The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX
Part 5 out of 13
But I must tell thee this:
His spell is on her, and her very hate
Is rooted deep in love!
Believ'st thou so?
'Tis not such love as binds, a man and wife,
In holy union.
'Tis a charm,
A magic, that would keep her race alive.
So drives the giantess to seek her mate,
Joyless and choiceless, since they are the last.
Is there no hope?
'Tis death must break the spell.
Her blood congeals when his has ceased to flow.
His destiny it was that he should slay
The dragon and then take the dragon's road.
[_A tumult is heard_.]
What may that be?
'Tis those false messengers.
And Dankwart drives them forth. He does it well.
Lovers will hear it even while they kiss.
_Enter_ SIEGFRIED; _as_ HAGEN _notices hint_.
By all the fiends of hell! No! ten times no!
It were disgrace for us, and Siegfried thinks
Assuredly as I do. Here he comes!
Now speak, thou may'st decide it.--
(_As_ DANKWART _enters_.)
Though thy word
Can alter nothing more. The answer's gone.
Thou surely hast not spared to scourge them well
Yet set thy seal upon it even so!
The dogs have come again to sue
For peace. I ordered that the worthless knaves
With scourges should be driven from the court
Before they gave their message.
'Twas well done!
The King indeed reproves me, for he thinks
We know not what has happened.
What? Not know?
I know! For when a wolf is chased along,
He harms not those before him!
That is true!
And more than that! Behind them is a horde
Of savage tribesmen who will never sow,
And yet they want to reap.
Now do you see?
But you should show no mercy on the wolf
Because he has no time to guard himself.
We surely shall not.
Come, we'll help the foxes
And drive him to his final hiding place,
Within the foxes' bellies.
That we'll do;
Yet let us not exert ourselves in vain,
And so--Let's hunt today.
I will not go.
Nor will I either.
You are young and brave,
Yet follow not the chase, but bide at home?
They would have had to tie me, and the cords
I would have gnawed in two. Oh huntsman's joy!
If one could only sing it!
Wilt thou go?
Go!--Friend, I am so full of rage and wrath
That I could quarrel now with any man,
And so I long for bloodshed.
And I too!
You're going hunting?
Yes, and pray command
What I shall bring thee.
Siegfried, stay at home!
My child, one thing thou canst not learn too soon,
Thou must not beg a man to stay at home,
But beg him: Take me too!
Then, may I go?
That may not be!
Why not? She's not afraid!
And surely she has often gone before.
Bring falcons here! For she shall take the birds,
And we the beasts. There'll be more pleasure so.
One woman hides her shame within her room--
Her rival rideth gaily to the hunt?
'Twould look like taunting her.
I had not thought.
Ah well, it may not be.
KRIEMHILD. Then change again
Yet again? Thy every wish
I'll follow, not thy fancies.
But let me go! The breeze will change my mood.
Tomorrow night I'll make my peace with thee.
I will. But now my farewell kiss.
[_He embraces_ KRIEMHILD.]
Thou'lt not deny me? Thou'lt not say, tomorrow,
As I do? Thou art noble.
Oh, come back!
But what a strange desire! What's wrong, I pray?
I go a-hunting with my own good friends,
And if the lofty mountains do not fall
And bury us, we cannot suffer harm.
Alas! That is the very thing I dreamed.
My child, the hills stand firm.
KRIEMHILD (_throws her arms around him once more_).
Come back! Come back!
SIEGFRIED (_appears once more_).
If thou wouldst not be angry--
HAGEN (_follows SIEGFRIED hastily_).
Well, hast thou got thy spindle yet?
SIEGFRIED (_to_ KRIEMHILD).
The hounds can be no longer held in leash;
What dost thou wish?
Oh wait, pray, for thy flax!
And spin it in the moonlight with the elves.
Now go! I longed to see thee once again!
[HAGEN _and_ SIEGFRIED _go out_.]
And should I call him to me ten times more
I'd never find the heart to tell it him.
How can we do what straightway we repent!
_Enter_ GERENOT _and_ GISELHER.
Are you not gone? The Lord hath sent them here!
My dearest brothers, earnestly I beg
Vouchsafe me my desire, though to you
It seems but foolish. Go ye with my lord
Where'er he goes, and keep behind his back.
We are not going. We've no wish to go.
No wish to go!
What say'st thou? We've no time!
We've much to do before our men march forth.
And is all that intrusted to your youth?
If I am dear to you, if you have not
Forgotten that one mother nourished us,
Ride after them.
They're long since in the wood.
And then thou hast one brother with him,
I beg of you!
We must collect the arms,
As thou shalt see.
[_Starts to go_.]
Then tell me one thing more
Is Hagen Siegfried's friend?
Why not, I pray?
But has he ever praised him?
It is praise
If Hagen does not blame, and I've not heard
That he found fault with Siegfried.
Most of all
This frightens me. They are not with my lord!
How, nurse? Art seeking me?
I seek for none.
Then is there something wanted for the Queen?
There is not. She needs nothing.
But can she not forgive?
I do not know!
She has had no occasion to forgive;
She never was offended. I heard horns.
Is there a hunt?
Hast thou then ordered it?
Oh, had I only told it him!
Oh, my beloved, no woman host thou known,
I see it now! Else nevermore hadst thou
Unto a trembling girl who doth betray
Herself through fear, intrusted such a secret.
Still do I hear the playful whispered words
With which thou told'st it to me when I praised
The dragon's death. And then I made thee swear
To tell no other soul in all the world,
And now--Oh birds that circle overhead,
Oh snow white doves that fly about me now,
Take pity on me, warn him, fly to him!
_Enter_ HAGEN, GUNTHER, VOLKER, DANKWART _and serving men_.
This is the place. The spring is gushing forth,
The bushes cover it. If I stand here,
I can impale the man who stoops to drink
Against the rock.
I've given no command.
When thou hast taken thought thou wilt command.
There is no other way, and there will come
No second day like this one. Therefore speak,
Or if thou wilt not speak, be still!
(_To the serving men_.)
'Tis here we rest!
[_The serving men prepare a meal_.]
Thou'st always hated him.
I'll not deny that gladly to this work
I lend my hand, and I would surely meet
In combat any man who came between
My enemy and me, and yet the deed
I hold not for that reason less than just.
And yet my brothers spoke against the deed
And turned their backs upon us.
Had they then
The courage to warn him and hinder us?
They must have felt that we are in the right,
And it is but their youth that makes them shrink
From blood that is not shed in open fight.
It must be so.
Why he has bought off death
And so ennobled murder.
(_To the serving men_.)
Sound the horns,
And call the hunt together. For 'tis time
That we should eat.
[_The horns are blown_.]
Now take things as they are
And leave it all to me. If thou art not
Offended, or forgivest what is past,
So be it, yet forbid thy servant not
To rescue and avenge thy noble wife!
She will not break the solemn oath she swore.
If she's deceived in her firm trust in us--Her
confidence that we'll redeem the pledge--Then
all the joy of life that once again,
May be aroused within her youthful heart
When shadows deepen and the end is near,
Will be transformed into one dreadful curse,
One final imprecation upon thee!
There still is time.
_Enter_ SIEGFRIED _with_ RUMOLT _and huntsmen_.
I'm here! And now ye hunters,
Where are your spoils? Mine were to follow me
Upon a wagon, but the wagon broke.
A lion is the game I chase today,
But I have failed to find one.
That I know,
For I myself have killed him!--Food is spread.
Sound trumpets in his praise who ordered that,
For now we feel the need. Accursed ravens,
Here too? Now blow your bugles till they burst!
I've thrown near every kind of game I killed
At this black flock; at last I threw a fox,
But still they would not fly, and yet I hate
Nothing so much in all the woodland green
As that deep black--'tis like the devil's hue.
The doves have never flocked around me so!
Shall we stay here to pass the night?
'Tis well, the choice is fitting, and there gapes
A hollow tree. I'll take it for myself.
For all my life have I been used to that,
And I know nothing better than at night
On soft dry wood to lay my weary head,
And so to dream, half waking, half asleep,
To count the passing hours by the birds
That waken slowly, softly, one by one,
Each singing in his turn. Then tick, tick, tick!
Now it is two. Tock, tock, and one must stretch!
Kiwitt, kiwitt! The sun is blinking now,
And now its eyes are open. Chanticleer
Bids all arise, lest they should sneeze.
It is as if Time wakened them himself,
As in the dark he feels his way along,
To beat the rhythm of his pace for him.
In measured intervals, as from the glass
Trickles the sand, and as the shadow long
Creeps on the dial, so there follow now
The mountain cock, the blackbird and the thrush,
And none disturbs the other as by day,
Nor coaxes him to warble ere his time.
I've watched it oft myself.
I too.--My brother,
Thou art not happy.
But I am!
I have seen people at a wedding feast,
And following a bier, and so I know
How different they look. Now let us do
As strangers might, who'd never met before
Until by accident within the wood
They meet, and one has this, the other that,
And so they put together all they have,
And thus with joy receive and also give.
'Tis well! For I bring meat of every kind,
And I will give to you a mountain bull,
Five boars and thirty, even forty stags,
And pheasants too, as many as you will,
Not mentioning the lion and the bear,
All this for one small beaker of cool wine.
The wine has been forgotten.
Yes, I'll believe it. That may well befall
A hunter who is resting from the chase
And has a red hot coal for his own tongue
Inside his mouth. Well, I must seek myself,
Although I cannot scent it like a, hound--
But let it be--I'll never spoil your sport!
There is none here, nor here! Where is the cask?
I pray thee, minstrel, save me, else I'll lose
The tongue that has till now been wagging so.
And that may happen, for--there is no wine.
The devil and his fiends may take your hunt
If I am not to have a hunter's fare!
Whose duty was it to provide the drink?
Mine! Yet I did not know where we should be,
[Illustration: Schnorr von Carolsfeld KRIEMHILD FINDS THE SLAIN
And sent the wine to Spessart, where it seems
There are no thirsty men.
Give thanks who will!
But have we then no water? Must a man
Be satisfied with evening dew, and lap
The drops from off the leaves?
But hold thy tongue!
Thine ear will bring thee comfort!
Hark, a spring!
Oh welcome stream! 'Tis true I love thee more
When thou, instead of welling from the stone
So suddenly and rushing to my mouth,
Thy winding way pursuest through the grape;
For from thy journey many things thou bring'st,
That fill our heads with foolish gaiety.
Yet even so be praised.
[_He goes to the spring._]
Ah no! I must
Do penance first and ye shall witness bear
That I have done it. I'm the thirstiest man
Among you all and I will drink the last,
Because I was so harsh with poor Kriemhild.
Then I'll begin.
[_He goes to the spring._]
SIEGFRIED (_to GUNTHER_).
Pray look more cheerfully.
I know a way to reconcile thy bride;
Brunhilda's kisses shall ere long be thine.
My joy I will forego as long as thou.
HAGEN (_comes back and lays aside his weapons_).
The weapons will impede me when I stoop.
Before the full assemblage of thy folk,
Kriemhild will sue for pardon ere we go.
This pledge was freely given, but she longs
To leave and hide her blushes.
Cold as ice!
First let us eat.
[_He goes toward the spring but turns back again._]
[_He lays aside his weapons. Exit._]
HAGEN (_pointing to the weapons_).
Away with them!
DANKWART (_carries the weapons away_).
HAGEN (_who has taken up his own weapons again and has
meanwhile kept his back turned toward_ GUNTHER; _takes
a running start and throws his spear_).
SIEGFRIED (_cries out_).
Not quiet yet?
(_To the others._)
No word with him, whatever he may say!
SIEGFRIED (_crawls forward_).
Murdered--while I was drinking! Gunther, Gunther?
Have I deserved this from thee? In thy need
I stood by thee.
Lop branches from the trees,
We need a bier. Quick, choose the strongest limbs,
For heavy is a dead man.
I am slain,
But yet not wholly!
[_He springs up._]
Where then is my sword?
They've taken it! Oh, by thy manhood, Hagen,
Give the dead man a sword! I challenge thee
E'en now to mortal combat!
In his mouth
He has his enemy, yet seeks him still.
My life drips from me like a candle spent,
And e'en my sword this murderer denies,
Though granting it would render him less vile.
For shame! Such cowardice! He fears my thumb,
For that is all that's left of me.
[_He stumbles over his shield._]
My faithful shield, I'll throw thee at the hound!
[_He stoops over the shield, but cannot lift it, and rises
unsteadily once more._]
As if 'twere nailed there! E'en for this revenge
'Tis now too late!
Oh, if this chatterer
Would maim his foolish tongue between his teeth
Where it has sinned so long all unreproved--
His idle tongue that is not silenced yet!--
Then would he have revenge, for that alone
Has brought him to this pass.
Thou liest! 'Twas
Threats for a dead man?
Aimed I so true that thou dost fear me still?
Then draw, for now I fall, and thou canst dare
To spit upon me like a heap of dust,
For here I lie--
[_He falls to the ground._]
And you are free from Siegfried!
Yet know, the blow that slew him killed you too,
For who will trust you? They will drive you forth
As I had driven the Danes.
He hath not grasped our trick!
Then 'tis not true?
Oh, horrible, that men should lie like this!
Ah well! You are alone in this! And folk
Will always curse you too, whene'er they curse.
They'll say: Toads, vipers and Burgundians!
Nay you are first: Burgundians, vipers, toads.
For all is lost to you--nobility
And honor, fame and all, are lost with me!
There is no bound nor limit now for crime,
The arm indeed may pierce the heart, but when
The heart is dead the arm is useless too.
My wife! My poor, foreboding, tender wife--
How wilt thou bear the blow! If Gunther's heart
Still means to do one deed of faith and love,
May he be kind to thee!--Yet rather go
Unto my father!--Hearest thou, Kriemhild?
He's silent now. Small merit is in that!
What shall we tell?
Some stupid tale of thieves
Who killed him in the forest. It is true
None will believe it, yet I think that none
Will call us liars. Once again we stand
Where none will dare to call us to account;
For we're like fire and water. Till the Rhine
Seeks out some lie to justify its floods,
And fire explains why it has broken forth,
We need not fear accusers. Thou, my King,
Gav'st no commands--thou should'st remember that!
The blame is mine alone. Now bear him forth!
[_Exeunt with the body._]
_KRIEMHILD'S room. Deep night._
'Tis far too early yet. It is my blood
That wakened me, and not the cock I heard,
Or seemed to hear.
[_She goes to the window and opens it partly._]
The stars are shining still,
It surely is an hour yet till mass.
Today I long to go to church and pray.
_Enter UTE softly._
Already up, Kriemhild?
I am amazed
That thou art up, for thou hast always slept
More soundly after dawn and claimed thy right
To have thy daughter wake thee, as thou her
So long ago.
Today I could not sleep,
I heard strange sounds.
And didst thou mark them too?
It was like people trying to be still.
So I was right?
They seemed to hold their breath,
Yet dropped a sword that clanged! On tiptoe walked,
And yet upset the brazier! Hushed the dog,
Yet trod upon his paw.
They have perhaps
Once it seemed to me
That some one softly crept up to my door.
I thought it must be Siegfried.
UTE. Didst thou make
Some sign that thou wast wakeful?
It might then have been Siegfried, but 'twould be
Almost too soon.
To me it seems so too!
And then he did not knock.
The hunt was not,
Or so I think, to bring us game for food;
They wanted our poor farmers to have peace,
Who have been threatening to burn their ploughs
Because the wild boar harvests where they sow!
Was that it?
Child, thou art already dressed,
Yet hast not any maid with thee?
That I would learn who woke the first of all.
Besides, it was a pastime.
Each in turn,
My candle in my hand, I gazed upon.
For each year brings a different kind of sleep.
Fifteen and sixteen sleep like five and six,
But seventeen brings dreams, and eighteen, thoughts,
And nineteen brings desires--
_A Chamberlain cries out before the door._
What is it? What is wrong?
I almost fell.
And that was why you called?
Some one is dead!
A dead man lying at the door!
A dead man?
Then 'tis Siegfried, 'tis my lord!
UTE (_catches her in her arms_).
(_To the CHAMBERLAIN._)
[_CHAMBERLAIN brings a light and then nods his head._]
'Tis Siegfried? Go!
[_The maidens rush in._]
O piteous wife!
Brunhild commanded, Hagen did the deed!--
KRIEMHILD (_seizes a torch_).
'Tis he! I know, I know!
Let no one tread on him; for thou didst hear
The servants stumble over him.--The servants!
Yet once great kings made way for him.
I'll place it there myself.
[_She opens the door and falls to the floor._]
Oh Mother, Mother,
Why didst thou bear thy child! Oh thou dear head,
But let me kiss thee. I'll not seek thy mouth,
For all to me is precious. Thou canst not
Forbid me as thou would'st perhaps.--Thy lips--
'Tis too much pain!
I could wish
That she might die!
_Enter GUNTHER with DANKWART, RUMOLT, GISELHER and GERENOT._
UTE (_approaching GUNTHER_).
My son, what deed was this?
I fain would weep myself. Yet of his death
You've heard already? By the holy words
Of our good priest you were to learn of this.
I went to tell him in the night.
UTE (_with a motion of the head_).
The dead man told his story for himself.
GUNTHER (_aside to DANKWART_).
But how was this?
My brother bore him here!
From his intent he'd not desist,
And when he came again he laughed and said:
This is my gratitude for his farewell.
_Enter the Chaplain._
GUNTHER (_going to meet him_).
And such a man slain in the woods!
The robber's spear was guided by blind chance,
So that it struck the spot. In such a way
A child may kill a giant.
UTE (_still busying herself with the maidens over KRIEMHILD_).
Another parting? No, I'll cling to him,
And to the grave together will we go,
Or you must leave him here. But half my love
I gave him living. Now that he is dead
I know it. Were it the reverse! His eyes
I never yet had kissed! All, all is new!
We thought we'd time before us.
Come my child!
We cannot leave him lying in the dust.
KRIEMHILD. Oh that is true! The costliest and rarest
Today shall be as naught.
Here, take the keys!
[_She throws down keys._]
There'll be no festivals again! The silk,
The wondrous golden garments, and the linen--
Bring everything. Be sure to gather flowers--
He loved them so! And you must cut them all,
Even the little buds that have not bloomed.
For whom then should they blossom? Lay them all
Within his coffin, then my bridal robes,
And lay him softly down, and I'll do so,
[_She stretches out her arms._]
And I will be his covering!
GUNTHER (_to his followers_).
Let no one harm her more.
KRIEMHILD (_turns around_).
The murderer's here?
Away, for fear the blood should flow again!
No! No! Come here!
[_She lays hold of DANKWART._]
That Siegfried may bear witness!
[_She wipes her hand on her dress._]
Alas, alas! My right hand nevermore
May dare to touch him. Does the blood gush forth?
O Mother, look! I cannot! No? Then these
But hide the deed. I seek the murderer.
If Hagen Tronje's here, let him come forth!
He is not guilty--I'll give him my hand.
Now go and hear Brunhilda laugh.
She's eating too, and drinking.
It was robbers--
I know them well.
[_She takes GISELHER and GERENOT by the hand._]
Thou wast not with them there!
Thou didst not go!
But hear me!
Through the wood
We had been scattered; for it was his wish,
And 'tis our custom too. We found him dying
At our next meeting place.
You found him there?
What did he say? A word! His dying word!
I will believe thy tale, if thou canst tell,
And if it is no curse. But oh, beware!
For sooner would a rose bloom from thy mouth
Than thou imagine what thou didst not hear.
(_As RUMOLT hesitates._)
It is a lie!
'Tis possible! I've heard
A magpie dropped a knife that killed a man
Who could not have been reached by human hands.
And what a winged thief by chance could do
Because his gleaming booty burdened him,
A robber well might do.
Oh, holy father,
Thou knowest not!
Princess, thy grief is sacred,
But yet unjust and blind. Our warriors here,
Our noblest will bear witness--
[_Meanwhile the door has been closed and the body is no longer
KRIEMHILD (_who observes this_). Halt! Who dares--
[_She hastens to the door._]
Stop, stop! He was but gently lifted up
As thou thyself would'st wish.
Oh, give him back!
Else they will rob me, they will bury him
Where I shall never find him!
To the church!
I'll follow him, for now he's God's alone.
So be it! To the church!
'Twas robbers then?
I bid thee gather all thy kindred there
To try the test of murder.
Be it so.
But bring them one and all, for now I find
That some are missing. Call the absent too!
[_Exeunt omnes; the men and women by
_In the cathedral. Torches. The Chaplain with other priests is at one
side before an iron door. At the main entrance of the cathedral about
sixty of_ HAGEN's _kindred are assembled. Finally_ HAGEN, GUNTHER _and
the others. Knocking is heard._
VOICE FROM WITHOUT.
A great king from the Netherlands
Whose crowns are as the fingers on his hands.
I know him not.
[_The knocking is repeated._]
VOICE FROM WITHOUT.
A warrior brave,
Whose trophies are as many as his teeth.
I know him not.
[_The knocking is repeated._]
VOICE FROM WITHOUT.
Thy brother Siegfried,
Whose sins are as the hairs upon his head.
[_The door is opened and_ SIEGFRIED's _body
is brought in on the bier._ KRIEMHILD _and_
UTE _with their maidens follow him._]
CHAPLAIN (_turning toward the bier_).
Thou art welcome, my dead brother,
For peace thou seekest here!
[_To the women whom he keeps away from
the coffin by coming between them and it,
while it is being set down._]
Be welcome too,
If you are seeking peace as Siegfried is.
[_He holds up the cross before KRIEMHILD._]
Thou turn'st away from this most holy cross?
I come to ask for justice and for truth.
Thou seekest vengeance, and the Lord hath said,
Vengeance is mine. It is the Lord alone
Who sees what's hidden. He alone requites.
I am a woman, weak, half crushed to earth;
No warrior can I strangle with my hair.
What vengeance then is left for me, I pray?
Why should'st thou search to find thine enemy,
Unless thou seek'st on him to take revenge?
His Judge knows all, and is not that enough?
I do not want to curse the innocent.
Then curse thou no man, and 'twill not befall!--
Thou poor frail child created but from dust
And ashes, with no strength to breast the wind,
Thy burden's great, well may'st thou cry to heaven,
Yet gaze on Him who bore a greater still!
In humblest guise He came upon the earth,
And took upon Himself the sins of men,
And suffered for atonement all the griefs
That ever there have been throughout all time--
The griefs that follow fallen mortals still.
He suffered in thy sorrow more than thou!
And heavenly power flowed from out His lips
And all the angels floated round his head,
But Jesus Christ was faithful unto death--
Unto His shameful death upon the cross.
This sacrifice He brought thee in his love,
In pity that we may not comprehend.
Wilt thou deny thine offering to Him?
Then let them bury him! And turn thou back!
Thy work is done, and I will now do mine!
[_She goes and stands at the head of the
Approach the bier, the dread ordeal begins!
CHAPLAIN (_goes also to the coffin and stands at the foot.
Three trumpet blasts are heard_).
HAGEN (_to GUNTHER_).
What then has happened?
Murder has been done.
Why stand I here?
Suspicion rests on thee.
My kin are gathered here. Of my fair name
I'll question them.--Are ye prepared to swear
That Hagen Tronje is no murderer?
ALL EXCEPT GISELHER.
We are prepared.
Thou'rt silent, Giselher?
Wilt thou not for thine uncle take thine oath
That Hagen Tronje is no murderer?
GISELHER (_raising his hand_).
I am prepared.
Ye need not take the oath.
[_He goes forward to_ KRIEMHILD _in the
Thou see'st, my kin will clear me when I will,
'Tis needless that I now approach the bier,
Yet will I stand there and will be the first!
[_He walks slowly to the bier._]
Oh Kriemhild, do not look.
Perchance he lives!
My Siegfried! Had he strength to speak one word
Or gaze but once upon me!
My poor child,
It is but nature, moving once again.
It is the hand of God,
That softly stirs once more these sacred springs
Because He must inscribe the sign of Cain.
HAGEN (_bending over the coffin_).
The scarlet blood! I ne'er believed the sign!
But now I see it here with mine own eyes.
Yet thou canst stand and gaze?
[_She springs toward him._]
Away, thou fiend!
Who knows but every drop of blood gives pain,
That thy foul, murderous presence draws from him!
Fair Kriemhild, if a dead man's blood still boils,
Why may not mine? I am a living man.
Away! Away! I'd seize thee with my hands,
Had I but some one who would back them off
And cast them from me that I might be clean--
For washing would not cleanse them, even if
I dipped them in thy blood. Away! Away!
So stood'st thou not to deal the deadly blow,
Thy wolfish eyes fixed on him steadily,
With fiendish grin disclosing thy intent
Before the time! But slyly didst thou creep
Behind him, ever shrinking from his gaze,
As wild beasts do that fear the human eye,
And peered to find the spot, that I--Thou dog,
What was thine oath to me?
To shelter him
From fire and water.
Not from human foes?
That too, and I'd have done it.
Thou didst mean
To murder him thyself?
To punish him!
Was murder ever called a punishment
Since heaven and earth began?
HAGEN. I'd challenged him
To mortal combat, thou may'st take my word,
But none might tell the hero from the dragon,
And dragons must be killed. So proud a knight,
Why did he hide him in the dragon's skin!
The dragon's skin! He had to slay him first,
And with the dragon slew he all the world!
The forest depths with all their monstrous beasts,
And every warrior that had feared to slay
The dreadful dragon, Hagen with the rest!
Thy slander cannot harm him. But the dart
Thine envy borrowed from thy wickedness.
And folk will tell of his nobility
As long as men still dwell upon the earth,
And just so long they'll tell thy tale of shame.
So be it then!
[_He takes_ SIEGFRIED'S _sword, Balmung, from
beside the body._]
And now 'twill never end!
[_He girds on the sword and walks slowly
back to his kindred._]
To murder foul is added robbery!
A judgment, Gunther! Judgment I demand.
Remember Him who on the cross forgave!
A judgment! If the king denies it me,
The blood of Siegfried stains his mantle too.
UTE. Cease, Kriemhild! Thou wilt ruin thy whole house!
So be it! For the measure's over full!
[_She turns toward_ SIEGFRIED'S _body and falls upon the bier._]
[Footnote 1: Siegfried's wonderful sword is named Balmung.]
[Footnote 2: The reference is to a passage in the _Chanson de Roland_.
Roland was in command of a rear guard and was warned of the approach of
a large force of Saracens. His comrade Oliver begged him to sound his
horn and summon Charlemagne and his forces. Roland would not blow the
horn until nearly all his men were slain. At last, however, the Saracens
learned of Charlemagne's approach and fled. Roland then blew his horn
once more and died alone on the field as he heard Charlemagne's battle
[Footnote 3: Balmung is the name of Siegfried's magical sword.]
[Footnote 4: The Mandrake is a plant growing in the Mediterranean region
and belonging to the potato family. It was early famed for its poisonous
and narcotic qualities. Love philtres were also made from its roots, and
an old High German story tells of little images made from the root, thus
endowed with the power of prophecy and respected as oracles. Probably
Hebbel refers to the German tradition, as he is speaking of the dwarfs
who are both small and wise. The German name of the plant is
[Footnote 5: The translator finds that authorities and versions of the
tale differ as to Siegfried's _"Kappe."_ In Maurice Grau's
Goetterdaemmerung libretto it is called in the English translation
"Tarnhelm," and Siegfried hangs it to his belt when not in use. Dippold
in his account of the Nibelung tale speaks of the _Tarn kappe_ or magic
_cap_ of darkness which _renders the wearer invisible._ But the
_Encyclopaedia Britannica_ speaks of the "cape of darkness" and Heath's
_Dictionary_ gives cap first, but calls _Tarn kappe_ "hiding cape." In
either case invisibility was obtained.--TRANSLATOR.]
BY FRIEDRICH HEBBEL
TRANSLATED BY FRANCES H. KING
"Mild the air, and heaven blue,
Fragrant flowers full of dew,
And at even dance and play,
That is quite too much, I say."
Anna, the young servant maid, was gaily singing this song one bright
Sunday morning, while busily engaged in washing up the kitchen and dairy
crockery. At that moment Baron Eichenthal, in whose service she had been
for the last six months, passed by, wearing a green damask
dressing-gown. He was a decrepit young man, full of spleen and whims.
"What's the meaning of this yodelling!" he demanded haughtily, pausing
in front of her--"You know that I cannot bear frivolity."
Anna blushed violently: she remembered that her severe master would have
been very pleased to find her frivolous a few evenings ago in the
summerhouse. A sharp retort was on the tip of her tongue, but forcibly
suppressing it, she started to take up a white porcelain soup-tureen,
and, in a violent struggle with her natural fearlessness, let it fall to
the ground. The valuable dish broke and the Baron, who had already taken
a few steps forward, turned around, his face flaming with anger.
"What!" he exclaimed loudly, and strode up to the girl, "would you cool
your temper on my mother's kitchen crockery, you little sneak, because
your stubborn spirit will not allow you to accept a well-merited reproof
quietly, as becomes you?" And with that, scolding and storming, he gave
her, right and left, box after box on the ear, while she, stunned, gazed
at him, like a child, bereft of speech, indeed almost of her senses,
still holding the handle of the tureen in one hand, and involuntarily
pressing the other against her breast.
She was first aroused from this state, which bordered on a swoon, by the
mocking laughter of the chamber-maid Frederika, who, more easy going
than she, gladly allowed the Baron to trifle wantonly with her and pinch
her cheeks or play with her curls. The insolent wench looked at her
derisively, and called out, "That will give you a good appetite for the
kermess, Miss Prude."
The Baron, however, laughed loudly and placing his arms akimbo, said:
"You might just as well give up all desire for dance and play; I
withdraw the permission accorded by my mother, you shall take care of
the house. Is there nothing then for her to do today?" he continued,
talking to himself. Frederika whispered something to him. "Right," he
shouted, "she shall comb the flax until late at night; do you hear?"
Anna, completely bewildered, nodded her head, and then sank down
powerless on her knees; at the same time, however, she instinctively
snatched up a brass utensil, and, while the hot, uncontrollable tears
overflowed her eyes, she began to scour it bright.
The gardener had witnessed the foregoing scene from a distance. Fresh
and blooming as she was, he had long pursued her with attentions, but in
vain; coming up at that moment, he greeted her and asked maliciously how
she was? "Oh, oh," she moaned, quivering spasmodically, and springing,
up she clutched at the sneering fellow's breast and face.
"Madwoman," he cried, growing frightened, and, defending himself with
all his masculine strength, pushed her away. She stared after him with
wide-open eyes as though not realizing what she had done; then, as if
coming to her senses, returned to her work, which she continued without
interruption, except at times unconsciously heaving a loud sigh, until
at midday she was called to the kitchen to dinner. Here nothing but
faces expressing malicious joy at her discomfiture awaited her, and more
or less suppressed laughter and tittering, which grew stronger and more
pitiless as she continued to gaze down at her plate with burning cheeks,
and replied not a word to the volley of allusions.
The maids, already partly decked out in their finery, exchanged
bantering remarks, bearing unmistakable reference to her, on the score
of the lovers whom they had found, or hoped to find, and the flat-nosed
scullion, encouraged to commit the impertinence by the winks of the head
farm-hand and the coachman, asked Anna if he might not borrow her
red-flowered apron and the hat with the gay-colored ribbons that
Frederick, the Major's man, had given her at Christmas. She would
certainly not need these things in the flax-room, he said, and he hoped
by means of them to win the good graces of a girl who had no finery.
"Boy," she cried with white trembling lips, "I'll not cook you any milk
soup another time when you are sick in bed, and no one bothers himself
about you!" and shoving back her plate, she snatched up the empty
water-pails, which it was her duty to fill afresh at the well, and went
"Fie," said John, an old servant, who, having grown gray in the service
of his lordship's father, was now eating the bread of charity in the
house of Baron Eichenthal. "It is wrong to spoil the wench's food and
drink with bitter words."
"Pshaw!" retorted the gardener, "it will not hurt her. Since that
lean-bodied toady, Frederick, has been running after her, she's as
proud as though she had angled a nobleman!"
"Pride comes before a fall!" said Lizzie, the buxom little cook, with a
tender glance at the phlegmatic head farm-hand. "Do you know that she
"Why shouldn't she be proud," interjected the coachman, "isn't she the
Frederika, the chambermaid, came into the kitchen with a heated face.
"Isn't Anna here?" she asked, drying her forehead with her silk
handkerchief. "The master has just gone to bed, he joked a good
deal"--here she coughed, as the others cast significant glances at one
another and laughed--"and I am to tell her that she is to begin combing
the flax right away, and"--this she added on her own authority--"she
must not stop work until ten o'clock."
"I'll give her the message, Rika!" answered Lizzie. Frederika tripped
"Doesn't she lace too?" asked the head farm-hand.
"Chut! Chut!" whispered John, and jingled his fork against his plate in
embarrassment. Anna entered the kitchen with her load of water.
"Anna," began Lizzie officiously, "I am to tell you--"
"I know all about it already," answered Anna drily, in a steady voice.
"I met the messenger. Where is the key to the flax-room hanging?"
"Over there on the nail!" replied the cook, and pointed with her finger
to the place.
Anna, composed, because inwardly crushed, took the key, and while the
others went off to their trunks in order to complete their toilet before
a three groschen mirror, she went hastily into the flax-room, the
windows of which looked out upon the castle courtyard and the high-road.
She sat down, her face turned toward the windows so that she could see
all the merry-makers on their way from the village to the kermess and
hear their gay talk. She began to work with gloomy industry. Although at
times she unconsciously sank into a fit of brooding, she would
immediately start up again terrified, as though bitten by a snake or
tarantula, and continue her labor with increased, indeed, with unnatural
zeal. Only once during the entire long afternoon did she get up from her
low, hard, wooden stool, and that was when her fellow servants drove
quickly down the castle yard in comfortable rack wagons drawn by fast
horses. But with a loud laugh, as though in self-derision, she sat down
again, and, although she grew so thirsty in all the heat and dust that
her tongue clove to the roof of her mouth, she did not even drink the
coffee that old Bridget, who on an occasion like this of today used to
take care of the house for the maids, compassionately brought her toward
four or five o'clock.
When night gradually came on she went into the kitchen, without
smoothing back the locks of hair that hung wildly about her face. Making
no answer to Bridget's friendly invitation to remain there and share
with her a tempting dish of baked potatoes, she took a candle out of the
candle box, and holding her hand over it to protect it against the
draught, went back into the flax-room. It was not long before there was
a knock at the window, and when she had opened the door Frederick
entered hastily, dripping with perspiration.
"I must see what is the matter," he said, almost breathless and tearing
open his waist-coat, "they are whispering all kinds of things."
"You see!" answered Anna quickly, then stopped short and arranged her
bodice, which had been pushed somewhat awry.
"Your master is a scoundrel!" blustered Frederick, gnashing his teeth.
"Yes, yes!" said Anna.
"I should like to meet him up there on the cliff," cried Frederick, "oh,
"How hot you are," said Anna, gently taking his hand. "Have you been
"I have been drinking wine, five or six glasses," rejoined Frederick.
"Come, Anna, dress yourself, you shall go with me in spite of every
devil who tries to interfere."
"No, no, no!" said Anna.
"But I say yes," Frederick flared out in a passion, and put his arm
around her waist, "I say yes!"
"Most certainly not!" Anna answered softly, embracing him
KRIEMHILD ACCUSES HAGEN OF THE MURDER OF SIEGFRIED
_From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld_ [Illustration]
"You shall, I wish it," cried Frederick, releasing her.
Anna, without making any answer, took up the flax-comb and looked down
on the ground before her.
"Will you, or will you not?" persisted
Frederick, and stepped right in front of her.
"How could I?" returned Anna, looking confidingly in his eyes, and
laying her hand on her heart.
"Very well," cried Frederick. "You
will not. God damn me if I ever see you again!" He rushed out like a mad
"Frederick," cried Anna after him, "Do stay, stay a moment, listen how
the wind is howling."
She was starting to hurry after him when her dress brushed against the
candle placed low down on an oak-block; it fell over and set fire to the
flax which burst at once into powerful flames. Frederick, crazed with
wine and anger, forced himself, as usually happens in such moments, to
sing a song as he strode out into the night, which had turned out to be
very stormy. The familiar tones, in wild hilarity, penetrated to where
Anna was. "Oh! oh!" she sighed from the depth of her heart. Then for the
first time she noticed that half of the room was already on fire.
Beating with her hands and stamping with her feet she threw herself upon
the greedy flames which, hot and burning, leaped toward her and scorched
her. Frederick's voice died away in the distance in a last halloo.
"Pshaw, why should I put it out, let it be!" she cried, and slamming the
door behind her with all her might, she hurried out with a horrible
laugh, involuntarily following the same path through the garden that
Frederick had taken.
Soon, however, she sank down, exhausted, almost fainting, in a meadow
which adjoined the garden, and groaning aloud pressed her face into the
cold, wet grass. Thus she lay for a long time.
Then from far and near the fire and alarm bells sounded, hollow and
terrifying. She half raised herself, but did not look around. Above her
the sky was blood-red and full of sparks; an unnatural heat was
spreading, and increasing from minute to minute. The wind howled and
roared, the flames crackled, wails and shouts resounded. She lay down
again at full length on the ground, and it seemed to her as though she
could sleep. But the next moment she was frightened out of this
death-like state by the words of two people hurrying past her, one of
whom cried out, "Lord have mercy on us! the village is already burning!"
She pulled herself together then with a superhuman effort, and hurried,
with flying hair, down to the village, which adjoined the burning side
of the castle. There, in more than one place the inflammable straw roofs
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