Kuno Francke.

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

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The guard be doubled at the lower gate

That none, unnoticed, may come in.
Str. Jester. But should

A stranger King arrive, — a stranger King,

The master of this stranger fool — let him

Come in, Gilain.
IsBUiiT. Play, Dinas, play thy game !

Their chatter wearies me.
Mark. Now tell me, rogue,

Why clamorest thou so loudly at my gate?

What wouldst thou? Speak.
Str. Jester. I wish to stay with thee.

2d Baron. What cooked they in thy kitchen, Mark,

That all the fools have smelt it out f


Stk. Jester. I saw

The fire glowing in thy hall ; I saw

The light and so I came — I'm cold.
Ugrin. ' Then wrap

Thyself more closely in thy cloak, thou fool!
Str. Jester. I've given it away.
Brangaene (laughing). It ^eems thou art

A tender hearted fool!
GiMELLA. And yet it does

« Not seem as though thou couldst give much

away !
Mark (looking at the fool carefully) .

Whence comest thou, Sir Fool!
Str. Jester. I come from there — -

From there outside, from nowhere else —

(Looking at Iseult and in a soft voice —
almost singing.)

And yet

My mother was Blanchefleur!

[Iseult starts and stares across at him.']
Mark (goes hack laughing to his seat. Ugrin follows him).

Ha! ha! The jest

Is poor. Hast thou no better ones, my friend?

Blanchefleur was mine own sister. She begat

No fool like thee !
Str. Jester. 'Twas then some other one

Who bore the self-same name and me the pain

And sorrow, Mark. What matters it to thee ?

1st Knight (laughingly).

Our jesting rogue grows bitter in his mirth!
Iseult. Let this strange jester stand a little forth

That we may see him in the light.
Mark. Come here,

Sir Fool, and stand before the Queen.



Ugein. He is

An ass as awkward as I e'er beheld!
So cousin, judge by contrast 'twixt us two,
And see the priceless thing thou hast in mel
Maek. Go, fool, be not afraid.

Ste. jEtoTEE {steps in front of the stone bench on the left,
opposite Iseult's table).

— I'm cold! — I'm cold!
IsEULT {after looking at him for a moment breaks into a
clear and relieved laugh). ^

A sorry sight to look upon!

[The Strange Jester hides his face in his
GiMELLA {springing forward). The Queen

Is laughing — see!

Made he some witty jest?
Why \aughst thou so, Iseult?

'Tis horrible
To see the fool's distorted face!

He looks
So pitifully at me ! it makes me laugh !
I'm angry mth thee, Queen Iseult ! Oh fie !
For shame, how couldst thou laugh at that
strange fool?

{Turning to Mark.)
I pray thee, Mark, good cousin, wilt thou give
To him the two whole marks of gold?

^During this time the Strange Jester sits
on the railing which joins the bench to the
fireplace. He rests his elbows on his
knees and his face on his hands. He
stares at Iseult.]

Rejoice !
The King will give thee a reward since thou
Hast cheered the Queen.






Ste. Jestek {ivithout changing his attitude).

Would that I'd make her weep,
This Queen, instead of laugh !

[Soft and low laughter.']
Mark. How's that?

Str. Jester. Because

I am a fool for sorrow, not for mirth !

[Laughter; the fool springs up.}
And none shall laugh when he beholds my face !
[Laughter; the fool seats himself again.]
Iseult (earnestly).

How strangely speaks the fool!
Mark. My friend, I think,

That some one cut thee from the gallows !
Str. Jester (stares at Iseult — sloivly). Mark,

How proud and cold a wife thou hast! Her

name 's
Iseult, I think. Am I not right?
Mark (smiling). Doth she

Please thee. Sir Fool?
Str. Jester. Ay! ay! She pleases me.

Iseult the Goldenhaired ! — I'm cold, King
Iseult. The fool is mad ! — I like him not.

Ugrin (to the Strange Jester). Thou hast

Thine answer now!
GiMELLA. • Is this the first time thou

Beheldst the Queen?
Mark. Art thou a stranger, friend?

Str. Jester. Mayhap I've seen the Queen before; mayhap
I never have. — I know not, Mark.

Gimella (laughing). A strange

And curious jest, i' faith!

(To those laughing at the other table.)

Come here, my Lords,
For this new jester is most wondrous strange.


Str. Jester {in rising grief).

I had a sweetheart once, and she was fair !
Mark (laughing).

Ay ! I believe thee, friend !
Str. Jester. Yea, she was fair,

Almost as fair as Queen Iseult, thy wife.

I 'm cold !
Iseult (angrily). Thou fool, why starest thou at me?

Avaunt !
Str. Jester. Laugh once again at me, Iseult !

Thy laugh was fair, and yet, methinks, those

Must be still fairer when they overflow
With tears. — I wish that I could make thee

Iseult! , [A silence.l

Ugrin (going over to him).

Ho, ho I Are those thy jokes! I '11 fall
A weeping straight, thou croaking raven !
Str. Jester (springing up). Take

This fool away, or else I'll smite him dead!

[Ugrin jumps hackward.~\
Mark. Thou art a gloomy jester, boy !

GiMELLA. His jests

Are all of some new fangled sort.
Mark. Speak, fool,

Whom hast thou served till now?
Str. Jester. I've served King Mark

In far off Cornwall — . [Laughter.]

And he had a wife,
And she was fair, with long and golden hair !

Why laughst thou Dinas, friend?

[The laughter dies suddenly; the Barons
and Knights, who, with the exception of



1st Baron
2d Bakon.




those at the Queen's table, had formed a
circle around the Strange Jester, shrink
Bin AS (startled). My God! He knows

My name as well !

'Tis passing strange !

Thou! — Fool— !
He's quick, and makes good use of what he

hears !
His jests are impudent, — I wish that he
Would go away! He wearies me.

And yet
There 's something in the knave that pleases me.
His madness lies still deeper than it seems —
Ay, cousin, in his belly, for, methinks,
He has a stomachache !

Come, friend, tell us
A tale.
Str. Jester (starting up). Why stare ye so at me, ye pack
Of rogues? Why mock ye me?

(In anguish.)

I'm but a fool!
A wretched fool ! Send them away. King Mark,
And listen thou to me. We'll stay here all
Alone : — the Queen, and thou, and I, and then
I'll tell thee pretty things, sweet things, — so

That one must shiver when one hears ! Now

Away the rest !

Take heed. Sir Fool, be not
Too bold.

He should be soundly beaten!

Him, Lords, in peace. I like his foolishness,
Because he does not crack the silly jokes
That other jesters do.

1st Baron.

2d Baron.


Ste. Jester. I, too, was once

As good a knight as they — ! [Laughter.]
Ganelun (laughing) . I wish I'd seen

Thee, knave !
Ste. Jestee (steadily).

Thou saw'st me many times and wast
My friend, Lord Ganelun!

[All step hack nervously.]
1st Knight (crossing himself). God save us, friends!

He knows us all by name!
Iseult. a gruesome fool !

Send him away. King Mark; he's mad.
Maek. Speak on!

Ste. Jester. My tongue cleaves to my gums ; my throat is
parch 'd !
Give me to drink.
Mark (stands up and takes a goblet from the table).

I had forgot, poor fool!
But thou shalt drink wine from a golden cup.
Thy foolishness has touched my heart. At

My Lords, 'twould be an easy thing to turn
To such a fool. Iseult ! Come pledge the cup
That he may have somewhat of which to dream
On cold and thirsty nights. Grant him this
boon. [He gives Iseult the cup.]

Iseult. I pledge —

Ste. Jestee (jumping down from the bench).

Drink not ! Drink not ! — She drank !

[He waves aside the cup.]

I will
Not drink.
GiMELLA. A brazen knave !

Beangaene. Fie, fie ! For shame !

Ste. Jestee. I'll not drink with a woman from one cup

The self -same wine again.
Maek. What hinders thee?



He mocks me. Send

Str. Jestee. Ask Queen Iseult.
IsEULT {angrily and fearfully).

Oh Mark!
The fool away !
Str. Jester {he throivs himself on the ground before the
dais and whispers low and tensely to Iseult).
" For they who drink thereof
Together, so shall love with every sense
Alive, yet senseless — with their every thought.
Yet thoughtless, too, in life, in death, for aye —
Yet he, who having known the wond'rous bliss
Of that intoxicating cup of love.
Spits out the draught disloyally, shall be
A homeless and a friendless worm, — a weed
That grows beside the road " — So spake my

And handed me a golden cup of wine
And bade me drink, — But evil came thereof — .
[During his speech Iseult sits up in her
chair, and bending backivard, stares down
at hifn in horror.]
The Queen turns pale !

Iseult! My God! Iseult!
He conjures !

'Twas a magic spell!

Lay hold
Of him ! He is a conjurer.

\_A few men start to seize the jester — he
jumps upon the bench.']
Iseult {trembling ivlth fright). Excuse —

My weakness — 'tis — 'tis but — let be — this

fool 's
Strange jesting is most ghastly — it revolts

my soul
And — made me faint — .

Thou knave! I'll have thee whipped!
Tell me thy name — Who art thou 1 Speak !

1st Baron.
2d Knight.





Str, Jester.

Str. Jester. Come not

Too near!
Mark. I have a dungeon deep and strong,

And I can have thee thrown to Husdent. He
Will tear thee limb from limb, thou conjurer !
Who art thou?
Ugrin {in a friendly tone).

Answer, friend, our Cousin Mark
Speaks not in jest!

Call in the guards!
1A Knight tries to lay hold of the Strange

Let go !
I'm but a wretched fool ! — I have no name !
What matters it to you? I've smirched my

And noble name — so now I have no name.
I had one once that rang full true and high !
I've twisted it about, and broken it!

{In rising agitation.)
I broke my name, and throwing up the bits
I caught them as they fell, and threw them up
Again ; and so I played with my fair name
Until the fragments rang again and fell
At last back to my hand, deformed and changed,
To stick, and make a name that is no name —
So call me Tramtris.

— Tramtris — !
[Ugrin claps his hands and rolls laughing
on the ground.]

Fool, what ails
Thee now?

The jester jesteth. Seest thou not?
Why, turn it 'round! Tramtris — Tristram!

He says
He was Lord Tristram ! Ho! [^Laughter.]

That was the jest
That he so cimningly devised !





1st Baron. This shaft

Of irony has struck the mark and hits

This day and thee, King Mark!
2d Knight. A clever fool !

Mark {laughing softly).

I wish Lord Tristram saw the knave!
2d Baron. He 'd laugh !

IsEULT {trembling ivith anger).

Let not thy nephew Tristram's knightly fame

And noble name serve as a mockery

To such a ghoul !
Mark {gaily). Forgive me, fair Iseult;

And yet it makes me laugh to think that this

Poor fool went mad from thinking that he was

My noble nephew Tristram. Speak, thou toy
of fate,

Wast thou Lord Tristram once!
Str. Jester {almost timidly). Ay, Mark, I was;

And often was I with Iseult, thy wife !

Forgive it me! [^LaugMer.']

Iseult. Dost thou permit that he

Should heap such insults on thy wife's fair
Mark {gaily).

Heed not his words ; the people love such jests.
{To the jester.)

Give us a sign, Sir Fool.
Ugrin. a sign! A sign!

1st Baron. Ay, let the fool describe the Queen. Give ear.
Ugrin. 'Twill be a royal sport ! And first he shall

Describe her feet ! Speak on !

[Ugrin sits on the ground. Iseult hides
her face in Brangaene's breast.']
GiMELLA {to Iseult laughingly) . He'll liken thee

Unto his wench!
Mark. Why dost thou hesitate?

I grant thee jester's freedom, Fool. Begin!


Ste. Jester {softly and hesitatingly).

From pedestals white snowy columns rise
Of ivory, draped in softly whispering silk,
That arched, and all immaculate, stretch up, —
The swelling pillars of her body's frame —

Mark. A graceful speech, my friend. Canst thou

go on?

Ste. Jester {in rising agitation and feverish emotion).
Her body is a gleam of silvery light
Cast by the full moon in the month of May
Changed to the snowy marvel of herself.
Thou art a garden wild wherein there grow
Deep purple fruits that stupefy and yet
That make one burn ! Thy body is a church
Of rarest marble built — a fairy mount
Where sounds the music of a golden harp ;
A field of virgin snow ! Thy breasts are buds
Of the most sacred plant that flowering grows
Within the garden, — swelling fruits that wait
To suck the honeyed dew of summer moons!
Thy neck is like a lily 's stem ! Thy arms
Are like the blossoming branches of a young
And tender almond-tree, directing us
Within that Paradise where rules the chaste
Perfection of thy rounded limbs, enthroned
Within thy wondrous body like a God
Who threatens from on high. Thou art —

Mark. Oh hear

How this impostor talks ! The token, fool !

Str. Jester {softly, trembling and feverishly).

Below the left breast of this master-piece
Of His creation God has set his mark —
A darkened cross — !

Mark {hoarsely). seize the knave ! The cross

Is there. — She bears the mark !



1st Baron.
1st Knight

Ste. Jester



Str. Jester.


Str. Jester

1st Guard.

Christ save my soul !
I feel an awful dread of this strange fool !

I'll run him through the body with my sword !
{tears the sword from his hand, and springs

upon the bench).
Take heed unto thyself ! Come not too near !
I'll tear thee like a beast.

His words are not
So marvelously strange. Hast thou forgot,
King Mark, that once, before a heaped up pyre
Thou bad'st me stand, stark naked and exposed
Unto the rabble's gaze? It well may be
That this low jester cast his shaming eyes
Upon me then.

Saw'st thou the Queen when she
Stood on the burning pile?

I saw the Queen ;
I stood beside her there !

Behold, that sight
Has made him lose his wits !

Poor witless fool !
Glare not at me ! I 'm but a fool, a poor
Mad fool — a wretched fool that wished to tell
You tales to make you laugh !

{Almost screaming.)

For God's sake laugh!
[He throws the sword down. It falls clat-
tering on the floor. The First Guard
enters while two others stand outside the
grating ivith the Strange Knight.]
Whom bring 'st thou there?

King Mark, thy messengers
Have found the witnesses that signed the bond
Too late, for in the forest they had caught
A man whom they have sent to thee. The man



1st Guaed.



Is wounded ; when they called on him to stand
He fled. His horse fell dead. They know him

He is a stranger in the land.
Maek. How heavily

God's wrath descends upon my head. This

I've spilled was innocent!

This man is near
His end ; his dying wish is to behold
The Queen Iseult. He much desires it.
Poor soul!

Bring in the man. How things mischance I
My castle is a gruesome place today.
An idiot first, and then a corpse have knocked
To crave admittance to my hall ! My Lords,
I pray you to forgive my sins.
Paranis. There comes

The wounded Knight.

[The Strange Knight is led before Iseult.
He walJvs firmly, standing erect.]
Str. Knight. — Art thou Iseult f — Iseult

The Goldenhaired? May God be merciful
Unto thy soul!
Str. Jester {crouches on the bench, talcing no interest in
ivhat is said). My brother Kuerdin!
Dear friend! In a disastrous hour went
We forth. I pity thee!

[The Strange Knight turns and looks at
him searchingly.']
Ganelun {angrily and oppressed). Will death not close

Thy mouth, thou cur!
Mark. Dost thou then know this man?

Str. Jester. I've said so, Mark! I'll sit beside him here
Until he dies. I'll be his priest.



Str. Knight. Keep off.

This babbling fool; his chatter shames my
DiNAS. Methinks this was the man I saw at dawn

Today as I rode through the wood, and yet

He bore a shield on which I thought I saw

Lord Tristram's arms.
Mark. Unhappy man, who art

Str. Knight {calmly and quietly).

One who knoweth how to die. Lay me

On yonder bench and wrap me in my cloak.
[He is laid on the bench near the chimney,
and lies there like an effigy.]
Mark (to the First Guard).

Where are his shield and arms?
Str. Knight. I bore the shield

Of Tristram, Lord of Lyonesse, since we.

For our great love, exchanged our arms. I am

His brother, for my sister is his wife.

Lord Tristram greets thee, Mark.
Mark {to him passionately). Speak, friend, and put

An end unto the quandary in which

I stand. God shall reward thee soon. Where is

Lord Tristram?
Str. Knight {groaning) .

With his wife whom he holds dear.
Str. Jester. Thou liest, brother, yet thou speak 'st the

truth !
Mark. God mocks me, Lords ! God mocks me !

Str. Jester. I will watch

By. him and guard his body through the night.
Ganelun. Be still, thou toad! Be still!
1st Guard. King Mark, the Knight

Upon his left hand wears a ring — a stone

Rich set in gold. Shall he retain the ring

Upon his hand? — He's dead.

Vol. XX— si


Stk. Jester (seizing the ring). The ring is mine!

I gave it him !
Ganelun (striking him). Away! Thou damned thief!

Stk. Jestee. The ring is mine, I say. My love once gave
It me and sware thereon; but now I'll give
It as a jester's gift unto the Queen.
I pray thee take the ring, Iseult.

[IsEULT takes the ring, looks at it a moment
and lets it fall. She totters.']

Cast not
Away my gift !
Beangaene. Help! Help! The Queen.

IsEULT (in great agitation). Oh God,

I pray Thee open now mine eyes, and set
Me free! I know not if I am alive!
There lies a corpse — There stands a ghost

and I
Between them, here ! I hear a moaning sound
Pass whimpering through the halls — !

\^8he runs to the stairs.]
Let me go up !
Brangaene, come, and thou Gimella, too!

[Half way up the stairs she turns.]
Be not too angry with me, Mark, for thou
Hast set a loathsome ghost to mock and jeer
At me to make thee laugh. He makes my

Grow cold with horror! Come, my ladies,

Stand by me now — this awful game has made
Me shudder. [She hastens up the stairs.]

Ste. Jester (springs onto the table to look after her).

Queen Iseult, thou fairest one.
Have pity on my leper's soul!
Ganelun. Be still.

Thou croaking raven!



1st Baron. Smite him dead and spit

Upon his corpse!

2d Baron. Thou filthy worm !

Mark. Lay hold

Upon the jester! Hold him fast. Thou fool,
Thou base-born cur, how dar'st thou vex my

So bitterly with thy presumptuous wit?

Str. Jester. Mark, heed thy words !

1st Knight (catching his wrists from behind).

I have the knave !

Mark. The Guards

Shall whip the rogue for his bold impudence,
And cast him from the castle gates. Let loose
The dogs upon him if he does not run,
And leave my walls as though they were on

Away with him!

Ugrin {in greatest haste and agitation) .

King Mark, oh good King Mark,
Behold, he is my brother in my kind,
A much abused and crazy fool who means
No evil with his foolish jests ! See now
How pitiful his mien! He strove to make
Thee laugh in his poor way as I in mine.
Forgive the knave, and drive liim not away
Into the darkness like a snarling cur
That whines about the house! He hungers,

For thou hast given him naught to eat or drink
Since he has been beneath thy kingly roof.
I am an old, old man, King Mark ; he is
My brother, and a jester like myself;
I pity him ! I pray thee let me keep
Him here with me until tomorrow's morn,








That he may sleep with me within my bed.
Then, when the sun shall shine upon his road,
He shall depart and seek a dwelling place.
'Twas thou thyself encouraged him to jest;
Judge then thy guilt and his with equal eye.
He is a fool, a crazy, blundering fool.
Yet drive him not away ! I pray thee let
Him sleep beside me here a while that he
Refresh himself ! He looks so pitifully !
Why, Ugrin, friend, 'tis new for thee to act
The part of charity!

I serve thee, Mark,
With foolishness and jests — and thou but

Me by my services.

I still can make
One person glad tonight ! Keep, then, thy fool
But thou stand 'st surety for him if he should
Attempt to burn the castle or to do
Some other mischief in his madness.

[The Knight lets the Strange Jester go; he
crouches on the dais.l


Thou art indeed my dear, kind, cousin, still!
Good-night, fair cousin, go and sleep. Thou

It sorely — and — I pray that thou forget
Not my new wisdom!

Sirs, I wish you all
A restful night for this has been a day
Of many cares and many tribulations.
Tomorrow shall we bury this brave Knight
With all the honors due his noble rank,
For he was innocent.

Sleep well. King Mark!


1st Baron. May God watch o'er thee, Mark!

[The Barons go up the stairs; the Knights
and guards go out. The servants extin-
guish all but a few of the lights.']
Mark (on the stairs). Come, Dinas, come

With me, and we will watch a little while.
My heart is sorrowful tonight!
Dinas {folloiving him up the stairs). I'll stay

With thee until the morning break if thou
Desire it so.
Ugrin {calling after them). And cousins take good heed
Ye catch not cold!

[They leave the stage, the moon shines
through the grating, and the shadow of
the bars falls into the hall. The Strange
Jester crouches motionless. Ugrin turns
to him.]

Scene VI
Ugrin. Ay, so they are ! ' ' Whip, whip the fool ! ' '

We wrack
Our weary brains to make a jest and then.
In payment, we are whipped if they so feel
Inclined! They treat us more like dogs than
[He goes to the table where the food stands,
and takes a bite.]
Art hungry, brother? Wait, I'll bring my

For thou art cold.

[He draws a cloak from under the stairs.]
'Tis here, beneath the stairs,
I sleep. — A very kennel ! 'Tis a shame.

[He eats again.]
Wilt thou not eat a morsel of what's left
Upon the table here? Nor drink a drop?
'Tis not forbidden, friend; our cousin lets


Us eat and drink of what is left.

[He goes into the middle of the hall and
hends doivn to look into the Strange
Jester's face.]

Art sad
Dear brother? Speak to me! Come, come,

look not
So sorrowful!

[Bending over the corpse of the dead

This man is colder still

Than thou ! Art thou afraid ? He '11 not awake.

[Comes close to the Strange Jester.]

I'll wrap thee close within my cloak that thou

May'st sleep. Dost thou not wish to sleep!

Why then
I'll sing a song to make thee sleep. Alas!
I know but joyous, silly songs ! Come lay
Thee down.

[He sits on the bench and draws the head
upon his lap.]
Thou look'st not happy, brother. Hast
A sorrow? Tell it me; here canst thou rest
At ease, and I will sing a song. Thou seemst
A child to whom one must sing songs to make
It sleep. I'll sing the song that Queen Iseult
Is wont to sing at even when she thinks
Of Tristram, her dear friend, sitting beside
Her open casement. 'Tis a pretty song.
[With bowed head and closed eyes he hums
very softly as if in his sleep. The body
of the Strange Jester under the black
cloak that covers it is shaken by sobs of
* ' Lord Tristram, my friend, is unfaithful,
And God's wrath on him shall descend;
Though cruelly he has betrayed me — "



Same as Act IV. — The first glow of dawn shines through the grated door
and windows, becoming brighter until the end of the Act. The Strange
Jester sits cowering on the steps of the dais. Brangaene comes hesita-
tingly down the steps; she carries an oil-lamp in her hand.

Scene I

Brangaene {her voice is muffled hy fear).

Art thou still here, thou ghastly being? Ghost
Of awful midnight hours?
Stk. Jester. Brangaene I

Am here, and here I shall remain.
Brangaene {looking for something on the ground).

King Mark had paid thy jests with whips and

Then driven thee away ; and yet thou sitst
Here in the self-same place and starest still
With blear 'd and fish-like eyes. Dost thou

not know
That day is come? Fool, if thou hast a heart
Through which the warm blood flows, I pray

thee go !
Go ere the Queen come down and see thee

Begone !
Str. Jester. What seekest thou?

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