Friedrich Schiller.

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

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Di!,turbed my breast, unruffled as the stream
That glides in sunshine through the verdant rnead; -

H H



^66 THE BRIDE OF MESSTNA

Nor poor in joys. Now — on the mighty surge
Of Fortune, tempest-tossed — the world enfolds uie
With giant arms ! Forgot my childhood's ties,
I listened to the lover's flattering tale —
Listened, and trusted ! From the sacred dome
Allured — betrayed — for sure some hell-born mag'c
Enchained my frenzied sense — I fled with him,
The invader of ReHgion's dread abodes !

Wliere art thou, my beloved? Haste — return —
With thy dear presence calm my struggling soul I

[She listens
Hark ! the sweet voice ! No ! 'twas the echoing surge
That beats upon the shore ; — alas ! he comes not
More faintly, o'er the distant waves, the sun
Gleams with expiring ray ; a deathlike shudder
Creeps to my heart, and sadder, drearier grows
E'en desolation's self.

[She walks to and fro, then listens acain
Yes ! from the thicket shade
A voice resounds ! — 'tis he ! — the loved one !
No fond illusion mocks my listening ear •
'Tis louder — nearer : to his arms I fly —
To his breast !

[She rushes with outstretched arms to the extie
mity of the garden. Don Caesar meets her.

Don Cjrsar. Beatrice.

Bka TRICE (starting back in horror).
What do 1 see?

[At the same moment the Chorus comes forward
Don CiEjAR Angelic sweetness! fear not.

[To the Chorus
Retire ! your gleaming arms and rude array
Aff"right the timorous maid [To Beatrice.

Fear nothing ! — beauty
And virgin shame are sacred in my eyes.

[The Chorus steps aside. He approaches and
takes her hand.
Where hast thou been ? for sure some envious power
Has liid thee from my gaze : long have 7 sought thee :



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA. 467

E'en from the hour when, 'mid the funeral ritea
Of the dead Prince, like some angelic vision.
Lit with celestial brightness, on my sight
Thou shon'st, no other image in my breast,
Waking or dreaming, lives ; — nor to thyself
Unknown thy potent spells ; my glance of fire.
My faltering accents, and mj hand that lay
Trembling in thine, bespoke my ecstasy !
Aught else ^vith solemn majesty the rite

Ajid liOly place forbade :

The bell proclaimed
The awful Sacrifice I With downcast eyes.
And kneeling, I adored : — soon as I rose.
And caught with eager gaze thy form again.
Sudden it vanished ; yet, with mighty magic
Of love enchained, my spirit tracked thy presence ;
Nor ever, with unwearied quest, I cease.
At palace gates, amid the temple's throng,
In secret paths retired, or public scenes.
Where beauteous innocence perchance might rove.
To mark each passing form — in vain : but, guided
By some propitious deity, this day
One of my train, with happy vigilance.
Espied thee in the neighbouring church.

[Beatbice, who had stood trembling, xvith averted
eyes, here makes a gesture of terror.

I see thee
Once more ; and may the spirit from this frame
Be severed e'er we part ! Now let me snatch
This glad auspicious moment, and defy
Or chance, or envious demon's power, to shake
Henceforth my solid bliss ; here I proclaim thee,
Before this listening warlike train, my bride,
With pledge of knightly honours !

[He shows her to the Chorus
Who thou art,
1 ask not : thou art mine ! But that thy soul
And birth are pure alike, one glance informed
My inmost heart ; and though thy lot were mean,
And poor thy lowly state, yet would I strain thee
With rapture to my arms : — no choice remains,

H H a



468 THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

Thou art my love — my wife ! Know too, that ljft<}d
On fortxme's height, I spurn control ; my will
Can raise thee to the pinnacle of greatness —
Enough my name — I am Don Caesar ! None
Is nobler in Messina !

[Beateice starts hack in amazement. He re-
marks her agitation, and after a pause con-
tinues.

What a grace
Lives in thy soft surprise and modest silence !
Yes ! gentle humbleness is beauty's crown —
The Beautiful for ever hid, and shrinking
From its own lustre : but thy spirit needs
Eepose, for aught of strange — e'en sudden joy —
Is terror-fraught. I leave thee —

[Turning to the Chorus.
From this hour
She is your mistress, and my bride ; so teach her,
"With honours due, to entertain the pomp
Of queenly state. I will return with speed.
And lead her home as fits Messina's Princess !

[He goes away

Beatrice and the Chorus.

Chorus (BoHEMirND).

Fair maiden — hail to thee,
Thou lovely Queen !
Thine is the crown, and thine the victory !
Of heroes, to a distant age,
The blooming mother thou shalt shine,
Preserver of this kingly line.

(PiOGEr).
And thrice I bid thee hail,

Thou happy fair !
Sent in auspicious hour to bless
This favoured race — the gods' peculiar care.
Here twine the immortal wreaths of Fame,
And evermore, from sire to son,
Eolls on the sceptered sway.
To heirs of old renown, a race of deathless name !



TE3 BRIDE C/ MES&iKA 469

(Bohemund).

The household Gods cxultingly

Thy coming wait ;
The ancient, honoured Sires,
That on the portals frowu sedate,

Shall smile for thee !
There blooming Hebe shall thy steps attend ;
And golden Victory, that sits
By Jove's eternal throne, Avith waving plumes
For conquest ever spread,
To welcome thee from Heaven descend

(Rogee).

Ne'er from this queenly bright array

The crown of beauty fades, —
Departing to the realms of day.
Each to the next, as good and fair,
Extends the zone of feminine gracG,

And veil of purity : —
happy race !
What vision glads my raptured eye !

Equal in Nature's blooming pride,

I see the mother and the virgin briJe

Beatrice [awaking from her revtris).

luckless hour !
Alas I ill-fated maid !
Where shall I fly
From these rude warlike men ?

Lost and betrayed !
A shudder o'er me came,
When of this race accurst — the brothers twain—
Their hands embrued with kindred gore,

I heard the dreaded name ;
Oft told, their strife and serpent hate
With terror thi-illed my bosom's core : —
And now — oh hapless fate ! —
1 tremble, mid the rage of discord thro^^i,
Deserted and alone !

[She ruTis into th*: alcove



kTi TELE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

Chorus (Bohemtjnd).

Eon of the immortal Deities,
And blest is he, the Lord of power;
His every joy the world can give ;
Of all that mortals prize
He culls the flower.

(Roger).
For him from Ocean's azure caves
The diver bears each pearl of purest ray ;
Whate'er from Nature's boundless field

Or toil or art has won,
Obsequious at his feet we lay ;
His choice is ever free ;
We bow to chance, and Fortune's blind decree,

(Bohemund).
But this of Princes' lot I deem,
The crowning treasure, joy supreme —
Of love the triumph and the prize,
The beauty, star of neighbouring eyes !

She blooms for him alone,
He calls the fairest maid his own.

(Roger).
Armed for the deadly fray,

The corsair bounds upon the strand.
And drags, amid the gloom of night, away,

The shrieking captive train.
Of wild desires the hapless prey :

But ne'er his lawless hands profane
The gem — the peerless flower—
Whose charms shall deck the Sultan's bowoi

(BoHEMUND^

Now haste and watch, with curious eye,
These hallowed precincts round,

That no presumptuous foot come nigti
The secret, solitary groimd :

Guard well the maiden fair,

i'our chieftain's brightest jo>vel owns your care.

[The Chorus uithdraws to the hachjroxoid.



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA 471

The senile changes to a chamber in the interior oj the paUice.
Donna Isabella between Don Manuel and Don C^sak.

I8.*p The long expected festal day is come,

My children s hearts are twined in one, as thus

I fold their hands. Oh, blissful hour ! when first

A mother dares to speak in nature "s voice,

And no rude presence checks the tide of love.

The clang of aiTus affrights mine ear no more : —

And as the owls, ill-omened brood of night,

From some old shattered homestead's ruined wallg,

Their ancient reign, fly forth a dusky swarm,

Darkening the cheerfuFday; — when absent long.

The dwellers home return with joyous shouts,

To build the pile anew ; — so Hate departs

With all his grisly train — pale Envy, scowling Malice,

And hollow-eyed Suspicion — from our gates,

Hoarse murmuring, to the realms of night; while

Peace,
By Concord and fair Friendship led along.
Comes smiling in his place. > [She pauses

But not alone
This day of joy to each restores a brother ;
It brings a sister ! Wonderstruck you gaze I
Yet now the truth, in silence guarded long,
Bursts from my soul — attend ! I have a daughter !
A sister lives, ordained by Heaven to bind ye
With ties unknown before.

Do.\ C^sar. We have a sister !

What hast thou said, my mother? — never told
Her being till this hour !

Don Manuel. In childhood's years,

Oft of a sister we have heard, untimely
Snatched in her cradle by remorseless death ;
So ran the tale.

Isabella. She lives !

L>ON CiESAK. And thou wert silent 1

IsAB. Hear how the seed was sown in early time,
That now shall ripen to a joyful harvest.
Ye bloomed in boyhood's tender age — e'eu theu —



472 THE BRIDE OF MESSIXA

By mutual deadly hate, the bitter spring

Of grief to this torn anxious heart — dissevered ;

Oh, may your strife return no more ! A vision.

Strange and mysterious, in your father s breast

Woke dire presage : it seemed that from his couch„

With branches intertwined, two laurels grew,

And in the midst a lily all in flames,

That, catching swift the boughs and knotted stems.

Burst forth with crackling rage, and o'er the house

Spread in one mighty sea of tire : perplexed

By this terrific dream, my husband sought

An Arab, skilled to read the stars, and long

The trusted oracle, whose counsels swayed

His inmost purpose : thus the boding sage

Spoke Fate's decrees ; — if I a daughter bore.

Destruction to his sons and all his race

From her should spring. Soon, by Heaven's will,

this child
Of dreadful omen saw the light — your sire
Commanded instant in the waves to throw
The new-born innocent ; a mother's love
Prevailed, and, aided by a faithful servant,
I snatched the babe from death.

Don C^sAR. Blest be the hands

The ministers of thy care ! O, ever rich
Of counsels was a parent's love !

Isabella. But more

Than Nature's mighty voice — a warning dream

Impelled to save my child : while yet unborn

She slumbered in my womb, sleeping I saw

An infant, fair as of celestial kind.

That played upon the grass ; soon from the wood

A lion rushed, and from his goiy jaws,

Caressing, in the infaiit's lap let fall

His prey, new-caught ; then thro' the air down swept

An eagle, and with fond caress alike

Dropt from his claws a trembling kid ; and both

Cowered at the infant's feet, a gentle pair.

L Monk, the saintly guide whose counsels poured,

In every earthly need, the balm of Heaven

Upon my troubled soul, my dream resolved : —



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA



473



Thus spoke the man of God : — a daughter, sent
To knit the warring spirits of m}^ sons
In bonds of tender iovc, should recompense
A mother's pains ! Deep in my heart I treasured
His words, and, reckless of the Pagan Seer,
Preserved the blessed child — ordained of Heaven
To still your growing strife ; sweet pledge of hope
And messenger of peace !
Don Manuel [embracing his brother).

There needs no sister
To JQin our hearts — she shall but bind them closer.
IsAB. In a lone spot obscure, by stranger hands

Nurtured, the secret flower has grown — to me
Denied the joy to mark each infant charm
And opening grace from that sad hour of parting ;- -
These arms ne'er clasp'd my child again ! — her sire,
To jealousy's corroding fears a prey,
And brooding dark suspicion, restless tracked
Each day my steps.
Don C^sar. Yet three months flown, my father

Sleeps in the tranquil grave ; say, whence delayed
The joyous tidings ? — Why so long concealed
The maid, nor earlier taught our hearts to glow
With brother's love ?
Isabella. The cause — your frenzied hate.

That raging unconfined, e'en on the tomb
Of your scarce buried father, lit the flames
Of mortal strife. What ! could I throw my daughter
Betwixt your gleaming blades ? Or 'mid the storm
Of passion would ye list a woman's counsels ?
Could she, sweet pledge of peace, of all our hopes
The last and holy anchor, 'mid the rage
Of discord find a home ? Ye stand as brothers,
So will I give a sister to your arms !
The reconciling angel comes — each hour
I wait my messenger's return; te leads her
From her sequestered cell, to glad once more
A mother's eyes.
Don Manuel. Nor her alone this day

Thy arms shall fold : — ^joy pours thro' all our gates;
Soon shall the desolate halls be full, the seat



474 THE BHIDE OF MESS1^A.

Of every blooming Grace. — Now hear my secret :
A sister thou hast given ; to thee I bring
A daughter — bless thy son! My heart has found
Its lasting shrine : ere this day's sun has set,
Don Manuel to thy feet shall lead his bride,
The partner of his days.

Isabella. And to my breast

With transport will I clasp the chosen maid,
That makes my first-bom happy ! Joy shall spring
Where'er she treads, and every flower that blooms
Around the path of life smile in her presence !
May bliss reward the son, that for my brows
Has twined the choicest wreath a mother wears.

C^SAR. Yet give not all the fulness of thy blessing
To him, thy eldest bom. If love be blest,
I, too, can give thee joy — I bring a daughter —
Another flower for thy most treasured garland !
The maid that in this ice-cold bosom first
Awoke the rapturous flame ! Ere yonder sun
Declines — Don Caesar's bride shall call thee mother I

Don M. Almighty Love ! — thou godlike power — for well
We call thee sovereign of the breast ! Thy sway
Controls each warring element, and tunes
To soft accord ; nought lives but owns thy greatness!
Lo ! the rude soul that long defied thee, melts
At thy command! [He embraces Don C^sap.

Now I can trust thy heart.
And joyful strain thee to a brother's arms !
I doubt thy faith no more, for thou canst love !

IsAB. . Thrice blest the day, when every gloomy care
From my o'er-laboured breast has flown. I see
On steadfast columns reared our kingly race,
And \rith contented spirit track the stream
Of measureless time. In these deserted halls,
Sad in my widow's veil, but yesterday
Childless I roamed — and soon, in youthful charms
Arrayed, three blooming daughters at my side
Shall stand ! happiest mother ! Chief of women.
In bliss supreme ; can aught of earthly joy
Oerbalance thine ?

But say, of royal st^^ni.



rHE BRIDE OF MESSINA. 475

"What maidens grace our isle ? For ne'er my sons
Would stoop to meaner brides.

Don Manuel. Seek not to raise

The veil that hides my bliss ; another day
Shall tell thee all Enough — Don Manuel's bride
Is worthy of thy son and thee.

Isabella. Thy sire

Speaks in thy words ; thus to himself retired

For ever would he brood o'er counsels dark.

And cloak his secret purpose ; — your delay

Be short, my son [Turning to Don Cesab.

But thou — some royal maid,
Daughter of kings, has stirred thy soul to love ;
So speak — her name —

Don Ci:sAR. I have no art to veil

My thoughts with mystery's garb — my spirit free
And open as my brows ; what thou wouldst know
Concerned me never. What illumes above
Heaven's flaming orb ? Himself! — On all the world
He shines, and \Yith his beaming glory tells
From light he sprung : — in her pure eyes I gazed,
I looked into her heart of hearts : — the brightness
Revealed the pearl. Her race — her name — my

mother,
Ask not of me !

Isabella. My son, explain thy words.

For, like some voice divine, the sudden charm
Has thralled thy soul : to deeds of rash emprize
Thy nature prompted, not to fantasies
Of boyish love : — tell me, what swayed thy choice ?

Don C. My choice? my mother! Is it choice when man
Obeys the might of Destiny, that brings
The awful hour ? I sought no beauteous bride,
Ko fond delusion stirred my tranquil breast.
Still as the house of death ; for there, unsought,
I found the treasure of my soul. Thou know'st
That, heedless ever of the giddy race,
I looked on beauty's charms wth cold disdain,
Nor deemed of womankind there lived another
Like thee — whom my idolatrous fancy decked
With heavenly graces : —



4 b THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

'Twas the solemn rite
Of my dead father's obsequies ; we stood
Amid the countless throng, with strange attire
Hid from each other's glance ; for thus ordained
Thy thoughtful care, lest with outbursting rage,
E'en by the holy place unawed, our strife
Should mar the funeral pomp.

With sable gauze
The nave was all o'erhung ; the altar round
Stood twenty giant Saints, uplifting each
A torch ; and in the midst reposed on high
The coffin, with o'erspreading pall, that showed,
In white, Redemption's sign ; — thereon were laid
The staff of sovereignty, the princely crown,
The golden spurs of knighthood, and the sword.
With diamond-studded belt : —

And all was hushed
In silent prayer, when from the lofty choir.
Unseen, the pealing organ spoke, and loud
From hundred voices burst the choral strain !
Then, 'mid the tide of song, the coffin sank
With the descending floor beneath, for ever
Down to the world below : — but, wide outspread
Above the yawning grave, the pall upheld
The gauds of earthly state, nor with the corse
To darkness fell ; yet on the seraph wings
Of Harmony, the enfranchised spirit soared
To Heaven and mercy's throne :

Thus to thy thought,
My mother, I have waked the scene anew,
And say, if aught of passion in my breast ^

Profaned the solemn hour ; yet then the beams
Of mighty Love — so willed my guiding star —
First lit my soul ; but how it chanced, myself
I ask in vain.

IgABELLA. I would hear all: so end

Thy tale.

Don CiESAR. What brought her to my side, or whence

She came, I know not : — from her presence quick
Some secret all-pervading inward cliarm
Awoke ; 'twas not the magic of a smile.



THE BRTDE OF MESSINA. 47.7

Nor playful Cupid in her cheeks, nor more,

The form of peerless grace ; — 'twas Beauty's soul.

The spealdng virtue, modesty inborn,

That as with magic spells, impalpable

To sense, my being thralled. We breathed togethet

The air of Heaven : — enough ! — no utterance asked

Of woi'ds, our spiritual converse ; —in my heart,

Tho' strange, yet with familiar ties inwrought

She seemed, and instant spake the thought — 'tis she !

Or none that lives !

Don Manuel (interposbuj with eagerness).

That is the sacred fire
From Heaven ! the spark of Jove — that on the soul
Bursts like the lightning's flash, and mounts in flame,
Wlien kindred bosoms meet ! No choice remains —
Who shall resist? What mortal break the band
That Heaven has knit ? — Brother, my bhssful fortune
Was echoed in thy tale — well thou hast raised
The veil that shadows yet my secret love.

IsA>3. Thus Destiny has marked the wayward course
Of my two sons : the mighty torrent sweeps
Do^vn from the precipice ; with rage he wears
His proper bed, nor heeds the channel traced
By art and prudent care. So to the powers,
That darkly sway the fortunes of our house,
Trembling I yield. One pledge of hope remains ;
Great as theu* birth — their noble souls.



Isabella, Don Manuel, Don C^sar.

Diego is seen at the door.
Isabella. But see,

My faithful messenger returns. Come near me.
Honest Diego. Quick ! Where is she ? Tell me,
Where is my child ? There is no secret here.
Oh, speak ! No longer from my eyes conceal her;
Come ! we are ready for the height of joy.

[She is about to lead him towards the dojr.
What means this pause? Thou lingerest — thou art

dumb —
Thy looks are terror-fraught — a shudder creeps



47 B THE BRIDE OF MESSINA.

Through all my frame — declare thy tidings!— speak 1

Where is she ? Where is Beatrice ?

[She is about to rush from the chamber-
Don Manuel (to himself abstractedly). Beatrice !

Diego [holding back the Princess'1. Be still !

I SAB. • Where is she ? Anguish tears my breast !
Diego. She comes not ,

I bring no daughter to thy arms.
Isabella. Declare

Thy message ! Speak ! by all the Saints !

What has befallen ?
Don Manuel Where is my sister ? Tell us,

Thou harbinger of ill !
Diego. The maid is stolen

By corsairs ! lost ! Oh I that I ne'er had seen

This day of wo !
Don Manuel. Compose thyself, my mother !

Don C. Be calm; list all his tale.
Diego At thy command

I sought in haste the well-known path that leads

To the old Sanctuary : — Joy winged my footsteps ;

The journey was my last !
Don C^sAR. Be brief!

Don Manuel. Proceed !

Diego. Soon as T trode the convent's court — impatient —

I ask — " Where is thy daughter ?" Terror sate

In every eye ; and straight, with horror mute,

I hear the worst.

[Isabella sinks, pale and trembling, upon a
chair ; Don Manuel is busied about her.
Don C^sar. Say'st thou by pirates stolen ?

Who saw the band ? — what tongue relates the spoil ?
Diego. Not far a Moorish galley was descried.

At anchor in the bay —
Don Cesar. The refuge oft

From tempests' rage ; where is the bark ?
Diego At dawn.

With favouring breeze she stood to sea.
Don CiESAR. But nevtfr

One prey contents the Moor ; say, have they told

Of other spoil ?



THK BRIDE OF MESSINA 479

DiF.GO A herd that pastured near

Was dragged away
Don C^sar. Yet from the convent's bound

How tear the maid unseen ?
DiEOO. 'Tis thought, with ladders,

They scaled the wall.
Don C^sar. Thou know'st what jealous care

Enshrines the bride of Heaven ; scarce could their
steps

Invade the secret cells.
Diego Bound by no vows,

The maiden roved at will ; oft would she seek,

Alone, the garden's shade Alas ! this day,

Ne'er to return !
Don C^sar. Said'st thou — the prize of corsairs ? —

Perchance, at other bidding, she forsook

The sheltering dome —
Isabella [rising suddenbj). 'Twas force ! 'twas savage spoil !

Ne'er has my child, reckless of honour's ties,

With vile seducer fled ! My sons ! Awake !

1 thought to give a sister to your arms ;

I ask a daughter from yoiu" swords ! Arise !

Avenge this wrong ! To arms ! Launch every ship !

Scour all our coasts ! From sea to sea pursue them !

bring my daughter — haste !
Don CiESAR. Farewell — I fly

To vengeance ! [He goes away.

[Don Manuel arouses himself from a state of
abstraction, and turns, with an air of agita-
tion, to Diego.
Don Mantjel. Speak! within the convent's walls

When first unseen —
Diego. This day at dawn.

Don Manuel [to Isabella). Her name,

Thou say St, is Beatrice ?
IsABELijL. No questions ! Fly i

Don M. Yet tell me —
Isabella. Haste ! Begone ! Why this delay ? —

Follow thy brother
Don Manuel I conjure thee — speak —



480 THE BETDE OF MESSINA..

IsABEi LA. (dragging him away).

Behold my tears !
Don Manuel. Where was she hid ? What regicm

Concealed my sister ?
Isabella. Scarce from curious eyes,

In the deep bosom of the earth more safe
My child had been !
Diego. Oh ! now a sudden horj-or

Starts in my breast.
Don Manuel. What gives thee fear?

Diego. 'Twas I

That guiltless caused this woe !
Isabella. Unhappy man !

What hast thou done ?
Diego. To spare thy mother's heait

One anxious pang, my mistress, I r'oncealed
What now my lips shall tell : — 'Twas on tlie day
When thy dead husband in the silent tomb
Was laid ; from every side the unnumbered throng
Pressed eager to the solemn rites ; thy daughter—
For e'en amid the cloistered shade was noised
The funeral pomp — urged me, with ceaseless prayers,
To lead her to the festival of Death.
In evil hour I gave consent; and, shrouded
In sable weeds of mourning, she surveyed
Her father's obsequies. With keen reproach
My bosom tells — (for through the veil her charms
Resistless shone) — 'twas there, perchance, the spoilel
Lurked to betray.
Don Manuel {to himself). Thrice happy words ! I live !

It was another!
Isabella (to Diego). Faithless ! Ill betide

Thy treacherous age !
Diego. Oh, never have I strayed

From duty's path ! My mistress, in her prayers
I heard the voice of Nature ; — thus from Heaven
Ordained, methought, the secret impulse moves.-
Of Idndred blood, to hallow with her tears
A father's grave : the tender office owned
Thy servant's care, and thus with good intout
i wrought but ill



THE BRIDE OF MESSINA. 481

Don Manuel (to himself). Why stand I thus, a prey
To torturing fears ! No longer -will I bear
The dread suspense — I will know all!

Don C^sar (who returns). Forgive me,



Online LibraryFriedrich SchillerThe works of Frederick Schiller, translated from the German (Volume 3) → online text (page 31 of 37)