Kuno Francke.

The German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) online

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Love is sought by those who do not venture out into
the world, who fear a comparison with others, who
haven't the courage to face a fair trial of strength.
Love is sought by every miserable rhymester who can-
not live without being idolized by some one. Love is
sought by the peasant who yokes his wife together
with his ox to his plow. Love is a refuge for molly-
coddles and cowards! — In the great world in which
I live everybody is recognized for what he is actually
worth. If two join together, they know exactly what
to think of one another and need no love for it.

Helen (once more in a pleading tone). Will you not intro-
duce me into that great world of yours!

Geraedo. Helen — would you sacrifice your own happiness
and that of your family for a fleeting pleasure!

Helen. No.

Geraedo. Do you promise me to return to your family
without show of reluctance!

Helen. Yes.

Geraedo. And that you will not die, not even as one might
die of some ailment!

Helen. Yes.

Geraedo. Do you really promise me!

Helen. Yes.

Geeaedo. That you will be true to your duties as a mother
— and as a wife !

Helen. Yes.

Gerardo. Helen !

Helen. Yes ! — What more do you want ! — I promise you.

Gerardo. That I may leave town without fear!

Helen (rising). Yes.

Gerardo. Now shall we kiss each other once more!

Helen. Yes — yes — yes — yes — yes — yes . . .

Gerardo (after kissing her in a perfunctory manner). A
year from now, Helen, I shall sing again in this town.


Helen. A year from now! — Yes, to be sure.

Gehabdo {affectedly sentimental). Helen! CUmuE-N presses
his hand, takes her tnuff from the chair, pulls from it a
revolver, shoots herself in the head and sinks to the
floor.) Helen! {He totters forward, then backward
and sinks into an armchair.) Helen! {Pause.)

Scene X

Same as before. The elevator boy. Two chambermaids. A scrubwoman.
MiJDLER. proprietor of the hotel. The valet.

Elevator Boy {enters, looks at Gerardo and at Helen).
Mr. — Mr. Gerardo! (Gerardo does not move. Boy
steps up to Helen. Two chambermaids and a scrub-
woman, scrubber in hand, edge their way in hesitatively
and step up to Helen.)

Scrubwoman {after a pause). She's still alive.

Gerardo {jumps up, rushes to the door and runs into the
proprietor. Pidls him forward). Send for the police !
I must be arrested ! If I leave now, I am a brute and
if I remain, I am ruined, for it would be a breach of
contract. {Looking at his watch.) I still have a
minute and ten seconds left. Quick ! I must be arrested
within that time!

MiJLLER. Fritz, get the nearest policeman!

Elevator Boy. Yes, Sir !

MiJLLER. Run as fast as you can! {Exit elevator boy.
To Gerardo.) Don't let it upset you, Mr. Gerardo.
That kind of thing is an old story with us here.

Gerardo {kneels down beside Helen, takes her hand).
Helen! She's still alive! She's still alive! {To
MiJLLER. ) If I am arrested, it counts as a legal excuse.
How about my trunks? — Is the carriage at the door?

MiJLLER. Has been there the last twenty minutes, Sir.
{Goes to the door and lets in the valet who carries down
one of the trunks.)

Gerardo {bending over Helen). Helen! — {In an under-
tone.) It can 't hurt me prof essionally. (To MiJLLER.)
Haven't you sent for a physician yet?


MiJLLEK. The doctor has been 'phoned to at once. Will

be here in just a minute, I am sure.
Gerardo {putting his arms under Helen's and half raising

her). Helen! — Don't you recognize me, Helen? —

Come now, the physician will be here in just a moment !

— Your Oscar, Helen! — Helen!
Elevator Boy (in the open door). Can't find a policeman

anywhere !
Gerardo (forgets everything, jumps up, lets Helen fall

hack to the floor). I must sing *' Tristan " tomorrow!

{Colliding with several pieces of furniture, he rushes

out through the centre door.)



Mark, King of Cornwall
ISEULT of Ireland (Mask's wife)
Beangaene, Iseult's lady
GiMELLA, Iseult's lady
Paranis, Iseult's page
Duke Denovalin
Sib Dinas of Lidan
Sib GaneIun
Ugein, Mark's jester

Strange Jester, disguise of Tristram of Lyonesse
Strange Leper, disguise of Tristram of Lyonesse

Also five Gaelic Barons. Iwein, the King of the Lepers. The Lepers of
Lubin, a Herald, a young shepherd, the Executioner. Three guards in full
armor, the Strange Knight, Knights, Men-at-arms, grooms and a group of the
inhabitants of the town.

Dress and bearing of the characters have something of the chaste, reserved
manner of the princely statues in the choir of Naumburg Cathedral.

Scene — The Castle of St. Lubin

* Permission Richard G. Badger, Boston.





IseuIiT's apartment at St. Lubin. — A curtain hung from the ceiling cuts
off one-third of the room. This third is raised one step above the rest of
the room. The background is formed by a double bay-window through
which may be seem the tojis of some pine^rees. In front of a couch, on
a small table, stands a large gold shrine in which rests the magic brachet
Peticru, a toy of jewels and precious metals. Beside it stands a burning
oil torch. The remaining two-thirds of the room are almost empty. A
table stands in the foreground; on the floor lies a rug on which are
embroidered armorial designs. In the middle and at both sides are wide
double doors. ISEUi/r sits on the couch before the shrine. She is clad in
a fur-trimmed robe. Brangaene loosens Iseult's hair which is divided
into two braids. The cold, gray light of dawn brightens gradually;
the rising sun falls on the tops of the trees, coloring them with a flood
of red and gold.

Scene I
SEULT (singing).
Brachet of saf ran and em 'raid !
Oh, brachet of purple and gold
Once made by the mighty Urgan
In Avalun's wondrous wold.

Oh purple, and safran, and gold,
When cast in the dim of the night,
Have magical power to aid
All lovers in sorrowful plight!

Lord Tristram slew mighty Urgtin,
Lord Tristram the loving, the true.
And pitying sorrowful lovers
He carried away Peticru.



Lord Tristram, the thoughtful and valiant,
Lord Tristram, the noble and high,
Has sent me this wondrous brachet
Lest weeping and grieving I die.

Lord Tristram, my friend, is unfaithful.
And God 's wrath on him shall descend ;
Though cruelly he has betrayed me,
My love even death cannot end.

Iseult with her hair of spun gold,
Where rubies and emeralds shine.
When the end of her life is at hand,
Round Tristram some charm can entwine,

— When Tristram too shall die. . . .

[IsEULT stands up, extinguishes the light,
and, flooded by her hair, steps to the win-
doiv. Brangaene opens a chest from
tvhich she takes robes, combs, a mirror,
and several small boxes. She prepares a
small dressing table.']
IsEUi.T. The light begins to filter through the land;

Behold, the trees with storm-bow 'd tips drop

A thousand drops into the moss below
That seem as many sparks, all cold and bright.

Each dav is followed by another one.
And then another day, and after each
Comes night. Thus runs my life 's long chain

of beads,
All black and white, endless, and all the same.
\^She turns and throws off her cloak.]
Give me my new white cloak, and comb my








I pray, Brangaene. — 0, it aches !

[Brangaene throws a cloak over her shoul-
ders. IsEULT sits down at the dressing
table while Brangaene combs her hair,
dividing it into strands and throwing it,
as she combs it, over Iseult's shoulder.]
The comb
Slides like a keel. Its narrow teeth can find
No bottom, neither shore in this blond sea.
I never saw thy hair so full, Iseult,
Nor yet so heavy! See the golden gold.
It aches — !

And here it's damp as though last night
It secretly had dried full many tears.
I wonder if Lord Tristram spent last night
By his new bride — and if he calls her all
Those sweetest names he made for me.

He sat upon her couch and told her tales
Of me that made them laugh — ! I wonder too
If she be fair. Lord Tristram's new-wed
bride ! —

Scene II

Iseult turns quickly as her page comes in by the right hand door. He
carries a chess-board and sets it down on the table in the foreground.




Were then thy dreams too painfully like this

Paranis, that thou hast outstripped the sun
And now, with eyes all red and swollen, star'st
So heavily?

Your pardon. Queen Iseult,
I could not sleep. Oh lady, what a night!
I tremble still!

The night indeed was wild.

Vol. XX— 26



Paranis. Ay, like the sea the gale whips up. The wind
Swept all the covers from my bed and left
Me cold and trembling. Branches beat the

Above my head like demons of the storm.
The owls kept screaming in the groaning eaves
And whispered like lost souls in agony!
Hark ! Hear him roar ! Oh God, it 's Husdent !
Oh listen to him roar. I never heard
A hound thus howl before !

IsEULT. Peace, child. He cries

Thus every night since he has lost his lord.

Paranis. What? Every night and yet King Mark can

IsEULT. King Mark can sleep as all good knights can

At any time and any where, while we,
Poor souls, must like a beggar sue for sleep
As for an alms.

{To Brangaene.)

The mirror and the cloak.

Paranis. Pray tell me, Queen Iseult, why came we here
With good King Mark and left Tintagel's

Why journeyed we to St. Lubin? The place
Is gloomy and an awful wood grows round
The castle walls. Oh 'tis an awful wood.
I am afraid, Iseult.

Iseult. Yea, boy, the wood

Is black and gloomy here. Give me some oil,
Brangaene, for my lips are parched and dried
From weeping all this never-ending night.

Paranis {goes to the casement) .

Above Tintagel, lo, the sky was blue;
The sun shone on a foreign ship that came
Across the seas and lay at anchor there



And made it look like gold. The ship came in
As we rode through the gate. I wish that I
Were at Tintagel once again and saw^
That ship. For here black clouds obscure the

And hang close to the ground; they fly along
Like mighty ghosts. The earth smells damp

and makes
Me shiver — Ugh — !
IsBULT (steps to the casement beside him and puts her arm
about his neck). Nay, not today, for see,
The sun will shine and pour its golden rays
E'en o'er the Morois.

[She leans out until her head is overflowed
by the sunlight.]

Oh, it's very hot!
P^jiANis (falling on his knees).

Oh Queen Iseult pray take the fairy dog
Into thy hands and it will comfort thee —
That w^ondrous brachet, Tristram's latest gift.
For, lo, since from Tintagel we have come
My heart is troubled by a wish to ask
Of thee a question, for Brangaene says
That when thou think 'st of certain things thou

weep 'st
But I have never felt the like.
Iseult. Poor boy!

I lay awake the whole night through and yet

Not once did I take Petikru to me,

So ask, my child ! What wouldst thou know !

Mine eyes
Are dry, for all my tears are spent, and gone.
[She has returned to the dressing table.]
Paranis. Is this the wood where thou and Tristram
As people say, when ye had fled away?
Iseult. 'Tis true this wood once sheltered us.


Paranis {at the casement). This wood?

This fearful wood? 'Twas here that thou,

Of Ireland, Iseult the Goldenhaired,
Took refuge with Lord Tristram like a beast
Hard pressed by dogs and men? There hang,

Among the branches still some tattered shreds
From robes thou wor'st; and blood still tints

the roots
Thou trod'st upon with bare and wounded

'Twas here thou say'st? Within this wood?
Iseult (rising). Yes, child,

And this the castle —

[Brangaene takes the cloak from Iseult 's
shoulders and helps her put on a loose
flowing garment. Iseult 's hair is hidden
beneath a close-fitting cap.~\
Pakanis (steps nearer, in great surprise).

Where ye fled from Mark's
Abom'nable decree? The castle makes
Me shudder and the wood that grows around.
Brangaene (quoting the decree).

' ' And if from this day on Lord Tristram dares
To show himself within my realm — he dies,
And with him dies Iseult of Ireland . . . "
Iseult (quoting).

' ' And witness here my name signed with my
[She goes to the table on the right and sets
up the chess-men. Paeanis sits on a cush-
ion at her feet. Brangaene clears the
dressing table.]
Paranis. Is it since that day thou hast wept, my Queen ?
Iseult. Thou know 'st my secret boy and yet canst ask !












Inquire not too much, Paranis, lest
A deeper knowledge of such things consume
Thy soul, and leave in place a cinder-pile.
There's more they say, yet I believe no more.
And what do people say, Paranis 1

They say Lord Tristram, since he fled away
To save his life, and, ay, to save thine too.
Forgot thee. Queen Iseult, and thy great love
And wed another in a foreign land.
They call her Isot of the Fair White Hands.

[A pause.']
When I'm a man, and wear my gilded spurs
I'll love and serve thee with a truer love
Than Tristram did.

How old art thou, my child?
When I first came to serve thee as a page
Thirteen I was ; that was a year ago.
I 'm fourteen now, but when I dream, I dream
That I am older and I love thee then
In knightly fashion, and my sword is dull'd
And scarred by blows that it has struck for

My heart beats high when I behold thy face ;
My cheek burns hot or freezes ashen pale.
And then, at other times, I dream that I
Have died for thee, only to wake and weep
That I am still a child!

Listen to me,
Paranis. Once, wandering, a gleeman came
Two years agone and sang a lay in Mark's
High hall ; but, see ! I said not it applied
To us, this song of his. A song it was
And nothing more. This lay told of a queen,
A certain queen whose page once loved her







With all the courtesy of Knighthood's laws;
Whose every glance was for his lady's face;
Wliose cheeks alternately went hot and cold
When she was near. But when the King

His changing color and his burning looks,
He slew the boy, and, tearing out his heart,
Now red, now pale, he roasted it, and served
It to his queen and told her 'twas a bird
His favorite hawk had slain that day.

Tell me,
I pray, my lady, when a Knight has won
His spurs may he write songs ?

Ay, that he may.
Since that is so, I'd rather sing than fight.
I '11 go from court to court and sing in each
How Tristram was untrue to Queen Iseult !
I will avenge thy wrongs in songs instead
Of with the sword, and every one who hears
My words shall weep as thou, my queen, has

I like the lay about that page's heart
Thou toldst me.

Remember it, my child;
Brangaene knows the melody thereof.
And she shall teach it thee that thou mayst

The lay.
Paranis {at the windoiv).

The King's awake; I hear him call
His hounds.

Then go, Paranis, bear to him
My morning and my wifely greeting ; say
I rested well this night ; that thou hast left
Me overjoyed and happy that the day
Is fair. Now haste thee, boy, for soon
The Gaelic barons through the gates shall ride
Coming to pay their homage to King Mark,




Delay not, child, and if the King shall grant
Thee spurs, with mine own hands I'll choose

thee out
The finest pair, and deep my name shall stand
Engraved in the gold. Go greet the King.

[Paranis kisses the hem of her robe and

Scene III

IsEULT. Lord Tristram has kept true unto my name

At least — if not to me! 'Tis now the tenth
Year that I mourn for him! In countless

Of endless agony have I repaid
Those other nights of happiness and bliss.
Through age-long days now beggared of their


I have atoned for all the smiles of yore.
Unkindly have ye dealt with me, sweet friend !
Disloyal Tristram ! God shall punish thee.
Not I.

[Brangaene kneels weeping beside her and
buries her face in Iseult's robes. Iseult
raises her up.]

And thou, dear one, sweet sister, come !
My sorrow's past enduring! Help me, help!
At Lubin here the very walls have tongues ;
At Lubin here the sombre forest moans ;
At Lubin here old Husdent whimpers day
And night unceasingly. 'Twas at Lubin
I parted from him last, my dearest friend.
And to his parting vows I answered thus :
Take, friend, this golden ring with em 'raid

And if in thy name one shall bring it me,
No dungeon walls, no castle gates, no bolts
Shall keep me far from thee. ' ' And he : "I







Thee, dearest lady, and I swear that if,
At any time, in any place, one calls
On me by thy sweet name I'll stand and wait
And answer in thy name by day or night. ' '
And then — and then — he rode away!

Iseult !
Iseult, my dearest, might I die, for I,
Wretch that I am, am most at fault.
Too ready for deceits and secret ways !
Because I love a life, and better still
A death, that 's great from savage unrestraint.
Such as I found in mighty Tristram's love,
'Tis not thy fault. And formerly when thou
Didst lend me thine own maiden smock to wear
Upon my bridal night with Mark, since mine
Was torn when I set foot on Cornish ground,
Thou didst fulfill what, as my guardian friend,
Thou hadst foreseen in earlier days. Weep not
Because I weep; Lord Tristram's treachery
Is his, not ours. For this it is I weep.
Brangaene. Thou shouldst not say, he is not faithful still.
Dear sister. What know we of him or his?
That he has married!

Ay, her name's Iseult.
My name ! I shudder when I think thereon.
And lo, his perjured tongue rots not, nor

Unto his teeth, nor does the name he calls
Her by choke in his throat and strangle him.
Mark me, Iseult, I had not meant to speak,
But now I must : a servant of King Mark 's
Spoke lately of that ship we saw sail in
And then cast anchor 'neath Tintagel's walls.
A merchant ship it is, he said, and hails
Direct from Arundland. Now send
And bid these merchants leave their ship and








That they may tell what they have seen or

Of Tristram and his fate.
Pabanis {runs in and leaps upon the windoiv-sill) .

Oh Queen, there come

Three Gaelic earls ! Dinas of Lidan first.
Brangaene {hastening to his side).

Come then, Iseult, and from the casement here

Behold the faithful Dinas, Tristram's friend!
Paeanis. The one in coat of mail who rides behind

Who is the man, Brangaene, canst thou see?
Brangaene. Oh God ! Denovalin, ill-omened bird

Of grim Tintagel.

Arund? Didst thou say

A merchant ship sailed in from Arundland?

That great gold sail, Brangaene, came across

The ocean to Tintagel? What? A ship,

And merchant men from Arund? Speak,
friend, speak!

Thou talk'st of Arund, and remain 'st un-
moved !

Brangaene, cruel, speak and say the men

Are on their way to me, or are now here !

Torture me not !

Nay, hear me speak, Iseult ;

I said a servant of King Mark's said this;

I know not whether it be true; to know

We must be back within Tintagel 's walls.
Iseult {in rising agitation).

Wait till we're back within Tintagel's walls!

Not see the merchants till we are gone back,

And linger thus for three whole days, say'st

Nay, nay, Brangaene, nay I will not wait.

'Twas not for this ten never-ending years

I sat upon Tintagel 's tower and watched

With anxious eyes the many ships sail o'er








The green expanse from sky to sky. 'Twas not
For this ; that day by day Paranis went,
At my behest, down to the port, w^hile I
Sat counting every minute, one by one,
Until he should return, and tell me tales
Of ships and lands indifferent as a fly's
Short life to me ! — And now thou tellest me
A ship is here; a great gold sail lies moor'd
Hard by Tintagel 's walls, a ship in which
Men live, and speak, and say when asked:
" AVhere come ye from! " " From Arund-

land w^e sail. ' '
Go quick, Brangaene ; to Tintagel send, I pray,
At once some swift and faithful messenger,
And bid him with all haste lead here to me
These merchants over night. I need both silks
And laces, samite and the snowy fur
Of ermines, and whatever else they have.
All that they have I '11 gladly buy ! Let them
But ride v»ith speed !

Ay, ride as peddlers do!
Yet will I send Gawain, since 'tis thy wish.
And with him yet another.

Queen Iseult,
May I go with Gaw^ain? I'll make them ride,
These merchant-men! I'll stick my dagger

Their shoulder blades and prick them 'till

from fear
They fairly fly to thee !

Nay, rather, child.
Stay here with me ; but help Brangaene find

[Brangaene and Paranis open the door at
the back of the stage hut stand back on
either side to permit Mark and the three
Barons to enter.]
The King!



Scene IV

Brangaene and Paranis go. Mark and the barons remain standing at
some distance from Iseult. Denovalin remains in the background and
during this and the following scene stands almost motionless in the same

Mark. There stands Iseult, my queen,

All glorious as the summer day that shines

'er all the world ! Now w^elcome, my Iseult !
Now welcome to Lubin ! These gallant lords
Are come to greet thee — Dinas, Ganelun,
Denovalin. — They have not seen thee now
For many months. And ye, my noble lords.
Is she not blonder than of yore ?

[He glances at a locket that hangs about his

For see !
This lock of hair Lord Tristram brought me

Behold it now, 'tis almost black next hers.
Iseult. I greet thee, Dinas, Lord of Lidan, friend,

Most loyal friend : — and thou. Lord Ganelun,
Most heartily, for many days have pass'd
Since last we met.
Dinas. Ay, many days, Iseult.

Iseult. Hast thou forgot Tintagel's King and Queen?

'Twas not so once.
Ganelun. I've been at Arthur's court

Nigh on two years, and there have taken part
In many deeds of high renown. 'Tis this
Has kept me from Tintagel and from home.
Dinas. And I, fair Queen Iseult, am growing old ;

I've left the saddle. for the pillow's ease.


1 see the chess-board stands prepared and so.
If Mark permits, 'tis I who in his place

Will lead the crimson pawns today, as we
Were wont to do in former days. I love
The game but have no friend with whom to play.


Makk. Ay, Dinas, good it is to have some one

Who loves us near us in our twilight years ;
So play today with Goldenhaired Iseult.
Perchance it may amuse her too, for oft
She seemeth sad, and mourns as women do
Who have no children. — God forgive us both !
But come, my lords, first let us drink a pledge
Of greeting, and permit this man to make
His peace with my fair queen. I hate long

Come, friends, come, let us drink, for all this

We'll spend together in good fellow^ship.
\_He leaves the room with Dinas and Gane-
LUN by the door on the right. Iseult and
Denovalin stand opposite each other, some
distance apart, silent and motionless.']

Scene V

DbnovaLtIn (calmly and insinuatingly).

Am I a vulture. Queen Iseult, that thou

Art silent when I am within thy cage?
Iseult (angrily).

My Lord Denovalin, how dar'st thou show

Thyself thus brazenly before me here?
Denovalin. Harsh words the Queen Iseult is pleased to use !
Iseult. And I shall beg the King that he forbid

Thee to appear within a mile around

The castle with thy visor raised.
Denovalin. King Mark

Is not my over-lord. I 'm not his liege.
Iseult. And I tell thee, my Lord Denovalin,

Thy face is more abhorred by me than plague ;

More hateful than dread leprosy ! Away !
Denovalin. More measured should 'st thou be in thy re-

(Much moved.)

It was for thee I came today, harsh Queen !





IsEULT (passionately).

When last thou stoodst before my face, my

Naked I was, and men at arms prepar'd
The glowing pyre whereon thy jealousy
Had doomed my youthful body to be burned !
Calm wast thou then ; no quiver moved thy face,
Untroubled by thy deed. Dost thou forget?
Denovalin. And Tristram stood beside thee then, as he

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