or, le poeme etait une
oeuvre d'art et portait ces obliques et admirables marques. Mais la
representation vient le contredire. Elle chasse vraiment les cygnes
du grand lac, et elle rejette les perles dans l'abime. Elle remet les
choses exactement au point ou elles etaient avant la venue du poete.
La densite mystique de l'oeuvre d'art a disparue. Elle verse dans
la meme erreur que celui qui apres avoir vante a ses auditeurs
l'admirable _Annonciation_ de Vinci, par exemple, s'imaginerait
qu'il a fait penetrer dans leurs ames la beaute surnaturelle de cette
peinture en reproduisant, en un tableau vivant, tous les details du
grand chef-d'oeuvre florentin.
Qui sait si ce n'est pas pour ces raisons cachees que l'on est oblige
de s'avouer que la plupart des grands poemes de l'humanite ne sont pas
sceniques? _Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Antoine et Cleopatre_,
ne peuvent etre representes, et il est dangereux de les voir sur
la scene. Quelque chose d'Hamlet est mort pour nous du jour ou nous
l'avons vu mourir sous nos yeux. Le spectre d'un acteur l'a detrone,
et nous ne pouvons plus ecarter l'usurpateur de nos reves. Ouvrez les
portes, ouvrez le livre, le prince anterieur ne revient plus. Il a
perdu la faculte de vivre selon la beaute la plus secrete de notre
ame. Parfois son ombre passe encore en tremblant sur le seuil, mais
desormais il n'ose plus, il ne peut plus entrer; et bien des voix sont
mortes qui l'acclamaient en nous.
Je me souviens de cette mort de l'Hamlet de mes reves. Un soir
j'ouvris la porte a l'usurpateur du poeme. L'acteur etait illustre. Il
entra. Un seul de ses regards me montra qu'il n'etait pas Hamlet.
Il ne le fut pas un seul instant pour moi. Je le vis s'agiter durant
trois heures dans le mensonge. Je voyais clairement qu'il avait ses
propres destinees; et celles qu'il voulait representer m'etaient
indiciblement indifferentes a cote des siennes. Je voyais sa sante
et ses habitudes, ses passions et ses tristesses, ses pensees et
ses oeuvres, et il essayait vainement de m'interesser a une vie qui
n'etait pas la sienne et que sa seule presence avait rendue factice.
Depuis je le revois lorsque j'ouvre le livre et Elsinore n'est plus le
"La verite," dit quelque part Charles Lamb, "la verite est que les
caracteres de Shakespeare sont tellement des objets de meditation
plutot que d'interet ou de curiosite relativement a leurs actes,
que, tandis que nous lisons l'un de ses grands caracteres
criminels,--Macbeth, Richard, Iago meme,--nous ne songeons pas
tant aux crimes qu'ils commettent, qu'a l'ambition, a l'esprit
d'aspiration, a l'activite intellectuelle qui les poussent a franchir
ces barrieres morales. Les actions nous affectent si peu, que, tandis
que les impulsions, l'esprit interieur en toute sa perverse grandeur,
paraissent seuls reels et appellent seuls l'attention, le crime n'est
comparativement rien. Mais lorsque nous voyons representer ces choses,
les actes sont comparativement tout, et les mobiles ne sont plus rien.
L'emotion sublime ou nous sommes entraines par ces images de nuit
et d'horreur qu'exprime Macbeth; ce solennel prelude ou il s'oublie
jusqu'a ce que l'horloge sonne l'heure qui doit l'appeler au meurtre
de Duncan; lorsque nous ne lisons plus cela dans un livre, lorsque
nous avons abandonne ce poste avantageux de l'abstraction d'ou la
lecture domine la vision, et lorsque nous voyons sous nos yeux, un
homme en sa forme corporelle se preparer actuellement au meurtre; si
le jeu de l'acteur est vrai et puissant, la penible anxiete au sujet
de l'acte, le naturel desir de le prevenir tout qu'il ne semble
pas accompli, la trop puissante apparence de realite, provoquent un
malaise et une inquietude qui detruisent totalement le plaisir que les
mots apportent dans le livre, ou l'acte ne nous oppresse jamais de
la penible sensation de sa presence, et semble plutot appartenir a
l'histoire; a quelque chose de passe et d'inevitable."
Charles Lamb a raison, et pour mille raisons bien plus profondes
encore que celles qu'il nous donne. Le theatre est le lien ou meurent
la plupart des chefs-d'oeuvre, parce que la representation d'un
chef-d'oeuvre a l'aide d'elements accidentels et humains est
antinomique. Tout chef-d'oeuvre est un symbole, et le symbole ne
supporte pas la presence active de l'homme. Il suffit que le coq
chante, dit Hamlet, pour que les spectres de la nuit s'evanouissent.
Et de meme, le poeme perd sa vie "de la seconde sphere" lorsqu'un etre
de la sphere inferieure s'y introduit. L'accident ramene le symbole
a l'accident; et le chef-d'oeuvre, en son essence, est mort durant le
temps de cette presence et de ses traces.
Les Grecs n'ignorerent pas cette antinomie, et leurs masques que nous
ne comprenons plus ne servaient probablement qu'a attenuer la presence
de l'homme et a soulager le symbole. Aux epoques ou le theatre eut une
vie veritable, il la dut peut-etre uniquement a quelque circonstance
ou a quelque artifice qui venait en aide du poeme dans sa lutte contre
l'homme. Ainsi, sous Elisabeth, par exemple, la declamation etait une
sorte de melopee, le jeu etait conventionnel, et la scene aussi. Il en
etait a peu pres de meme sous Louis XIV. Le poeme se retire a mesure
que l'homme s'avance. Le poeme veut nous arracher du pouvoir de nos
sens et faire predominer le passe et l'avenir; l'homme, au contraire,
n'agit que sur nos sens et n'existe que pour autant qu'il puisse
effacer cette predomination. S'il entre en scene avec toutes ses
puissances, et libre comme s'il entrait dans une foret; si sa voix,
ses gestes, et son attitude ne sont pas voilees par un grand nombre
de conventions synthetiques; si l'on apercoit un seul instant l'etre
vivant qu'il est et l'ame qu'il possede,--il n'y a pas de poeme au
monde qui ne recule devant lui. A ce moment precis, le spectacle du
poeme s'interrompt et nous assistons a une scene de la vie exterieure,
qui, de meme qu'une scene de la rue, de la riviere, ou du champ de
bataille, a ses beautes eternelles et secretes, mais qui est neanmoins
impuissante a nous arracher du present, parce qu'en cet instant nous
n'avons pas la qualite pour apercevoir ces beautes invisibles, qui ne
sont que "des fleurs offertes aux vers aveugles."
Et c'est pour ces raisons, et pour d'autres encore qu'on pourrait
rechercher dans les memes parages, que j'avais destine mes petits
drames a des etres indulgents aux poemes, et que, faute de mieux,
Pelleas and Melisande.
_To Octave Mirbeau_.
In witness of deep friendship, admiration, and gratitude.
ARKEL, _King of Allemonde._
GENEVIEVE, _mother of Pelleas and Golaud_.
}_grandsons of Arkel._
LITTLE YNIOLD, _son of Golaud (by a former marriage)._
_Servants, Beggars, etc._
Pelleas and Melisande.
* * * * *
SCENE I.--_The gate of the castle._
Open the gate! Open the gate!
Who is there? Why do you come and wake me up? Go out by the little
gates; there are enough of them!...
A MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
We have come to wash the threshold, the gate, and the steps; open,
ANOTHER MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
There are going to be great happenings!
THIRD MAIDSERVANT _(within)._
There are going to be great fetes! Open quickly!...
Wait! wait! I do not know whether I shall be able to open it;... it is
never opened.... Wait till it is light....
It is light enough without; I see the sunlight through the chinks....
Here are the great keys.... Oh! oh! how the bolts and the locks
grate!... Help me! help me!...
We are pulling; we are pulling....
It will not open....
Ah! ah! It is opening! it is opening slowly!
How it shrieks! how it shrieks! it will wake up everybody....
_[Appearing on the threshold.]_ Oh, how light it is already
The sun is rising on the sea!
It is open.... It is wide open!... [_All the maidservants appear on
the threshold and pass over it._]
I am going to wash the sill first....
We shall never be able to clean all this.
Fetch the water! fetch the water!
Yes, yes; pour on water; pour on water; pour on all the water of the
Flood! You will never come to the end of it....
SCENE II.--_A forest._ MELISANDE _discovered at the brink of a
I shall never be able to get out of this forest again.--God knows
where that beast has led me. And yet I thought I had wounded him to
death; and here are traces of blood. But now I have lost sight of him;
I believe I am lost myself--my dogs can no longer find me--I shall
retrace my steps....--I hear weeping.... Oh! oh! what is there yonder
by the water's edge?... A little girl weeping by the water's edge?
[_He coughs._]--She does not hear me. I cannot see her face. [_He
approaches and touches_ MELISANDE _on the shoulder._] Why weepest
thou? [MELISANDE _trembles, starts up, and would flee._]--Do not be
afraid. You have nothing to fear. Why are you weeping here all alone?
Do not touch me! do not touch me!
Do not be afraid.... I will not do you any.... Oh, you are beautiful!
Do not touch me! do not touch me! or I throw myself in the water!...
I will not touch you.... See, I will stay here, against the tree. Do
not be afraid. Has any one hurt you?
Oh! yes! yes! yes!... [_She sobs profoundly._]
Who has hurt you?
Every one! every one!
GOLAUD. What hurt have they done you?
I will not tell! I cannot tell!...
Come; do not weep so. Whence come you?
I have fled!... fled ... fled....
Yes; but whence have you fled?
I am lost!... lost!... Oh! oh! lost here.... I am not of this
place.... I was not born there....
Whence are you? Where were you born?
Oh! oh! far away from here!... far away ... far away....
What is it shining so at the bottom of the water?
Where?--Ah! it is the crown he gave me. It fell as I was weeping....
A crown?--Who was it gave you a crown?--I will try to get it....
No, no; I will have no more of it! I will have no more of it!... I had
rather die ... die at once....
I could easily pull it out. The water is not very deep.
I will have no more of it! If you take it out, I throw myself in its
No, no; I will leave it there. It could be reached without difficulty,
nevertheless. It seems very beautiful.--Is it long since you fled?
Yes, yes!... Who are you?
I am Prince Golaud,--grandson of Arkel, the old King of Allemonde....
Oh, you have gray hairs already....
Yes; some, here, by the temples....
And in your beard, too.... Why do you look at me so?
I am looking at your eyes.--Do you never shut your eyes?
Oh, yes; I shut them at night....
Why do you look so astonished?
You are a giant?
I am a man like the rest....
Why have you come here?
I do not know, myself. I was hunting in the forest, I was chasing a
wild boar. I mistook the road.--You look very young. How old are you?
I am beginning to be cold....
Will you come with me!
No, no; I will stay here....
You cannot stay here all alone. You cannot stay here all night
long.... What is your name?
You cannot stay here, Melisande. Come with me....
I will stay here....
You will be afraid, all alone. We do not know what there may be here
... all night long ... all alone ... it is impossible. Melisande,
come, give me your hand....
Oh, do not touch me!...
Do not scream.... I will not touch you again. But come with me. The
night will be very dark and very cold. Come with me....
Where are you going?...
I do not know.... I am lost too....
SCENE III.--_A hall in the castle_. ARKEL _and_ GENEVIEVE
Here is what he writes to his brother Pelleas: "I found her all in
tears one evening, beside a spring in the forest where I had lost
myself. I do not know her age, nor who she is, nor whence she comes,
and I dare not question her, for she must have had a sore fright; and
when you ask her what has happened to her, she falls at once a-weeping
like a child, and sobs so heavily you are afraid. Just as I found her
by the springs, a crown of gold had slipped from her hair and fallen
to the bottom of the water. She was clad, besides, like a princess,
though her garments had been torn by the briers. It is now six months
since I married her and I know no more about it than on the day of
our meeting. Meanwhile, dear Pelleas, thou whom I love more than a
brother, although we were not born of the same father; meanwhile make
ready for my return.... I know my mother will willingly forgive me.
But I am afraid of the King, our venerable grandsire, I am afraid of
Arkel, in spite of all his kindness, for I have undone by this strange
marriage all his plans of state, and I fear the beauty of Melisande
will not excuse my folly to eyes so wise as his. If he consents
nevertheless to receive her as he would receive his own daughter,
the third night following this letter, light a lamp at the top of the
tower that overlooks the sea. I shall perceive it from the bridge
of our ship; otherwise I shall go far away again and come back no
more...." What say you of it?
Nothing. He has done what he probably must have done. I am very old,
and nevertheless I have not yet seen clearly for one moment into
myself; how would you that I judge what others have done? I am not
far from the tomb and do not succeed in judging myself.... One always
mistakes when one does not close his eyes. That may seem strange to
us; but that is all. He is past the age to marry and he weds like a
child, a little girl he finds by a spring.... That may seem strange to
us, because we never see but the reverse of destinies ... the reverse
even of our own.... He has always followed my counsels hitherto; I had
thought to make him happy in sending him to ask the hand of Princess
Ursula.... He could not remain alone; since the death of his wife he
has been sad to be alone; and that marriage would have put an end to
long wars and old hatreds.... He would not have it so. Let it be as he
would have it; I have never put myself athwart a destiny; and he knows
better than I his future. There happen perhaps no useless events....
He has always been so prudent, so grave and so firm.... If it were
Pelleas, I should understand.... But he ... at his age.... Who is it
he is going to introduce here?--An unknown found along the roads....
Since his wife's death, he has no longer lived for aught but his son,
the little Yniold, and if he were about to marry again, it was because
you had wished it.... And now ... a little girl in the forest.... He
has forgotten everything....--What shall we do?...
Who is coming in there?
It is Pelleas. He has been weeping.
Is it thou, Pelleas?--Come a little nearer, that I may see thee in the
Grandfather, I received another letter at the same time as my
brother's; a letter from my friend Marcellus.... He is about to die
and calls for me. He would see me before dying....
Thou wouldst leave before thy brother's return?--Perhaps thy friend is
less ill than he thinks....
His letter is so sad you can see death between the lines.... He says
he knows the very day when death must come.... He tells me I can
arrive before it if I will, but that there is no more time to lose.
The journey is very long, and if I await Golaud's return, it will be
perhaps too late....
Thou must wait a little while, nevertheless.... We do not know what
this return has in store for us. And besides, is not thy father here,
above us, more sick perhaps than thy friend.... Couldst thou choose
between the father and the friend?... [_Exit._
Have a care to keep the lamp lit from this evening, Pelleas....
SCENE IV.--_Before the castle. Enter_ GENEVIEVE _and_ MELISANDE.
It is gloomy in the gardens. And what forests, what forests all about
Yes; that astonished me too when I came hither; it astonishes
everybody. There are places where you never see the sun. But one gets
used to it so quickly.... It is long ago, it is long ago.... It is
nearly forty years that I have lived here.... Look toward the other
side, you will have the light of the sea....
I hear a noise below us....
Yes; it is some one coming up toward us.... Ah! it is Pelleas.... He
seems still tired from having waited so long for you....
He has not seen us.
I think he has seen us but does not know what he should do....
Pelleas, Pelleas, is it thou?...
Yes!... I was coming toward the sea....
So were we; we were seeking the light. It is a little lighter here
than elsewhere; and yet the sea is gloomy.
We shall have a storm to-night. There has been one every night for
some time, and yet it is so calm now.... One might embark unwittingly
and come back no more.
Something is leaving the port....
It must be a big ship.... The lights are very high, we shall see it in
a moment, when it enters the band of light....
I do not know whether we shall be able to see it ... there is still a
fog on the sea....
The fog seems to be rising slowly....
Yes; I see a little light down there, which I had not seen....
It is a lighthouse; there are others we cannot see yet.
The ship is in the light.... It is already very far away....
It is a foreign ship. It looks larger than ours....
It is the ship that brought me here!...
It flies away under full sail....
It is the ship that brought me here. It has great sails.... I
recognized it by its sails.
There will be a rough sea to-night.
Why does it go away to-night?... You can hardly see it any longer....
Perhaps it will be wrecked....
The sight falls very quickly.... [_A silence._
No one speaks any more?... You have nothing more to say to each
other?... It is time to go in. Pelleas, show Melisande the way. I mast
go see little Yniold a moment. [_Exit._
Nothing can be seen any longer on the sea....
I see more lights.
It is the other lighthouses.... Do you hear the sea?... It is the wind
rising.... Let us go down this way. Will you give me your hand?
See, see, my hands are full....
I will hold you by the arm, the road is steep and it is very gloomy
there.... I am going away perhaps to-morrow....
Oh!... why do you go away? [_Exeunt._
SCENE I.--_A fountain in the park.
Enter_ PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE.
You do not know where I have brought you?--I often come to sit here,
toward noon, when it is too hot in the gardens. It is stifling to-day,
even in the shade of the trees.
Oh, how clear the water is!...
It is as cool as winter. It is an old abandoned spring. It seems to
have been a miraculous spring,--it opened the eyes of the blind,--they
still call it "Blind Man's Spring."
It no longer opens the eyes of the blind?
Since the King has been nearly blind himself, no one comes any
How alone one is here!... There is no sound.
There is always a wonderful silence here.... One could hear the water
sleep.... Will you sit down on the edge of the marble basin? There is
one linden where the sun never comes....
I am going to lie down on the marble.--I should like to see the bottom
of the water....
No one has ever seen it.--It is as deep, perhaps, as the sea.--It is
not known whence it comes.--Perhaps it comes from the bottom of the
If there were anything shining at the bottom, perhaps one could see
Do not lean over so....
I would like to touch the water....
Have a care of slipping.... I will hold your hand....
No, no, I would plunge both hands in it.... You would say my hands
were sick to-day....
Oh! oh! take care! take care! Melisande!... Melisande!...--Oh! your
MELISANDE _(starting upright)._ I cannot,... I cannot reach it....
Your hair dipped in the water....
Yes, it is longer than my arms.... It is longer than I.... [_A silence._
It was at the brink of a spring, too, that he found you?
What did he say to you?
Nothing;--I no longer remember....
Was he quite near you?
Yes; he would have kissed me.
And you would not?
Why would you not?
Oh! oh! I saw something pass at the bottom of the water....
Take care! take care!--You will fall! What are you playing with?
With the ring he gave me....
Take care; you will lose it....
No, no; I am sure of my hands....
Do not play so, over so deep a water....
My hands do not tremble.
How it shines in the sunlight I--Do not throw it so high in the
It has fallen?
It has fallen into the water!...
Where is it? where is it?...
I do not see it sink?...
I think I see it shine....
Yes, yes; down yonder....
Oh! oh! It is so far away from us!... no, no, that is not it ... that
is not it.... It is lost ... lost.... There is nothing any more but
a great circle on the water.... What shall we do? What shall we do
You need not be so troubled for a ring. It is nothing.... We shall
find it again, perhaps. Or else we will find another....
No, no; we shall never find it again; we shall never find any others
either.... And yet I thought I had it in my hands.... I had already
shut my hands, and it is fallen in spite of all.... I threw it too
high, toward the sun....
Come, come, we will come back another day;... come, it is time. They
will come to meet us. It was striking noon at the moment the ring
What shall we say to Golaud if he ask where it is?
The truth, the truth, the truth.... [_Exeunt._
SCENE II.--_An apartment in the castle._ GOLAUD _discovered, stretched
upon his bed;_ MELISANDE, _by his bedside_.
Ah! ah! all goes well; it will amount to nothing. But I cannot
understand how it came to pass. I was hunting quietly in the forest.
All at once my horse ran away, without cause. Did he see anything
unusual?... I had just heard the twelve strokes of noon. At the
twelfth stroke he suddenly took fright and ran like a blind madman
against a tree. I heard no more. I do not yet know what happened. I
fell, and he must have fallen on me. I thought I had the whole forest
on my breast; I thought my heart was crushed. But my heart is sound.
It is nothing, apparently....
Would you like a little water?
Thanks, thanks; I am not thirsty.
Would you like another pillow?... There is a little spot of blood on
No, no; it is not worth while. I bled at the mouth just now. I shall
bleed again perhaps....
Are you quite sure?... You are not suffering too much?
No, no; I have seen a good many more like this. I was made of iron
and blood.... These are not the little bones of a child; do not alarm
Close your eyes and try to sleep. I shall stay here all night....
No, no; I do not wish you to tire yourself so. I do not need anything;
I shall sleep like a child.... What is the matter, Melisande? Why do
you weep all at once?...
MELISANDE _(bursting into tears)._
I am ... I am ill too....
Thou art ill?... What ails thee, then; what ails thee, Melisande?...
I do not know.... I am ill here.... I had rather tell you to-day; my
lord, my lord, I am not happy here....
Why, what has happened, Melisande? What is it?... And I suspecting
nothing.... What has happened?... Some one has done thee harm?... Some
one has given thee offence?
No, no; no one has done me the least harm.... It is not that.... It
is not that.... But I can live here no longer. I do not know why.... I
would go away, go away!... I shall die if I am left here....
But something has happened? You must be hiding something from me?...
Tell me the whole truth, Melisande.... Is it the King?... Is it my
mother?... Is it Pelleas?...
No, no; it is not Pelleas. It is not anybody.... You could not
Why should I not understand?... If you tell me nothing, what will you
have me do?... Tell me everything and I shall understand everything.
I do not know myself what it is.... I do not know just what it is....
If I could tell you, I would tell you.... It is something stronger
Come; be reasonable, Melisande.--What would you have me do?--You are
no longer a child.--Is it I whom you would leave?
Oh! no, no; it is not that.... I would go away with you.... It is
here that I can live no longer.... I feel that I shall not live a long
But there must be a reason nevertheless. You will be thought mad.
It will be thought child's dreams.--Come, is it Pelleas, perhaps?--I
think he does not often speak to you.
Yes, yes; he speaks to me sometimes. I think he does not like me; I
have seen it in his eyes.... But he speaks to me when he meets me....
You must not take it ill of him. He has always been so. He is a little
strange. And just now he is sad; he thinks of his friend Marcellus,
who is at the point of death, and whom he cannot go to see.... He will
change, he will change, you will see; he is young....
But it is not that ... it is not that....
What is it, then?--Can you not get used to the life one leads here?
Is it too gloomy here?--It is true the castle is very old and very
sombre.... It is very cold, and very deep. And all those who dwell in
it, are already old. And the country may seem gloomy too, with all
its forests, all its old forests without light. But that may all be
enlivened if we will. And then, joy, joy, one does not have it every
day; we must take things as they come. But tell me something; no
matter what; I will do everything you could wish....
Yes, yes; it is true.... You never see the sky here. I saw it for the
first time this morning....
It is that, then, that makes you weep, my poor Melisande?--It is only
that, then?--You weep, not to see the sky?--Come, come, you are no
longer at the age when one may weep for such things.... And then, is
not the summer yonder? You will see the sky every day.--And then, next
year.... Come, give me your hand; give me both your little hands. [_He
takes her hands._] Oh! oh! these little hands that I could crush like
flowers....--Hold! where is the ring I gave you?
Yes; our wedding-ring, where is it?
I think.... I think it has fallen....
Fallen?--Where has it fallen?--You have not lost it?
No, no; it fell ... it must have fallen.... But I know where it is....
Where is it?
You know ... you know well ... the grotto by the seashore?...
Well then, it is there.... It must be it is there.... Yes, yes; I
remember.... I went there this morning to pick up shells for little
Yniold.... There were some very fine ones.... It slipped from my
finger ... then the sea came in; and I had to go out before I had
Are you sure it is there?
Yes, yes; quite sure.... I felt it slip ... then, all at once, the
noise of the waves....
You must go look for it at once.
I must go look for it at once?
Now?--at once?--in the dark?
Now, at once, in the dark. You must go look for it at once. I had
rather have lost all I have than have lost that ring. You do not know
what it is. You do not know whence it came. The sea will be very high
to-night. The sea will come to take it before you.... Make haste. You
must go look for it at once....
I dare not.... I dare not go alone....
Go, go with no matter whom. But you must go at once, do you
understand?--Make haste; ask Pelleas to go with you.
Pelleas?--With Pelleas?--But Pelleas would not....
Pelleas will do all you ask of him. I know Pelleas better than you do.
Go, go; hurry! I shall not sleep until I have the ring.
Oh! oh! I am not happy!... I am not happy!...
SCENE III.--_Before a grotto._
_Enter_ PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE.
[_Speaking with great agitation._] Yes; it is here; we are there. It
is so dark you cannot tell the entrance of the grotto from the rest
of the night.... There are no stars on this side. Let us wait till
the moon has torn through that great cloud; it will light up the whole
grotto, and then we can enter without danger. There are dangerous
places, and the path is very narrow between two lakes whose bottom has
not yet been found. I did not think to bring a torch or a lantern, but
I think the light of the sky will be enough for us.--You have never
gone into this grotto?
Let us go in; let us go in.... You must be able to describe the place
where you lost the ring, if he questions you.... It is very big and
very beautiful. There are stalactites that look like plants and men.
It is full of blue darks. It has not yet been explored to the end.
There are great treasures hidden there, it seems. You will see the
remains of ancient shipwrecks there. But you must not go far in it
without a guide. There have been some who never have come back. I
myself dare not go forward too far. We will stop the moment we no
longer see the light of the sea or the sky. When you strike a little
light there, you would say the vault was covered with stars like the
sky. It is bits of crystal or salt, they say, that shine so in the
rock.--Look, look, I think the sky is going to clear.... Give me your
hand; do not tremble, do not tremble so. There is no danger; we will
stop the moment we no longer see the light of the sea.... Is it the
noise of the grotto that frightens you? It is the noise of night or
the noise of silence.... Do you hear the sea behind us?--It does not
seem happy to-night.... Ah! look, the light!...
[The moon lights up abundantly the entrance and part of the
darkness of the grotto; and at a certain depth are seen three
old beggars with white hair, seated side by side, leaning upon
each other and asleep against a bowlder.]
What is it?
There are ... there are....
[_She points out the three Beggars._
Yes, yes; I have seen them too....
Let us go!... Let us go!...
Yes ... it is three old poor men fallen asleep.... There is a famine in
the country.... Why have they come to sleep here....
Let us go!... Come, come.... Let us go!...
Take care; do not speak so loud.... Let us not wake them.... They are
still sleeping heavily.... Come.
Leave me, leave me; I prefer to walk alone....
We will come back another day.... [_Exeunt._
SCENE IV.--_An apartment in the castle,_ ARKEL _and_ PELLEAS
You see that everything retains you here just now and forbids you this
useless journey. We have concealed your father's condition from you
until now; but it is perhaps hopeless; and that alone should suffice
to stop you on the threshold. But there are so many other reasons....
And it is not in the day when our enemies awake, and when the people
are dying of hunger and murmur about us, that you have the right
to desert us. And why this journey? Marcellus is dead; and life has
graver duties than the visit to a tomb. You are weary, you say,
of your inactive life; but activity and duty are not found on the
highways. They must be waited for upon the threshold, and let in as
they go by; and they go by every day. You have never seen them? I
hardly see them any more myself; but I will teach you to see them, and
I will point them out to you the day when you would make them a sign.
Nevertheless, listen to me; if you believe it is from the depths of
your life this journey is exacted, I do not forbid your undertaking
it, for you must know better than I the events you must offer to your
being or your fate. I shall ask you only to wait until we know what
must take place ere long....
How long must I wait?
A few weeks; perhaps a few days....
I will wait....
SCENE I.--_An apartment in the castle._ PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE
_discovered_, MELISANDE _plies her distaff at the back of the room._
Yniold does not come back; where has he gone?
He had heard something in the corridor; he has gone to see what it is.
What is it?
... Can you see still to work there?...
I work as well in the dark....
I think everybody is already asleep in the castle. Golaud does not
come back from the chase. It is late, nevertheless.... He no longer
suffers from his fall?...
He said he no longer suffered from it.
He must be more prudent; his body is no longer as supple as at twenty
years.... I see the stars through the window and the light of the moon
on the trees. It is late; he will not come back now. [_Knocking at the
door._] Who is there?... Come in!...
_Little_ YNIOLD _opens the door and enters the room._
It was you knocking so?... That is not the way to knock at doors. It
is as if a misfortune had arrived; look, you have frightened little
I only knocked a tiny little bit.
It is late; little father will not come back to-night; it is time for
you to go to bed.
I shall not go to bed before you do.
What?... What is that you are saying?
I say ... not before you ... not before you....
[_Bursts into sobs and takes refuge by_ MELISANDE.]
What is it, Yniold?... What is it?... why do you weep all at once?
Because ... oh! oh! because ...
Because what?... Because what?... Tell me ...
Little mother ... little mother ... you are going away....
But what has taken hold of you, Yniold?... I have never dreamed of
Yes, you have; yes, you have; little father has gone away.... Little
father does not come back, and you are going to go away too.... I have
seen it ... I have seen it....
But there has never been any idea of that, Yniold.... Why, what makes
you think that I would go away?...
I have seen it ... I have seen it.... You have said things to uncle
that I could not hear....
He is sleepy.... He has been dreaming.... Come here, Yniold; asleep
already?... Come and look out at the window; the swans are fighting
with the dogs....
YNIOLD _(at the window)._
Oh! oh! they are chasing the dogs!... They are chasing them!... Oh!
oh! the water!... the wings!... the wings!... they are afraid....
PELLEAS. _(coming back by_ MELISANDE_)._
He is sleepy; he is struggling against sleep; his eyes were
MELISANDE _(singing softly as she spins)._
Saint Daniel and Saint Michael....
Saint Michael and Saint Raphael....
YNIOLD _(at the window)._
Oh! oh! little mother!...
MELISANDE _(rising abruptly)._
What is it, Yniold?... What is it?...
I saw something at the window?...
[PELLEAS _and_ MELISANDE _run to the window._
What is there at the window?... What have you seen?...
Oh! oh! I saw something!...
But there is nothing. I see nothing....
Where did you see something? Which way?...
Down there, down there!... It is no longer there....
He does not know what he is saying. He must have seen the light of the
moon on the forest. There are often strange reflections,... or else
something must have passed on the highway ... or in his sleep. For
see, see, I believe he is quite asleep....
YNIOLD _(at the window)._
Little father is there! little father is there!
PELLEAS _(going to the window)._
He is right; Golaud is coming into the courtyard....
Little father!... little father!... I am going to meet him!...
[_Exit, running,--A silence._
They are coming up the stair....
_Enter_ GOLAUD _and little_ YNIOLD _with a lamp._
You are still waiting in the dark?
I have brought a light, little mother, a big light!... [_He lifts
the lamp and looks at_ MELISANDE.] You have been weeping, little
mother?... You have been, weeping?... [_He lifts the lamp toward_
PELLEAS _and looks in turn at him._] You too, you too, you have been
weeping?... Little father, look, little father; they have both been
Do not hold the light under their eyes so....
SCENE II.--_One of the towers of the castle.--watchman's round passes
under a window in the tower._
MELISANDE _(at the window, combing her unbound hair)._
My long locks fall foaming
To the threshold of the tower,--
My locks await your coming
All along the tower,
And all the long, long hour,
And all the long, long hour.
_Saint Daniel and Saint Michael,_
_Saint Michael and Saint Raphael._
I was born on a Sunday,
A Sunday at high noon....
_Enter_ PELLEAS _by the watchman's round._
Hola! Hola! ho!...
Who is there?
I, I, and I!... What art thou doing there at the window, singing like
a bird that is not native here?
I am doing my hair for the night...
Is it that I see upon the wall?... I thought you had some light....
I have opened the window; it is too hot in the tower.... It is
There are innumerable stars; I have never seen so many as to-night;...
but the moon is still upon the sea.... Do not stay in the shadow,
Melisande; lean forward a little till I see your unbound hair....
I am frightful so....
[_She learn out at the window._
Oh! oh! Melisande!... oh, thou art beautiful!... thou art beautiful
so!... Lean out! lean out!... Let me come nearer thee....
I cannot come nearer thee.... I am leaning out as far as I can....
I cannot come up higher;... give me at least thy hand to-night ...
before I go away.... I leave to-morrow....
No, no, no!...
Yes, yes, yes; I leave, I shall leave to-morrow.... Give me thy hand,
thy hand, thy little hand upon my lips....
I give thee not my hand if thou wilt leave....
Give, give, give!...
Thou wilt not leave?...
I will wait; I will wait....
I see a rose in the shadows....
Where?... I see only the boughs of the willow hanging over the
Further down, further down, in the garden; further down, in the sombre
It is not a rose.... I will go see by and by, but give me thy hand
first; first thy hand....
There, there;... I cannot lean out further....
I cannot reach thy hand with my lips....
I cannot lean out further.... I am on the point of falling....--Oh!
oh! my hair is falling down the tower!...
[_Her tresses fall suddenly over her head, as she is leaning out so,
and stream over_ PELLEAS]
Oh! oh! what is it?... Thy hair, thy hair is falling down to me!...
All thy locks, Melisande, all thy locks have fallen down the tower!...
I hold them in my hands; I hold them in my mouth.... I hold them in
my arms; I put them about my neck.... I will not open my hands again
Let me go! let me go!... Thou wilt make me fall!...
No, no, no;... I have never seen such hair as thine, Melisande!...
See, see, see; it comes from so high and yet it floods me to the
heart!... And yet it floods me to the knees!... And it is sweet, sweet
as if it fell from heaven!... I see the sky no longer through thy
locks. Thou seest, thou seest?... I can no longer hold them with both
hands; there are some on the boughs of the willow.... They are alive
like birds in my hands,... and they love me, they love me more than
Let me go; let me go!... Some one might come....
No, no, no; I shall not set thee free to-night.... Thou art my
prisoner to-night; all night, all night!...
I tie them, I tie them to the willow boughs.... Thou shalt not go away
now;... thou shalt not go away now.... Look, look, I am kissing thy
hair.... I suffer no more in the midst of thy hair.... Hearest thou my
kisses along thy hair?... They mount along thy hair.... Each hair must
bring thee some.... Thou seest, thou seest, I can open my hands.... My
hands are free, and thou canst not leave me now....
Oh! oh! thou hurtest me.... [_Doves come out of the tower and fly
about them in the night._]--What is that, Pelleas?--What is it flying
It is the doves coming oat of the tower.... I have frightened them;
they are flying away....
It is my doves, Pelleas.--Let us go away, let me go; they will not
come back again....
Why will they not come back again?
They will be lost in the dark.... Let me go; let me lift my head....
I hear a noise of footsteps.... Let me go!--It is Golaud!... I believe
it is Golaud!... He has heard us....
Wait! Wait!... Thy hair is about the boughs.... It is caught there in
the darkness.... Wait, wait!... It is dark....
_Enter_ GOLAUD, _by the watchman's round._
What do you here?
What do I here?... I....
You are children.... Melisande, do not lean out so at the window; you
will fall.... Do you not know it is late?--It is nearly midnight.--Do
not play so in the darkness.--You are children.... [_Laughing
nervously._] What children!... What children!...
[_Exit, with_ PELLEAS.
SCENE III.--_The-vaults of the castle.
Enter_ GOLAUD _and_ PELLEAS.
Take care; this way, this way.--You have never penetrated into these
Yes; once, of old; but it was long ago....
They are prodigious great; it is a succession of enormous crypts that
end, God knows where. The whole castle is builded on these crypts. Do
you smell the deathly odor that reigns here?--That is what I wished,
to show you. In my opinion, it comes from the little underground lake
I am going to have you see. Take care; walk before me, in the light of
my lantern. I will warn you when we are there, [_They continue to walk
in silence._] Hey! hey! Pelleas! stop! stop!--[_He seizes him by the
arm._] For God's sake!... Do you not see?--One step more, and you had
been in the gulf!...
But I did not see it!... The lantern no longer lighted me....
I made a misstep.... but if I had not held you by the arm.... Well,
this is the stagnant water that I spoke of to you.... Do you
perceive the smell of death that rises?--Let us go to the end of this
overhanging rock, and do you lean over a little. It will strike you in
I smell it already;... you would say a smell of the tomb.
Further, further.... It is this that on certain days has poisoned
the castle. The King will not believe it comes from here.--The crypt
should be walled up in which this standing water is found. It is time,
besides, to examine these vaults a little. Have you noticed those
lizards on the walls and pillars of the vaults?--There is a labor
hidden here you would not suspect; and the whole castle will be
swallowed up one of these nights, if it is not looked out for. But
what will you have? nobody likes to come down this far.... There are
strange lizards in many of the walls.... Oh! here ... do you perceive
the smell of death that rises?
Yes; there is a smell of death rising about us....
Lean over; have no fear.... I will hold you ... give me ... no, no,
not your hand ... it might slip ... your arm, your arm!... Do you see
the gulf? [_Moved._]--Pelleas? Pelleas?...
Yes; I think I see the bottom of the gulf.... Is it the light that
trembles so?... You ... [_He straightens up, turns, and looks at_
GOLAUD (_with a trembling voice_).
Yes; it is the lantern.... See, I shook it to lighten the walls....
I stifle here;... let us go out....
Yes; let us go out....
[_Exeunt in silence._
SCENE IV.--_A terrace at the exit of the vaults. Enter_ GOLAUD _and_
Ah! I breathe at last!... I thought, one moment, I was going to be ill
in those enormous crypts; I was on the point of falling.... There is
a damp air there, heavy as a leaden dew, and darkness thick as a
poisoned paste.... And now, all the air of all the sea!... There is a
fresh wind, see; fresh as a leaf that has just opened, over the little
green waves.... Hold! the flowers have just been watered at the foot
of the terrace, and the smell of the verdure and the wet roses comes
up to us.... It must be nearly noon; they are already in the shadow of
the tower.... It is noon; I hear the bells ringing, and the children
are going down to the beach to bathe.... I did not know that we had
stayed so long in the caverns....
We went down towards eleven o'clock....
Earlier; it must have been earlier; I heard it strike half-past ten.
Half-past ten or a quarter to eleven....
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