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August Strindberg.

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Copyright, 1909
By Brown Brothers



GEORGE S. FERGUSON CO.

PRINTERS AND ELECTROT YP E R 3

PHILADELPHIA, PA.



SWANWHITE



A FAIRY DRAMA



BY

AUGUST STRINDBERG

TRANSLATED BY

FRANCIS J. ZIEGLER



PHILADELPHIA

BROWN BROTHERS

1909






FOREWORD



^ LOVE idyl in the form of a drama ; a fairy drama
at that, with characters and incidents reminiscent
of Grimm's Maerchen ; is hardly what one would expect
from the pen of an avowed misogynist, a pla^-wright
whose usual work out-Ibsens Ibsen in realism, and
who has an almost diabolical genius for dissecting a
woman's soul and laying bare its faults and weaknesses.
Such an idyl, however, August Strindberg has given
us in " Swanwhite," a play more suggestive of Maeter-
linck than of any other modern writer, save possibly
Gerhart Hauptmann. " Swanwhite " is the direct out-
come of a love affair of its author, (which suggests that
Strindberg's misogyny may be due more to an extreme
idealization of woman than to an inborn dislike of the
fair sex), as it was written partly just before, and partly
just after his piarriage to Harriet Bosse, the Swedish
actress, in the spring of 1901. Maeterlinck's person-
ality, too, may have had something to do with its form,

ill



GERMAN



iv FOREWORD

as Strindberg met the Belgian poet about the same time
he was writing this little drama. " Swanwhite " is
remarkable also as being one of the very few plays
Strindberg has written with a literary flavor, his,
ordinary custom being to make his dialogue as real-
istic as possible, quite regardless of rhetorical flourishes.
If passages in the following translation appear stilted
to the reader, he is asked to remember that Strindberg
has invested his original with verbal forms never used
in ordinary conversation, the evident intent being to
produce an atmosphere of artificiality. I have thought
it necessary to retain the second personal pronoun as a
familiar form of address, as so much stress is laid upon
its employment by Swanwhite in her initial scene with
the Prince ; she addressing him affectionately, while he
strives to maintain dignity by the use of the more
formal pronoun " you." Of the translation as a whole
it may be said that, although the attempt has been made
to follow the original as closely as possible, literal
rendering has been sacrificed whenever it seemed more
advisable to give the spirit rather than the letter of the

play.

F. J. Z.



PERSONAGES



The Duke Swanwliite's Mother

The Stepmother The Prince's Mother

Swanwhite The Jailer

The Prince The Steward'

Signe ^ The Bailiff

Elsa V Maidens The Head Gardener

Tofva j First Knight

The Gardener Second Knight
The Fisherman



SCENERY FOR THE WHOLE PLAY



^1 LARGE apartment in a mediaeval stone castle.
Walls and ceiling are pure white, and the ceiling
is arched in the shape of a cross. In the middle distance
three arched doorways lead to a stone veranda, and
these archways can be closed with brocade hangings.
Below the veranda one can see the tops of a grove of
high rose trees bearing bright red and white roses. Be-
vond the rose garden is a stretch of white sand and
blue ocean. To the right of the arched doorway is a
small portal through which, when open, may be seen
the perspective of three rooms, one behind the other.
In the first, the tin room, one sees tin utensils on racks ;
in the second, the clothes room, one sees fine clothing;
and in the third, the fruitery, one sees apples, pears,
pumpkins and melons. The floors of all three rooms
are tesselated in black and red.

In the middle of the main apartment is a golden
dining table with a cloth, two gilded tabourets, a clock
and a vase of roses. Over the table hangs a bunch of

• •

Vll



viii SCENERY

mistletoe. A lion skin is on the floor in the foreground.
Over the doorways and inside the chamber are two nests
of swallows. To the left, to the front of the stage,
is a white bed with a rose-colored canopy and two posts
at the head (there are no posts at the foot). The bed-
clothes are white, save for the coverlet, which is of the
lightest of blue silk ; upon it lies a white nightgown of
the finest batiste and lace. Behind the bed is a closet
for bath, etc. Near the bed is a little gilded Roman
table, (round and with a single pillar), near a lampa-
darium and a golden Roman lamp. To the right is a
beautiful carved chimneypiece, with a white lily in a
vase on the mantle.

In the left arch of the doorway, with his back to the
spectators, is a peacock asleep on a perch. In the right
archway is a large golden cage in which two white
doves are resting peacefully.



SWANWHITE



{At the raising of the curtain the three maidens are seen one at
each door of the three rooms, but each half Jiidden by the doorposts.
The malicious maiden Signe is in the tin room, Elsa is in the
clothes room, and Tofva in the fruitery.

The Duke enters from the back, followed by the Stepmother with
a steel scourge in her hand.

The stage is dark as they enter.)

The Stepmothee.

{Looks about her.)

Swanwliite is not here ?

The Duke.
One can see that.

The Stepmothee.

One can see that, but one can't see her.

(Swings the scourge.)

Maidens! Signe! Signe! Elsa! Tofva!

\The maidens come forward in single file and stand
before the Stepmother.)

The Stepmothee.

Where is Lady Swanwhite ?

9



10 SWANWHITE

(Signe crosses her arms over her hreast and is silent.)

The Stepmother.

Thou knowest not? (Swings the scourge.) What
seest thou in my hand ? Answer quickly !

(Signe is silent.)

The Stepmother.

Quick! (Swings the scourge until it whistles.)
Hearest thou the falcon whistle ? Claws has he and a
beak of steel ! What is this ?

Signe.
The scourge!

The Stepmother.

Yes, this is the scourge ! Now where is Lady Swan-
white?

Signe.

I cannot say what I do not know!

The Stepmother.

Ignorance is a failing, but carelessness is a fault.
Wert thou not set to keep watch over thy young Lady ?
Take off that kerchief. . . .

(Signe despairingly loosens the her chief.)

The Stepmother.
Down on thy knees !

(The DuJce turns his hacTc in horror.)



SWANWHITE 11

The Stepmothee.

Approach thy neck! I will put a neckcloth about
it, so that no youth shall kiss it more! Approach thy
neck ! ^Nearer !

SiGNE.

Mercy, for Jesus' sake!

The Stepmothee.
It is mercy enough that thou mayest retain thy life.

The Duke.

(Draws his sword and tests its sharpness on his nail,
then on his long heard. Amhiguously.)

Her head must fall, must be put in a sack and hung
upon a tree.

The Stepmothee.

Yes, that it must !

The Duke.

We are in accord! Only think!

The Stepmothee.
That we were not yesterday !

The Duke.
Perhaps we shall not be so to-morrow !



12 SWANWHITE

The SxErMOTHEK.

(To Signe, who rises from her knees.)

Halt! Whither goest thou?

(Raises the scourge and strikes.)

(Signe rushes out so that the scourge falls only on the

air.)



SwANWniTE.

(Appears behind the bed on her knees.)

Stepmother ! Here am I, the guilty one ! Signe is
blameless !

The Stepmother.

Say '-' mother !" First say " mother !"

Swanwhite.

I cannot. Who is born of human kind has but one
mother !

The Stepmothee.

Thy father's wife is thy mother.

Swanwhite.
My father's second wife is my stepmother.



SWANWHITE 13

The Stepmotiiek.

A stiff-necked daughter art thou, but this weapon is
pliant — makes pliant.

(Lifts the scourge against SwaniuJiite.)

The Duke.
(Raises his sword.)
Guard the head !

The Stepmothee.
Whose head?

The Duke.
Thine !

(The Stepmother hlanches, grows angry, then quiet and

silent.)

(Long pause.)

The Stepmotheb.

(Crushed, with change of manner.)

Then the Duke will tell his daughter what is now
before her.

The Duke.

(Puts up his sword.)

My dearest child, rise and quiet yourself in mine

arms !



14 SWANWHITE

SWANWHITE.

(Runs into the Duke's arms.)

Father! What a kingly oak art thou! Embrace
thee I cannot, but I can hide myself under thy foliage
from the rough showers.

(She hides her head beneath the hero's heard, which
reaches to his middle.)

And on thy limbs will I swing like a bird ! Lift me
up, then I can climb to the top.

(The Duke stretches out his arms like the branches of

a tree.)

SwANWHITE.

(Climbs up and sits on his shoulder.)

"Now, I have the earth under me, and the air over
me; now I see out over the rose garden, the white sand
dunes, the blue sea and over seven kingdoms.

The Duke.
Then seest thou also the young King, thy betrothed ?

Swanwiiite.
"No, and I have never seen him. Is he beautiful ?

The Duke.

Dear Heart — it depends upon thine eyes how thou
seest him !



SWANWHITE 15

SWANWHITE.

(Buhs her eyes.)
Upon my eyes ? They see only beautiful things !

{The Duke hisses her foot.)

SwANWHITE.

My little foot, it is so black. The little Moor's foot !

(The Stepmother has motioned the maidens to resume
their places at the doors. She herself slinks like a
panther through the arch at the back.)



SwANWHITE.

(Springs down. The Duke sets her on the table arid
.seats himself on a nearby chair. Swanwhite looks ex-
pressively after the Stepmother.)

Has the sun risen? Has the wind changed to the
south ? Is spring coming ?

The Dijkh.
(Lays his hand on her mouth.)
Little chatterbox ! • Joy of my age, my evening star !



16 SWANWHITE

Open thy rosy ears and close thy crimson snail of a
mouth. Listen to me. Obey me and it will go well
with thee !

SwANWHITE.

(S tides her fingers in her ears.)

I hear with my eyes, I see with my ears — now I see
nothing, only hear!

The Duke.

Child ! (Pause.) In the cradle thou wert betrothed
to the young King of Rigalid. Thou hast never seen
him, as that is not the custom of courts. Xow ap-
proaches the day when the holy band shall be tied. And
in order to teach thee courtly manners and the obliga-
tions of a queen, the King has sent a youthful prince
with whom thou wilt read books, play chess, tread the
dance and learn to play the harp.

SwANWHITE.

What is the prince's name ?

The Duke.

My child, that thou darest not ask, neither of him
nor of anybody else; for it is prophesied that who can
call him by his name must love him.

SwANWHITE.

Is he handsome?

The Duke.

Yes, as your eyes will see the beautiful.



SWANWHITE 17

SWANWHITE.

But is the prince beautiful ?

The Dukb.

Yes, that he is. Take care of thj heart, which be-
longs to the King, and forget not that thou hast
belonged to the King from thy cradle. And now, my
beloved child, I will leave thee, as I have a warlike
journey to make. Be humble and obedient to thy
stepmother; she is a hard woman, but thy father has
loved her, and mildness will break a heart of stone.
If, contrary to her promise and her vow, her evil na-
ture should exceed the bounds of the allowable, blow this
horn, {he takes a carved ivory horn from beneath his
mantle), and you will find help. But blow it not
sooner than need requires — the greatest need! Hast
thou understood?

SwANWHITE. •

When and how.

The Duke.

ISTow, then, the Prince is here already, below in the
woman's chamber ; wilt thou see the Prince now ?

Swanwhite.
If I will!

The Duke.

Shall I not take my leave first ?

SwAJfWHITE.

Is the Prince already here ?
2



18 SWANWHITE

The Duke.

{Becomes gloomy.^

He is already here. I am already — there where the
heron of forgetfulness puts his head under his wing.

SwANWHITE.

{Throws herself on her knees before the Duke and hides
her head under his heard.)

Speak not so! Speak not so! The little one is
ashamed of herself!

The Duke.

The little one shall be whipped because she forgets
her old father so soon for a young princei. Pf ui !

(Acts as if he would strike her.)
{A horn sounds in the distance.)

The Duke.

(Rises hastily, takes Sivanwhite in his arms, throws her
into the air and catches her again.)

Fly, little bird; hold thyself high over the dust and
always have air under thy wings! So, on the gi'ound
again ! Honor and combat call me. Love and youth,
thee. {Girds himself with his sword.) And hide the
wonder horn that bad eyes may not see it !

SwANWHITE.

Where shall I hide it? Where?
(Looks about her.)



SWANWHITE 19

The Duke.
In the bed.

SwANWHITE.

(Hides the horn under the hed covers.)

So. Sleep well, little tooter. When it is time I shall
awaken thee. Do not forget to say thy evening prayers.

The Duke.

Child, forget not my last words — be obedient to thy
stepmother !

SwANWIIITE.

In everything ?

The Duke.
In everything !

SwANWHITE.

Not in what is impure ! My mother gave me two
shifts every eighth day, this woman gives me only one !
Mother gave me water and soap, Stepmother forbids me
both. Look at my poor little feet!

The Duke.

My daughter, keep thyself clean within, and the out-
side will be clean. Holy men, who through penance
forego the use of cleansing water, become white as
swans, while the unholy grow black as ravens.

SwANWHITE.

Then shall I become white !



20 SWANWHITE

The Duke.
To my arms ! And then farewell !

SWANWHITE.

(Runs into his arms.)

Farewell, then, great war hero, noble father! Good
fortune accompany thee, thou blessed victor of the years,
of peace and war.

The Duke.

Be it so, and may thy pious prayers protect me.

(Closes the visor of the golden helmet.)

Swanwhite.

(Jumps up and Jcisses the visor.)

The golden portal is closed, but I see thy friendly
protecting eyes through the bars. (She knocks on the .
visor.) Open, open for a little Red Ridinghood. ISTo-
body at home. " Willey-wau !" said the wolf lying
in bed.

The Duke.

Beloved flower, grow and spread perfume. If I re-
turn, well and good, I return. If not, my eyes shall
watch over thee from the starry canopy, and then will
I always be able to see thee, as there above one becomes
all-seeing as God the Creator.

(Goes determinedly ivith a farewell gesture.)

(Swanwhite falls on her knees and prays for the Duke.)



SWANWHITE 21

(Pause.)

(All the rose trees sway in the breeze that murmurs
without. The peacock shakes his wings and tail.)

SwANWHITE.

(Rises, goes to the peacock and strokes his back and

tail.)

Little peacock, dear peacock! What seest thou,
what hearest thou ? Comes who ? Who comes ? Is it
a little Prince ? Is he handsome and neat ? Canst thou
see that with thy many blue eyes ? (She lifts one of his
feathers and looks earnestly into its eyes.) Shalt thou
have thy eyes on us, thou nasty Argus ? Shalt thou see
into the hearts of two young people so that they do not
beat too loudly — thou foolish jack! See, I pull the
curtain. (She pulls a curtain, which hides the peacock
but not the landscape outside. Then she goes to the
doves.) My white doves, white, white, white, white,
thou shalt see the whitest of all. Silence wind,
silence roses, silence doves, my Prince comes! (She
looks without, then goes behind the door of the
tin room, which she leaves ajar in order to watch the
Prince through the crack. She stands there in view of
the spectators, but unseen by the Prince.)

The Prince.

(Enters through the archway at the back. He is
dressed in black and steel armor. After he has ob-
served everything in the room, he seats himself at the



22 SWANWHITE

table, takes off his helmet and looks about him. He
turns his hack to the door behind which Swanwhite is
hidden.) Is anyone here? If so, let him answer!

(Silence.)

There is someone here, for I feel the warmth of a
young body enveloping me like a southwind; I hear
breathing that has an odor of roses, and, weak as it is,
it sways the feather of my helmet. (He puts his hel-
met to his ear.) My helmet murmurs like a great shell ;
those are the thoughts from my head which have col-
lected there like a swarm of bees in a hollow tree.
" Sum ! Sum !" say tlie thoughts — just as the bees
do, and they buzz for the Queen — the little Queen of my
thoughts, of my dreams ! (He places the helmet before
him on the table and contemplates it.) Dark and
vaulted like the heavens at night, but starless, as the
black feather darkens all since my mother died. (He
turns the helmet and looks into it.) But there
in the darkness, deep in on the other side, I see a rift
of light — Has heaven opened ? — And in the rift I see —
not a star^ as that is like a diamond ; but a blue sap-
phire, the queen of precious stones, the blue of the sum-
mer sky, in a milkwhite cloud, vaulted like a dovecote.
What is that ? Is that my ring ? And a velvet-black
feather cloud passes over it, and the sapphire laughs:
but a sapphire cannot laugh. ]^ow it lightnings, only
blue ! Lightning, flash without noise. Where art
thou ? (He looks at the hack of the helmet.) liJ'ot there,
not here, nowhere! (He nears his face to the helmet.)
I approach and thou withdrawest!

(Swanwhite tiptoes forward.)



SWANWHITE 23

The Prince.

Xow there are two — two eyes — little human eyes.
I kiss you. {He kisses the helmet.)

(Swamvhite comes around the table and sits down
slowly near the Prince. The Prince rises, lays his
hand on his heart and bows; contemplates Swanwhite.)

SwANWHITB.

Art thou the little Prince ?

The Prince.
The young King's faithful servant and yours.

Swanwhite.
What says the young King to his bride ?

The Prince.

He conveys a thousand loving greetings to Lady
Swanwhite, and says the anticipation of the loving for-
tune which awaits him will shorten his torment of
longing.

Swanwhite.

(^Yho has observed the Prince with constant gaze.)

"Why do you not seat yourself, my Prince?

The Prince.

If I seated myself while you were seated I should
have to rest on my knees when you stood !



24 SWANWHITE

SWANWHITH.

Speak of the King ! What is his appearance ?

The Prince.

His appearance. (Holds his hand before his eyes.)
How wonderful. I can see him no longer !

SWANWHITB.

What does that mean ?

The Prince.
He is gone ; he is invisible.

SwANWHITE.

Has he grown tall ?

The Prince.
(Gazing at Swanivhite.)
Wait ! iNow I see him ! Taller than you !

SwANWHITE.

Handsome ?

The Prince.

He cannot be compared with you.

SwANWHITE.

Speak of the King, not of me!



SWANWHITE 25

The Prince.
I speak of the King !

SwANWHITE.

Is he light or dark ?

The Peince.

Were he dark and saw you, he would become light
at once.

SwANWHITE.

That is pretty, but not sensible ! Has he blue eyes ?

The Prince.
{Looks into his helmet.^
I must look and see !

SwANWHITE.

(Holds her hands over it.)

Thou ! thou !

The Prince.

The young King is a tall blonde man with blue eyes,
broad shoulders, hair like young woodland

SwANWHITE.

"Why doest thou wear a black feather ?



26 SWANWHITE

The Pkince.

His lips are red as holly berries, his cheeks white,
and his teeth would not shame a young lion !

SwANWHITE.

Why is thy hair damp ?

The Pkince.

His mind knows not fear and his heart need never
shrivel in repentance of an evil action!

SwANWHITE.

Why does thy hand tremble?

The Prince.
We should speak of the young King and not of me!

SwANWHITE.

Thou, thou, wilst thou teach me?

The Prince.

That is my mission, lady, to teach you to love the
young King whose throne you are to share !

SwANWHITE.

How camest thou here from over the sea ?

The Prince.
With sails and a cockle.



SWANWHITE 27

SWANWHITE.

In the wind?

The Prince.
Without wind one does not saiL

SwANWHITE.

How wise art thou, youth! Wilst thou play with
me?

The Peince.

What I may, I will !

Swanwhite.

!N^ow shalt thou see what I have in my coffer. (She
goes to the coffer, and, l-neeling, takes a doll, a
rattle and a hohhy horse out of it.) Here is the doll —
that is my child, my careless child, who can never keep
her face clean. I have carried her in my arms to the
wash room and scoured her with white sand; but she
only became dirtier. I have whipped her, but that does
no good. Now I have thought up the worst punishment !

The Prince.
What is that, then?

Swanwhite.
(Looks about her.)
She shall have a stepmother!



28 SWANWHITE

The Peince.

But how can that be done? First she must have a
mother !

SWANWHITE.

Yes, I am that, and if I marry again I shall become a
stepmother.

The Peii^ce.

No! What sayest thou? That is not the way it's
done!

SwANWHITE.

And thou shalt become a stepfather !

The Peince.
Oh, no !

SwANWHITE.

But thou must be kind to her, even if she can't wash
her face. Take her, that I may see if thou canst hold
a baby !

{The Prince reluctantly takes the doll.)

SwANWHITE.

Thou doest not know how yet, but thou wilt learn.
Now take the rattle and rattle it for her!

(The Prince takes the rattle.)

SwANWHITE.

Thou doest not understand that, I see well. (Takes
the doll and the rattle and throws thenv hack into the



SWANWHITE 29

coffer. Then takes up the hohby horse.) Here is my
courser — be has a silver saddle and golden shoes — he
makes seven miles an hour, and I have ridden him
through the smoke wood, over the great heath, on the
King's bridge, through the highway and the Way of
Anguish, until I came to the Sea of Tears ! And there
he lost a golden shoe, which fell into the sea, then came
a fish, and then came a fisherman, and so I got my
golden horseshoe again. Now you know that!

{Throws the hohby horse into the coffer. Takes out
a chess hoard with red and white squares and men of
gold and silver.) If thou wilt play with me, sit down
there on the lion's skin.

(She sits on the lion's shin and sets up the chess
men.) Sit down here, the maidens can't see us here.
(The Prince sits down despondently on the lions skin.)

SwANWHITE.

(Passes her hand through the hair and mane of the

hide.)

This is as if we were sitting on the grass, not on the
green grass of the meadows, but in the wastes burned
by the sun. Now thou must say something about me!
Doest thou love me a little ?

The Prince.
(Embarrassed.)
Shall we not play?



30 SWANWHITE

SWANWHITE.

Play? What do I care about that? (Sighs.) 01
Thou wishest to teach me something !

The Prince.

"What do I know, save how to bear arms and saddle
a horse ? That can be of little service to you.

SWANWIIITE.

Thou art sad?

The Prince.
My mother is dead.

SwANWHITE.

Poor Prince ! My mother, too, is with God in Heaven
and has become an angel. Sometimes I see her at
night ; doest thou see thy mother so ?

The Prince.
No-o-o!

SwANWHITE.

Hast thou a stepmother ?

The Prince.
!N'ot yet. Only lately was my mother laid on the bier.

SwANWHITE.

Thou must not be sad. Everything passes. Now
thou shalt have a flag from me to make thee glad again ;



SWANWHITE 31

but, truly, I embroidered this for the young King ; now
I shall embroider one for thee. On the King's are seven
glowing flames. Now thou shalt have one with seven
red roses — but thou must hold the wool for me. {She
takes a rosy hank of wool out of the coffer and hands
it to the Prince). One, two, three ! Now I begin, but
thy hand must not shaken Perhaps thou wouldst like


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