Friedrich Schiller.

The works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) online

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Second Chorus (Berengar).
From this fair stem a beauteous tree

With ever springing boughs shall smile.
And with immortal verdure shade oui' isle ;

Mother of heroes, joy to thee !
Triumphant as the sun thy kingly race
Shall spread from clime to clime,
And give a deathless name to rolling time !
IsABKLLA {comes forward with her Soxs).

Look down ! benignant Queen of Heaven, and still

This proud tumultuous heart, that in my breast

Swells ^vith a mother's tide of ecstasy,

As blazoned in these noble youths, my image

More perfect shows; — blissful hour ! the first

That compi'ehends the fulness of my joy.

When long constrained affection dares to pour

In unison of transport from my heart

Unchecked, a parent's undivided love :

Oh ! it was ever one — my sons were twain.

Say — shall I revel in the dream of bliss.

And give my soul to nature's dear emotions?

Is this warm pressure of thy brother's hand

A dagger in thy breast? [To Don Mahueu

Or when my eyes
Feed on that brow with loves enraptured gaze,

a a 'i



452 THE BKIDE OF MESSINA.

Is it a wrong to thee ? . . . [To Don C^sa.b

Trembling, I pause,
Lest e en affection's breath should wake the fires
Of slumbering hate.

[After regarding both icith inquiring looks
Speak ! In your secret heai'ts
What purpose dwells ? Is it the ancient feud
Unreconciled, that in your father's halls
A moment stilled ; beyond the castle gates,
Where sits infuriate War, and champs the bit —
Shall rage anew in mortal bloody conflict ?

Chorus (Bohemund).

Concord or strife — the Fates' decree
iS uosomed yet in dark futurity ! —
"What comes, we little heed to know.
T'repared for aught the hour may show !

l8.ABi:Lr.A (looking round).

What mean these arms ? this warlike dread array,

That in the palace of your sires portends

Some fearful issue ? needs a mother's heai't

Outpoured, this ragged witness of her joys?

Sav, in these folding arms shall Treason hide

The deadly snare? — these rude pitiless men,

7'he ministers of your wrath i — trust not the show

Of seeming friendship ; treachsrv in their breasts

Lurks to betray, and long-disseiuuled hate.

Ye are a race of other lands ; vour sires

Profaned their soil ; and ne'er tuu Invader's yoke

Was easy — never in the vassal's heart

Languished the hope of sweet revenge ; — our sway

Kot rooted in a people's love, but owns

Allegiance from their fears ; with secret joy —

For conquest's ruthless sword, and thraldom's chains

From age to age, they wait the atoning hour

Of princes' dowiifal ; — tlms their bards awake

The patriot strain, and thus from sire to son

Reliearsed, the old traditionaiy tale

Beguiles the winter's night. False is the world,

My sons, and light are all the specious ties

By Fancy twined : Fr'eudship — deceitful namo I



THE BRIDE OF MESSIKA.



453



Its gaudy flowers bul deck our summer fortune,
To wither at the first rude breath of autumn !
So happy to whom Heaven has given a brother ;
The friend by nature signed — the true and steadfast!
Nature alone is honest — Nature only —
When all we trusted strews the wintry shore —
On her eternal anchor lies at rest.
Nor heeds the tempest's rage.

Don Manuel. My mother !

Don Cesak. Hear me !

Isabella {taking their hands).

Be noble, and forget the fancied wrongs

Of boyhoods age : more godlike is forgiveness

Than victory, and in your father's grave

Should sleep the ancient hate : — Oh. give your days

Renewed henceforth to neace and holy love I

[She recedes one or two steps, as if to give them
space to ajjproach each other. Both fix their
eyes on the ground without regarding one another

Isabella (fl/<er awaiting for some time, tcith suppressed emotion,
a demonstration on the part of her sons).
I can no more ; my prayers — my tears are vain : —
'Tis well ! obey the demon in your hearts !
Fulhl your dread intent, and stain with blood
The holy altars of our household Gods ; —
These halls, that gave you birth, the stage where

Murder
Shall hold his festival of mutual carnage
Beneath a mother's eye ! — then, foot to foot,'
Close, like the Thebau pair, with maddenuig gripe,
And fold each other in a last embrace !
Each press with vengeful thnist the dagger home.
And " Victoiyl " be your shriek of death : — Nor then
Sliall discord rest appeased ; the very flame
That lights your funeral pyre, shall tower disseverei
In niddy columns to the skies, and tell
With horrid image — "thus they lived and died !"

[She goes aicay ; the Brothers stand as before

Chorus (Cajetan).

How have her words with soft control
Tlesistless calmed the tempest of my soul!



454 THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

No guilt of Idndred blood be mine !
Thus with uplifted hands I pray ;
Think, brothers, on the awful day,
And tremble at the wrath divine !
Don CjGSAR {without taking his eyes from the ground\

Thou art my elder — speak — without dishonour

I yield to thee.
Don Manuel. One gracious word, and instant,

My tongue is rival in the strife of love !
Don C. I am the guiltier — weaker —
Don Manuel. Say not so !

Who doubts thy noble heart, knows thee not well ;

Thy words were prouder, if thy soul were meap
Don C. It bums indignant at the thought of wrong ; —

But thou — methinks, in passion's fiercest mood,

'Twas aught but scorn that harboured in thy breast
Don M. Oh ! had I known thy spirit thus to peace

Inclined, what thousand griefs had never torn

A mother's heart !
Don C^sar. I find thee just and true :

Men spoke thee proud of soul.
Don Manuel. The curse of greatness ! —

Ears ever open to the babbler's tale.
Don C. Thou art too proud to meanness — I to falsehood !
Don M. We were deceived, betrayed !

Don C^sar. The sport of frenzy !

Don M. And said my mother true, false is the world ?
Don C. Believe her, false as air.
Don Manuel. Give me thy hand !

Don C. And thine be ever next my heart !

[They stand clasping each others hands, and rii
yard each other in silence.
Don Manuel. I gaze

Upon thy brow, and still behold my mother

In some dear lineament.
Don C-esar. Her image looks

From thine, and wondrous in my bosom wakes

Affection's springs.
Don Manuel. And is it thou ? — that smile

Benignant on thy face?— thy lips that charm

With gracious sounds of love and dear forgiveness ?
Don C. Is this my brother, this the hated foe ?



THE BRIDE OF MESSTNA.



455



His mien all gentleness and truth — his voice —
Whose soft prevailing accents breathe of friendship !

[After a jJause.

Don M. Shall aught divide us?

Don C^sar. We are one for ever !_

[They rush into each other's arms
1st Choeus [to the Second).

Why stand we thus, and coldly gaze,

While Nature's holy transports burn ?
No dear embrace of happier days

The pledge — that discord never shall return !
Brothers are they by kindred band ;
We own the ties of home and native land.

[Both Choruses embrace.

A Messenger enters

2kd Chorus to Don C^sar (Bohemund).

Rejoice, my Prince, thy messenger returns : —
And mark that beaming smile ! the harbinger
Of happy tidings.
Messenger. Health to me, and health

To this delivered state ! sight of bliss.
That lights mine eyes with rapture ! I behold—
Their hands in sweet accord entwined — the sons
Of my departed lord — the princely pair
Dissevered late by conflict's hottest rage.

Don C. Yes ! from the flames of hate, a new-bom Phoenix,
Our love aspires !

Messenger. I bring another joy —

My staff is green with flourishing shoots.

Don C^sar [taking him aside). 0, tell me

Thy gladsome message.

Messenger. Ail is happiness

On this auspicious day ; —long sought, the lost one
Is found.

Don CiESAR. Discovered ! Oh, where is she? Speak'

Mess. . Within Messina's walls she lies concealed.

Don Manuel {tuminfj to the 1st Semtchorus)

A ruddy glow mounts in my brother's cheek,
And pleasui-e dances in his sparkling eye ;



456 THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

Whate'er the spring, -with sympathy of love
My inmost heart partakes his joy.

Don C^sar (to the Messenger). Come, lead me

Farewell, Don Manuel — to meet again
Enfolded in a mother "s arms ! I fly
To cares of utmost need. [He is about to depart

Don Manuel. Make no delay;

And happiness attend thee !

Don CjsSar (after a pause of reflection, he returns).

How thy looks
Awake my soul to transport ! Yes, my brother.
We shall be friends indeed ! This hour is bright
With glad presage of ever-springing love,
That in. the enlivening beam shall flourish fair,
Sweet recompense of wasted years !

Don Manuel. The blossom

Betokens goodly fruit

Don C-esar. I tear myself

Reluctant from thy arms, but think not less —
If thus I break this festal hour — my heart
Thrills with a holy joy

Don Manuei (icith manifest absence of mind).

Obey the moment !
Our lives belong to love

Don CiisAR. What calls me hence —

Don M. Enough ! thou leav'st thy heart.

Don C^sar. No envious secret

Shall part us long ; soon the last darkening fold
Shall vanish from my breast.

[Turning to the Choiius,
Attend ! For ever
Stilled is our strife ; he is my deadliest foe,
Detested as the gates of hell, who dares
To blow the fires of discord : — none may hope
To win my love, that -with malicious tales
Encroach upon a brother's ear, and point,
With busy zeal of false officious friendship,
The dart of some rash angry word, escaped
From passion's heat: — it wounds not from the lips.
But swallowed by suspicion's greedy ear.
Like a rank poisonous weed, embittered creeps,



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA. 457

Aud hangs about the heart with thousand shoots,
Pei'plexing Natui-e s ties.

[He embraces his brother afjain, and goes airay,
accompanied by the 2nd Chorus.

Chorus (Cajetan). AVondering, my Prince,

I gaze, hr in thy looks some mystery
Strange-sjeming shows : scarce with abstracted mien
And cold thou answered'st, when with earnest heart
Thy brother poured the strain of dear affection.
As in a dream thou stand'st, and lost in thought.
As tho' — dissevered from its earthly frame —
Thy spirit roved afar. Not thine the breast
That deaf to Nature's voice, ne'er owned the throbs
Of kindred love : — nay more — like one entranced
In bliss, thou look'st around, and smiles of rapture
Play on thy cheek.

Don Manuel. How shall my lips declare

The transports of my swelling heart ? My brother
Revels in glad sui-prise, and from his breast
Instinct with strange new-felt emotions, pours
The tide of joy ; but mine — no hate came with me,
Forgot the veiy spring of mutual strife !
High o'er this earthly sphere, on rapture's wings,
My spirit floats ; and in the azure sea,
Above — beneath — no track of envious night
Distm-bs the deep serene ! I view these halls,
And picture to my thoughts the timid joy
Of my sweet bride, as thro' the palace gates,
In pride of queenly state, I lead her home.
She loved alone the loving one, the stranger,
And little deems that on her beauteous brow
Messina"s prince shall 'twine the nuptial wreath.
How sweet, with unexpected pomp of greatness,
To glad the darling of my soul ! — too long
I brook this dull delay of crowning bliss !
Her beauty's self, that asks no borrow'd charm.
Shall shine refulgent, like the diamond's blaze
That wins new lustre from the circling gold !

Chorus (Cajetan).

Long have I marked thee, Prince, -nith curious eye.
Foreboding of some aysterv deep en;>hrined



458 THE BRTDE OF MKasTNA.

Within thy labouring breast. This day, irapatim;c
Thy lips have burst the seal ; and unconstrained
Confess a lovers joy; — the gladdening chase,
The Olympian coursers, and the falcon's flight,
Can charm no more : — soon as the sun declines
Beneath the ruddy -west, thou hiest thee quick
' To some sequestered path, of mortal eye
Unseen — not one of all our faithful train
Companion of thy solitary way.
Say, vfhy so long concealed the blissful flame ?
Stranger to fear — ill-brooked thy princely heart
One thought unuttered.

Don Manuel. Ever on the wing

Is mortal joy ; — with silence best we guard
The fickle good ; — but now, so near the goal
Of all my cherished hopes, I dare to speak.
To-morrow's sun shall see her mine ! no power
Of Hell can make us twain ! With timid stealth
No longer will I creep at dusky eve,
To taste the golden fruits of Cupid's tree.
And snatch a fearful, fleeting bliss : to-day
With bright to-morrow shall be one ! So smooth
As runs the limpid brook, or silvery sand
That marks the flight of time, our lives shall flow
In continuity of joy !

Chorus (Cajetan). Already

Our hearts, my Prince, -with silent vows have blessed

Thy happy love ; and now from every tongue.

For her — the royal beauteous bride — should sound

The glad acclaim ; so tell what nook unseen,

What deep umbrageous solitude, enshrines

The charmer of thy heart ? With magic spells

Almost I deem she mocks our gaze, for oft

In eager chase we scour each rustic path

And forest dell ; yet not a trace betrayed

The lover's haunts, ne'er were the footsteps marked

Ox this mysterious fair.

Don Manuel. The spell is broke !

And all shall be revealed : now list my tale : —
'Tis five months flown, — my father yet controlled
The land, and bowed our necks with u-on sway ;



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA. 459

Little I knew, but the wild joys of arms,

Aud mimic warfare of the chase ;

One day,—
Long had we tracked the boar with zealous toil
On yonder woody ridge : — it chanced, pursuing
A snow-white hind, far from your train I roved
Amid the forest maze ; — the timid beast.
Along the mn dings of the narrow vale.
Thro' rocky cleft and thick-entangled brake,
Flew onward, scarce a moment lost, nor distant
Beyond a javelin's throw; nearer I came not,
Nor took an aim ; when thro' a garden's gate.
Sudden she vanished: — from my horse quick spring

I followed : — lo ! the poor scared creature lay
Stretched at the feet of a young beauteous nun.
That strove with fond caress of her fair hands
To still its throbbing heart : wondering, I gazed,
And motionless — my speai-, in act to strike,
High poised — while she, with her large piteous eyes
For mercy sued — and thus we stood in silence,
Regarding one another. . .

How long the pauso
I know not — time itself forgot ; — it seemed
Eternity of bliss : her glance of sweetness
Flew to my soul ; and quick the subtle flame

Pervaded all my heart :

But what T spoke.
And how this blessed creature answered, none
May ask ; it floats upon my thought, a dream
Of childhood's happy dawn ! Soon as my sense
Returned, I felt her bosom throb responsive
To mine, — then fell melodious on my ear
The sound, as of a convent bell, that called
To vesper Song ; and like some shadowy vision
That melts in air— she flitted from my sight —
And was beheld no more.
Chorus (Cajetan). Thy story thrills

My breast viith pious awe ! Prince, thou hast robbod
The sanctuaiy, and for the bride of Heaveu



460 THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

Bunied witli unholy passion ! Oh, remember
The cloister's sacred vows !

Don Manuel. Thenceforth one pntU

My footsteps wooed ; the fickle train was still
Of young desires — new felt my being's aim,
My soul revealed ! — and as the pilgrim turns
His wistful gaze, where, from the orient sky,
With gracious lustre beams Redemption's star ; —
So to that brightest point of Heaven, her presence,
My hopes and longings centered all. No sun
Sank in the western waves, but smiled farewell
To two united lovers : — thus in stillness
Our hearts were twined, — the all-seeing air above us
Alone the faithful witness of our joys !
golden hours ! O happy days ! nor Heaven
Indignant viewed our bliss ; — no vows enchained
Her spotless soul ; nought but the link which bound it
Eternally to mine !

Chorus (Cajetan). Those hallowed walls,

Perchance the calm retreat of tender youth,
No living grave ?

Don Manuel. In infant innocence

Consigned a holy pledge, ne'er has she left
Her cloistered home.

Chorus (Cajetan). But what her royal line ?

The noble only spring from noble stem.

Don M. a secret to herself, — she ne'er has learned
Her name or Fatherland.

Chorus (Cajetan). And not a trace

Guides to her being's undiscovered springs ?

Don M. An old domestic, the sole messenger

Sent by her unknown mother, oft bespeaks her'
Of kingly race.

Chorus (Cajetan). And hast thou won nought else

From garrulous age ?

Don Manuel. Too much I feared to peril

My secret bliss !

Chorus (Cajetan). What were his words ? Wliat tidings

He bore — perchance thou know'st.

Don Manuel. Oft he has cheered bet



THE BKIDE OF MESSINA. 461

'^Mth promise of a happier time, when all
Shall be revealed.

Chorus (Cajetan). say — betokens aught

The time is near ?

Don Manuel. Not distant far the day

That to the arms of kindred love once more
Shall give the long forsaken, orphaned maid —
Thus with mysterious words the aged man
Has shadowed oft what most I dread — for awe
Of change disturbs the soul supremely blest :
Nay, more ; but yesterday his message spoke
The end of all my joys: — this very dawn,
He told, should smile auspicious on her fate,
And light to other scenes : — no precious hour
Delayed my quick resolves — by night I bore her
In secret to Messina.

Chorus (Cajetan). Eash the deed

Of sacrilegious spoil ! forgive, my Prince,
The bold rebuke ; thus to unthinking youth
Old age may speak in friendship s warning voice.

Don M. Hard by the convent of the Carmelites,
In a sequestered garden's tranquil bound,
And safe from curious eyes, I left her, — hastening
To meet my brother : trembling there she counts
The slow-paced hours, nor deems how soon triumphant
In queenly state, high on the throne of Fame
Messina shall behold my timid bride.
For next, encompassed by your knightly train.
With pomp of greatness in the festal show.
Her lover's form shall meet her wondering gaze !
Thus will I lead her to my mother ; thus —
While countless thousands on her passage wait
Amid the loud acclaim — the royal bride
Shall veach my palace gates !

Chorus (Cajetan). Command us. Prince,

We live but to obey !

Don Manuel. I tore myself

Keluctant from her arms ; my every thought
Shall still be hers : so come along, my friends.
To where the turbaned merchant spreads his store
Of fabrics gold enwrought with curious art ;



462 THE BEIDE OF MESSIXi^.

And all the gathered wealtli of eastern climes

First choose the well-formed sandals — meet to guard

And grace her delicate feet ; then for her robe —

The tissue, pure as Etna's snow that lies

Nearest the sun — light as the wreathy mist

At summer dawn — so playful let it float

About her airy limbs. A girdle next,

Purple with gold embroidered o'er, to bind

With ^vitching grace the tunic that confines

Her bosom's swelling charms : of silk the mantle,

Gorgeous with like empnrpled hues, and fixed

With clasp of gold : — remember, too, the bracelets

To gird her beauteous arms ; nor leave the treasure

Of Ocean's pearly deeps and coral caves.

About her locks entwine a diadem

Of purest gems — the ruby's fiery glow

Commingling with the emerald's green. A veil,

From her tiara pendent to her feet

Like a bright fleecy cloud shall circle round

Her slender form : and let a myrtle wreath

Crown the enchanting whole !

Chorus (Cajetan). We haste, my Prince,

Amid the Bazar's glittering rows, to cull
Each rich adornment.

Don Manuel. From my stables lead

A pallrey, milkwhite as the steeds that draw
The chariot of the Sun ; purple the housings,
The bridle sparkling o'er with precious gems.
For it shall bear my Queen ! Yom-selves be ready
With trumpet's cheerful clang, in martial train
To lead your mistress home : let two attend me.
The rest await my quick return ; and each
Guard well my secret purpose.

[He goes away accompanied by two of the Chorus.

Chorus (Cajetan).

The princely strife is o'er, and say,

What sport shall wing the slow paced hours.

And cheat the tedious day?

With hope and fear's enlivening zest
Disturb the slumber of the breast,



THE BTlIPi: OF MESSrSA. 463

And wake life's dull untroubled sea
With fresiieuing airs of gay variety

One of the Chorus (Manfred).

Lovely is Peace ! A beauteous boy,

Couched listless by the rivulet's glassy tide,

'Mid Nature's ti'anquil scene,
He views the lambs that skip with innocent joy.

And crop the meadow's flowering pride : —
Then with his flute's enchanting sound,
He wakes the mountain echoes round,

Or slumbers in the sunset's ruddy sheen,

Lulled by the murmuring melody.
But War for me ! my spirit's treasure,
Its stern delight, and wilder pleasure :
I love the peril and the pain.
And revel in the sui'ge of Fortune's boisterous mBis 1

A second (Berengar).
Is there not Love, and beauty's smile
That lures with soft resistless wile ?
Tis thrilling hope ! 'tis rapturous fear
Tis Heaven upon this mortal sphere ;
When at her feet we bend the knee,
And own the glance of kindred ecstasy !
For ever on life's chequered way,

'Tis Love that tints the darkening hues of care
With soft benignant ray :
The mirthful daughter of the wave,

Celestial Venus ever fair,
Enchants our happy spring with Fancy's gleam.
And wakes the airy forms of Passion's golden dreara

First (Manfred).
To the wild woods away !
Quick let us follow in the train

Of her, chaste Huntress of the silver bow ;
And from the rocks amain

Track through the forest gloom the bounding roe

The War-God's merry bride,
The chase recals the battle's fmy,
And kindles victory's pride : —



464 THE BEIDE OF MESSIXA.

Up with the streaks of early mom,

We soour with jocund hearts the misty vale,

Loud echoing to the cheerful horn —
Over mountain — over dale —

And e\eYy languid sense repair,

Bathed in the rushing streams of cold reviving ail

Second (Berengar).
Or shall we trust the ever-moving sea,
The azure Goddess, hlithe and free,
Whose face, the mirror of the cloudless sky,
Lures to her bosom wooingly ?
Quick let us build on the dancing waves
A floating castle gay,
And merrily, merrily, swim away !
Who ploughs, with venturous keel, the brino
Of the ocean chrystalline —
His bride is Fortune, the world his own,
For him a harvest blooms unsown : —
Here, like the wind that swift careers

The circling bound of earth and sky,

Flits ever changeful Destiny !
Of airy Chance 'tis the sportive reign,
And Hope ever broods on the boundless main !

A third (Cajetan)
Nor on the watery waste alone

Of the tumultuous heaving sea ; —
On the firm earth that sleeps secure,

Based on the pillars of eternity.
Say, when shall mortal joy endure ?
New bodings in my anxious breast.
Waked by this sudden friendship, rise ;
Ne'er would I choose my home of rest

On the stilled lava stream, that cold
Beneath the mountain lies : —

Not thus was Discord's flame controlled —
Too deep the rooted hate — too long

They brooded in their sullen hearts
O'er unforgotten treasured wrong.
In warning visions oft dismayed,

I read the signs of coming woe ;



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA,. 465

And now, from this mysterious maid,
My bosom tells the dreaded ills shall flc \v : —

(Jublest, I deem, the bridal chain
Shall knit their secret loves, accurst

With lioly cloisters' spoil profane.

No crooked paths to Virtue lead ;

111 fruit has ever sprung from evil seed I

Berengar.
A.nd thus to sad unhallowed rites

Of an ill omened nuptial tie,
Too well ye know their father bore

A bride of mournful destiny,
Torn from his sire, whose awful curse has sped
Heaven's vengeance on the impious bed !
This fierce unnatural rage atones

A parent's crime — decreed by Fate,

Their mother's offspring. Strife and Hate I

The scene changes to a garden opening on the sea.
hw-MRlCE {steps forivard from an alcove. She walks to and
fro with an agitated air, looking round in every
direction. Suddenly she stands still and listens).
No ! 'tis not he : 'twas but the playful wind
Rustling the pine tops. To his ocean bed
The sun declines, and with o'erwearied heart
I count the lagging hours : an icy chill
Creeps through my frame ; the very solitude
And awful silence fright my trembling soul !
Where'er I turn, nought meets my gaze — he leaves ujc

Forsaken and alone !

And like a rushing stream the city's hum
Floats on the breeze, and dull the mighty sea
Rolls murmuring to the rocks : I shrink to nothing.
With horrors compassed round ; and like the leaf,
Borne on the autumn blast, am hurried onward

Thro' boundless space.

Alas ! that e'er I left
My peaceful cell— no cares, no fond desires



Online LibraryFriedrich SchillerThe works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) → online text (page 30 of 37)