The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. III
Kuno Francke (Editor-in-Chief)
Part 2 out of 13
He hears, as darkness veils his eyes,
Near, in hoarse croak, their dirge-like cries.
"Ye whose wild wings above me hover,
(Since never voice, save yours alone,
The deed can tell)--the hand discover--
Avenge!"--He spoke, and life was gone.
Naked and maim'd the corpse was found--
And, still through many a mangling wound,
The sad Corinthian Host could trace
The loved--too well-remember'd face.
"And must I meet thee thus once more?
Who hoped with wreaths of holy pine,
Bright with new fame--the victory o'er--
The Singer's temples to entwine!"
And loud lamented every guest
Who held the Sea-God's solemn feast--
As in a single heart prevailing,
Throughout all Hellas went the wailing.
Wild to the Council Hall they ran--
In thunder rush'd the threat'ning Flood--
"Revenge shall right the murder'd man,
The last atonement-blood for blood!"
Yet 'mid the throng the Isthmus claims,
Lured by the Sea-God's glorious games--
The mighty many-nation'd throng--
How track the hand that wrought the wrong?--
How guess if that dread deed were done,
By ruffian hands, or secret foes?
He who sees all on earth--the SUN--
Alone the gloomy secret knows.
Perchance he treads in careless peace,
Amidst your Sons, assembled Greece;
Hears with a smile revenge decreed;
Gloats with fell joy upon the deed.
His steps the avenging gods may mock
Within the very Temple's wall,
Or mingle with the crowds that flock
To yonder solemn scenic hall.
Wedg'd close, and serried, swarms the crowd--
Beneath the weight the walls are bow'd--
Thitherwards streaming far, and wide,
Broad Hellas flows in mingled tide tide--
A tide like that which heaves the deep
When hollow-sounding, shoreward driven;
On, wave on wave, the thousands sweep
Till arching, row on row, to heaven!
The tribes, the nations, who shall name,
That guest-like, there assembled came?
From Theseus' town, from Aulis' strand--
From Phocis, from the Spartans' land--
From Asia's wave-divided clime,
The Isles that gem the AEgean Sea,
To hearken on that Stage Sublime,
The Dark Choir's mournful melody!
True to the awful rites of old,
In long and measured strides, behold
The Chorus from the hinder ground,
Pace the vast circle's solemn round.
So this World's women never strode--
Their race from Mortals ne'er began;
Gigantic, from their grim abode,
They tower above the Sons of Man!
Across their loins the dark robe clinging,
In fleshless hands the torches swinging,
Now to and fro, with dark red glow--
No blood that lives the dead cheeks know!
Where flow the locks that woo to love
On _human_ temples--ghastly dwell
The serpents, coil'd the brow above,
And the green asps with poison swell.
Thus circling, horrible, within
That space--doth their dark hymn begin,
And round the sinner as they go,
Cleave to the heart their words of woe.
Dismally wails, the senses chilling,
The hymn--the FURIES' solemn song;
And froze the very marrow thrilling
As roll'd the gloomy sounds along.
And weal to him--from crime secure--
Who keeps his soul as childhood's pure;
Life's path he roves, a wanderer free--
We near him not-THE AVENGERS, WE,
But woe to him for whom we weave
The doom for deeds that shun the light:
Fast to the murderer's feet we cleave,
The fearful Daughters of the Night.
"And deems he flight from us can hide him?
Still on dark wings We sail beside him!
The murderer's feet the snare enthralls--
Or soon or late, to earth he falls!
Untiring, hounding on, we go;
For blood can no remorse atone I
On, ever--to the Shades below,
And there--we grasp him, still our own!"
So singing, their slow dance they wreathe,
And stillness, like a silent death,
Heavily there lay cold and drear,
As if the Godhead's self were near.
Then, true to those strange rites of old,
Pacing the circle's solemn round,
In long and measured strides--behold,
They vanish in the hinder ground!
Confused and doubtful--half between
The solemn truth and phantom scene,
The crowd revere the Power, presiding
O'er secret deeps, to justice guiding--
The Unfathom'd and Inscrutable
By whom the web of doom is spun,
Whose shadows in the deep heart dwell,
Whose form is seen not in the sun!
Just then, amidst the highest tier,
Breaks forth a voice that starts the ear;
"See there--see there, Timotheus,
Behold the Cranes of Ibycus!"
A sudden darkness wraps the sky;
Above the roofless building hover
Dusk, swarming wings; and heavily
Sweep the slow Cranes, hoarse-murmuring, over!
"Of Ibycus?"--that name so dear
Thrills through the hearts of those who hear!
Like wave on wave in eager seas,
From mouth to mouth the murmur flees--
"Of Ibycus, whom we bewail!
The murder'd one! What mean those words?
Who is the man--knows _he_ the tale?
Why link that name with those wild birds?"
Questions on questions louder press--
Like lightning flies the inspiring guess--
Leaps every heart--"The truth we seize;
Your might is here, EUMENIDES!
The murderer yields himself confest--
Vengeance is near--that voice the token--
Ho!-him who yonder spoke, arrest!
And him to whom the words were spoken!"
Scarce had the wretch the words let fall,
Than fain their sense he would recall
In vain; those whitening lips--behold!
The secret have already told.
Into their Judgment Court sublime
The Scene is changed;--their doom is seal'd!
Behold the dark unwitness'd Crime,
Struck by the lightning that reveal'd!
* * * * *
THE WORDS OF BELIEF (1797)
Three Words will I name thee--around and about,
From the lip to the lip, full of meaning, they flee;
But they had not their birth in the being without,
And the heart, not the lip, must their oracle be!
And all worth in the man shall for ever be o'er
When in those Three Words he believes no more.
Man is made FREE!--Man, by birthright, is free,
Though the tyrant may deem him but born for his tool.
Whatever the shout of the rabble may be--
Whatever the ranting misuse of the fool--
Still fear not the Slave, when he breaks from his chain,
For the Man made a Freeman grows safe in his gain.
And Virtue is more than a shade or a sound,
And Man may her voice, in this being, obey;
And though ever he slip on the stony ground,
Yet, ever again to the godlike way,
To the _science_ of Good though the Wise may be blind,
Yet the _practice_ is plain to the childlike mind.
And a God there is--over Space, over Time;
While the Human Will rocks, like a reed, to and fro,
Lives the Will of the Holy--A Purpose Sublime,
A Thought woven over creation below;
Changing and shifting the All we inherit,
But changeless through all One Immutable Spirit!
Hold fast the Three Words of Belief--though about
From the lip to the lip, full of meaning, they flee;
Yet they take not their birth from the being without--
But a voice from within must their oracle be;
And never all worth in the Man can be o'er,
Till in those Three Words he believes no more.
* * * * *
THE WORDS OF ERROR (1799)
Three Errors there are, that for ever are found
On the lips of the good, on the lips of the best;
But empty their meaning and hollow their sound--
And slight is the comfort they bring to the breast.
The fruits of existence escape from the clasp
Of the seeker who strives but those shadows to grasp--
So long as Man dreams of some Age in _this_ life
When the Right and the Good will all evil subdue;
For the Right and the Good lead us ever to strife,
And wherever they lead us, the Fiend will pursue.
And (till from the earth borne, and stifled at length)
The earth that he touches still gifts him with strength!
So long as Man fancies that Fortune will live,
Like a bride with her lover, united with Worth;
For her favors, alas! to the mean she will give--
And Virtue possesses no title to earth!
That Foreigner wanders to regions afar,
Where the lands of her birthright immortally are!
So long as Man dreams that, to mortals a gift,
The Truth in her fulness of splendor will shine;
The veil of the goddess no earth-born may lift,
And all we can learn is--to guess and divine I
Dost thou seek, in a dogma, to prison her form?
The spirit flies forth on the wings of the storm!
O, Noble Soul! fly from delusions like these,
More heavenly belief be it thine to adore;
Where the Ear never hearkens, the Eye never sees,
Meet the rivers of Beauty and Truth evermore!
Not _without_ thee the streams--there the Dull seek them;--No!
Look _within_ thee--behold both the fount and the flow!
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE LAY OF THE BELL JULIUS BENEZUR]
THE LAY OF THE BELL (1799)
"_Vivos voco--Mortuos plango--Fulgura frango_." 
Fast in its prison-walls of earth,
Awaits the mold of baked clay.
Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth--
THE BELL that shall be born today!
Who would honor obtain,
With the sweat and the pain,
The praise that Man gives to the Master must buy!--
But the blessing withal must descend from on high!
And well an earnest word beseems
The work the earnest hand prepares;
Its load more light the labor deems,
When sweet discourse the labor shares.
So let us ponder--nor in vain--
What strength can work when labor wills;
For who would not the fool disdain
Who ne'er designs what he fulfils?
And well it stamps our Human Race,
And hence the gift To UNDERSTAND,
That Man within the heart should trace
Whate'er he fashions with the hand.
From the fir the faggot take,
Keep it, heap it hard and dry,
That the gathered flame may break
Through the furnace, wroth and high.
When the copper within
Seethes and simmers--the tin
Pour quick, that the fluid that feeds the Bell
May flow in the right course glib and well.
Deep hid within this nether cell,
What force with Fire is molding thus
In yonder airy tower shall dwell,
And witness wide and far of us!
It shall, in later days, unfailing,
Rouse many an ear to rapt emotion;
Its solemn voice with Sorrow wailing,
Or choral chiming to Devotion.
Whatever Fate to Man may bring,
Whatever weal or woe befall,
That metal tongue shall backward ring
The warning moral drawn from all.
See the silvery bubbles spring!
Good! the mass is melting now!
Let the salts we duly bring
Purge the flood, and speed the flow.
From the dross and the scum,
Pure, the fusion must come;
For perfect and pure we the metal must keep,
That its voice may be perfect, and pure, and deep.
That voice, with merry music rife,
The cherished child shall welcome in,
What time the rosy dreams of life
In the first slumber's arms begin;
As yet in Time's dark womb unwarning,
Repose the days, or foul or fair,
And watchful o'er that golden morning,
The Mother-Love's untiring care!
And swift the years like arrows fly--
No more with girls content to play,
Fast in its prison-walls of earth,
Awaits the mold of baked clay.
Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth--
The BELL that shall be born to-day!
Bounds the proud Boy upon his way,
Storms through loud life's tumultuous pleasures,
With pilgrim staff the wide world measures;
And, wearied with the wish to roam,
Again seeks, stranger-like, the Father-Home.
And, lo, as some sweet vision breaks
Out from its native morning skies,
With rosy shame on downcast cheeks,
The Virgin stands before his eyes.
A nameless longing seizes him!
From all his wild companions flown;
Tears, strange till then, his eyes bedim;
He wanders all alone.
Blushing, he glides where'er she move;
Her greeting can transport him;
To every mead to deck his love,
The happy wild flowers court him!
Sweet Hope--and tender Longing--ye
The growth of Life's first Age of Gold,
When the heart, swelling, seems to see
The gates of heaven unfold!
O Love, the beautiful and brief! O prime,
Glory, and verdure, of life's summertime!
Browning o'er, the pipes are simmering,
Dip this wand of clay within;
If like glass the wand be glimmering,
Then the casting may begin.
Brisk, brisk now, and see
If the fusion flow free;
If--(happy and welcome indeed were the sign!)
If the hard and the ductile united combine.
For still where the strong is betrothed to the weak,
And the stern in sweet marriage is blent with the meek,
Rings the concord harmonious, both tender and strong:
So be it with thee, if forever united,
The heart to the heart flows in one, love-delighted;
Illusion is brief, but Repentance is long.
Lovely, thither are they bringing,
With her virgin wreath, the Bride!
To the love-feast clearly ringing,
Tolls the church-bell far and wide!
With that sweetest holyday,
Must the May of Life depart;
With the cestus loosed--away
Flies ILLUSION from the heart!
Yet love lingers lonely,
When Passion is mute,
And the blossoms may only
Give way to the fruit.
The Husband must enter
The hostile life;
With struggle and strife,
To plant or to watch,
To snare or to snatch,
To pray and importune,
Must wager and venture
And hunt down his fortune!
Then flows in a current the gear and the gain,
And the garners are filled with the gold of the grain,
Now a yard to the court, now a wing to the centre!
Within sits Another,
The thrifty Housewife;
The mild one, the mother--
Her home is her life.
In its circle she rules,
And the daughters she schools,
And she cautions the boys,
With a bustling command,
And a diligent hand
Employed she employs;
Gives order to store,
And the much makes the more;
Locks the chest and the wardrobe, with lavender smelling,
And the hum of the spindle goes quick through the dwelling,
And she hoards in the presses, well polished and full,
The snow of the linen, the shine of the wool;
Blends the sweet with the good, and from care and endeavor
Blithe the Master (where the while
From his roof he sees them smile)
Eyes the lands, and counts the gain;
There, the beams projecting far,
And the laden store-house are,
And the granaries bowed beneath
The blessed golden grain;
There, in undulating motion,
Wave the corn-fields like an ocean.
Proud the boast the proud lips breathe:--
"My house is built upon a rock,
And sees unmoved the stormy shock
Of waves that fret below!"
What chain so strong, what girth so great,
To bind the giant form of Fate?--
Swift are the steps of Woe.
Now the casting may begin;
See the breach indented there:
Ere we run the fusion in,
Halt--and speed the pious prayer!
Pull the bung out--
See around and about
What vapor, what vapor--God help us!--has risen?--
Ha! the flame like a torrent leaps forth from its prison!
What friend is like the might of fire
When man can watch and wield the ire?
Whate'er we shape or work, we owe
Still to that heaven-descended glow.
But dread the heaven-descended glow,
When from their chain its wild wings go,
When, where it listeth, wide and wild
Sweeps the Free Nature's free-born Child!
When the Frantic One fleets,
While no force can withstand,
Through the populous streets
Whirling ghastly the brand;
For the Element hates
What man's labor creates,
And the work of his hand!
Impartially out from the cloud,
Or the curse or the blessing may fall!
Benignantly out from the cloud,
Come the dews, the revivers of all!
Avengingly out from the cloud
Come the levin, the bolt, and the ball!
Hark--a wail from the steeple!--aloud
The bell shrills its voice to the crowd!
Look--look--red as blood
All on high!
It is not the daylight that fills with its flood
What a clamor awaking
Roars up through the street!
What a hell-vapor breaking
Rolls on through the street!
And higher and higher
Aloft moves the Column of Fire!
Through the vistas and rows
Like a whirlwind it goes,
And the air like the steam from a furnace glows.
Beams are crackling--posts are shrinking--
Walls are sinking--windows clinking
And the beast (the black ruin yet smoldering under)
Yells the howl of its pain and its ghastly wonder!
Hurry and skurry--away--away,
The face of the night is as clear as day!
As the links in a chain,
Again and again
Flies the bucket from hand to hand;
High in arches up-rushing
The engines are gushing,
And the flood, as a beast on the prey that it hounds,
With a roar on the breast of the element bounds.
To the grain and the fruits,
Through the rafters and beams,
Through the barns and the garners it crackles and streams!
As if they would rend up the earth from its roots,
Rush the flames to the sky
And at length,
Wearied out and despairing, man bows to their strength!
With an idle gaze sees their wrath consume,
And submits to his doom!
The place, and dread
For storms the barren bed!
In the blank voids that cheerful casements were,
Comes to and fro the melancholy air,
And sits despair;
And through the ruin, blackening in its shroud,
Peers, as it flits, the melancholy cloud.
One human glance of grief upon the grave
Of all that Fortune gave
The loiterer takes--then turns him to depart,
And grasps the wanderer's staff and mans his heart:
Whatever else the element bereaves
One blessing more than all it reft--it leaves
The face that he loves!--He counts them o'er,
See--not one look is missing from that store!
Now clasped the bell within the clay--
The mold the mingled metals fill--
Oh, may it, sparkling into day,
Reward the labor and the skill!
Alas! should it fail,
For the mold may be frail--
And still with our hope must be mingled the fear--
And, ev'n now, while we speak, the mishap may be near!
To the dark womb of sacred earth
This labor of our hands is given,
As seeds that wait the second birth,
And turn to blessings watched by heaven!
Ah seeds, how dearer far than they
We bury in the dismal tomb,
Where Hope and Sorrow bend to pray
That suns beyond the realm of day
May warm them into bloom!
From the steeple
Tolls the bell,
Deep and heavy,
Guiding with dirge-note--solemn, sad, and slow,
To the last home earth's weary wanderers know.
It is that worshipped wife--
It is that faithful mother!
Whom the dark Prince of Shadows leads benighted,
From that dear arm where oft she hung delighted.
Far from those blithe companions, born
Of her, and blooming in their morn;
On whom, when couched her heart above,
So often looked the Mother-Love!
Ah! rent the sweet Home's union-band,
And never, never more to come--
She dwells within the shadowy land,
Who was the Mother of that Home!
How oft they miss that tender guide,
The care--the watch--the face--the MOTHER--
And where she sate the babes beside,
Sits with unloving looks--ANOTHER!
While the mass is cooling now,
Let the labor yield to leisure,
As the bird upon the bough,
Loose the travail to the pleasure.
When the soft stars awaken!
Each task be forsaken!
And the vesper-bell, lulling the earth into peace,
If the master still toil, chimes the workman's release!
Homeward from the tasks of day,
Through the greenwood's welcome way
Wends the wanderer, blithe and cheerily,
To the cottage loved so dearly!
And the eye and ear are meeting,
Now, the slow sheep homeward bleating;
Now, the wonted shelter near,
Lowing the lusty-fronted steer
Creaking now the heavy wain,
Reels with the happy harvest grain;
While, with many-colored leaves,
Glitters the garland on the sheaves;
For the mower's work is done,
And the young folks' dance begun!
Desert street, and quiet mart;--
Silence is in the city's heart;
And the social taper lighteth
Each dear face that HOME uniteth;
While the gate the town before
Heavily swings with sullen roar!
Though darkness is spreading
O'er earth--the Upright
And the Honest, undreading,
Look safe on the night
Which the evil man watches in awe,
For the eye of the Night is the Law!
Bliss-dowered! O daughter of the skies,
Hail, holy ORDER, whose employ
Blends like to like in light and joy--
Builder of cities, who of old
Called the wild man from waste and wold,
And, in his but thy presence stealing,
Roused each familiar household feeling,
And, best of all, the happy ties,
The centre of the social band--
_The Instinct of the Fatherland!_
United thus--each helping each,
Brisk work the countless hands forever;
For naught its power to Strength can teach,
Like Emulation and Endeavor!
Thus linked the master with the man,
Each in his rights can each revere,
And while they march in freedom's van,
Scorn the lewd rout that dogs the rear!
To freemen labor is renown!
Who works--gives blessings and commands;
Kings glory in the orb and crown--
Be ours the glory of our hands,
Long in these walls--long may we greet
Your footfalls, Peace and Concord sweet!
Distant the day, oh! distant far,
When the rude hordes of trampling War
Shall scare the silent vale--
Now the sweet heaven, when day doth leave
Limns its soft rose-hues on the veil of Eve--
Shall the fierce war-brand, tossing in the gale,
From town and hamlet shake the horrent glare!
Now, its destined task fulfilled,
Asunder break the prison-mold;
Let the goodly Bell we build,
Eye and heart alike behold.
The hammer down heave,
Till the cover it cleave:--
For not till we shatter the wall of its cell
Can we lift from its darkness and bondage the Bell.
To break the mold the master may,
If skilled the hand and ripe the hour;
But woe, when on its fiery way
The metal seeks itself to pour,
Frantic and blind, with thunder-knell,
Exploding from its shattered home,
And glaring forth, as from a hell,
Behold the red Destruction come!
When rages strength that has no reason,
There breaks the mold before the season;
When numbers burst what bound before,
Woe to the State that thrives no more!
Yea, woe, when in the City's heart,
The latent spark to flame is blown,
"Freedom! Equality!"--to blood
And Millions from their silence start,
To claim, without a guide, their own!
Discordant howls the warning Bell,
Proclaiming discord wide and far,
And, born but things of peace to tell,
Becomes the ghastliest voice of war:
"Freedom! Equality!"--to blood
Rush the roused people at the sound!
Through street, hall, palace, roars the flood,
And banded murder closes round!
The hyena-shapes (that women were!)
Jest with the horrors they survey;
They hound--they rend--they mangle there,
As panthers with their prey!
Naught rests to hallow--burst the ties
Of life's sublime and reverent awe;
Before the Vice the Virtue flies,
And Universal Crime is Law!
Man fears the lion's kingly tread;
Man fears the tiger's fangs of terror;
And still, the dreadliest of the dread,
Is Man himself in error!
No torch, though lit from Heaven, illumes
The Blind!--Why place it in his hands?
It lights not him--it but consumes
The City and the Land!
Rejoice and laud the prospering skies!
The kernel bursts its husks--behold
From the dull clay the metal rise,
Pure-shining, as a star of gold!
Neck and lip, but as one beam,
It laughs like a sunbeam.
And even the scutcheon, clear-graven, shall tell
That the art of a master has fashioned the Bell!
Come in--come in,
My merry men--we'll form a ring
The new-born labor christening;
And "CONCORD" we will name her!
To union may her heart-felt call
In brother-love attune us all!
May she the destined glory win
For which the master sought to frame her--
Aloft--(all earth's existence under)
In blue-pavilioned heaven afar
To dwell--the Neighbor of the Thunder,
The borderer of the Star!
Be hers above a voice to raise
Like those bright hosts in yonder sphere,
Who, while they move, their Maker praise,
And lead around the wreathed year!
To solemn and eternal things
We dedicate her lips sublime,
As hourly, calmly, on she swings,
Fanned by the fleeting wings of Time!
No pulse--no heart--no feeling hers!
She lends the warning voice to Fate;
And still companions, while she stirs,
The changes of the Human State!
So may she teach us, as her tone
But now so mighty, melts away--
That earth no life which earth has known
From the last silence can delay!
Slowly now the cords upheave her!
From her earth-grave soars the Bell;
'Mid the airs of Heaven we leave her!
In the Music-Realm to dwell!
She has risen--she sways.
Fair Bell to our city bode joy and increase,
And oh, may thy first sound be hallowed to--PEACE.
* * * * *
THE GERMAN ART (1800)
By no kind Augustus reared,
To no Medici endeared,
German Art arose;
Fostering glory smil'd not on her,
Ne'er with kingly smiles to sun her,
Did her blooms unclose.
No! She went, by Monarchs slighted
Went unhonored, unrequited,
From high Frederick's throne;
Praise and Pride be all the greater,
That Man's genius did create her,
From Man's worth alone.
Therefore, all from loftier mountains,
Purer wells and richer Fountains,
Streams our Poet-Art;
So no rule to curb its rushing--
All the fuller flows it gushing
From its deep--The Heart!
* * * * *
COMMENCEMENT OF THE NEW CENTURY (1801)
Where can Peace find a refuge? Whither, say,
Can Freedom turn? Lo, friend, before our view
The CENTURY rends itself in storm away,
And, red with slaughter, dawns on earth the New!
The girdle of the lands is loosen'd--hurl'd
To dust the forms old Custom deem'd divine,--
Safe from War's fury not the watery world;--
Safe not the Nile-God nor the antique Rhine.
Two mighty nations make the world their field,
Deeming the world is for their heirloom given--
Against the freedom of all lands they wield
This--Neptune's trident; that--the Thund'rer's levin
Gold to their scales each region must afford;
And, as fierce Brennus in Gaul's early tale,
The Frank casts in the iron of his sword,
To poise the balance, where the right may fail--
Like some huge Polypus, with arms that roam
Outstretch'd for prey--the Briton spreads his reign;
And, as the Ocean were his household home,
Locks up the chambers of the liberal main.
On to the Pole where shines, unseen, the Star,
Onward his restless course unbounded flies;
Tracks every isle and every coast afar,
And undiscover'd leaves but--Paradise!
Alas, in vain on earth's wide chart, I ween,
Thou seek'st that holy realm beneath the sky--
Where Freedom dwells in gardens ever green--
And blooms the Youth of fair Humanity!
O'er shores where sail ne'er rustled to the wind,
O'er the vast universe, may rove thy ken;
But in the universe thou canst not find
A space sufficing for ten happy men!
In the heart's holy stillness only beams
The shrine of refuge from life's stormy throng;
Freedom is only in the land of Dreams;
And only blooms the Beautiful in Song!
* * * * *
[There is peace between the Greeks and Trojans--Achilles is to wed
Polyxena, Priam's daughter. On entering the Temple, he is shot through
his only vulnerable part by Paris.--The time of the following Poem is
during the joyous preparations for the marriage.]
And mirth was in the halls of Troy,
Before her towers and temples fell;
High peal'd the choral hymns of joy,
Melodious to the golden shell.
The weary had reposed from slaughter--
The eye forgot the tear it shed;
This day King Priam's lovely daughter
Shall great Pelides wed!
Adorn'd with laurel boughs, they come,
Crowd after crowd--the way divine,
Where fanes are deck'd--for gods the home--
And to the Thymbrian's solemn shrine.
The wild Bacchantic joy is madd'ning
The thoughtless host, the fearless guest;
And there, the unheeded heart is sadd'ning
_One_ solitary breast!
Unjoyous in the joyful throng,
Alone, and linking life with none,
Apollo's laurel groves among
The still Cassandra wander'd on!
Into the forest's deep recesses
The solemn Prophet-Maiden pass'd,
And, scornful, from her loosen'd tresses,
The sacred fillet cast!
"To all its arms doth Mirth unfold,
And every heart foregoes its cares;
And Hope is busy in the old;
The bridal-robe my sister wears.
But I alone, alone am weeping;
The sweet delusion mocks not me--
Around these walls destruction sweeping
More near and near I see!
"A torch before my vision glows,
But not in Hymen's hand it shines;
A flame that to the welkin goes,
But not from holy offering-shrines;
Glad hands the banquet are preparing,
And near, and near the halls of state
I hear the God that comes unsparing;
I hear the steps of Fate.
"And men my prophet-wail deride!
The solemn sorrow dies in scorn;
And lonely in the waste, I hide
The tortured heart that would forewarn.
Amidst the happy, unregarded,
Mock'd by their fearful joy, I trod;
Oh, dark to me the lot awarded,
Thou evil Pythian god!
"Thine oracle, in vain to be,
Oh, wherefore am I thus consign'd
With eyes that every truth must see,
Lone in the City of the Blind?
Cursed with the anguish of a power
To view the fates I may not thrall,
The hovering tempest still must lower--
The horror must befall!
"Boots it the veil to lift, and give
To sight the frowning fates beneath?
For error is the life we live,
And, oh, our knowledge is but death!
Take back the clear and awful mirror,
Shut from mine eyes the blood-red glare
Thy truth is but a gift of terror
When mortal lips declare.
"My blindness give to me once more--
The gay dim senses that rejoice;
The Past's delighted songs are o'er
For lips that speak a Prophet's voice.
To me _the future_ thou hast granted;
I miss _the moment_ from the chain--
The happy Present-Hour enchanted!
Take back thy gift again!
"Never for me the nuptial wreath
The odor-breathing hair shall twine;
My heavy heart is bow'd beneath
The service of thy dreary shrine.
My youth was but by tears corroded,--
My sole familiar is my pain,
Each coming ill my heart foreboded,
And felt it first--in vain!
"How cheer'ly sports the careless mirth--
The life that loves, around I see;
Fair youth to pleasant thoughts give birth--
The heart is only sad to me.
Not for mine eyes the young spring gloweth,
When earth her happy feast-day keeps;
The charm of life who ever knoweth
That looks into the deeps?
"Wrapt in thy bliss, my sister, thine
The heart's inebriate rapture-springs;--
Longing with bridal arms to twine
The bravest of the Grecian kings.
High swells the joyous bosom, seeming
Too narrow for its world of love,
Nor envies, in its heaven of dreaming,
The heaven of gods above!
"I too might know the soft control
Of one the longing heart could choose,
With look which love illumes with soul--
The look that supplicates and woos.
And sweet with him, where love presiding
Prepares our hearth, to go--but, dim,
A Stygian shadow, nightly gliding,
Stalks between me and him!
"Forth from the grim funereal shore,
The Hell-Queen sends her ghastly bands;
Where'er I turn--behind--before--
Dumb in my path--a Spectre stands!
Wherever gayliest, youth assembles--
I see the shades in horror clad,
Amidst Hell's ghastly People trembles
One soul for ever sad!
"I see the steel of Murder gleam--
I see the Murderer's glowing eyes--
To right--to left, one gory stream--
One circling fate--my flight defies!
I may not turn my gaze--all seeing,
Foreknowing all, I dumbly stand--
To close in blood my ghastly being
In the far strangers' land!"
Hark! while the sad sounds murmur round,
Hark, from the Temple-porch, the cries!--
A wild, confused, tumultuous sound!--
Dead the divine Pelides lies!
Grim Discord rears her snakes devouring--
The last departing god hath gone!
And, womb'd in cloud, the thunder, lowering,
Hangs black on Ilion.
[Illustration: CASSANDRA Ferdinand Keller]
* * * * *
RUDOLPH OF HAPSBURG (1803)
[Hinrichs properly classes this striking ballad (together with the yet
grander one of the "Fight with the Dragon") amongst those designed to
depict and exalt the virtue of Humility. The source of the story is in
AEgidius Tschudi, a Swiss chronicler; and Schiller appears to have
adhered, with much fidelity, to the original narrative.]
At Aachen, in imperial state,
In that time-hallow'd hall renown'd,
At solemn feast King Rudolf sate,
The day that saw the hero crown'd!
Bohemia and thy Palgrave, Rhine,
Give this the feast, and that the wine;
The Arch Electoral Seven,
Like choral stars around the sun,
Gird him whose hand a world has won,
The anointed choice of Heaven.
In galleries raised above the pomp,
Press'd crowd on crowd their panting way,
And with the joy-resounding tromp,
Rang out the millions' loud hurra!
For, closed at last the age of slaughter,
When human blood was pour'd as water--
LAW dawns upon the world!
Sharp force no more shall right the wrong,
And grind the weak to crown the strong--
War's carnage-flag is furl'd!
In Rudolf's hand the goblet shines--
And gaily round the board look'd he;
"And proud the feast, and bright the wines
My kingly heart feels glad to me!
Yet where the Gladness-Bringer--blest
In the sweet art which moves the breast
With lyre and verse divine?
Dear from my youth the craft of song,
And what as knight I loved so long,
As Kaiser, still be mine."
Lo, from the circle bending there,
With sweeping robe the Bard appears,
As silver white his gleaming hair,
Bleach'd by the many winds of years;
"And music sleeps in golden strings--
Love's rich reward the minstrel sings,
Well known to him the ALL
High thoughts and ardent souls desire!
What would the Kaiser from the lyre
Amidst the banquet-hall?"
The Great One smiled--"Not mine the sway--
The minstrel owns a loftier power--
A mightier king inspires the lay--
Its hest--THE IMPULSE OF THE HOUR!"
As through wide air the tempests sweep,
As gush the springs from mystic deep,
Or lone untrodden glen;
So from dark hidden fount within
Comes SONG, its own wild world to win
Amidst the souls of men!
Swift with the fire the minstrel glow'd,
And loud the music swept the ear:--
"Forth to the chase a Hero rode,
To hunt the bounding chamois-deer;
With shaft and horn the squire behind;--
Through greensward meads the riders wind--
A small sweet bell they hear.
Lo, with the HOST, a holy man--
Before him strides the sacristan,
And the bell sounds near and near.
"The noble hunter down-inclined
His reverent head and soften'd eye,
And honor'd with a Christian's mind
The Christ who loves humility!
Loud through the pasture, brawls and raves
A brook--the rains had fed the waves,
And torrents from the bill.
His sandal-shoon the priest unbound,
And laid the Host upon the ground,
And near'd the swollen rill!
"What wouldst thou, priest?" the Count began,
As, marveling much, he halted there,
"Sir Count, I seek a dying man,
Sore-hungering for the heavenly fare.
The bridge that once its safety gave,
Rent by the anger of the wave,
Drifts down the tide below.
Yet barefoot now, I will not fear
(The soul that seeks its God, to cheer)
Through the wild wave to go!"
"He gave that priest the knightly steed,
He reach'd that priest the lordly reins,
That he might serve the sick man's need,
Nor slight the task that heaven ordains.
He took the horse the squire bestrode;
On to the sick, the priest!
And when the morrow's sun was red,
The servant of the Savior led
Back to its lord the beast.
"'Now Heaven forfend!' the Hero cried,
'That e'er to chase or battle more
These limbs the sacred steed bestride
That once my Maker's image bore;
If not a boon allow'd to thee,
Thy Lord and mine its Master be,
My tribute to the King,
From whom I hold, as fiefs, since birth,
Honor, renown, the goods of earth,
Life and each living thing!"
"'So may the God, who faileth never
To hear the weak and guide the dim,
To thee give honor here and ever,
As thou hast duly honor'd Him!'
Far-famed ev'n now through Swisserland
Thy generous heart and dauntless hand;
And fair from thine embrace
Six daughters bloom, six crowns to bring,
Blest as the daughters of a KING,
The mothers of a RACE!"
The mighty Kaiser heard amazed!
His heart was in the days of old;
Into the minstrel's heart he gazed,
That tale the Kaiser's own had told.
Yes, in the bard the priest he knew,
And in the purple veil'd from view
The gush of holy tears!
A thrill through that vast audience ran,
And every heart the godlike man
[Illustration: THE COUNT GIVES UP HIS HORSE TO THE PRIEST Alexander
* * * * *
[Footnote 3: Though the Ideal images of youth forsake us, the Ideal
itself still remains to the Poet. It is his task and his companion,
for, unlike the Phantasies of Fortune, Fame, and Love, the Phantasies
of the Ideal are imperishable. While, as the occupation of life, it
pays off the debt of Time, as the exalter of life it contributes to
the Building of Eternity.--TRANSLATOR.]
[Footnote 4: "Die Gesalt"--Form. the Platonic Archetype.]
[Footnote 5: This idea is often repeated, somewhat more clearly in the
haughty philosophy of Schiller. He himself says, elsewhere--"In a fair
soul each single action is not properly moral, but the whole character
is moral. The fair soul has no other service than the instincts of its
[Footnote 6: "Und es wallet, and siedet, und brauset, and zischt,"
etc. Goethe was particularly struck with the truthfulness of these
lines, of which his personal observation at the Falls of the Rhine
enabled him to judge. Schiller modestly owns his obligations to
Homer's descriptions of Charybdis, Odyss. I., 12. The property of the
higher order of imagination to reflect truth, though not familiar to
experience, is singularly illustrated in this description. Schiller
had never seen even a Waterfall.--TRANSLATOR.]
[Footnote 7: The same rhyme as the preceding line in the original.]
[Footnote 8: "--da kroch's heran," etc. The _It_ in the original has
been greatly admired. The poet thus vaguely represents the fabulous
misshapen monster, the Polypus of the ancients.]
[Footnote 9: The theatre.]
[Footnote 10: This simile is nobly conceived, but expressed somewhat
obscurely. As Hercules contended in vain against Antaeus, the Son of
Earth,--so long as the Earth gave her giant offspring new strength in
every fall,--so the soul contends in vain with evil--the natural
earth-born enemy, while the very contact of the earth invigorates the
enemy for the struggle. And as Antaeus was slain at last, when Hercules
lifted him from the earth and strangled him while raised aloft, so can
the soul slay the enemy (the desire, the passion, the evil, the
earth's offspring), when bearing it from earth itself and stifling it
in the higher air.--Translator.]
[Footnote 11: Translated by Edward, Lord Lytton (Permission George
Routledge & Sons.)]
[Footnote 12: "I call the Living--I mourn the Dead--I break the
Lightning." These words are inscribed on the Great Bell of the Minster
of Schaffhausen--also on that of the Church of Art near Lucerne. There
was an old belief in Switzerland that the undulation of air, caused by
the sound of a Bell, broke the electric fluid of a thunder-cloud.]
[Footnote 13: A piece of clay pipe, which becomes vitrified if the
metal is sufficiently heated.]
[Footnote 14: The translator adheres to the original, in forsaking the
rhyme in these lines and some others.]
[Footnote 15: Written in the time of the French war.]
[Footnote 16: That is--the settled political question--the balance of
[Footnote 17: Apollo.]
[Footnote 18: "Everywhere," says Hoffmeister truly, "Schiller exalts
Ideal Belief over real wisdom;--everywhere this modern Apostle of
Christianity advocates that Ideal, which exists in Faith and emotion,
against the wisdom of worldly intellect, the barren experience of
[Footnote 19: The office, at the coronation feast, of the Count
Palatine of the Rhine (Grand Sewer of the Empire and one of the Seven
Electors) was to bear the Imperial Globe and set the dishes on the
board; that of the King of Bohemia was cup-bearer. The latter was not,
however, present, as Schiller himself observed in a note (omitted in
the editions of his collected works), at the coronation of Rudolf.]
[Footnote 20: Literally, "_A. judge (ein Richter_) was again upon the
earth." The word substituted in the translation is introduced in order
to recall to the reader the sublime name given, not without justice,
to Rudolf of Hapsburg, viz., "THE LIVING LAW."--TRANSLATOR.]
[Footnote 21: At the coronation of Rudolf was celebrated the
marriage-feast of three of his daughters--to Ludwig of Bavaria, Otto
of Brandenburg, and Albrecht of Saxony. His other three daughters
married afterward Otto, nephew of Ludwig of Bavaria, Charles Martell,
son of Charles of Anjou, and Wenceslaus, son of Ottocar of Bohemia.
The royal house of England numbers Rudolf of Hapsburg amongst its
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION TO WALLENSTEIN'S DEATH
By WILLIAM H. CARRUTH, PH.D.
Professor of Comparative Literature, Leland Stanford University
Schiller wrote in rapid succession, during his Storm and Stress
period, _The Robbers, Fiesco, Cabal and Love_, and the beginning of
_Don Carlos_ (finished in 1787). Between this time and his last
period, which opens with _Wallenstein_, he devoted himself assiduously
to the study of philosophy, history, and esthetic theory. Even in
writing _Don Carlos_ he had felt that he needed to give more care to
artistic form and to the deeper questions of dramatic unity. His own
dissatisfaction with the results achieved was one of several reasons
why for nearly ten years he dropped dramatic composition. He felt,
too, that he needed more experience of life. He himself said of the
greatest of his Storm and Stress dramas that he had attempted to
portray humanity before he really knew humanity.
In 1788 he published the first part of his _History of the Rebellion
of the Netherlands_, which brought him the appointment to the chair of
history in the University of Jena. The occupation with his next
historical work, the _History of the Thirty Years' War_, suggested to
him the thought of dramatizing the career of Wallenstein. But he was
not yet clear with himself on questions of artistic method. He was
studying Homer and dramatizing Euripides, lecturing and writing on
dramatic theory. Further delays were due to marriage and to serious
illness. It was not until 1796 that Schiller felt ready to begin work
on the long planned drama of _Wallenstein_.
The first scenes were written in prose, but soon the poet realized
that only the dignified heroic verse was suited to his theme. Then
"all went better." Constant discussions with Goethe and Christian
Gottfried Koerner helped him to clear up his doubts and overcome the
difficulties of his subject. He found that history left too little
room for sympathy with Wallenstein, for he conceived him as really
guilty of treason. He decided early to lighten the gloom of his theme
by introducing the love episode of Max and Thekla. He modified also
his view of the nature of Wallenstein's guilt. Gradually the material
grew upon him. What he had planned as a Prologue became the one-act
play, _Wallenstein's Camp_, which, when it was produced in October,
1798, at the reopening of the Weimar Theatre, was preceded by 138
lines of Dedication, since printed as the _Prologue_. Already Schiller
had foreseen the development into more than five acts, and accordingly
_The Piccolomini_ appeared separately, January 30, 1799, and the whole
series in order about the middle of April, upon the completion of
_Wallenstein_ is a trilogy, but in name rather than in real connection
and relation of parts. _Wallenstein's Camp_ is a picture of masses,
introducing only common soldiers and none of the chief personages of
the other parts of the composition. Its purpose is to present
something of the tremendous background of the action proper and to
give a realizing sense of the influence upon Wallenstein's career of
the soldiery with which he operated--as Schiller expressed it in a
line of his Prologue: "His camp alone explains to us his crime." By
this he meant that, on the one hand, the blind confidence of the
troops in the luck and the destiny of their leader made him arrogant
and reckless, and, on the other hand, perhaps, that the mercenary
character of these soldiers of fortune forced Wallenstein to steps
which his calm judgment would have condemned.
In a succession of eleven scenes of very unequal length the various
arms of the service are introduced, together with camp followers and a
Capuchin preacher; in reminiscences the earlier features of the great
war and some feats of the general are recalled; in discussions the
character of Wallenstein and of his leading officers is sketched;
finally the report of the recent demand of the Emperor, that
Wallenstein detach 8,000 men to escort the Cardinal Infant to the
Netherlands, reveals the opposition of the army to such an order and
its unconditional loyalty to Wallenstein.
The second and third parts of the trilogy, _The Piccolomini_ and
_Wallenstein's Death_, constitute, in fact, one ten-act play, which
requires two evenings for presentation. So slight is the organic
division between the two plays that, as first presented, in the fall
of 1798 and the spring of 1799, _The Piccolomini_ included the first
two acts of _Wallenstein's Death_ as later printed and here given,
while the last three acts were so divided as to constitute five.
_The Piccolomini_, which could not be reprinted in this anthology,
presents essentially what is called the "exposition" of the entire
drama, together with a _part_ of the complication of the plot.
Questenberg, the imperial commissioner, visits Wallenstein's
headquarters in Pilsen to present the order of the Emperor for the
detachment of eight regiments of Wallenstein's best cavalry to serve
as escort to the Cardinal Infant on his way to the Netherlands. He
meets distrust and almost incredible defiance from Wallenstein's
officers, excepting Octavio Piccolomini, one of the oldest and most
trusted, to whom he brings secret dispatches directing him to
supersede Wallenstein in case of the latter's open rebellion, which
the court believes he has already determined upon. Wallenstein himself
meets the demands with a reproachful reference to the violation of the
plenary powers intrusted to him by the Emperor as the condition of his
assuming the command, but announces that he will relieve him from
embarrassment by resigning. This announcement is received with a storm
of protests from his officers. Questenberg and Octavio are deeply
concerned to make sure of the adherence to their cause of Octavio's
son, Max, a child of the camp and an especial favorite with
Wallenstein. Max has just arrived at Pilsen as escort of Wallenstein's
wife and of his daughter Thekla, to whom he has lost his heart.
Wallenstein and his masterful sister, Countess Terzky, are also eager
to secure Max to their side in the coming conflict, and the Countess
tries to persuade Thekla to govern her actions accordingly. Thekla,
however, is nobly frank with Max and warns him to trust only his own
heart; for she realizes that the threads of a dark plot are drawing
close about herself and Max, though she does not clearly understand
what it is. Meanwhile Terzky and Illo have planned a meeting of
Wallenstein's officers to protest against his withdrawal. In a
splendid banquet scene they present a written agreement (Revers) to
stand by the general _so far as loyalty to the Emperor will permit_,
and then, when all are heated with wine, secure signatures to a
substituted document from which this reservation of loyalty to the
Emperor is omitted. It is the hope of Illo and Terzky, through the
sight of this document, to persuade Wallenstein to open rebellion. Max
Piccolomini, coming late to the banquet from the interview with
Thekla, refuses to sign the pledge, not because he sees through the
deception, but because he is in no mood for business. Before morning
his father summons him, thinking Max has refused to sign because he
scented the intended treason, and reveals to him the whole
situation--the plots of the officers, Wallenstein's dangerous
negotiations with enemies of the Emperor, and his own commission to
take command and save whatever he can of loyal troops. Max is
thunder-truck. He can believe neither Wallenstein's purpose of
treason nor his father's duplicity in dealing behind the back of his
great commander. He refuses to follow his father's orders and leaves
him with the avowed intention of going to Wallenstein and calling upon
him to clear himself of the calumnious charges of the court. At this
point begins the action of _Wallenstein's Death_.
In all of his later dramas excepting _William Tell_, Schiller
endeavored to introduce a factor which is called "the dramatic guilt,"
a circumstance, usually in the character of the hero but sometimes in
his environment, which makes the tragic outcome inevitable and yet
leaves room in the breast of the reader or spectator for sympathy with
the hero in his fate. In the case of Wallenstein this "guilt" is the
dalliance with the love of power and the possibility of rebellion, not
a deliberate intention to commit treason. In the close of his
treatment of Wallenstein in The Thirty Years' War Schiller says: "No
one of his actions justifies us in considering him convicted of
treason. * * * Thus Wallenstein fell, not because he was a rebel, but
he rebelled because he fell."
The circumstances are urged that Wallenstein was a prince of the
Empire, and had as such the right to negotiate with foreign powers;
that his delegated authority from the Emperor gave him the right to do
so in the Emperor's name; that the Emperor had not kept faith with
Wallenstein, and had thus justified him in at least frightening the
court; that self preservation seemed to indicate rebellion as the only
recourse; that Wallenstein's belief in his destiny and the fatuous
devotion of his army led him to reckless action; and finally that he
did not originally intend to commit actual treason.
Thus prepared, the reader can easily sympathize with Wallenstein in
his downfall; this sympathy is entirely won by the admirable courage
with which Wallenstein bears the successive blows of fate, and it is
strengthened by consideration of the mean motives of the men who serve
as the tools of his execution, and by the remembrance that the fate of
Max and Thekla is bound up in his. Schiller was concerned lest the
love episode should detract from the interest due the chief persons
of the tragedy; his art has effected the exact opposite.
The influence of Shakespeare is more or less obvious in all of
Schiller's later dramas. Aside from the splendid rhetoric of the
monologues, the character of Countess Terzky, so similar to that of
Lady Macheth, suggests this. But such influence is not so controlling
as to be in any respect a reproach to Schiller. Goethe in his generous
admiration considered Wallenstein "so great that nothing could be
compared with it." "In the imaginative power whereby history is made
into drama, in the triumph of artistic genius over a vast and
refractory mass of material, and in the skill with which the character
of the hero is conceived and denoted, _Wallenstein_ is unrivaled. Its
chief figure is by far the stateliest and most impressive of German
tragic heroes." 
* * * * *
THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
WALLENSTEIN, _Duke of Friedland,
Generalissimo of the Imperial
Forces in the Thirty Years' War_.
DUCHESS OF FRIEDLAND, _Wife of
THEKLA, _her Daughter, Princess of
_The_ COUNTESS TERZKY, _Sister of the
OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI, _Lieutenant-General_.
MAX PICCOLOMINI, _his son, Colonel
of a regiment of Cuirassiers_.
COUNT TERZKY, _the Commander of
several Regiments, and Brother-in-law
ILLO, _Field Marshall, Wallenstein's
ISOLANI, _General of the Croats_.
BUTLER, _an Irishman, Commander
of a regiment of Dragoons_.
GORDON, _Governor Egra_.
NEUMANN, _Captain of Cavalry, Aide-de-Camp
COLONEL WRANGEL, _Envoy from the
ROSENBURG, _Master of Horse_.
BURGOMASTER _of Egra_.
ANSPESSADE _of the Cuirassiers_.
GROOM OF THE} _Belonging to_
CHAMBER, } _the Duke_.
A PAGE, }
_Cuirassiers, Dragoons, Servants_.
[Illustration: WALLENSTEIN AND SENI As performed at the
Municipal Theatre, Hamburg, 1906.]
THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN (1800)
TRANSLATED BY S.T. COLERIDGE
A Room fitted up for astrological labors, and provided with
celestial Charts, with Globes, Telescopes, Quadrants, and other
mathematical Instruments--Seven Colossal Figures, representing
the Planets, each circle in the background, so that Mars and
Saturn are nearest the eye.--The remainder of the Scene, and its
disposition, is given in the Fourth Scene of the Second
Act.--There must be a Curtain over the Figures, which may be
dropped, and conceal them on occasion.
[_In the Fifth Scene of this Act it must be dropped; but in the
Seventh Scene it must be again drawn up wholly or in part._]
WALLENSTEIN _at a black Table, on which a Speculum Astrologicum
is described with Chalk_. SENI _is taking Observations through a
All well--and now let it be ended, Seni. Come,
The dawn commences, and Mars rules the hour.
We must give o'er the operation. Come,
We know enough.
Your Highness must permit me
Just to contemplate Venus. She's now rising;
Like as a sun, so shines she in the east.
She is at present in her perigee,
And now shoots down her strongest influences.
[_Contemplating the figure on the table._]
Auspicious aspect! fateful in conjunction,
At length the mighty three corradiate;
And the two stars of blessing, Jupiter
And Venus, take between them the malignant
Slily-malicious Mars, and thus compel
Into _my_ service that old mischief-founder:
For long he viewed me hostilely, and ever
With beam oblique, or perpendicular,
Now in the Quartile, now in the Secundan,
Shot his red lightnings at my stars, disturbing
Their blessed influences and sweet aspects.
Now they have conquer'd the old enemy,
And bring him in the heavens a prisoner to me.
SENI (_who has come down from the window_).
And in a corner house, your Highness--think of that!
That makes each influence of double strength.
And sun and moon, too, in the Sextile aspect,
The soft light with the vehement--so I love it;
SOL is the heart, LUNA the head of heaven;
Bold be the plan, fiery the execution.
And both the mighty Lumina by no
Maleficus _affronted_. Lo! Saturnus,
Innocuous, powerless, _in cadente Domo_.
The empire of Saturnus is gone by;
Lord of the secret birth of things is he
Within the lap of earth, and in the depths
Of the imagination dominates;
And his are all things that eschew the light.
The time is o'er of brooding and contrivance,
For Jupiter, the lustrous, lordeth now,
And the dark work, complete of preparation,
He draws by force into the realm of light.
Now must we hasten on to action, ere
The scheme and most auspicious positure
Parts o'er my head, and takes once more its flight,
For the heavens journey still, and sojourn not.
[_There are knocks at the door._]
There's some one knocking there. See who it is.
TERZKY (_from without_).
Open, and let me in.
What is there of such urgence? We are busy.
[Illustration: WALLENSTEIN AND TERZKY As performed at the
Municipal Theatre, Hamburg, 1906.]
TERZKY (_from without_).
Lay all aside at present, I entreat you.
It suffers no delaying.
[_While_ SENI _opens the door for_ TERZKY, WALLENSTEIN
_draws the curtain over the figures_.]
WALLENSTEIN. COUNT TERZKY
Hast thou already heard it? He is taken.
Gallas has given him up to the Emperor.
[SENI _draws off the black table, and exit_.]
WALLENSTEIN (_to_ TERZKY).
Who has been taken? Who is given up?
The man who knows our secrets, who knows every
Negotiation with the Swede and Saxon,
Through whose hands all and everything has pass'd--
WALLENSTEIN (_drawing back_).
Nay, not Sesina?--Say, No! I entreat thee.
All on his road for Regensburg to the Swede
He was plunged down upon by Gallas' agent,
Who had been long in ambush, lurking for him.
There must have been found on him my whole packet
To Thur, to Kinsky, to Oxenstiern, to Arnheim:
All this is in their hands; they have now an insight
Into the whole--our measures and our motives.
_To them enters_ ILLO.
ILLO (_to_ TERZKY).
Has he heard it?
He has heard it.
ILLO (_to_ WALLENSTEIN).
Thinkest thou still
To make thy peace with the Emperor, to regain
His confidence? E'en were it now thy wish
To abandon all thy plans, yet still they know
What thou hast wish'd: then forwards thou must press,
Retreat is now no longer in thy power.
They have documents against us, and in hands,
Which show beyond all power of contradiction--
Of my handwriting--no iota. Thee
I punish for thy lies.
And thou believest,
That what this man, and what thy sister's husband,
Did in thy name, will not stand on thy reck'ning?
_His_ word must pass for thy word with the Swede,
And not with those that hate thee at Vienna?
In writing thou gavest nothing--But bethink thee,
How far thou ventured'st by word of mouth
With this Sesina! And will he be silent?
If he can save himself by yielding up
Thy secret purposes, will he retain them?
Thyself dost not conceive it possible;
And since they now have evidence authentic
How far thou hast already gone, speak!--tell us,
What art thou waiting for? Thou canst no longer
Keep thy command; and beyond hope of rescue
Thou'rt lost, if thou resign'st it.
In the army
Lies my security. The army will not
Abandon me. Whatever they may know,
The power is mine, and they must gulp it down--
And if I give them caution for my fealty,
They must be satisfied, at least appear so.
The army, Duke, _is_ thine now--for this moment--
'Tis thine, but think with terror on the slow,
The quiet power of time. From open violence
The attachment of thy soldiery secures thee
Today--tomorrow: but grant'st thou them a respite
Unheard, unseen, they'll undermine that love
On which thou now dost feel so firm a footing,
With wily theft will draw away from thee
One after the other other--
'Tis a cursed accident!
Oh! I will call it a most blessed one,
If it work on thee as it ought to do,
Hurry thee on to action--to decision.
The Swedish General--
He's arrived! Know'st thou
What his commission is--
To thee alone
Will he intrust the purpose of his coming.
A cursed, cursed accident! Yes, yes,
Sesina knows too much, and won't be silent.
He's a Bohemian fugitive and rebel,
His neck is forfeit. Can he save himself
At thy cost, think you he will scruple it?
And if they put him to the torture, will he,
Will _he_, that dastardling, have strength enough--
WALLENSTEIN (_lost in thought_).
Their confidence is lost, irreparably!
And I may act which way I will, I shall
Be and remain forever in their thought
A traitor to my country. How sincerely
Soever I return back to my duty,
It will no longer help me--
That it will do! Not thy fidelity,
Thy weakness will be deemed the sole occasion--
WALLENSTEIN (_pacing up and down in extreme agitation_).
What! I must realize it now in earnest,
Because I toy'd too freely with the thought!
Accursed he who dallies with a devil!
And must I--I _must_ realize it now--
Now, while I have the power, it _must_ take place?
Now--now--ere they can ward and parry it!
WALLENSTEIN (_looking at the paper of signatures_).
I have the Generals' word--a written promise!
Max Piccolomini stands not here--how's that?
It was--he fancied--
There needed no such thing 'twixt him and you.
He is quite right; there needed no such thing.
The regiments, too, deny to march for Flanders--
Have sent me in a paper of remonstrance,
And openly resist the Imperial orders.
The first step to revolt's already taken.
Believe me, thou wilt find it far more easy
To lead them over to the enemy
Than to the Spaniard.
I will hear, however,
What the Swede has to say to me.
ILLO (_eagerly to_ TERZKY).
Go, call him
He stands without the door in waiting.
Stay but a little. It hath taken me
All by surprise; it came too quick upon me;
'Tis wholly novel that an accident,
With its dark lordship, and blind agency,
Should force me on with it.
First hear him only,
And after weigh it.
[_Exeunt_ TERZKY _and_ ILLO.]
WALLENSTEIN (_in soliloquy_).
Is it possible?
Is't so! I _can_ no longer what I _would_?
No longer draw back at my liking? I
Must _do_ the deed, because I _thought_ of it?
And fed this heart here with a dream? Because
I did not scowl temptation from my presence,
Dallied with thoughts of possible fulfilment,
Commenced no movement, left all time uncertain,
And only kept the road, the access open?
By the great God of Heaven! it was not
My serious meaning, it was ne'er resolved.
I but amused myself with thinking of it.
The free-will tempted me, the power to do
Or not to do it--Was it criminal
To make the fancy minister to hope,
To fill the air with pretty toys of air,
And clutch fantastic sceptres moving t'ward me!
Was not the will kept free? Beheld I not
The road of duty close beside me--but
One little step, and once more I was in it!
Where am I? Whither have I been transported?
No road, no track behind me, but a wall
Rises obedient to the spells I muttered
And meant not--my own doings tower behind me.
[_Pauses and remains in deep thought._]
A punishable man I seem; the guilt,
Try what I will, I cannot roll off from me;
The equivocal demeanor of my life
Bears witness on my prosecutor's party.
And even my purest acts from purest motives
Suspicion poisons with malicious gloss.
Were I that thing for which I pass, that traitor,
A goodly outside I had sure reserved,
Had drawn the coverings thick and double round me,
Been calm and chary of my utterance;
But being conscious of the innocence
Of my intent, my uncorrupted will,
I gave way to my humors, to my passion:
Bold were my words, because my deeds were _not_.
Now every planless measure, chance event,
The threat of rage, the vaunt of joy and triumph,
And all the May-games of a heart o'erflowing,
Will they connect, and weave them all together
Into one web of treason; all will be plain,
My eye ne'er absent from the far-off mark,
Step tracing step, each step a politic progress;
And out of all they'll fabricate a charge
So specious that I must myself stand dumb.
I am caught in my own net, and only force,
Nought but a sudden rent, can liberate me.
How else! since that the heart's unbias'd instinct
Impell'd me to the daring deed, which now
Necessity, self-preservation, _orders_.
Stern is the on-look of Necessity,
Not without shudder may a human hand
Grasp the mysterious urn of destiny.
My deed was mine, remaining in my bosom:
Once suffer'd to escape from its safe corner
Within the heart, its nursery and birth-place,
Sent forth into the Foreign, it belongs
Forever to those sly malicious powers
Whom never art of man conciliated.
[_Paces in agitation through the chamber, then pauses, and
after the pause breaks out again into audible soliloquy._]
What is thy enterprise? thy aim? thy object?
Hast honestly confess'd it to thyself?
Power seated on a quiet throne thou'dst shake,
Power on an ancient consecrated throne,
Strong in possession, founded in all custom;
Power by a thousand tough and stringy roots
Fix'd to the people's pious nursery-faith.
This, this will be no strife of strength with strength.
That fear'd I not. I brave each combatant,
Whom I can look on, fixing eye to eye,
Who, full himself of courage, kindles courage
In me too. 'Tis a foe invisible
The which I fear--a fearful enemy,
Which in the human heart opposes me,
By its coward fear alone made fearful to me.
Not that, which full of life, instinct with power,
Makes known its present being; that is not
The true, the perilously formidable.
O no! it is the common, the quite common,
The thing of an eternal yesterday.
What ever was, and evermore returns,
Sterling tomorrow, for today 'twas sterling!
For of the wholly common is man made,
And custom is his nurse! Woe then to them
Who lay irreverent hands upon his old
House furniture, the dear inheritance
From his forefathers! For time consecrates;
And what is gray with age becomes religion.
Be in possession, and thou hast the right,
And sacred will the many guard it for thee!
[_To the_ PAGE _who here enters_.]
The Swedish officer?--Well, let him enter.
[_The_ PAGE _exit_, WALLENSTEIN _fixes his eye in deep
thought on the door_.]
Yet is it pure--as yet!--the crime has come
Not o'er this threshold yet--so slender is
The boundary that divideth life's two paths.
WALLENSTEIN _and_ WRANGEL
WALLENSTEIN (_after having fixed a searching look on him_).
Your name is Wrangel?
Gustave Wrangel, General
Of the Sudermanian Blues.
It was a Wrangel
Who injured me materially at Stralsund,
And by his brave resistance was the cause
Of the opposition which that sea-port made.
It was the doing of the element
With which you fought, my Lord! and not my merit.
The Baltic Neptune did assert his freedom:
The sea and land, it seem'd, were not to serve
One and the same.
You pluck'd the Admiral's hat from off my head.
I come to place a diadem thereon.]
WALLENSTEIN (_makes the motion for him to take a seat, and
And where are your credentials?
Come you provided with full powers, Sir General?
There are so many scruples yet to solve--
WALLENSTEIN (_having read the credentials_).
An able letter!--Ay--he is a prudent
Intelligent master whom you serve, Sir General!
The Chancellor writes me, that he but fulfils
His late departed Sovereign's own idea
In helping me to the Bohemian crown.
He says the truth. Our great King, now in heaven,
Did ever deem most highly of your Grace's
Preeminent sense and military genius;
And always the commanding Intellect,
He said, should have command, and be the King.
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