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Title: Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods - The Ring of the Niblung, A Trilogy with a Prelude
Author: Wagner, Richard
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made


SIEGFRIED & THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS

BY RICHARD WAGNER

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

BY ARTHUR RACKHAM

TRANSLATED BY MARGARET ARMOUR

LONDON  WILLIAM-HEINEMANN

NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY PACE & Co

1911



[Illustration: "Nothung! Nothung!
                Conquering sword!"]



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"Nothung! Nothung!
Conquering sword!"

Mime at the anvil

Mime and the infant Siegfried

"And there I learned
What love was like"

Siegfried sees himself in the stream

Mime finds the mother of Siegfried in the forest

"In dragon's form
Fafner now watches the hoard"

Mime and the Wanderer

The forging of Nothung

Siegfried kills Fafner

"The hot blood burns like fire!"

The dwarfs quarrelling over the body of Fafner

"Magical rapture
Pierces my heart;
Fixed is my gaze,
Burning with terror;
I reel, my heart faints and fails!

"Sun, I hail thee!
Hail, O light!
Hail, O glorious day!"

Brünnhilde throws herself into Siegfried's arms

The three Norns

The Norns vanish

Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde in search of adventure

Siegfried hands the drinking-horn back to Gutrune, and
gazes at her with sudden passion

Brünnhilde kisses the ring that Siegfried has left with
her

The ravens of Wotan

"The ring upon thy hand--
... ah, be implored!
For Wotan fling it away!"

The wooing of Grimhilde, the mother of Hagen

"Swear to me, Hagen, my son!"

"O wife betrayed,
I will avenge
Thy trust deceived"

"Though gaily ye may laugh,
In grief ye shall be left,
For, mocking maids; this ring
Ye ask shall never, be yours"

"Siegfried! Siegfried!
Our warning is true:
Flee, oh, flee from the curse!"

Siegfried's death

Brünnhilde on Grane leaps on to the funeral pyre of
Siegfried

The Rhine-Maidens obtain possession of the ring and
bear it off in triumph



[Illustration]


SIEGFRIED


CHARACTERS

    SIEGFRIED
    MIME
    THE WANDERER
    ALBERICH
    FAFNER
    ERDA
    BRÜNNHILDE

SCENES OF ACTION

      ACT I. A CAVE IN A WOOD
     ACT II. DEPTHS OF THE WOOD
    ACT III. WILD REGION AT THE FOOT OF A ROCKY MOUNTAIN;
                AFTERWARDS: SUMMIT OF "BRÜNNHILDE'S ROCK"


[Illustration]



THE FIRST ACT

    _A rocky cavern in a wood, in which stands a
    naturally formed smith's forge, with big bellows.
    Mime sits in front of the anvil, busily hammering
    at a sword._

MIME

        [_Who has been hammering with a small hammer, stops
        working._

    Slavery! worry!
    Labour all lost!
    The strongest sword
    That ever I forged,
    That the hands of giants
    Fitly might wield,
    This insolent urchin
    For whom it is fashioned
Can snap in two at one stroke,
As if the thing were a toy!

        [_Mime throws the sword on the anvil
        ill-humouredly, and with his arms akimbo gazes
        thoughtfully on the ground._

    There is one sword
    That he could not shatter:
    Nothung's splinters
    Would baffle his strength,
    Could I but forge
    Those doughty fragments
    That all my skill
    Cannot weld anew.
Could I but forge the weapon,
Shame and toil would win their reward!

        [_He sinks further back his head bowed in thought._

Fafner, the dragon grim,
Dwells in the gloomy wood;
With his gruesome and grisly bulk
    The Nibelung hoard
    Yonder he guards.
Siegfried, lusty and young,
Would slay him without ado;
    The Nibelung's ring
    Would then become mine.
The only sword for the deed
Were Nothung, if it were swung
By Siegfried's conquering arm;
    And I cannot fashion
    Nothung, the sword!

        [_He lays the sword in position again, and goes on
        hammering in deep dejection._

    Slavery! worry!
    Labour all lost!
    The strongest sword
    That ever I forged
    Will never serve
    For that difficult deed.
    I beat and I hammer
    Only to humour the boy;
He snaps in two what I make,
And scolds if I cease from work.

        [_He drops his hammer._

SIEGFRIED

        [_In rough forester's dress, with a silver horn
        hung by a chain, bursts in boisterously from the
        wood. He is leading a big bear by a rope of bast,
        and urges him towards Mime in wanton fun._

    Hoiho! Hoiho!

        [_Entering._

    Come on! Come on!
    Tear him! Tear him!
    The silly smith!

        [_Mime drops the sword in terror, and takes refuge
        behind the forge; while Siegfried, shouting with
        laughter, keeps driving the bear after him._

[Illustration: Mime at the anvil. See p. 2]

MIME

    Hence with the beast!
    I want not the bear!

SIEGFRIED

    I come thus paired
    The better to pinch thee;
Bruin, ask for the sword!

MIME

    Hey! Let him go!
    There lies the weapon;
    It was finished to-day.

SIEGFRIED

Then thou art safe for to-day!

        [_He lets the bear loose and strikes him on the
        back with the rope._

    Off, Bruin!
    I need thee no more.

        [_The bear runs back into the wood._

MIME [_Comes trembling from behind the forge._

    Slay all the bears
    Thou canst, and welcome;
    But why thus bring the beasts
    Home alive?

SIEGFRIED [_Sits down to recover from his laughter._

For better companions seeking
Than the one who sits at home,
I blew my horn in the wood,
Till the forest glades resounded.
    What I asked with the note
    Was if some good friend
My glad companion would be.
From the covert came a bear
Who listened to me with growls,
And I liked him better than thee,
Though better friends I shall find.
    With a trusty rope
    I bridled the beast,
To ask thee, rogue, for the weapon.

        [_He jumps up and goes towards the anvil._

MIME

        [_Takes up the sword to hand it to Siegfried._

I made the sword keen-edged;
In its sharpness thou wilt rejoice.

        [_He holds the sword anxiously in his hand;
        Siegfried snatches it from him._

What matters an edge keen sharpened,
Unless hard and true the steel?

        [_Testing the sword._

    Hei! What an idle,
    Foolish toy!
    Wouldst have this pin
    Pass for a sword?

        [_He strikes it on the anvil, so that the splinters
        fly about. Mime shrinks back in terror._

    There, take back the pieces,
    Pitiful bungler!
    'Tis on thy skull
    It should have been broken!
    Shall such a braggart
    Still go on boasting,
    Telling of giants
    And prowess in battle,
    Of deeds of valour,
    And dauntless defence?--
    A sword true and trusty
    Try to forge me,
    Praising the skill
    He does not possess?
    When I take hold
    Of what he has hammered,
    The rubbish crumbles
    At a mere touch!
    Were not the wretch
    Too mean for my wrath,
    I would break him in bits
    As well as his work--
The doting fool of a gnome!--
And end the annoyance at once!

        [_Siegfried throws himself on to a stone seat in a
        rage. Mime all the time has been cautiously keeping
        out of his way._

MIME

    Again thou ravest like mad,
    Ungrateful and perverse.
    If what for him I forge
    Is not perfect on the spot,
    Too soon the boy forgets
    The good things I have made!
    Wilt never learn the lesson
    Of gratitude, I wonder?
    Thou shouldst be glad to obey him
    Who always treated thee well.

        [_Siegfried turns his back on Mime in a bad temper,
        and sits with his face to the wall._

Thou dost not like to be told that!

        [_He stands perplexed, then goes to the hearth in
        the kitchen._

But thou wouldst fain be fed.
Wilt eat the meat I have roasted,
Or wouldst thou prefer the broth?
'Twas boiled solely for thee.

        [_He brings food to Siegfried, who, without turning
        round, knocks both bowl and meat out of his hand._

SIEGFRIED

Meat I roast for myself;
Sup thy filthy broth alone!

MIME [_In a wailing voice, as if hurt._

    This is the reward
    Of all my love!
    All my care
    Is paid for with scorn.
    When thou wert a babe
    I was thy nurse,
    Made the mite clothing
    To keep him warm,
    Brought thee thy food,
    Gave thee to drink,
    Kept thee as safe
    As I keep my skin;
    And when thou wert grown
    I waited on thee,
    And made a bed
    For thy slumber soft.
    I fashioned thee toys
    And a sounding horn,
    Grudging no pains,
    Wert thou but pleased.
    With counsel wise
    I guided thee well,
    With mellow wisdom
    Training thy mind.
    Sitting at home,
    I toil and moil;
    To heart's desire
    Wander thy feet.
    Through thee alone worried,
    And working for thee,
    I wear myself out,
    A poor old dwarf!

        [_Sobbing._

    And for my trouble
    The sole reward is
    By a hot-tempered boy

        [_Sobbing._

    To be hated and plagued!

[Illustration: Mime and the infant Siegfried See p. 8]


SIEGFRIED

        [_Has turned round again and has quietly watched
        Mime's face, while the latter, meeting the look,
        tries timidly to hide his own._

Thou hast taught me much, Mime,
And many things I have learned;
But what thou most gladly hadst taught me
A lesson too hard has proved--
How to endure thy sight.
    When with my food
    Or drink thou dost come,
I sup off loathing alone;
    When thou dost softly
    Make me a bed,
My sleep is broken and bad;
    When thou wouldst teach me
    How to be wise,
Fain were I deaf and dumb.
    If my eyes happen
    To fall on thee,
    I find all thou doest
    Amiss and ill-done;
    When thou dost stand,
    Waddle and walk,
    Shamble and shuffle,
    With thine eyelids blinking,
    By the neck I want
    To take the nodder,
    And choke the life
    From the hateful twitcher.
So much, O Mime, I love thee!
    Hast thou such wisdom,
    Explain, I pray thee,
A thing I have wondered at:
    Though I go roaming
    Just to avoid thee,
Why do I always return?
    Though I love the beasts
    All better than thee--
    Tree and bird
    And the fish in the brook,
    One and all
    They are dearer than thou--
How is it I always return?
Of thy wisdom tell me that.

MIME

        [_Tries to approach him affectionately._

My child, that ought to show thee
That Mime is dear to thy heart.

SIEGFRIED

I said I could not bear thee;
Forget not that so soon.

MIME

        [_Recoils, and sits down again apart, opposite
        Siegfried._]

The wildness that thou shouldst tame
Is the cause, bad boy, of that.
Young ones are always longing
After their parents' nest;
What we love we all long for,
And so thou dost yearn for me;
'Tis plain thou lovest thy Mime,
    And always must love him.
What the old bird is to the young one,
Feeding it in its nest
Ere the fledgling can flutter,
That is what careful, clever Mime
To thy young life is,
    And always must be.

SIEGFRIED

Well, Mime, being so clever,
This one thing more also tell me:

        [_Simply._

    The birds sang together
    So gaily in spring,

[Illustration: "And there I learned
                What love was like"
                           See p. 11]

        [_Tenderly._

The one alluring the other;
    And thou didst say,
    When I asked thee why,
That they were wives with their husbands.

    They chattered so sweetly,
    Were never apart;
    They builded a nest
    In which they might brood;
    The fluttering young ones
    Came flying out,
And both took care of the young.
    The roes in the woods, too,
    Rested in pairs,
The wild wolves even, and foxes.
    Food was found them and brought
    By the father,
The mother suckled the young ones.
    And there I learned
    What love was like;
    A whelp from its mother
    I never took.
    But where hast thou, Mime,
    A wife dear and loving,
That I may call her mother?

MIME [_Angrily._

    What dost thou mean?
    Fool, thou art mad!
Art thou then a bird or a fox?

SIEGFRIED

    When I was a babe
    Thou wert my nurse,
    Made the mite clothing
    To keep him warm;
    But tell me, whence
    Did the tiny mite come?
    Could babe without mother
    Be born to thee?

MIME [_Greatly embarrassed._

    Thou must always
    Trust what I tell thee.
    I am thy father
    And mother in one.

SIEGFRIED

Thou liest, filthy old fright!
The resemblance 'twixt child and parent
I often have seen for myself.
I came to the limpid brook,
    And the beasts and the trees
    I saw reflected;
    Sun and clouds too,
    Just as they are,
Were mirrored quite plain in the stream.
    I also could spy
    This face of mine,
    And quite unlike thine
    Seemed it to me;
    As little alike
    As a fish to a toad:
And when had fish toad for its father?

MIME [_Very angrily._

How canst thou talk
Such terrible stuff?

SIEGFRIED [_With increasing animation._

    Listen! At last
    I understand
What in vain I pondered so long:
Why I roam the woods
And run to escape thee,
Yet return home in the end.

        [_He springs up._

I cannot go till thou tell me
What father and mother were mine.

MIME

What father? What mother?
Meaningless questions!

SIEGFRIED

        [_Springs upon Mime, and seizes him by the throat._

    To answer a question
    Thou must be caught first;
    Willingly
    Thou never wilt speak;
    Thou givest nothing
    Unless forced to.
    How to talk
    I hardly had learned
    Had it not by force
    Been wrung from the wretch.
    Come, out with it,
    Mangy old scamp!
Who are my father and mother?

[Illustration: Siegfried sees himself in the stream. See p. 12.]

MIME

        [_After makings signs with his head and hands, is
        released by Siegfried._

Dost want to kill me outright!
Hands off, and the facts thou shalt hear,
As far as known to myself.
    O ungrateful
    And graceless child,
Now learn the cause of thy hatred!
    Neither thy father
    Nor kinsman I,
And yet thou dost owe me thy life!
    To me, thy one friend,
    A stranger wert thou;
    It was pity alone
    Sheltered thee here;
And this is all my reward.
And I hoped for thanks like a fool!

A woman once I found
Who wept in the forest wild;
I helped her here to the cave,
That by the fire I might warm her.
The woman bore a child here;
Sadly she gave it birth.
She writhed about in pain;
I helped her as I could.
Bitter her plight; she died.
But Siegfried lived and throve.

SIEGFRIED [_Slowly._

My poor mother died, then, through me?

MIME

To my care she commended thee;
'Twas willingly bestowed.
The trouble Mime would take!
The worry kind Mime endured!
    "When thou wert a babe
    I was thy nurse...."

SIEGFRIED

That story I often have heard.
Now say, whence came the name
      Siegfried?

MIME

    'Twas thus that thy mother
    Told me to name thee,
    That thou mightst grow
    To be strong and fair.
    "I made the mite clothing
    To keep it warm...."

SIEGFRIED

Now tell me, what name was my mother's?

MIME

In truth I hardly know.
    "Brought thee thy food,
    Gave thee to drink...."

SIEGFRIED

My mother's name thou must tell me.

MIME

Her name I forget. Yet wait!
Sieglinde, that was the name borne
By her who gave thee to me.
    "I kept thee as safe
    As I keep my skin...."

SIEGFRIED

        [_With increasing urgency._

Next tell me, who was my father?

MIME [_Roughly._

Him I have never seen.

[Illustration: Mime finds the mother of Siegfried in the forest.
See p. 13]

SIEGFRIED

But my mother told it thee, surely.

MIME

    He fell in combat
    Was all that she said.
    She left the fatherless
    Babe to my care.
    "And when thou wert grown
    I waited on thee,
    And made a bed
    For thy slumber soft"...

SIEGFRIED

    Still, with thy tiresome
    Starling song!
That I may trust thy story,
Convinced thou art not lying,
Thou must produce some proof.

MIME

But what proof will convince thee?

SIEGFRIED

I trust thee not with my ears,
I trust thee but with mine eyes:
What witness speaks for thee?

MIME

        [_After some thought takes from the place where
        they are concealed the two pieces of a broken sword._

I got this from thy mother:
For trouble, food, and service
This was my sole reward.
Behold, 'tis a splintered sword!
She said 'twas borne by thy father
In the fatal fight when he fell.

SIEGFRIED [_Enthusiastically._

    And thou shalt forge
    These fragments together,
And furnish my rightful sword!
    Up! Tarry not, Mime;
    Quick to thy task!
    If thou hast skill,
    Thy cunning display.
    Cheat me no more
    With worthless trash;
    These fragments alone
    Henceforth I trust.
    Lounge o'er thy work,
    Weld it not true,
    Trickily patching
    The goodly steel,
And thou shalt learn on thy limbs
How metal best should be beat!
    I swear that this day
    The sword shall be mine;
My weapon to-day I shall win!

MIME [_Alarmed._

What wouldst thou to-day with the sword?

SIEGFRIED

    Leave the forest
    For the wide world,
Never more to return.
    Ah, how fair
    A thing is freedom!
Nothing holds me or binds!
No father have I here,
And afar shall be my home;
Thy hearth is not my house,
Nor my covering thy roof.
    Like the fish
    Glad in the water,
    Like the finch
    Free in the heavens,
    Off I will float,
    Forth I will fly,
    Like the wind o'er the wood
    Wafted away,
Thee, Mime, beholding no more!

        [_He runs into the forest._

MIME [_Greatly alarmed._

    Stop, boy! Stop, boy!
    Whither away?
    Hey! Siegfried!
    Siegfried! Hey!

        [_He looks after the retreating figure for some
        time in astonishment; then he goes back to the
        smithy and sits down behind the anvil._

    He storms away!
    And I sit here:
    To crown my cares
    Comes still this new one;
    My plight is piteous indeed!
    How help myself now?
    How hold the boy here?
    How lead the young madcap
    To Fafner's lair?
    And how weld the splinters
    Of obstinate steel?
    In no furnace fire
    Can they be melted,
    Nor can Mime's hammer
    Cope with their hardness.

        [_Shrilly._

    The Nibelung's hate,
    Need and sweat
Cannot make Nothung whole,
Never will weld it anew.

        [_Sobbing, he sinks in despair on to a stool behind
        the anvil._

WANDERER (WOTAN)

        [_Enters from the wood by the door at the back of
        the cave. He wears a long dark blue cloak, and, for
        staff, carries a spear. On his head is a round,
        broad-brimmed slouched hat._

All hail, cunning smith!
A seat by thy hearth
    Kindly grant
    The wayworn guest.

MIME [_Starting up in alarm._

    Who seeks for me here
    In desolate woods,
Finds my home in the forest wild?

WANDERER [_Approaching very slowly step by step._

Wanderer names me the world, smith.
From far I have come;
    On the earth's back ranging,
    Much I have roamed.

MIME

    If Wanderer named,
    Pray wander from here
Without halting for rest.

WANDERER

Good men grudge me not welcome;
Many gifts I have received.
    By bad hearts only
    Is evil feared.

MIME

    Ill fate always
    Dwelt by my side;
Thou wouldst not add to it, surely!

WANDERER [_Slowly coming nearer and nearer._

    Always searching,
    Much have I seen;
    Things of weight
    Have told to many;
    Oft have rid men
    Of their troubles,
Gnawing and carking cares.

MIME

    Though thou hast searched,
    And though much thou hast found,
I need neither seeker nor finder.
    Lonely am I,
    And lone would be;
Idlers I harbour not here.

WANDERER [_Again coming a little nearer._

    There were many
    Thought they were wise,
    Yet what they needed
    Knew not at all;
    Useful lore was
    Theirs for the asking,
Wisdom was their reward.

MIME

        [_More and more anxious as he sees the Wanderer
        approach._

    Idle knowledge
    Some may covet;
I know enough for my needs.

        [_The Wanderer reaches the hearth._

    My own wits suffice,
    I want no more,
So, wise one, keep on thy way.

WANDERER [_Sitting down at the hearth._

    Nay, here at thy hearth
    I vow by my head
To answer all thou shalt ask.
    My head is thine,
    'Tis forfeit to thee,
    Unless I can give
    Answers good,
Deftly redeeming the pledge.

MIME

        [_Who has been staring at the Wanderer
        open-mouthed, now shrinks back; aside, dejectedly._

Now how to get rid of the spy?
The questions asked must be artful.

        [_He summons up courage for an assumption of
        sternness; aloud._

    Thy head for thy
    Lodging pays:
'Tis pawned; now seek to redeem it.
    Three the questions
    Thou shalt be asked.

WANDERER

Thrice then I must answer.

MIME [_Pulls himself together and reflects._

    Since, far on the back
    Of the wide earth roving,
Thy feet have ranged o'er the world,
    Come, answer me this:
    Tell me what race
Dwells in the earth's deep gorges.

WANDERER

    In the depths of earth
The Nibelungs have their home;
Nibelheim is their land.
    Black elves they all are;
    Black Alberich
Once was their ruler and lord.
    He subdued the busy
    Folk by a ring
Gifted with magical might;
    And they piled up
    Shimmering gold,
    Precious, fine-wrought,
To win him the world and its glory.

Proceed with thy questions, dwarf.

MIME

        [_Sinks into deeper and deeper meditation._

    Thou knowest much,
    Wanderer,
Of the hidden depths of earth.
    Now, answer me this:
    Tell me what race
Breathes on earth's back and moves there.

WANDERER

    On the earth's broad back
The race of the giants arose;
Riesenheim is their land.
    Fasolt and Fafner,
    The rude folk's rulers,
Envied the Nibelung's might.
    So his wonderful hoard
    They won for themselves,
And with it gained the ring too.
    The brothers quarrelled
    About the ring,
    And slain was Fasolt.
    In dragon's form
Fafner now watches the hoard.

One question threatens me still.

MIME [_Quite lost in thought._

    Much, Wanderer,
    Thou dost know
Of the earth's back rude and rugged.
    Now answer aright:
    Tell me what race
Dwells above in the clouds.

WANDERER

    Above in the clouds
    Dwell the Immortals;
Walhall is their home.
    They are light-spirits;
    Light-Alberich,
Wotan, rules as their lord.
    From the world-ash-tree's
    Holiest bough once
Wotan made him a shaft.
    Though the stem rot,
    The spear shall endure,
    And with that spear-point
Wotan rules the world.
    Trustworthy runes
    Of holy treaties
Deep in the shaft he cut.
    Who wields the spear
    Carried by Wotan
    The haft of the world
Holds in his hand.
    Before him kneels
    The Nibelung host;
    The giants, tamed,
    Bow to his will.
All must obey, and for ever,
The spear's eternal lord.

        [_He strikes the ground with the spear as if by
        accident, and a low growl of thunder is heard, by
        which Mime is violently alarmed._

Confess now, cunning dwarf,
Are not my answers right,
And is not my head redeemed?

MIME

        [_After attentively watching the Wanderer with the
        spear, becomes very frightened, seeks in a confused
        manner for his tools, and looks timidly aside._

    Both thou hast won,
    Wager and head;
Thy way now, Wanderer, go.

WANDERER

    Knowledge useful to thee
    Thou wert to ask for;
Forfeit my head if I failed.
    Forfeit be thine,
    Knowest thou not
The thing it would serve thee to know.
    Greeting thou
    Gavest me not;
    My head into thy hand
    I gave
That I might rest by thy hearth.
    By wager fair
    Forfeit thy head,
    Canst thou not answer
    Three things when asked;
So sharpen well, Mime, thy wits!

[Illustration:    "In dragon's form
              Fafner now watches the hoard"
                           --See p. 21]

MIME

        [_Very much frightened, and after much hesitation,
        at last composes himself with timid submission._

    Long it is
    Since I left my land;
    Long it seems to me
    Since I was born.
I saw here the eye of Wotan
Shine, peering into my cave;
    His glance dazes
    My mother-wit.
But well were it now to be wise.
Come then, Wanderer, ask.
Perhaps fortune will favour
The dwarf, and redeem his head.

WANDERER [_Comfortably sitting down again._

    Then first, honest dwarf,
    Answer this question:
Tell the name of the race
That Wotan treats most harshly,

        [_Very softly, but audibly._

And yet loves beyond all the rest.

MIME [_With more cheerfulness._

    Though unlearnèd
    In heroes' kinship,
This question I answer with ease.
    The Wälsungs are Wotan's
    Chosen stock,
    By him begotten
    And loved with passion,
Though they are shown no grace.
    Siegmund and Sieglinde
    Born were to Wälse,
    A wild and desperate
    Twin-born pair;
Siegfried had they as son,
The strongest shoot from the tree.
    My head, say, is it
    Still, Wanderer, mine?

WANDERER [_Pleasantly._

    How well thou knowest
    And namest the race!
Rogue, I see thou art clever.
    The foremost question
    Thou hast solved;
The second answer me, dwarf.
    A crafty Niblung
    Shelters Siegfried,
Hoping he will slay Fafner,
That the dwarf may be lord of the hoard,
The ring being his.
    Say, what sword,
    If Fafner to fall is,
Must be by Siegfried swung?

MIME

        [_Forgetting his present situation more and more,
        rubs his hands joyfully._

    Nothung is
    The name of the sword;
    Into an ash-tree's stem
    Wotan struck it;
One only might bear it:
He who could draw it forth.
    The strongest heroes
    Tried it and failed;
    Only by Siegmund
    Was it done;
Well he fought with the sword
Till on Wotan's spear it was split.
    By a crafty smith
    Are the fragments kept,
    For he knows that alone
    With the Wotan sword
A brave and foolish boy,
Siegfried, can slay the foe.

        [_Much pleased._

    A second time
    My head have I saved?


[Illustration: Mime and the Wanderer. See p. 17]


WANDERER [_Laughing_.

    The wisest of wise ones
    Thou must be, surely;
Who else could so clever be!
    But wouldst thou by craft
    Employ the boy-hero
As instrument of thy purpose,
    With one question more
    I threaten thee.
    Tell me, thou artful
    Armourer,
Whose skill from the doughty splinters
Nothung the sword shall fashion.

MIME [_Starts up in great terror._

    The splinters! The sword!
    Alas! my head reels!
    What shall I do?
    What can I say?
    Accursèd sword!
    I was mad to steal it!
    A perilous pass
    It has brought me to.
    Always too hard
    To yield to my hammer!
    Rivet, solder--
    Useless are both.

        [_He throws his tools about as if he had gone
        crazy, and breaks out in utter despair._

    The cleverest smith
    Living has failed;
    And, that being so,
    Who shall succeed?
How rede aright such a riddle?

WANDERER [_Has risen quietly from the hearth._

Three things thou wert to ask me;
Thrice was I to reply.
    Thy questions were
    Of far-off things,
But what stood here at thy hand--
Needed much--that was forgot,
    Now that I guess it,
    Thou goest crazed,
    And won by me
    Is the cunning one's head.
Now, Fafner's dauntless subduer,
Hear, thou death-doomed dwarf.
    By him who knows not
    How to fear
Nothung shall be forged.

        [_Mime stares at him; he turns to go._

    So ward thy head
    Well from to-day.
I leave it forfeit to him
Who has never learned to fear.

        [_He turns away smiling, and disappears quickly
        in the wood. Mime has sunk on to the bench
        overwhelmed._

MIME

        [_Stares before him into the sunlit wood, and
        begins to tremble more and more violently._

    Accursèd light!
    The air is on fire!
    What flickers and flashes?
    What buzzes and whirs?
    What sways there and swings
    And circles about?
    What glitters and gleams
    In the sun's hot glow?
    What rustles and hums
    And rings so loud?
    With roll and roar
    It crashes this way!
    It bursts through the wood,
    Making for me!

        [_He rises up in terror._

    Its jaws are wide open,
    Eager for prey;
    The dragon will catch me!
    Fafner! Fafner!

        [_He sinks shrieking behind the anvil._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Behind the scenes, is heard breaking from the
        thicket._

    Ho there! Thou idler!
    Is the work finished?

        [_He enters the cave._

Quick, come show me the sword.

        [_He pauses in surprise._

    Where hides the smith?
    Has he made off?
Hey, there! Mime, thou coward!
Where art thou? Where hidest thou?

MIME

        [_In a small voice, from behind the anvil._

    'Tis thou then, child?
    Art thou alone?

SIEGFRIED [_Laughing._

    Under the anvil?
Why, what doest thou there?
Wert thou grinding the sword?

MIME [_Comes forward, greatly upset and confused._

    The sword? The sword?
    How could I weld it?

        [_Half aside._

    By him who knows not
    How to fear
Nothung shall be forged.
    Too wise am I
    To attempt such work.

SIEGFRIED [_Violently._

    Wilt thou speak plainly
    Or must I help thee?

MIME [_As before._

Where shall I turn in my need?
    My wily head
    Wagered and lost is,

        [_Staring before him._

And forfeit to him it will fall
Who has never learned to fear.

SIEGFRIED [_Vehemently._

    Dost thou by shuffling
    Seek to escape?

MIME [_Gradually recovering himself._

    Small need to fly
    Him who knows fear!
But that lesson was one never taught thee.
    A fool, I forgot
    The one great thing;
    What thou wert taught
    Was to love me,
And alas! the task proved hard.
Now how shall I teach thee to fear?

SIEGFRIED [_Seizes him._

    Hey! Must I help thee?
    What work hast thou done?

MIME

    Concerned for thy good,
    In thought I was sitting:
Something of weight I would teach thee.

SIEGFRIED [_Laughing._

    'Twas under the seat
    That thou wert sitting;
What weighty thing foundest thou there?

MIME

        [_Recovering himself more and more._

Down there I learned how to fear,
That I might teach thee, dullard.

SIEGFRIED [_With quiet wonder._

    This fear then, what is it?

MIME

    Thou knowest not that,
    Yet wouldst from the forest
    Forth to the world?
What help in the trustiest sword,
Hadst thou not learned to fear?

SIEGFRIED [_Impatiently._

    What absurd
    Invention is this?

MIME

        [_Approaching Siegfried with more and more
        confidence._

    'Tis thy mother's wish
    Speaking through me.
    I must fulfil
    The promise I gave her:
    That the world and its wiles
    Thou shouldst not encounter
Until thou hadst learned how to fear.

SIEGFRIED [_Vehemently_

    Is it an art?
    Why was I not taught?
Explain: this fearing, what is it?

MIME

    In the dark wood
    Hast thou not felt,
    When shades of dusk
    Fall dim and drear,
    When mournful whispers
    Sigh afar,
    And fierce growling
    Sounds at hand,
    When strange flashes
    Dart and flicker,
    And the buzzing
    And clamour grow--

        [_Trembling._

Hast thou not felt grim horror
Hold every sense in its clutches?--

        [_Quaking._

    When the limbs shiver,
    Shaken with terror,

        [_With a quivering voice._

And the heart, filled with dismay,
Hammers, bursting the breast--
Hast thou not yet felt that,
A stranger art thou to fear.

SIEGFRIED [_Musing._

    Wonderful truly
    That must be.
    Steadfast, strong
Beats my heart in my breast.
    The shiver and shudder,
    The fever and horror,
    Burning and fainting,
    Beating and trembling--
Ah, how glad I would feel them,

        [_Tenderly._

Could I but learn this delight!
    But how, Mime,
    Can it be mine?
How, coward, could it be taught me?

MIME

    Following me,
    The way thou shalt find;
I have thought it all out.
I know of a dragon grim
That slays and swallows men:
Fear thou wilt learn from Fafner,
    When I lead to where he lies.

SIEGFRIED

    Where has he his lair?

MIME

    Neidhöhl'
    Named, it lies east
Towards the end of the wood.

SIEGFRIED

It lies not far from the world?

MIME

The world is quite close to the cave.

SIEGFRIED

That I may learn what this fear is,
    Lead me there straightway;
    Then forth to the world!
Make haste! Forge me the sword.
In the world fain I would swing it.

MIME

    The sword? Woe's me!

SIEGFRIED

    Quick to the smithy!
    Show me thy work!

MIME

    Accursèd steel!
Unequal my skill to the task;
    The potent magic
Surpasses the poor dwarf's strength.
    'Twere more easily done
    By one who never felt fear.

SIEGFRIED

    Artful tricks
    The idler would play me;
    He is a bungler;
    He should confess,
And not seek to lie his way out.
    Here with the splinters!
    Off with the bungler!

        [_Coming to the hearth._

    His father's sword
    Siegfried will weld:
By him shall it be forged.

        [_Flinging Mime's tools about, he sets himself
        impetuously to work._

MIME

    If thou hadst practised
    Thy craft with care,
Thou wouldst have profited now;
    But thou wert far
    Too lazy to learn,
And now at need canst do nothing.

SIEGFRIED

    Where the master has failed
    What hope for the scholar,
Had he obeyed him in all?

        [_He makes a contemptuous grimace at him._

    Be off with thee!
    Meddle no more,
In case with the steel I melt thee.

        [_He has heaped a large quantity of charcoal on the
        hearth, and keeps blowing the fire, while he screws
        up the pieces of the sword in a vice and files them
        to shavings._

MIME

        [_Who has sat down a little way off, watches
        Siegfried at work._

    Why file it to bits?
    There is the solder
All fused, ready to hand.

SIEGFRIED

    Off with the pap,
    I need it not;
With paste I fashion no sword!

MIME

    Now the file is ruined,
    The rasp is useless;
Why grind thus the steel to splinters?

SIEGFRIED

    It must be shivered
    And ground into shreds;
Only so can splinters be patched.

        [_He goes on filing with great energy._

MIME [_Aside._

    I see a craftsman
    Is useless here;
By his own folly the fool is best served.
    Look how he toils
    With lusty strokes;
    The steel disappears,
    And still he keeps cool.

        [_Siegfried has blown the fire to a bright flame._

    Though I am as old
    As cave and wood,
The like I never yet saw!

        [_While Siegfried continues to file the piece of
        the sword impetuously, Mime seats himself a little
        further off._

    He will forge the sword--
    I see it plain--
Boldly weld it anew.
The Wanderer was right.
    Where shall I hide
    My luckless head?
If nothing teaches him fear,
Forfeit it falls to the boy.

        [_Springing up and bending down in growing
        agitation._

    But woe to Mime!
    If Siegfried learn fear,
The dragon will never be slain;
And, if so, how gain the ring?
    Accurst dilemma!
    Would I escape,
I must find out some way
Of subduing the boy for myself.

SIEGFRIED


        [_Has now filed down the pieces, and puts the
        filings in a crucible, which he places on the fire._

    Hey, Mime! The name!--
    Quick, name the sword
That I have pounded to pieces.

MIME [_Starts and turns towards Siegfried._

    Nothung, that is
    The name of the sword;
'Twas mother told me the tale.

SIEGFRIED

        [_During the following song keeps blowing the fire
        with the bellows._

    Nothung! Nothung!
    Conquering sword!
What blow, I wonder, broke thee.
    Thy keen-edged glory
    I chopped to chaff;
The splinters now I am melting.
    Hoho! Hoho!
    Hohei! Hohei! Hoho!
    Bellows blow!
    Brighten the flame!
    In the woods
    A tree grew wild;
It fell, by my hand hewn down.
    The brown-stemmed ash
    To charcoal I burned;
Now it lies heaped high on the hearth.
    Hoho! Hoho!
    Hohei! Hohei! Hoho!
    Bellows blow!
    Brighten the flame!
    How bravely, brightly
    The charcoal burns!
How clear and fair its fire!
    With showering sparks
    It leaps and glows,--
    Hohei! Hoho! Hohei!--
Dissolving the splintered steel!
    Hoho! Hoho!
    Hohei! Hohei! Hoho!
    Bellows, blow!
    Brighten the flame!
    Hoho! Hoho!
    Hoho, hohei! Hohei!
    Nothung! Nothung!
    Conquering sword!
Thy steel chopped to chaff is fused;
    In thine own sweat
    Thou swimmest now,

[Illustration: The forging of Nothung--See p. 34]

        [_He pours the glowing contents of the crucible
        into a mould, which he holds up._

But soon my sword thou shalt be!

MIME

        [_During the pauses in Siegfried's song, still
        aside, sitting at a distance._

The sword he will forge
    And vanquish Fafner,
So much I can clearly foresee;
    Hoard and ring
    The victor will have;
How to win them both for myself!
    By wit and wiles
    They shall be captured,
And safe shall be my head.

        [_In the foreground, still aside._

After the fight, when athirst,
For a cooling draught he will crave;
    Of fragrant juices
    Gathered from herbs
The draught I will brew for him.
    Let him drink but a drop,
    And in slumber
Softly lapped he shall lie:
    With the very sword
    That he fashioned to serve him
He shall be cleared from my way,
And treasure and ring made mine.

        [_He rubs his hands with satisfaction._

    Ha! dull didst hold me,
    Wanderer wise!
    Does my subtle scheming
    Please thee now?
    Have I found
    A path to peace?

        [_He springs up joyfully, fetches several vessels,
        shakes spices and herbs from them into a pot, and
        tries to put it on the hearth._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Has plunged the mould into a pail of water. Steam
        and loud hissing ensue as it cools._

    In the water flowed
    A flood of fire;
    Furious with hate,
    Grimly it hissed;
    Though scorching it ran,
    In the cooling flood
    No more it flows;
Stiff, stark it became,
Hard is the stubborn steel;
    Yet warm blood
    Shall flow thereby!
    Now sweat once again,
    That swift I may weld thee,
Nothung, conquering sword!

        [_He thrusts the steel into the fire, and blows the
        bellows violently. While doing so he watches Mime,
        who, from the other side of the hearth, carefully
        puts his pot on the fire._

    What does the booby
    Make in his pot?
    While I melt steel,
    What art thou brewing?

MIME

A smith is put to shame,
And learns from the lad he taught;
All the master's lore is useless now;
He serves the boy as cook.
Steel thou dost brew into broth;
    Old Mime boils thee
    Eggs for thy meal.

        [_He goes on with his cooking._

SIEGFRIED

    Mime, the craftsman,
    Learns to cook now,
And cares no longer to forge;
    I have broken
    All the swords that he made me;
What he cooks my lips shall not touch.

        [_During the following he takes the mould from the
        fire, breaks it, and lays the glowing steel on the
        anvil._

    To find out what fear is
    Forth he will guide me;
A far-off teacher shall teach me;
    Even what he does best
    He cannot do well;
In everything Mime must bungle!

        [_During the forging._

    Hoho! Hoho! Hohei!
    Forge me, my hammer,
    A trusty sword.
    Hoho! Hahei!
    Hoho! Hahei!
    Blood-stained was once
    Thy steely blue,
    The crimson trickle
    Reddened thy blade.
How cold was thy laugh!
The warm blood cooled at thy touch!
    Heiaho! Haha!
    Haheiaha!
    Now red thou comest
    From the fire,
    And thy softened steel
    To the hammer yields.
Angry sparks thou dost shower
On me who humbled thy pride.
    Heiaho! Heiaho!
    Heiahohohohoho!
Hahei! Hahei! Hahei!
Hoho! Hoho! Hohei!
    Forge me, my hammer,
    A trusty sword!
    Hoho! Hahei!
    Hoho! Hahei!
    How I rejoice
    In the merry sparks!
    The bold look best
    When by anger stirred!
Gay thou laughest to me,
Grimly though thou dost pretend!
Heiaho, haha, haheiaha!
    Both heat and hammer
    Served me well;
    With sturdy strokes
    I stretched thee straight;
Now banish thy modest blush,
Be as cold and hard as thou canst.
    Heiho! Heiaho!
Heiahohohohoho! Heiah!

        [_He swings the blade, plunges it into the pail of
        water, and laughs aloud at the hissing._

MIME

        [_While Siegfried is fixing the blade in the hilt,
        moves about in the foreground with the bottle into
        which he has poured the contents of the pot. Aside._

He forges a sharp-edged sword:
    Fafner, the foe
    Of the dwarf, is doomed;
I brewed a deadly draught:
    Siegfried must perish
    When Fafner falls.
By guile the goal must be reached;
Soon shall smile my reward!
    For the shining ring
    My brother once made,
    And which with a potent
    Spell he endowed,
    The gleaming gold
    That gives boundless might--
    That ring I have won now,
    I am its lord.

        [_He trots briskly about with increasing
        satisfaction._

    Alberich even,
    Whom I served,
    Shall be the slave
    Of Mime the dwarf.
    As Nibelheim's prince
    I shall descend there,
    And all the host
    Shall do my will;
    None so honoured as he,
    The dwarf once despised!
    To the hoard will come thronging
    Gods and men;

        [_With increasing liveliness._

    The world shall cower,
    Cowed by my nod,
    And at my frown
    Shall tremble and fall!
    No more shall Mime
    Labour and toil,
    When others win him
    Unending wealth.
    Mime, the valiant,
    Mime is monarch,
    Prince and ruler,
    Lord of the world!
Hei, Mime! Great luck has been thine!
Had any one dreamed of this!

SIEGFRIED

        [_During the pauses in Mime's song has been filing
        and sharpening the sword and hammering it with the
        small hammer. He flattens the rivets of the hilt
        with the last strokes, and now grasps the sword._

    Nothung! Nothung!
    Conquering sword!
Once more art thou firm in thy hilt.
    Severed wert thou;
    I shaped thee anew,
No second blow thy blade shall shatter.
    The strong steel was splintered,
    My father fell;
    The son who now lives
    Shaped it anew.
Bright-gleaming to him it laughs,
And for him its edge shall be keen.

        [_Swinging the sword before him._

    Nothung! Nothung!
    Conquering sword!
Once more to life I have waked thee.
    Dead wert thou,
    In fragments hewn,
Now shining defiant and fair.
    Woe to all robbers!
    Show them thy sheen!
    Strike at the traitor,
    Cut down the rogue!
See, Mime, thou smith;
Thus sunders Siegfried's sword!

        [_He strikes the anvil and splits it in two from
        top to bottom, so that it falls asunder with a
        great noise. Mime, who has mounted a stool in great
        delight, falls in terror to a fitting position on
        the ground. Siegfried holds the sword exultantly on
        high. The curtain falls._

[Illustration]

[Illustration


THE SECOND ACT


    _A deep forest_

    _Quite in the background the entrance to a cave.
    The ground rises towards a flat knoll in the middle
    of the stage, and slopes down again towards the
    back, so that only the upper part of the entrance
    to the cave is visible to the audience. To the left
    a fissured cliff is seen through the trees. It is
    night, the darkness being deepest at the back,
    where at first the eye can distinguish nothing at
    all._

ALBERICH

        [_Lying by the cliff, gloomily brooding._

    In night-drear woods
By Neidhöhl' I keep watch,
    With ear alert,
Keen and anxious eye.
    Timid day,
    Tremblest thou forth?
    Pale art thou dawning
    Athwart the dark?

        [_A storm arises in the wood on the right, and from
        the same quarter there shines down a bluish light._

What comes yonder, gleaming bright?
    Nearer shimmers
    A radiant form;
It runs like a horse and it shines;
    Breaks through the wood,
    Rushing this way.
Is it the dragon's slayer?
Can it mean Fafner's death?

        [_The wind subsides; the light vanishes._

    The glow has gone,
It has faded and died;
    All is darkness.
Who comes there, shining in shadow?

WANDERER

        [_Enters from the wood, and stops opposite Alberich._

    To Neidhöhl'
    By night I have come;
In the dark who is hiding there?

        [_As from a sudden rent in the clouds moonlight
        streams forth and lights up the Wanderer's figure._

ALBERICH

        [_Recognises the Wanderer and shrinks back at first
        in alarm, but immediately after breaks out in
        violent fury._

'Tis thou who comest thus?
    What wilt thou here?
    Go, get thee hence!
Begone, thou insolent thief!

WANDERER [_Quietly._

    Schwarz-Alberich
    Wanders here?
Guardest thou Fafner's house?

ALBERICH

    Art thou intent
    On mischief again?
    Linger not here!
    Off with thee straightway!
    Has grief enough
Not deluged the earth through thy guile?
    Spare it further
    Sorrow, thou wretch!

WANDERER

    I come as watcher,
    Not as worker.
The Wanderer's way who bars?

ALBERICH

Thou arch, pestilent plotter!
    Were I still the blind,
    Silly fool that I was,
When I was bound thy captive,
    How easy were it
To steal the ring again from me!
    Beware! For thy cunning
    I know well,

        [_Mockingly._

    And of thy weakness
I am fully aware too.
    Thy debts were cancelled,
    Paid with my treasure;
    My ring guerdoned
    The giants' toil,
Who raised thy citadel high.
    Still on the mighty
    Haft of thy spear there
The runes are written plain
Of the compact made with the churls;
    And of that
    Which by labour they won
Thou dost not dare to despoil them:
    Thy spear's strong shaft
    Thou thyself wouldst split;
    The staff that makes thee
    Master of all
Would crumble to dust in thy hand.

WANDERER

By the steadfast runes of treaties
    Thou hast not,
    Base one, been bound;
On thee my spear may spend its strength,
So keen I keep it for war.

ALBERICH

    How dire thy threats!
    How bold thy defiance!
And yet full of fear is thy heart!
    Foredoomed to death
    Through my curse is he
Who now guards the treasure.
What heir will succeed him?
    Will the hoard all desire
Belong as before to the Niblung?--
That gnaws thee with ceaseless torment.
    For once I have got it
    Safe in my grasp,
Better than foolish giants
Will I employ its spell.
    The God who guards heroes
    Truly may tremble!
    I will storm
Proud Walhall with Hella's hosts,
And rule, lord of the world!

WANDERER [_Quietly._

    Thy design I know well,
    But little I care:
    Who wins the ring
    Will rule by its might.

ALBERICH

Thou speakest darkly,
But to me all is plain.
    Thy heart is bold
    Because of a boy,

        [_Mockingly._

A hero begot of thy blood.
Hast thou not fostered a stripling
To pluck the fruit thou durst not

        [_With growing violence._

Pluck frankly for thyself?

WANDERER [_Lightly._

    With me
    'Tis useless to wrangle;
But Mime thou shouldst beware;
For thy brother brings here a boy
To compass the giant's doom.
He knows not of me;
He works for Mime alone.
And so I say to thee,
Do as seems to thee best.

        [_Alberich makes a movement expressive of violent
        curiosity._

    Take my advice,
    Be on thy guard:
The boy will hear of the ring
When Mime tells him the tale.

ALBERICH [_Violently._

Wilt thou hold thy hand from the hoard?

WANDERER

    Whom I love
Must fight for himself unaided;
    The lord of his fate,
    He stands or falls:
All my hope hangs upon heroes.

ALDERICH

    Does none but Mime
    Dispute me the ring?

WANDERER

    Only thou and Mime
    Covet the gold.

ALDERICH

And yet it is not to be mine?

WANDERER [_Quietly coming nearer._

    A hero comes
    To set the hoard free;
Two Nibelungs yearn for the gold.
    Fafner falls,
    He who guards the ring;
Then a hand, seizing, shall hold it.
    More wouldst thou learn,
    There Fafner lies,
Who, if warned of his death,
Gladly would give up the toy.
Come, I will wake him for thee.

        [_He goes towards the cave, and, standing on the
        rising ground in front of it, calls towards it._

    Fafner! Fafner!
    Wake, dragon! Wake!


ALBERICH [_With anxious amazement, aside._

Does the madman mean it?
Am I to have it?

FAFNER'S VOICE

Who troubles my sleep?

WANDERER [_Facing the cave._

    A well-wisher comes
    To warn thee of danger;
Thy doom can be averted,
If thou wilt pay the price
With the treasure that thou guardest.

        [_He leans his ear towards the cave, listening._

FAFNER'S VOICE

    What would he?

ALBERICH

        [_Has come to the Wanderer and calls into the cave._

    Waken, Fafner!
    Dragon, awake!
A doughty hero comes
To try his strength against thine.

FAFNER'S VOICE

    I want a meal.

WANDERER

Bold is the boy and strong; Sharp-edged is his sword.

ALBERICH

    The ring he seeks,
    Nothing besides.
Give me the ring, and so
    The strife shall be stayed.
    Still guarding the hoard,
In peace shalt thou live long!

FAFNER [_Yawning._

    I have and I hold:--
    Let me slumber!

WANDERER

        [_Laughs aloud and then turns again to Alberich._

Well, Alberich! That ruse failed,
But call me rogue no more.
    This one thing thou shouldst
    Never forget:
Each according to his kind must act;
Nothing can change him.
    I leave thee the field now;
    Show a bold front,
And try thy luck with thy brother;
Thou knowest his kind perhaps better.
    And things unknown
    Thou also shalt learn!

        [_He turns away, and disappears quickly in the
        wood. A storm arises and a bright light breaks
        forth; then both quickly cease._

ALBERICH

        [_Looks after the Wanderer as he gallops off._

    Away on his shining
    Horse he rides,
And leaves me to care and scorn!
    Laugh on! Laugh on,
    Ye light-minded
    And high-spirited
    Race of immortals!
    One day ye shall perish
    And pass!
    Until the gold
    Has ceased to gleam,
    Will wise Alberich watch,
    And his hate shall prevail.

        [_He slips into the chasm at the side. The stage
        remains empty. Dawn._


_As the day dawns Siegfried and Mime enter. Siegfried carries his sword
in a sword-belt of rope. Mime examines the place carefully. At last
he looks towards the background, which remains in deep shadow, whilst
the rising ground in the middle becomes, after a time, more and more
brightly illuminated by the sun._

MIME

    Our journey ends here;
    Here we halt.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Sits down under the lime-tree and looks about
        him._

So here I shall learn what fear is?
A far way thou hast led me;
We have wandered lone together
A whole night long in the woods.
    This is the last
    Of thee, Mime!
    Can I not master
    My lesson here,
Alone I will push forward
And never see thee again.

MIME

    Lad, believe me,
    If thou canst not
Learn it here and now,
    No other place,
    No other time
Ever will teach thee fear.
    Dost thou see
That cavern yawning dark?
    Yonder dwells
A dragon dread and grim,
    Horribly fierce,
    Enormous in size,
    With terrible jaws
    That threaten and gape;
    With skin and hair,
    All at a gulp,
The brute could swallow thee whole.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Still sitting under the lime-tree._

'Twere well to close up his gullet;
His fangs I will therefore avoid.

MIME

    Poison pours
    From his venomous mouth;
    Were he to spue out
    Spittle on thee,
Thy body and bones would decay.

SIEGFRIED

That the poison may not consume me,
I will keep out of its reach.

MIME

    A serpent's tail
    Sweeping he swings;
    Were that about thee wound
    And folded close,
Thy limbs would be broken like glass.

SIEGFRIED

That his swinging tail may not touch me,
Warily then I must watch.
    But answer me this:
    Has the brute a heart?

MIME

A pitiless, cruel heart.

SIEGFRIED

    It lies, however,
    Where all hearts lie,
Brute and human alike?

MIME

    Of course! There, boy,
    The dragon's lies too.
At last thou beginnest to fear?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Who till now has been lying indolently stretched
        out, sits up suddenly._

    Nothung into
    His heart I will thrust!
Is that what is meant by fearing?
    Hey, old dotard!
    Canst thou teach me
    Nothing but this
    With all thy craft,
Linger no longer by me:
No fear is here to be learnt.

MIME

    Wait awhile yet!
    What I have told thee
Seems to thee empty sound;
    When thou hast heard
    And seen him thyself,
Thy senses will swoon, overwhelmed!
    When thine eyes grow dim,
    And when the ground rocks,
    When in thy breast
    Thy heart beats loud,

        [_Very friendly._

Thou wilt remember who brought thee,
And think of me and my love.

SIEGFRIED

    Thy love is not wanted!
    Hast thou not heard?
    Out of my sight with thee;
    Let me alone!
Begin again talking of love,
And on the instant I go!
    The horrible winking,
    The nods and blinking--
    When shall I see
    The last of them,
And rid be at length of the fool?

MIME

    Well, I will off,
And rest there by the spring.
    Thou must stay here,
And as the sun scales the sky
    Watch for the foe:
    From his cave
    He lumbers this way,
    Winds and twists
    Past this spot,
To water at the fountain.

SIEGFRIED [_Laughs._

Liest thou by the spring,
Unchecked thither the brute shall go;
    He shall swallow thee
    Down with the water,
    Ere with my sword
    To the heart I stab him!
So heed well what I say:
Rest not beside the spring.
    Seek somewhere else
    A far-off spot,
And nevermore return.

MIME

    Thou wilt not refuse
    Cooling refreshment
When the fierce fight is over?

        [_Siegfried motions him angrily away._

    Call on me too
    Shouldst thou need counsel,

        [_Siegfried repeats the gesture with more violence._

Or if felled on a sudden by fear.

        [_Siegfried rises and drives him away with furious
        gestures._

MIME [_Aside, as he goes away._

    Fafner and Siegfried--
    Siegfried and Fafner--
Might each the other but slay!

        [_He disappears in the wood on the right._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Stretches himself at his ease under the
        lime-tree, and looks after Mime as he departs._

He is no father of mine!
How merry of heart I feel!
    Never before
    Seemed the forest fair;
    Never day
    Wore as lovely a smile,
For the loathed one has gone at last,
To be looked on by me no more.

        [_He meditates in silence._

My father--what was he like?--
Ha! like me, without doubt.
Had Mime by chance had a son,
    He would have been
    Mime's image:
    Quite as disgusting,
    Filthy and grey,
    Small and bent,
    Hunchbacked and halting,
    With ears long and hanging,
    Rheumy eyes running--
    Off with the fright!
To see him makes me sick!

        [_He leans further back and looks up through the
        branches of the tree. Deep silence. Woodland
        murmurs._

    What could my mother,
    I wonder, be like;
    That is not
    So easy to picture.

        [_Very tenderly._

Her clear shining eyes
    Must have been soft,
And gentle like the roe-deer's,
    Only far fairer.

        [_Very softly._

In fear and woe she bore me,
But why did she die through me?
Must then all human mothers
    Thus die on giving
    Birth to a son?
That would truly be sad!
    Ah, if I only
    Could see my mother!--
    See my mother,
    A woman once!

        [_He sighs softly, and leans still further back.
        Deep silence. Louder murmuring of the wood. His
        attention is at last caught by the song of the
        birds. He listens with growing interest to one
        singing in the branches above him._

    O lovely warbler,
    I know not thy note;
Hast thou thy home in this wood?
If I could but understand him,
His sweet song might say much--
Perhaps of my mother tell me.
    A surly old dwarf
    Said to me once
    That men might learn
    To follow the sense
Of birds when they were singing;
Could it indeed be done?
    Ha! I will sing
    After him,
On the reed follow him sweetly.
    Though wanting the words,
    Repeating his measure--
Singing what is his language--
Perhaps I shall know what he says.

        [_He runs to the neighbouring spring, cuts a reed
        off with his sword, and quickly makes himself a
        pipe out of it. He listens again._

    He stops to hear,
    So now for my song!

        [_He blows into the pipe, breaks off, and cuts
        it again to improve it. He resumes his blowing,
        shakes his head, and cuts the pipe once more. After
        another attempt he gets angry, presses the pipe
        with his hand, and tries again. He ceases playing
        and smiles._

    That rings not right;
    For the lovely tune
The reed is not suited at all.
    I fear, sweet bird,
    I am too dull;
Thy song cannot I learn.

        [_He hears the bird again and looks up to him._

    He listens so roguishly
    There that he shames me;

        [_Very tenderly._

He waits, and nothing rewards him.
    Heida! Come hearken
    Now to my horn;

        [_He flings the pipe away._

    All I do sounds wrong
    On the stupid reed;
    To a song of the woods
    That I know,
A merry song, listen now rather.
    I hoped it would bring
    Some comrade to me,
    But wolves and bears
    Were the best that came.
    Now I will see
    Who answers its note:
What comrade will come to its call.

        [_He takes the silver hunting-horn and blows on
        it. During the long-sustained notes he keeps his
        eyes expectantly on the bird. A movement in the
        background. Fafner, in the form of a monstrous
        lizard-like dragon, has risen from his lair in the
        cave. He breaks through the underwood and drags
        himself up to the higher ground, so that the front
        part of his body rests on it, while he utters a
        loud sound, as if yawning._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Looks round and gazes at Fafner in astonishment.
        He laughs._

    My horn with its note
    Has allured something lovely;
A jolly companion wert thou.

FAFNER

        [_At the sight of Siegfried has paused on the high
        ground, and remains there._

    What is that?

SIEGFRIED

    If thou art a beast
    Who can use its tongue,
Perchance thou couldst teach me something.
    Here stands one
    Who would learn to fear;
Say, wilt thou be his teacher?

FAFNER

    Is this insolence?

SIEGFRIED

    Courage or insolence,
    What matter?
With my sword I will slay thee,
Wilt thou not teach me to fear.

FAFNER [_Makes a laughing sound._

    Drink I came for;
    Now food I find too!

        [_He opens his jaws and shows his teeth._

SIEGFRIED

    What a fine set of teeth
    Thou showest me there!
    Sweetly they smile
    In thy dainty mouth!
'Twere well if I closed up thy gullet;
Thy jaws are gaping too wide!

FAFNER

    They were not made
    For idle talk,
    But they will serve
    To swallow thee.

SIEGFRIED

    Hoho! Ferocious,
    Merciless churl!
    I have no fancy
    To be eaten.
Better it seems to me
That without delay thou shouldst die!

FAFNER [_Roaring._

    Pruh! Come,
    Boy, with thy boasts!

SIEGFRIED [_Draws his sword._

    Beware, growler!
    The boaster comes!

        [_He springs towards Fafner and remains defiantly
        confronting him. Fafner drags himself further up
        the knoll and spits at Siegfried from his nostrils.
        Siegfried avoids the poison, springs nearer, and
        stands on one side. Fafner tries to reach him
        with his tail. Siegfried, who is nearly caught,
        springs over Fafner with one bound, and wounds him
        in the tail. Fafner roars, pulls his tail angrily
        away, and raises the front part of his body so
        that he may throw its full weight on Siegfried,
        thus offering his breast to the stroke. Siegfried
        quickly looks to see where his heart is, and
        thrusts his sword into it up to the hilt. Fafner
        raises himself still higher in his pain, and, when
        Siegfried has let go his sword and sprung aside, he
        sinks on the wound._


[Illustration: Siegfried kills Fafner--See p. 56]


SIEGFRIED

Lie there, envious brute! Nothung's point home has speeded!

FAFNER [_In a weaker voice._

Who art thou, boy bold-hearted,
    That hast pierced my breast?
Who stirred up thy childish soul
    To the murderous deed?
Thy brain schemed not the harm
    Wrought by thy hand.

SIEGFRIED

Not much have I learned,
Not even who I am;
Thou thyself with thy taunting
Stirred me to fight and to slay.

FAFNER

O boy bright-eyed,
Who knowest not yet who thou art,
    Whom thou hast murdered
    Hear from me.
Two mighty giants there were,
    Fasolt and Fafner;
The brothers now are both fallen.
    For the cursèd gold
    We got from the Gods
I did Fasolt to death.
    He who now guards
    The hoard as dragon,
Fafner, the last remaining,
Falls, by a rosy boy slain.
    Boy in thy bloom,
    Watch and be wary:
He who stirred thee blind to this deed
Takes thought how to compass thy death.

        [_Dying._

    Mark the ending!
    Think on me!

SIEGFRIED

    Who was my father?
    Tell, if thou canst.
    Dying, thou showest,
    Wild one, much wisdom.
Siegfried my name is; haply
That may help thee to guess.

FAFNER

    Siegfried!...

        [_He raises himself and dies._

SIEGFRIED

The dead can tell no tidings.
    My living sword, lead!
    Lead onward, my sword!

        [_Fafner has rolled to the side in dying. Siegfried
        now draws the sword from his breast. In doing so
        his hand gets sprinkled with the blood; he draws it
        back quickly._

    The hot blood burns like fire!

        [_Involuntarily he raises his fingers to his mouth
        to suck the blood from them. As he looks musingly
        before him his attention becomes more and more
        attracted by the singing of the birds._

    I almost seem
To hear the birds speaking to me.
    Is there a spell,
    Perhaps, in the blood?
The curious bird up there--
Hark! he sings to me.

VOICE OF THE WOOD-BIRD

        [_From the branches of the lime-tree above
        Siegfried._

    Hei! Siegfried now owns
    All the Nibelung hoard!
    Oh! could he the hoard
    In the cave but find!
Tarnhelm, if he could but win it,
Would help him to deeds of renown;
And could he discover the ring,
It would make him the lord of the world!


[Illustration: "The hot blood burns like fire!"--See p 58]


SIEGFRIED

        [_Has listened holding his breath and beaming with
        delight._

    Thanks, bonnie bird,
    For the counsel good:
    I follow the call!

        [_He turns towards the back and descends to the
        cave, where he at once disappears._

_Mime steals up, looking about him timidly to assure himself of
Fafner's death. At the same time Alberich comes out of the cleft on the
opposite side. He observes Mime, rushes on him and bars his way, as the
latter turns towards the cave._


ALBERICH

    On what errand
    Furtive and sly,
    Knave, dost thou slink?

MIME

    Accursèd brother,
    That thou shouldst come!
    What brings thee here?

ALBERICH

    Rogue, has my gold
    Provoked thy greed?
    Dost covet my goods?

MIME

    Get thee gone quickly!
    This corner is mine;
    What huntest thou here?

ALBERICH

    Have I disturbed thee,
    Thief, at thy work,
    Secret and sly?

MIME

    What I have slaved
    And toiled to win
    Shall not escape me.

ALBERICH

    Who was it robbed
The Rhine of gold for the ring?
    And whose cunning wrought
The spell of magical might?

MIME

    Who made the Tarnhelm,
Changing its wearer's form?
    Though thou didst want it,
Was it designed by thee?

ALBERICH

    And what of thyself
Couldst aright have fashioned, thou bungler?
    The magic ring
Forced thee to master thy craft.

MIME

    And where is the ring?
'Twas reft from thy clutch by the giants.
    What thou hast lost
I will gain and keep by my guile.

ALBERICH

    What the boy has won
Would the niggard deny him?
    'Tis not thine; the hero
Who won it is now its lord.

MIME

    I brought him up;
For my pains now he shall pay;
    For its reward
My trouble has waited too long.

ALBERICH

    Just for rearing him,
    The old niggardly,
    Beggarly knave,
    Bold as brass,
A king now would become?
    The ring would befit
    Better a dog
    Than bumpkin like thee.
    Never to thee
The magical ring shall fall!

MIME [_Scratches his head._

    Well, keep it, then,
    And guard with care
    The gleaming gold;
    Be thou lord,
But treat me as a brother;
    Give me against it
    Tarnhelm for toy,
    Fairly exchanged;
    Divided thus,
There will be booty for both.

        [_He rubs his hands confidingly._

ALBERICH [_With a mocking laugh._

    Share it with thee?
    And the Tarnhelm too!
    How sly thou art!
    I could never
Sleep for a moment safely.

MIME [_Beside himself._

    What! not even
    Strike a bargain!
    I must go bare,
    Beggared of gain!
Thou wouldst leave me with nothing!

        [_Shrieking._

ALBERICH

    Nothing, not so
    Much as a nail,
    Shall fall to thy portion.

MIME [_In a fury._

    Neither ring nor Tarnhelm
    Shall thy hand touch, then;
    'Tis I will not share!
    I will call on Siegfried,
    Summon the aid
    Of his keen-edged sword;
    The lad will make
Short work, dear brother, of thee!

ALBERICH

        [_Siegfried having appeared in the background._

    Turn and look there!
From the cavern hither he comes.

MIME

    He will have chosen
    Trivial toys.

ALBERICH

    He bears the Tarnhelm!

MIME

    Also the ring!

ALBERICH

Curst luck! The ring!

MIME [_Laughing maliciously._

Get him to give thee the ring now!
'Tis I, not thou, who shall win it.

ALBERICH

    And yet to its lord
Must it at last be surrendered!

        [_He disappears in the cleft._

        [_During the foregoing Siegfried, with Tarnhelm and
        ring, has come slowly and meditatively from the
        cave; he regards his booty thoughtfully, and stops
        on the knoll in the middle of the stage._

SIEGFRIED

    I do not know
    Of what use
    Ye are; I chose you
From out the heaped-up hoard
Because of friendly advice.
    Meanwhile, of this day
    Be ye worn as witness,
    Recalling to mind
How with fallen Fafner I fought,
And yet could not learn how to fear.

        [_He hangs the Tarnhelm on his girdle and puts
        the ring on his finger. Silence. His notice is
        involuntarily drawn to the bird again, and he
        listens to him with breathless attention._


[Illustration: The dwarfs quarrelling over the body of Fafner. See p.
59]


THE WOOD-BIRD'S VOICE

 Hei! Siegfried now owns
    Both the helm and the ring!
    Oh! let him not listen
    To Mime, the false!
He were wise to be wary of
Mime's treacherous tongue.
    He will understand
    Mime's secret intent,
Because he has tasted the blood.

        [_Siegfried's mien and gestures show that he
        has understood the bird's song. He sees Mime
        approaching, and remains without moving, leaning
        on his sword, observant and self-contained, in his
        place on the knoll till the close of the following
        scene._

MIME

        [_Steals forward, and observes Siegfried from the
        foreground._

    He weighs in his mind
    The booty's worth;
    Can there by chance
    Have come this way
    A Wanderer wise
    Who talked to the child,
And taught him crafty runes?
    Doubly sly
    Be then the dwarf;
    My snares must be cunning,
    Cleverly set,
    That with cajoling
    And wily falsehoods
The insolent boy I may fool.

        [_He goes nearer to Siegfried and welcomes him with
        flattering gestures._

    Ha! Welcome, Siegfried!
    Say, bold fighter,
Hast thou been taught how to fear?

SIEGFRIED

A teacher still is to find.

MIME

    But the dragon grim
    Has fallen before thee?
A fell and fierce monster was he.

SIEGFRIED

Though grim and spiteful the brute, I grieve over his death, While
there live still, unpunished, Blacker scoundrels than he was! The one
who bade me slay I hate far more than the slain.

MIME [_Very friendly._

    Have patience! Thou wilt not
    Look on me long.

[_Sweetly._

    In endless sleep
Soon thine eyelids will be sealed.
   Thy uses are over,

        [_As if praising him._

    Done is the deed;
    The only task left
For me is to win the booty.
Methinks that task will not tax me;
Thou wert always easy to fool.

SIEGFRIED

To me thou art plotting harm, then?

MIME [_Astonished._

    What makes thee think that?

        [_Continuing tenderly._

Siegfried, listen, my own one!
I have always loathed
Thee and all that are like thee.
    It was not from love
    That I reared thee with care:
The gold hid in Fafner's cave
I worked for as my reward.

        [_As if he were promising him something nice._

    If thou wilt not yield
    It up to me,

        [_As if he were ready to lay down his life for him._

    Siegfried, my son,
    Thou plainly must see

        [_As if in friendly jest._

I have no choice but to slay thee!

SIEGFRIED

    That I am hated
    Pleases me;
But must I lose my life for thy pleasure?

MIME [_Angrily._

    I never said that;
    Thou hast made a mistake.
    See, thou art weary
    From stress of strife,
Burning with fever and thirst;
    Mime, the kind one,
    To cool thy thirst
Brought a quickening draught.
    While thy blade thou didst melt
    I brewed thee the drink;
    Touch it, and straight
Thy sword shall be mine,
And mine the hoard and Tarnhelm too.

        [_Tittering._

SIEGFRIED

    So thou of my sword
    And all it has won me--
Ring and booty--wouldst rob me?

MIME [_Violently._

Why wilt mistake so my words!
Do I drivel or dote?
    I use the utmost
    Pains with my speech,
    That what in my heart
    I mean may be hidden;
    And the stupid boy
Misunderstands what I say!
    Open thy ears, boy,
    And attend to me!
Hear, now, what Mime means.
Take this: the drink will refresh thee
As my drinks oft have done.
    Many a time
    When fretful and bad,
    Though loth enough,
The draughts I brought thou hast swallowed.

SIEGFRIED

    Of a cooling drink
    I were glad;
Say, how has this one been brewed?

MIME

        [_Jesting merrily, as if describing to him a
        pleasant state of intoxication which the liquor is
        to bring about._

    Hei! Just drink it!
    Trust to my skill.
    In mist and darkness
Soon shall thy senses be sunk;
    None to watch or ward them,
Stark-stretched shall thy limbs be.
    Thou lying thus,
    'Twere not hard
To take the booty and hide it;
    But wert thou to awake,
    Nevermore would
    Mime be safe,
Even owning the ring.
    So with the sword
    He has made so sharp

        [_With a gesture of extravagant joy._

    First I will hack
    The child's head off!
Then I shall have both rest and the ring!

        [_Tittering._

SIEGFRIED

Thou wouldst, then, slay me when sleeping?

MIME [_Furiously._

Do what, child? Did I say that?

        [_He takes pains to assume the utmost tenderness.
        Carefully and distinctly._

    I only mean
    To chop off thy head!

        [_With the appearance of heartfelt solicitude for
        Siegfried's health._

    For even if I
    Had loathed thee less,
    And had not thy scoffs
    And my drudgery shameful
So loudly urged to vengeance,

        [_Gently._

    I should never dare to pause
    Till from my path I thrust thee:

        [_Jestingly again._

How else could I come by the booty,
Which Alberich covets as well?

        [_He pours the liquid into the drinking-horn, and
        offers it to Siegfried with pressing gestures._

    Now, my Wälsung,
    Wolf-begot,
Drink the draught and be choked,
And never drink again!

        [_Tittering._

SIEGFRIED [_Threatens him with his sword._

    Taste thou my sword,
    Loathsome babbler!

        [_As if seized by violent loathing, he gives Mime a
        sharp stroke with his sword. Instantly Mime falls
        dead to the ground. Alberich's voice in mocking
        laughter from the cleft._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Looking at Mime on the ground, quietly hangs his
        sword again on his belt._

    Envy's wage
    Pays Nothung;
'Twas for this that I forged him.

        [_He picks up Mime's body, carries it to the knoll,
        and throws it into the cave._

    In the cavern, there,
    Lie on the hoard;
    With steadfast guile
    The gold thou hast gained:
Now let it belong to its master!
And a watchman good
I give thee, that thieves
Never may enter and steal.

        [_With a great effort he pushes the body of the
        dragon in front of the entrance to the cave, which
        it completely stops up._

    There lie thou too,
    Dragon grim;
    Along with thy foe
    Greedy of gain
Thou shalt guard the glittering gold:
So both at last shall rest in peace.

        [_He looks down thoughtfully into the cave for a
        time, and then turns slowly to the front of the
        stage as if tired. He passes his hand over his
        brow._

    Hot I feel
    From the heavy toil;
    Fast and furious
    Flows my blood,
My hand burns on my head.
High stands the sun in heaven;
    From azure heights
    Falls his gaze
Through a cloudless sky on my crown.
Pleasant shadows will cool me under the linden.

        [_He stretches himself out under the lime-tree, and
        again looks up through the boughs._

If only, pretty warbler,
    So long and so
    Rudely disturbed,
I could once more hear thee singing!
    On a branch I see thee
    Merrily swaying;
    Chirping and chattering,
    Brothers and sisters
Are happily hovering round.

But I--I am alone,
Without brother or sister;
    My mother died,
    My father fell,
Unseen by their son!
    The one soul I knew
    Was a loathsome old dwarf;

        [_Warmly._

    Love he festered not
    By kindness;
    Many a cunning
    Snare did he set me;
At last I was forced to slay him.

        [_He looks sorrowfully up at the branches._

    Bird sweet and friendly,
    I ask thee a boon:
    Wilt thou find for me
    A comrade true?--
Wilt thou choose for me the right one?
    So oft I have called,
    And yet no one has come!
    Thou, my friend,
    Wilt manage it better,
So wise thy counsel has been.

        [_Softly._

Now sing! I hearken to thy song.

THE WOOD-BIRD'S VOICE

    Hei! Siegfried has slain
    The deceitful dwarf!
    I know for him now
    A glorious bride.
She sleeps where rugged rocks soar;
Ringed is her chamber by fire.
    Who battles the flames,
    Wakens the bride,
Brünnhilde wins as reward.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Starts up impetuously from his seat._

    O lovely song,
    Flower-sweet breath!
    Thy yearning music
    Burns in my breast!
    Like leaping flame
    It kindles my heart.
    What races so swift
    Through soul and senses?
Sweetest of friends, O say!

        [_He listens._

THE WOOD-BIRD'S VOICE

    Grieving yet glad,
    Love I am singing;
    Blissful, from woe
    Weaving my song:
They only who yearn understand.

SIEGFRIED

    Forth, forth then,
    Swift and rejoicing!
Forth from the wood to the fell!
    Just one thing more
    I would learn, sweet singer:
Say, shall I break through the fire?
Can I awaken the bride?

        [_He listens again._

THE WOOD-BIRD'S VOICE

    No coward wins
    Brünnhild' for bride,
    Or wakes the maid:
Only a heart without fear.

SIEGFRIED [_Shouting with joy._

    The foolish boy
    Who has never learned fear,
Dear bird, that dullard am I!
    To-day I took endless
    Trouble in vain,
To find out what fear was from Fafner.
    With longing I burn
    Now from Brünnhild' to learn it.
What path soonest leads to the fell?

        [_The bird flutters up, circles over Siegfried, and
        flies hesitatingly before him._

SIEGFRIED

The bird to my goal will guide me.
    Fly where thou wilt,
    I follow thy flight!

        [_He runs after the bird, who for a time flies
        uncertainly hither and thither to tease him; at
        last he follows him, when, taking a definite
        direction towards the back, the bird flies away._

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



THE THIRD ACT


    _A wild spot at the foot of a rocky mountain which
    rises precipitously at the back on the left. Night,
    storm, lightning and violent thunder. The latter
    ceases shortly, but the lightning continues to
    flash from the clouds for some time. The Wanderer
    enters and walks resolutely towards a cavernous
    opening in a rock in the foreground, and takes up
    his position there, leaning on his spear, while he
    calls the following towards the entrance to the
    cave._


WANDERER

    Waken, Wala!
    Wala! Awake!
    From thy long sleep,
Slumberer, wake at my call!
    I summon thee forth:
    Arise! Arise!
    From cloud-covered caves
In earth's dim abysses, arise!
    Erda! Erda,
    Old as the world!
    From depths dark and hidden
    Rise to the day!
    With song I call thee,
    I sing to wake thee,
    From deep dreams of wisdom
    Bid thee arise.
    All-knowing one!
    Fount of knowledge!
    Erda! Erda,
    Old as the world!
Waken! Awaken, thou Vala! Awaken!

        [_A dim bluish light begins to dawn in the cavern.
        In this light Erda, during the following, rises
        very gradually from below. She appears to be
        covered with hoar-frost, which glitters on her hair
        and garments._

ERBA

Loud is the call;
Strong the spell that summons;
    I have been roused
    From dark and wise dreams:
Who wakes me from my sleep?

WANDERER

    'Tis I who awake thee
    With song of magic,
    That what in slumber
Was folded fast may rise.
    The wide earth ranging,
    Far I have roamed,
    Seeking for knowledge,
Wisdom at fountains primeval.
    No one that lives
    Is wiser than thou;
    Thou knowest all
    In the hidden depths,
    What moves on hill,
Dale, in water and air.
    Where life is found,
    There thou art breathing;
    And where brains ponder,
    There is thy thought.
    Men say that all
    Knowledge is thine.
That I might ask of thee counsel,
I have called thee from sleep.

ERBA

    My sleep is dreaming,
    My dreaming brooding,
My brooding wisdom's calm working.
    But while I sleep
    The Norns are wakeful:
    They twine the rope,
And deftly weave what I know.
The Norns thou shouldst have questioned.

WANDERER

    In thrall to the world
    Sit the Norns weaving;
    They cannot alter
    What ordained is.
    But I would fain
    Be taught of thy wisdom
How a wheel on the roll can be stayed.

ERBA

    Dark and troubled
My mind grows through men's deeds.
    A God once subdued
The Wala's self to his will.
    A wish-maiden
    I bore to Wotan;
    From fields of battle
She brought him slain heroes;
    Bold is she
    And wise to boot:
    Why waken me?
    Why seek not counsel
From Erda's and Wotan's child?

WANDERER

    The Valkyrie, Brünnhild'?
    Meanest thou her?
She flouted the storm-controller,
When, sorely urged, himself he controlled.
    What the swayer and lord
    Of battles longed for,
    What he refrained from
    Against his desire,
    Brünnhilde, bold,
    Rash, over-confident,
When the fight was at fiercest,
Strove for herself to perform.
    War-father
    Punished the maid:
He pressed slumber into her eyes,
On the flame-girt rock she sleeps.
    The hallowed maid
    Will waken alone,
That she may love and wed with a man.
Small hope of answer from her.

ERBA

    Dazed have I felt
    Since I woke;
    Wild, confused
    Seems the world!
    The Valkyrie,
    The Wala's child,
Bound lay, fettered by sleep,
While her all-knowing mother slept!
    Does revolt's teacher
    Chide revolt?
    Does the deed he urged to
    Anger him, done?
    He who guards the right,
    To whom vows are sacred,
    Hinders the right?--
    Reigns through falsehood?
Let me down to the dark,
That my wisdom may slumber!

WANDERER

I will not let thee descend,
For a potent magic I wield.
    All-wise one,
    Planted by thee
    The sting of care was
In Wotan's dauntless heart;
    For, through thy wisdom,
    Downfall and shameful
    Doom were foretold him;
My mind was fettered by fear.
    Now let the world's
    Wisest of women
    Answer and say
How a God may conquer his care.

ERBA

Thou art not
What thou hast said.
Why art thou come, wild and wayward,
To trouble the Wala's sleep?

WANDERER

    Thou art not
    What thou hast dreamed.
    Thy end draws near,
    Mother of wisdom;
    Thy wisdom at war
    With me shall perish.
Knowest thou Wotan's will?

        [_A long silence._

    I tell thee
    That thou mayest sleep
For evermore unvexed by care.
    That the Gods are doomed,
    No longer dismays me,
Since I will it so.
What, with myself at war, in anguish,
Despairing, once I resolved,
    Gaily, gladly,
With delight I now do.
Mad with disgust I decreed once
The world to the Nibelung's hate,
    But now to the valiant Wälsung
I leave it with joy.
    One who never knew me,
    Though chosen by me,
    A boy bold and fearless,
    Helped not by Wotan,
Has won the Nibelung's ring.
    Blest in love,
    Void of all envy,
    On him shall fall harmless
    Alberich's curse,
For no fear does he know.
    Soon thy child and mine,
    Brünnhild',
Shall be waked by him;
    And when waked
    Our child shall achieve
A deed to redeem the world.
    So slumber again,
    Closing thine eyelids;
Dreaming behold my downfall!
    Whatever comes after,
    The God rejoicing
Yields to youth ever young.
    Descend, then, Erda,
    Mother of fear!
    World-sorrow!
    Descend! Descend!
    And sleep for aye!

        [_Erda, whose eyes are already closed, and who has
        gradually been sinking deeper, disappears entirely.
        The cavern has become quite dark again._

    _Dawn lights up the stage; the storm has ceased.
    The Wanderer has gone close to the cave, and leans
    with his back against it, facing the wings._

WANDERER

Lo! Yonder Siegfried comes.

        [_He remains where he is without changing his
        position. Siegfried's wood-bird flutters towards
        the foreground. Suddenly the bird stops in his
        direct flight, flutters to and fro in alarm, and
        disappears quickly towards the back._

SIEGFRIED [_Enters and stops._

My bird has vanished from sight!
    With fluttering wings
    And lovely song
Blithely he showed me the way,
And then forsook me and fled!
    I must discover
    The rock for myself:
The path I followed so far
'Twere best still to pursue.

        [_He goes towards the back._

WANDERER [_Still in the same position._

    Boy, pray tell me,
    Whither away?

SIEGFRIED [_Halts and turns round._

    Did some one speak?
Perhaps he knows the road.

        [_He goes nearer to the Wanderer._

    I would find a rock
That by flaming fire is surrounded:
    There sleeps a maid
    Whom I would awake.

WANDERER

    Who bade thee seek
    This rock flame-circled?--
Taught thee to yearn for the woman?

SIEGFRIED

    It was a singing
    Woodland bird;
He gave me welcome tidings.

WANDERER

A wood-bird chatters idly
What no man understands;
    How then couldst thou tell
    The song's true meaning?

SIEGFRIED

    Because of the blood
    Of a dragon grim
That fell before me at Neidhöhl'--
    The burning blood
    Had scarce touched my tongue
When the sense of the singer grew plain.

WANDERER

    Who was it urged thee on
    To try thy strength,
And slay this dragon so dread?

SIEGFRIED

    My guide was Mime,
    A faithless dwarf:
What fear is fain he had taught me.
    But 'twas the dragon
    Roused me himself,
Wrathful, to strike the blow;
For he threatened me with his jaws.

WANDERER

    Who forged the sword
    So hard and keen
That it slew the daunting foe?

SIEGFRIED

    I forged it myself
    When the smith was beaten;
Swordless else I should have been still.

WANDERER

    But who made
    The mighty splinters
From which the sword was welded strong?

SIEGFRIED

    What know I of that?
    I only know
That the splintered steel was useless
Were not the sword forged anew.

WANDERER

        [_Bursts out laughing with gleeful good-humour._

   I fully agree.

SIEGFRIED [_Surprised._

    At what dost thou laugh?
    Prying greybeard!
    Prithee have done;
Keep me no longer here talking.
    Speak if thou knowest
    Whither my way lies;
    And hold thy tongue
Unless thou canst tell.

WANDERER

    Good boy, have patience!
    If I seem old,
More need to show me due honour.

SIEGFRIED

    What an odd notion!
    My whole life long
    A hateful old man
    Has blocked my pathway;
Him I at last swept aside.
    Standest thou longer
    Trying here to stay me,
    I warn thee frankly

        [_With a significant gesture._

That thou like Mime shalt fare.

        [_He goes still nearer to the Wanderer._

    But what art thou like?
    Why wearest thou
    Such a monstrous hat,
And why hangs it so over thy face?

WANDERER [_Still without altering his position._

That is the way I wear it
When against the wind I go.

SIEGFRIED [_Inspecting him still more closely._

But an eye beneath it is wanting.
    Perchance by some one
    Whose way thou didst
    Too boldly bar
It has been struck out.
    Take thyself off,
    Or else very soon
The other thou shalt lose also!

WANDERER

    I see, my son,
    Where thou art blind,
And hence thy jaunty assurance.
    With the eye that is
    Amissing in me
Thou lookest now on the other
That still is left me for sight.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Who has been listening thoughtfully, now bursts
        involuntarily into hearty laughter._

Thy foolish talk sets me laughing!
But come, this nonsense must finish.
At once show me my way;
Then proceed thou too on thine own;
    For me further
    Use thou hast none:
So speak, or off thou shalt pack!

WANDERER [_Gently._

    Child, didst thou know
    Who I am,
Thy scoffs I had been spared!
    From one so dear,
Insult hard to endure is.
    Long have I loved
    Thy radiant race,
    Though from my fury
    In terror it shrank.
    Thou whom I love so,
    All too fair one,
Rouse my wrath not to-day;
It would ruin both thee and me.

SIEGFRIED

    Still art thou dumb,
    Stubborn old man?
    Stand to one side, then;
    That pathway, I know,
Leads to the slumbering maid;
    For thither the wood-bird
Was guiding when he flew off.

        [_It suddenly becomes dark again._

WANDERER

        [_Breaking out in anger and assuming a commanding
        attitude._

In fear of its life it fled.
    It knew that here
    Was the ravens' lord;
Dire his plight were he caught!
    The way that it guided
    Thou shalt not go!

SIEGFRIED

        [_Amazed, falls hack and assumes a defiant
        attitude._

    Hoho! Interferer!
    Who then art thou
That wilt not let me pass?

WANDERER

Fear thou the rock's defender!
    My might it is
Holds the maiden fettered by sleep.
    He who would wake her,
    He who would win her,
Impotent makes me for ever.

    A burning sea
    Encircles the maid,
    Fires fiercely glowing
    Surround the rock;
    He who craves the bride
The flames must boldly defy.

        [_He points with his spear towards the rocky
        heights._

    Look up above!
    That light dost thou see?
    The surging heat,
    The splendour, grows;
    Clouds of fire rolling,
    Tongues of flame writhing,
    Roaring and raging,
    Come ravening down.
    Thy head now
    Is flooded with light;

        [_A flickering glow, increasing in brightness,
        appears on the summit of the rock._

    The fire will seize thee,
    Seize and devour thee.--
Back, back, there, foolhardy boy!

SIEGFRIED

Stand back, old babbler, thyself!
For where the fire is burning,
To Brünnhilde yonder I go!

        [_He advances; the Wanderer bars his way._

WANDERER

Hast thou no fear of the fire,
Then barred by my spear be thy path!
    I still hold the haft
    That conquers all;
    The sword thou dost wield
It shivered long ago:
Upon my spear eternal
    Break it once more.

        [_He stretches out his spear._

SIEGFRIED [_Drawing his sword._

    'Tis my father's foe,
    Found here at last!
    Now, then, for vengeance!
    In luck am I!
    Brandish thy spear:
My sword will hew it in twain!

        [_With one stroke he hews the Wanderer's spear in
        two pieces. Lightning flashes from the spear up
        towards the rocks, where the light, until now dim,
        begins to flame brighter and brighter. A violent
        thunder-clap, which quickly dies away, accompanies
        the stroke._

WANDERER

        [_Quietly picking up the pieces of the spear which
        have fallen at his feet._

Fare on! I cannot prevent thee!

        [_He suddenly disappears in utter darkness._

SIEGFRIED

With his spear in splinters
Vanished the coward!

        [_The growing brightness of the clouds of fire,
        which keep sinking down lower and lower, attracts
        Siegfried's eye._

Ha! Rapturous fire! Glorious light! Shining my pathway Opens before me.
In fiery flames plunging, Through fire I will win to the bride! Hoho!
Hahei! To summon a comrade I call!

        [_He sets his horn to his lips and plunges into
        the fiery billows, which, flowing down from the
        heights, now spread over the foreground. Siegfried,
        who is soon lost to view, seems, from the sound
        of his horn, to be ascending the mountain. The
        flames begin to fade, and change gradually into a
        dissolving cloud lit by the glow of dawn._

    _The thin cloud has resolved itself into a fine
    rose-coloured veil of mist, which so divides that
    the upper part rises and disappears, disclosing the
    bright blue sky of day; whilst on the edge of the
    rocky height, now becoming visible (exactly the
    same scene as in the third Act of "The Valkyrie"),
    a veil of mist reddened by the dawn remains
    hanging, which suggests the magic fire still
    flaming below. The arrangement of the scene is
    exactly the same as at the end of "The Valkyrie."
    In the foreground, under a wide-spreading fir-tree,
    lies Brünnhilde in full shining armour, her helmet
    on her head, and her long shield covering her, in
    deep sleep._



SIEGFRIED

        [_Coming from the back, reaches the rocky edge of
        the summit, and at first shows only the upper part
        of his body. He looks round him for a longtime in
        amaze. Softly._

    Solitude blissful
    On sun-caressed height!

        [_He climbs to the summit, and, standing on a rock
        at the edge of the precipice at the back, gazes at
        the scene in astonishment. He looks into the wood
        at the side and comes forward a little._

    What lies in shadow,
    Asleep in the wood?
    A charger
Resting in slumber deep.

        [_Approaching slowly he stops in surprise when,
        still at some little distance from her, he sees
        Brünnhilde._

What radiant thing lies yonder?

The steel, how it gleams and glints!
    Is it the glare
    That dazzles me still?
    Shining armour?
    Shall it be mine?

        [_He lifts up the shield and sees Brünnhilde's
        form; her face, however, is for the most part
        hidden by her helmet._

Ha! It covers a man!
The sight stirs thoughts sweet and strange!
    The helm must lie
    Hard on his head;
    Lighter lay he
    Were it unloosed.

        [_He loosens the helmet carefully and removes it
        from the head of the sleeper. Long curling hair
        breaks forth. Tenderly._

    Ah! how fair!

        [_He stands lost in contemplation._

    Clouds gleaming softly
    Fringe with their fleeces
This lake of heaven bright;
    Laughing, the glorious
    Face of the sun
Shines through the billowy clouds!

        [_He bends lower over the sleeper._

    His bosom is heaving,
    Stirred by his breath;
Ought I to loosen the breastplate?

        [_He tries to loosen the breastplate._

    Come, my sword,
    Cleave thou the iron!

        [_He draws his sword and gently and carefully cuts
        through the rings on both sides of the breastplate;
        he then lifts this off along with the greaves,
        so that Brünnhilde now lies before him in a soft
        woman's robe. He draws back startled and amazed._

    That is no man!

        [_He stares at the sleeper, greatly excited._

    Magical rapture
    Pierces my heart;
    Fixed is my gaze,
    Burning with terror;
I reel, my heart faints and fails!

        [_He is seized with sudden terror._ #/


[Illustration: "Magical rapture
                Pierces my heart;
                Fixed is my gaze,
                Burning with terror;
                I reel, my heart faints and fails!"
                                    See p. 86]

    On whom shall I call,
    For aid imploring?
    Mother! Mother!
    Remember me!

        [_He sinks as if fainting on to Brünnhilde's bosom;
        then he starts up sighing._

   How waken the maid,
Causing her eyelids to open?

        [_Tenderly._

    Her eyelids to open?
What if her gaze strike me blind!
    How shall I dare
    To look on their light?
    All rocks and sways
    And swirls and revolves;
    Uttermost longing
    Burns and consumes me;
    My hand on my heart,
    It trembles and shakes!
    What ails thee, coward?
    Is this what fear means?
    O mother! Mother!
    Thy dauntless child!

        [_Very tenderly._

A woman lying asleep
Has taught him what fear is at last!
    How conquer my fear?
    How brace my heart?
    That, myself, I waken,
I must waken the sleeper!

        [_As he approaches the sleeping figure again he
        is overcome by tenderer emotions at the light. He
        bends down lower; sweetly._

    Softly quivers
    Her flower-sweet mouth!
    Its lovely trembling
    Has charmed my despair!
    Ah! And the fragrant,
Blissful warmth of her breath!

        [_As if in despair._

    Awaken! Awaken,
    Maiden divine!

        [_He gazes at her._

    She hears me not.
    New life from the sweetest
    Of lips I will suck, then,
Even though kissing I die!

        [_He sinks, as if dying, on to the sleeping
        figure, and, closing his eyes, fastens his lips on
        Brünnhilde's. Brünnhilde opens her eyes. Siegfried
        starts up, and remains standing before her._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Rises slowly to a sitting posture. Raising her
        arms, she greets the earth and sky with solemn
        gestures on her return to consciousness._

    Sun, I hail thee!
    Hail, O light!
Hail, O glorious day.
Long I have slept;
    I am awake.
    What hero broke
    Brünnhilde's sleep?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Awed and entranced by her look and her voice,
        stands as if spellbound._

    Through the fierce fires flaming
    Round this rock I burst;
I unloosened thy helmet strong:
    I awoke thee.
    Siegfried am I.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Sitting upright._

    Gods, I hail you!
    Hail, O World!
Hail, O Earth, in thy glory!
My sleep is over now,
    My eyes open.
    It is Siegfried
    Who bids me wake!


[Illustration: "Sun, I hail thee!
                Hail, O light!
                Hail, O glorious day!"
                            See p. 88]


SIEGFRIED

        [_Breaking forth in rapturous exaltation._

    I hail thee, mother
    Who gave me birth!
    Hail, O Earth,
    That nourished my life
So that I see those eyes
Beam on me, blest among men!

BRÜNNHILDE

    I hail the mother
    Who gave thee birth!
    Hail, O Earth,
    That nourished thy life!
No eye dared see me but thine;
To thee alone might I wake!

        [_Both remain full of beaming ecstasy, lost in
        mutual contemplation._

BRÜNNHILDE

    O Siegfried! Siegfried!
    Hero most blest!
    Of life the awaker,
    Conquering light!
    O joy of the world, couldst know
    How thou wert always loved!
    Thou wert my gladness,
    My care wert thou!
    Thy life I sheltered
    Before it was thine;
    My shield was thy shelter
    Ere thou wert born:
So long loved wert thou, Siegfried!

SIEGFRIED [_Softly and timidly._

My mother did not die, then?
Did the dear one but sleep?

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Smiles and stretches her hand out kindly towards
        him._

    Adorable child!
Nevermore thy mother will greet thee!
    Thyself am I,
If I be blest with thy love.
    All things I know
    Known not to thee;
    Yet only of my love
Born is my wisdom.

    O Siegfried! Siegfried!
    Conquering light!
    I loved thee always,
    For I alone
Divined the thought hid by Wotan:
    Hidden thought I dared not
    So much as utter;
    Thought that I thought not,
    Feeling it only;
    For which I worked,
    Battled and strove,
    Defying even
    Him who conceived it;
    For which in penance
    Prisoned I lay,
    Because thought it was not,
    But felt alone!
    For what the thought was--
    Say, canst thou guess it?--
Was love of thee, nothing but that!

SIEGFRIED

    How wondrous sounds
    Thy rapturous song!
But dark the meaning to me.

        [_Tenderly._

    Of thine eyes the splendour
    I see plain,
    I can feel thee breathing
    Soft and warm,
    Sweet can hear
    The singing of thy voice,
But what thou sayest I strive
Vainly to understand.
    I cannot grasp clearly
    Things so far distant;
    Needed is every sense
To feel and behold thee!
    By laming fear
    Fettered am I,
    For how to fear
    Thou hast taught me at last;
    Thou who hast bound me
    In bonds of such power,
Give me my courage again!

        [_He remains in great excitement with his yearning
        gaze fixed on her._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Turns her head gently aside and looks towards the
        wood._

    I see there Grane,
    My sacred horse;
    In gladness he grazes
    Who slept with me!
He too has by Siegfried been waked.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Without changing his position._

    My gaze on a mouth
    Most lovely is feasting;
    My lips are afire
    With passionate yearning
For the pasture sweet that I look on!

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Points to her armour, which she now perceives._

    I see there the shield
    That sheltered heroes;
    And there is the helmet
    That hid my head:
It shields, it hides me no more!

SIEGFRIED [_With fire._

    By a glorious maid
    My heart has been hurt
    Wounds in my head
    A woman has struck:
I came without shield or helm!

BRÜNNHILDE [_With increased sadness._

    I see there the breastplate's
    Glittering steel;
    A keen-edged sword
    Sundered the rings,
    From the form of the maiden
    Loosened the mail:
Nor shelter nor shield is left
To the weak and sorrowful maid!

SIEGFRIED [_With heat._

    Through billows of fire
    I battled to thee,
    No buckler or breastplate
    Sheltered or screened;
    The flames have won
    Their way to my heart;
    My blood hot-surging
    Rushes and leaps;
    A ravening fire
    Is kindled within me:
    The flames that shone
    Round Brünnhilde's rock
Are burning now in my breast!
O maid, extinguish the fire!
Calm the commotion and rage!

        [_He has embraced her passionately._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Springs up, resists him with the utmost strength
        of terror, and flies to the other side of the
        stage._

No God's touch have I known!
    With awe the heroes
    Greeted the maiden:
Holy came she from Walhall.
    Woe's me! Woe's me!
    Woe the affront,
    The bitter disgrace!
    He wounds me sore
    Who waked me from sleep!
He has broken breastplate and helm;
Now I am Brünnhild' no more.

SIEGFRIED

    Thou art to me
    The dreaming maid still;
    Brünnhilde lies
    Lapped still in sleep.
Awake, be a woman to me!

BRÜNNHILDE [_Bewildered._

    Confused are my senses,
    My mind is blank:
Wisdom, dost thou forsake me?

SIEGFRIED

    Said not thy song
    Thy wisdom drew
Its light from thy love of me?

BRÜNNHILDE [_Staring before her._

    Shadows drear-falling
    Darken my gaze;
    Mine eyes see dimly,
    The light dies out,
    Deep is the dark.
    From dread-haunted mists
    Fear in a frenzy
    Comes writhing forth;
    Terror stalks me
    And grows with each stride!

        [_She hides her eyes with her hands in violent
        terror._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Gently removing her hands from her eyes._

    Dread lies dark
    On eyelids bound;
    With the fetters vanish
The fear and gloom;
Rise from the dark and behold:
Bright as the sun is the day.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Much agitated._

    Flaunting my shame,
Bright as the sun shines the day!
    O Siegfried! Siegfried!
    Pity my woe!
    I have always
    Lived and shall live--
    Always in sweet,
    Rapturous yearning,
And always to make thee blest!

    O Siegfried! Glorious
    Wealth of the world!
    Laughing hero!
    Life of the earth!
    Ah, forbear!
    Leave me in peace!
    Touch me not,
    Mad with delirious frenzy!
    Break me not,
    Bring me not under thy yoke,
Undo not the loved one so dear!

    Hast thou rejoiced
    Thyself to see
Reflected clear in the stream?
    If into wavelets
    The water were stirred,
    And ruffled the limpid
    Calm of the brook,
Thy face would not be there,
Only water's rippling unrest.
    So untouched let me stay,
    Trouble me not,
    And thy face
    Mirrored bright in me
    Will smile to thee always,
Gay and merry and glad!
    O Siegfried,
    Radiant child,
    Love thyself
    And leave me in peace;
O bring not thine own to naught!

SIEGFRIED

    I love thee;
    Didst thou but love me!
    Myself I have lost;
Ah, would thou wert won!
    A fair-flowing flood
    Before me rolls;
    With all my senses
    Nothing I see
But buoyant, beautiful billows.
    If it refuse
    To mirror my face,
    Just as I am,
    To assuage my fever,
    Myself I will plunge
    Straight in the stream:--
    If only the billows
    Would blissfully drown me,
My yearning lost in the flood!
    Awaken, Brünnhilde!
    Waken, O maid!
    Laughing and living,
    Sweetest delight,
Be mine! Be mine! Be mine!

BRÜNNHILDE [_With deep feeling._

    Thine, Siegfried!
    I was from of old!

SIEGFRIED [_With fire._

    What thou hast been
    That be thou still!

BRÜNNHILDE

    Thine I will
    Always be!

SIEGFRIED

    What thou wilt be
    Be thou to-day!
    Clasped in my arms
    And closely embraced,
    Heart upon heart
    Beating in rapture,
    Glances aglow,
    And breath mingled hungrily,
    Eye in eye and
    Mouth on mouth!
    All that thou wert
And wilt be, be thou it now!
The fear and the fever would vanish
Were Brünnhild' now mine!

BRÜNNHILDE

    Were I now thine?

    Heavenly calm
    Is tossing and raging;
    Light that was pure
    Flames into passion;
    Wisdom divine
    Forsakes me and flies;
    Jubilant love
    Has scared it away!

    If I be thine?
    Siegfried! Siegfried!
    Canst thou not see?
    By the blaze of my eyes
    Thou art not struck blind?
    In my arms' embrace
    Thou surely must burn!
    As my blood like a torrent
    Surges and leaps,
    The fire fierce-flaming
    Dost thou not feel?
    Fearest thou, Siegfried?
    Fearest thou not
The wild, love-frenzied maid?

SIEGFRIED [_With a shock of joy._

    Ha!
As the blood swift-surging is kindled,
As our eyes devour one another,
As our arms cling close in their rapture,
    Dauntless again
    My courage swells,
    And the fear I failed
    For so long to learn,
    The fear that I scarcely
    Learned from thee--
    The stupid boy fears
That fear is completely forgot!

        [_With the last words he has involuntarily let
        Brünnhilde go._

BRÜNNHILDE [_Laughing wildly with joy._

    Oh, valorous boy!
    Oh, glorious hero!
    Unwitting source
    Of wonderful deeds!
Laughing, laughing I love thee;
Laughing welcome my blindness;
Laughing let us go doomwards,
Laughing go down to death!

    Farewell Walhall's
    Radiant world,
    Its stately halls
    In the dust laid low!
    Farewell, glittering
    Pomp divine!
    End in bliss,
    O immortal race!
    Norns, rend in sunder
    Your rope of runes!
    Dusk steal darkly
    Over the Gods!
    Night of their downfall
    Dimly descend!
    Now Siegfried's star
    Is rising for me;
    He is for ever
    And for aye,
    My wealth, my world,
    My all in all:
    Love ever radiant,
    Laughing death!

SIEGFRIED

        [_While Brünnhilde repeats the foregoing, beginning
        at "Farewell Walhall's Radiant world."_

    Laughing thou wakest,
    Thou my delight!
    Brünnhilde lives,
    Brünnhilde laughs!
    Hail, O day
    In glory arisen!
    Hail, O Sun
    That shines from on high!
    Hail, O light
    From the darkness sprung!
    Hail, O world
    Where Brünnhilde dwells!
    She wakes! She lives!
    She greets me with laughter!
    Splendour streams
    From Brünnhilde's star!

[Illustration: Brünnhilde throws herself into Siegfried's arms. See p.
99]


SIEGFRIED

    She is for ever
    And for aye
    My wealth, my world,
    My all in all,
    Love ever radiant,
    Laughing death!

        [_Brünnhilde throws herself into Siegfried's arms.
        The curtain falls._

[Illustration]



THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS


CHARACTERS

    SIEGFRIED
    GUNTHER
    HAGEN
    ALBERICH
    BRÜNNHILDE
    GUTRUNE
    WALTRAUTE
    THE THREE NORNS
    THE RHINE-MAIDENS
    VASSALS
    WOMEN

SCENES OF ACTION

    PRELUDE: ON THE VALKYRIES' ROCK
    ACT I. THE HALL OF GUNTHER'S DWELLING ON THE RHINE.
           THE VALKYRIES' ROCK
    ACT II. IN FRONT OF GUNTHER'S HALL
    ACT III. A WOODED REGION ON THE RHINE. GUNTHER'S HALL

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



PRELUDE


    _The curtain rises slowly. The scene is the same as
    at the close of the second day, on the Valkyries'
    rock; night. In the background, from below,
    firelight shines. The three Norns, tall women in
    long, dark, veil-like drapery. The first (eldest)
    lies in the foreground, to the right, under the
    spreading pine-tree; the second (younger) is
    stretched on a shelving rock in front of the cave;
    the third (youngest) sits in the centre at the
    back on a rock near the peak. Motionless, gloomy
    silence._


THE FIRST NORN

What light glimmers there?

THE SECOND NORN

Is it already dawn?

THE THIRD NORN

    Loge's host
Glows in flame around the rock.
    It is night.
Why spin we not, singing the while?

THE SECOND NORN [_To the first._

Where for our spinning and singing
Wilt thou fasten the rope?

THE FIRST NORN

        [_While she loosens a golden rope from herself and
        ties one end of it to a branch of the pine-tree._

I sing and wind the rope
Badly or well, as may be.
    At the world-ash-tree
    Once I wove,
    When from the stem
    There bourgeoned strong
The boughs of a sacred wood.
    In the shadows cool
    A fountain flowed;
    Wisdom whispered
    Low from its wave;
Of holy things I sang.
    A dauntless God
    Came to drink at the well;
    For the draught he drank
He paid with the loss of an eye.
    From the world-ash-tree
Wotan broke a holy bough;
    From the bough he cut
And shaped the shaft of a spear.

As time rolled on the wood
Wasted and died of the wound;
Sere, leafless and barren,
Wan withered the tree;
    Sadly the flow
    Of the fountain failed;
    Troubled grew
    My sorrowful song.
    And now no more
At the world-ash-tree I weave;
    I needs must fasten
Here on the pine-tree my rope.
    Sing, O sister--
    Catch as I throw--
Canst thou tell us why?

THE SECOND NORN

        [_Winds the rope thrown to her round a projecting
        rock at the entrance of the cave._

    Runes of treaties
    Well weighed and pondered
    Cut were by Wotan
    In the shaft,
Which wielding, he swayed the world.
    A hero bold
In fight then splintered the spear,
    The hallowed haft
With its treaties cleaving in twain.
    Then bade Wotan
    Walhall's heroes
    Hew down the world-ash-tree
    Forthwith,
Both the stem and boughs sere and barren.
    The ash-tree sank;
Sealed was the fountain that flowed.
    Round the sharp edge
Of the rock I wind the rope:
    Sing, O sister,
    Catch as I throw;
Further canst thou tell?

THE THIRD NORN

        [_Catching the rope and throwing the end behind
        her._

    The castle stands
    By giants up reared.
    With the Gods and the holy
    Host of the heroes
Wotan sits in his hall;
    And round the walls
    Hewn logs are heaped,
    High up-piled,
    Ready for burning:
The world-ash-tree these were once.
    When the wood
Flares up brightly and burns,
    In its fire
Shall the fair hall be consumed.
And then shall the high Gods' downfall
Dawn in darkness for aye.
    Know ye yet more,
Begin anew winding the rope;
    Again I throw it
    Back from the north.
Spin and sing, O my sister.

        [_She throws the rope to the second Norn and the
        second throws it to the first, who loosens the rope
        from the bough and ties it on to another._

THE FIRST NORN

        [_Looking towards the back._

    Is it the dawn,
    Or the firelight that flickers?
Grief-darkened is my gaze.
    The holy past
    I can scarce remember,
    When Loge burst
Of old into burning fire.
Dost thou know how he fared?

THE SECOND NORN

        [_Winding the rope which has been thrown to her
        round the rock again._

    Overcome by Wotan's
    Spear and its magic,
Loge worked for the God;
    Then, to win his freedom,
    Gnawed with his tooth
The solemn runes on the shaft.
    So with the potent
    Spell of the spear-point
    Wotan confined him
Flaming where Brünnhilde slumbered.
Canst thou tell us the end?

THE THIRD NORN

    With the broken spear's
    Sharp-piercing splinters
    Wotan wounded
The blazing one deep in the breast;
    Ravening fire
    Springs from the wound,
    And this is thrown
    'Mid the world-ash-tree's
Hewn logs heaped ready for burning.
    Would ye know
    When that will be,
Wind, O sisters, the rope!

        [_She throws the rope back; the second Norn winds
        it up and throws it again to the first._

THE FIRST NORN

        [_Fastening the rope again._

    The night wanes,
    Dark grows my vision;
    I cannot find
    The threads of the rope;
The strands are twisted and loose.
    A horrible sight
Wildly vexes mine eyes:
    Rhinegold
That black Alberich stole.
Knowest thou more thereof?

THE SECOND NORN

        [_With laborious haste winds the rope round the
        jagged rock at the mouth of the cave._

    The rock's sharp edge
    Is cutting the rope;
    The threads loosen
    Their hold and grow slack;
They droop tangled and frayed.
    From woe and wrath
Rises the Nibelung's ring;
    A curse of revenge
Ruthlessly gnaws at the strands:--
Canst thou the end foretell?

THE THIRD NORN

        [_Hastily catching the rope which is thrown to her._

    The rope is too short,
    Too loose it hangs;
    It must be stretched,
    Pulled straighter, before
Its end can reach to the north!

        [_She pulls hard at the rope, which breaks._

    It breaks!

THE SECOND NORN

    It breaks!

THE FIRST NORN

    It breaks!

        [_They take the pieces of broken rope and bind
        their bodies together with them._

THE THREE NORNS

So ends wisdom eternal!
    The wise ones
    Will utter no more.
Descend to Erda! Descend!

        [_They vanish. The dawn grows brighter; the
        firelight from the valley gradually fades. Sunrise;
        then broad daylight._

        _Siegfried and Brünnhilde enter from the cave. He
        is fully armed; she leads her horse by the bridle._

BRÜNNHILDE

    Belovèd hero,
    Poor my love were
    Wert thou thereby
    Kept from new deeds.
    One single doubt
    Yet makes me linger:
    The fear my service
    Has been too small.
    The things the Gods taught me
    I could give:
    All the rich hoard
    Of holy runes;
    But by the hero
    Who holds my heart
    I have been robbed
    Of my maiden valour.
    In wisdom weak,
    Although strong in will;
    In love so rich,
    In power so poor--
    Must thou not scorn
    Her lack of riches
    Who, though so eager,
    Can give nothing more?

[Illustration: The Norns vanish--See p. 108]


SIEGFRIED

Wonderful woman, more
Thy gifts than I can guard!
O chide not if thy teaching
Has left me still untaught.

        [_With fire._

That Brünnhilde lives for me--
To that lore I hold fast;
And one lesson I have learned--
Brünnhilde to remember!

BRÜNNHILDE

If thou wouldst truly love me,
Think of thyself alone,
And of thy deeds of daring!
The raging fire remember
That fearless thou didst fare through
When around the rock it burned--

SIEGFRIED

That I might conquer Brünnhild'!

BRÜNNHILDE

Think too of the shield-hidden maid
Thou didst find there lapped in slumber.
And whose helmet hard thou didst break--

SIEGFRIED

Brünnhilde to awaken!

BRÜNNHILDE

    Those oaths remember
    That unite us;
    The faith and truth
    That are between us,
    And evermore
    The love we live for;
Brünnhilde in thy breast
Will deeply burn then for aye!

        [_She embraces Siegfried._

SIEGFRIED

Must I leave thee, O love,
In thy holy fortress of fire,

        [_He has taken Alberich's ring from his finger, and
        holds it out to Brünnhilde._

This ring of mine I give thee;
Let it pay for thy runes.
Of whatever deeds I did
The virtue lies therein.
By my hand was the dragon grim,
Who long had guarded it, slain;
Keep thou the gold and its might
As token true of my love!

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Putting on the ring in rapturous delight._

I covet it more than all else!
For the ring take Grane, my horse.
    Through the air with me
    He galloped once boldly,
    But lost with mine
    Was his magic art;
    Upon clouds and storm,
    Through thunder and lightning
    No more
Gallantly now will he sweep!
    But if thou lead the way,
    Even through fire
Fearlessly Grane will follow.
    For henceforth, hero,
    Thou art his master!
    Entreat him well;
    He knows thy voice;
    O, greet him often
In Brünnhilde's name!

SIEGFRIED

Then every deed that I dare
Will be achieved through thy virtue
All my battles thou wilt choose,
And my victories will be thine.
Upon thy good horse riding,
And sheltered by thy shield,
No longer Siegfried am I,
But only Brünnhilde's arm!

[Illustration: Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde in search of adventure See
p. 111]


BRÜNNHILDE

O were but Brünnhilde thy soul too!

SIEGFRIED

Through her my courage burns high.

BRÜNNHILDE

Then wert thou Siegfried and Brünnhild'.

SIEGFRIED

Where I am, there thy abode is.

BRÜNNHILDE [_With animation._

Then a waste is my hall of rock?

SIEGFRIED

Made one, both there abide.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Greatly moved._

    Ye Gods, O ye holy
    Race of immortals,
    Feast ye your eyes
    On this love-hallowed pair!
Apart--who shall divide us?
Divided--still we are one!

SIEGFRIED

    Hail, O Brünnhilde,
    Beautiful star!
Hail, love and its glory!

BRÜNNHILDE

    Hail, O Siegfried,
    Conquering light!
Hail, life and its glory!
Hail, conquering light!

BOTH

Hail! Hail! Hail! Hail!

        [_Siegfried leads the horse quickly to the edge
        of the sloping rock, Brünnhilde following him.
        Siegfried disappears with the horse down behind the
        projecting rock, so that he is no longer visible
        to the audience. Brünnhilde is thus suddenly left
        standing alone on the edge of the slope, and gazes
        down into the valley after Siegfried. Her gestures
        show that Siegfried has vanished from her sight.
        Siegfried's horn is heard from below. Brünnhilde
        listens, and steps further out on the slope. She
        catches sight of Siegfried in the valley again, and
        waves to him joyfully. Her happy smiles seem to
        reflect the air of the merrily departing hero._



THE FIRST ACT


_The hall of the Gibichungs on the Rhine. This is quite open at the
back. An open shore stretching to the river occupies the background.
Rocky heights enclose the shore. Gunther and Gutrune on a throne at one
side, before which stands a table with drinking-vessels on it. In front
of this Hagen is seated._

GUNTHER

    Give ear, Hagen;
    Tell me the truth:
Is my fame on the Rhine
Worthy of Gibich's son?

HAGEN

    I envy thee
    Thy fame and thy glory;
Thy great renown was foretold
To me by Grimhild' our mother.

GUNTHER

    I envy thee,
    So envy not me.
I, as first-born, rule,
But the wisdom is thine.
Half-brother's feud
Could scarce be laid better;
Asking thus of my renown,
'Tis thy wisdom that I praise.

HAGEN

    My words I withdraw,
    Thy fame might be more:
I know of precious treasures
That the Gibichung has not yet won.

GUNTHER

    Hide these, and I
    Withdraw my praise.

HAGEN

In summer's full-ripened glory
Blooms the Gibich stock,
Thou, Gunther, still unwived,
Thou, Gutrun', still unwed.

GUNTHER

Whom wouldst thou have me woo,
To win more wide renown?

HAGEN

    One I know of,
    None nobler in the world.
She dwells on soaring rocks,
Her chamber is circled by fire;
And he who would Brünnhild' woo
Must break through the daunting flame.

GUNTHER

Suffices my strength for the task?

HAGEN

For one stronger still it is decreed.

GUNTHER

Who is that hero unmatched?

HAGEN

Siegfried, the Wälsung's son;
He is the hero bold.
    A twin-born pair,
    Whom fate turned to lovers,
    Siegmund and Sieglinde,
Had as their offspring this child.
In the woods he grew and waxed strong.
'Tis he that Gutrun' must wed.

GUTRUNE [_Shyly._

Tell me what deed of high valour
Made this hero the first in renown.

HAGEN

    At Neidhöhle
    A huge dragon lay,
Who guarded the Nibelung's gold.
    He was slain,
    And his horrid jaws closed
By Siegfried's invincible sword.
From this colossal deed
The fame of the hero dawned.

GUNTHER [_Thoughtfully._

They say that a priceless treasure
The Niblungs had in their hoard.

HAGEN

The man who could use its spell
Were lord of the world evermore.

GUNTHER

And Siegfried won it in fight?

HAGEN

He has the Niblungs in thrall.

GUNTHER

And Brünnhild' no other can win?

HAGEN

To no other will the flames yield.

GUNTHER [_Rises angrily from his seat._

Why wake dissension and doubt?
Why stir up my desire
    And yearning for joys
    That cannot be won?

        [_He walks to and fro much agitated._

Hagen

        [_Without leaving his seat causes Gunther to pull
        up as he approaches him, by a gesture of mysterious
        import._

    Would not Brünnhilde
    Be thy bride,
Were she by Siegfried brought home?

GUNTHER

        [_Turns away doubtful and angry._

But how could I force this man
To woo the bride for me?

Hagen [_As before._

Thy simple prayer would force him,
Gutrun' winning him first.

GUTRUNE

Thou mockest, cruel Hagen!
What arts have I to bind him?
    The greatest hero
    In all the world
Has long ere this by the fairest
Women on earth been loved.

HAGEN

        [_Bending confidentially towards Gutrune._

What of the drink in the chest?

        [_More secretly._

In me who won it have more faith.
To thee in love it will bind
Him whom thy heart most desires.

        [_Gunther has come to the table again, and, leaning
        against it, pays close attention._

Hither did Siegfried come,
And taste of this potion of herbs,
He would straight forget he had looked
On any woman before,
Or been by woman approached.
    Now answer:
Think ye my counsel good?

GUNTHER [_Starting up suddenly._

    Now Grimhild' be praised,
    Who for brother gave us thee.

GUTRUNE

Siegfried fain I would behold!

GUNTHER

But how can he be found?

        [_A horn on the stage, from the background on the
        left, very loud but distant._

HAGEN

        [_Listens and turns to Gunther._

    Merrily hunting
    After renown
    Across the world
    As through a wood,
Belike in his chase he will come,
To the Gibich's realm on the Rhine.

GUNTHER

Heartily welcome were he.

        [_A horn on the stage, nearer, but still distant.
        Both listen._

A horn from the Rhine I hear.

HAGEN

        [_Looks down the river and calls towards the back._

A man and horse on board a boat!
His horn how gaily he winds!

        [_A horn on the stage sounds nearer. Gunther stops
        half-way listening._

    See the leisurely stroke,
    And the indolent arm
    Against the stream
    Urging the boat!
    So skilful a hand
    On the swinging oar
    Can be but his
    Who the dragon slew:--
It is Siegfried--surely no other!

GUNTHER

    Will he go by?

HAGEN

        [_Making a trumpet of his hands, calls towards the
        river._

Hoiho! Blithe hero,
Whither bound?

SIEGFRIED [_From the distance._

I seek the son of Gibich.

HAGEN

I bid thee welcome to Gunther's hall.

        [_Siegfried in a boat appears at the shore._

This way! Stop here and land!

        _Siegfried brings his boat to the shore. Hagen
        makes it fast with the chain. Siegfried springs
        ashore with his horse. Gunther has come down and
        joined Hagen._

HAGEN

Hail, Siegfried, hero bold!

        [_Gutrune gazes at Siegfried from the throne
        in astonishment. Gunther prepares to offer him
        friendly greetings. All stand fixed in silent
        mutual contemplation._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Leaning on his horse, remains quietly standing by
        the boat._

Who is Gibich's son?

GUNTHER

I am he thou dost seek.

SIEGFRIED

    Thy fame has reached me
    From the Rhine;
    Now fight with me,
    Or be my friend.

GUNTHER

    Be thou mine;
    Thou art welcome!

SIEGFRIED

    Where stable my horse?

HAGEN

    Leave him to me.

SIEGFRIED [_Turning to Hagen._

    My name thou knowest;
    Where have we met?

HAGEN

    I guessed from thy strength
    Who thou must be.

SIEGFRIED

        [_As he hands over the horse to Hagen._

    Be careful of Grane,
    For thou hast never
    Led by the rein
    So noble a steed.

        [_Hagen leads the horse away. While Siegfried looks
        thoughtfully after him, Gutrune, obeying a sign of
        Hagen's which Siegfried does not notice, goes to
        her room through a door on the left. Gunther comes
        into the hall with Siegfried, whom he has invited
        to accompany him._

GUNTHER

My father's ancient hall,
O hero, greet in gladness!
    All thou beholdest,
    Where'er thou art,
Treat as thine own henceforward:
    Thine is my kingdom--
    Land and folk;
By my body I swear it!
Yea, myself I am thine.

SIEGFRIED

Nor land nor folk have I to give,
Nor father's house nor hall;
    In my body
    Is all my wealth;
As I live it grows less.
    But a sword have I
    Which I welded;
Let my sword be my witness!--
That and myself I bestow.

HAGEN

        [_Who has come back and now stands behind Siegfried._

Of the Nibelungs' treasure
Rumour names thee the lord.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Turning round to Hagen._

I almost forgot the hoard,
So lightly I prize its worth.
I left it lying in a cavern,
Where a dragon once held watch.

HAGEN

And nothing took at all?

SIEGFRIED

Only this, not knowing its use.

HAGEN

It is the Tarnhelm,
The gem of the Nibelung's art;
Its use, when worn on thy head,
Is to change thy shape as thou wilt;
If fain to be borne afar,
In a flash lo! thou art there!
Didst thou take nothing besides?

SIEGFRIED

Yes, a ring.

HAGEN

    Which safe thou dost hold?

SIEGFRIED [_Tenderly._

'Tis held by a woman fair.

HAGEN [_Aside._

    Brünnhild'!

GUNTHER

Nay, Siegfried, let us not barter;
All I have a bauble poor,
Matched with thy treasure, would be.
I will serve thee without reward.

        [_Hagen has gone to Gutrune's door, and now opens
        it._

GUTRUNE

        [_Enters carrying a full drinking-horn, with which
        she approaches Siegfried._

    Welcome, O guest,
    To Gibich's house!
'Tis his daughter gives thee to drink.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Bows in a friendly manner and takes the horn,
        which he holds thoughtfully before him._

    Were all forgot
    Thou gavest to me,
    One lesson
    I will never forget;
    So this first draught
    With love undying,
Brünnhild', I drink to thee!

        [_He puts the drinking-horn to his lips and takes
        a long draught; then he hands it back to Gutrune,
        who, ashamed and confused, casts down her eyes.
        Siegfried gazes at her with sudden passion._

SIEGFRIED

    O thou who dost scorch
    And blind with thine eyes,
Why sink them abashed by my gaze?

        [_Gutrune, blushing, looks up at him._

    O lovely maid,
    Lower thine eyes;
    My heart is aflame,
    Burnt by their light;
They kindle my blood; it flows
In devouring torrents of fire.

        [_With a trembling voice._

Gunther, what name is thy sister's?

GUNTHER

    Gutrune.

SIEGFRIED [_Softly._

    Can those be good runes
That in her eyes I am reading?

        [_He ardently seizes Gutrune's hand._

With thy brother I was fain to serve;
His pride my prayer scorned.
Were I to pray the same of thee,
Wouldst thou like him be proud?

        [_Gutrune involuntarily meets Hagen's eye. She bows
        her head humbly, and, expressing her feeling of
        unworthiness with a gesture, leaves the hall with
        faltering steps._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Attentively watched by Hagen and Gunther, gazes
        after Gutrune as if entranced._

Gunther, hast thou a wife?

GUNTHER

    I am not wed,
    Nor, it would seem,
Likely to find a wife!
My heart on one I have set
Whom there is no way to win.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Turns with animation to Gunther._

    In what canst thou fail
    With me for friend?

GUNTHER

On rocky heights her home;
Surrounded by fire her hall;

SIEGFRIED

        [_Interrupting in wondering haste._

"On rocky heights her home;
Surrounded by fire her hall"...?

GUNTHER

He only who braves the fire...

SIEGFRIED

        [_As if making an intense effort to remember
        something._

"He only who braves the fire"...?


[Illustration: Siegfried hands the drinking-horn back to Gutrune, and
gazes at her with sudden passion--See p. 119]


GUNTHER

May Brünnhilde's wooer be.

        [_Siegfried shows by a gesture that at the mention
        of Brünnhilde's name all remembrance of her has
        faded._

I dare not essay the dread mountain;
The flames would not fall for me.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Awakes from his dreamy state, and turns to
        Gunther high-spirited and gay._

For thee I will win her,
Of fire I have no fear;
    For thy man am I,
    And my strength is thine,
If Gutrun' I win as my wife.

GUNTHER

Gutrune gladly I grant thee

SIEGFRIED

Thou shalt have Brünnhilde then.

GUNTHER

But how wilt deceive her?

SIEGFRIED

I will wear the Tarnhelm
And appear in thy form.

GUNTHER

Then let the oath now be sworn!

SIEGFRIED

    Blood-brotherhood
    Sworn be by oath!

        [_Hagen fills a drinking-horn with fresh wine; he
        holds it out to Siegfried and Gunther, who cut
        their arms with their swords and hold them for a
        short pace over the horn; then they each lay two
        fingers on the horn, which Hagen continues to hold
        between them._

SIEGFRIED and GUNTHER

    Quickening blood
    Of blossoming life
Lo! I drop in the horn!
    Bravely mixed
    In brotherly love,
Bloom our blood in the draught!
Troth I drink to the friend
    Glad and free
    To-day from the bond
Blood-brotherhood spring!
But if broken the bond,
Or if faithless the friend,
    What in drops to-day
    We drink kindly
In torrents wildly shall flow,
Paying treachery's wage.
So--sealed be the bond!
So--pledged be my faith!

        [_Gunther drinks and hands the horn to Siegfried,
        who finishes the draught, and holds out the empty
        horn to Hagen. Hagen breaks the horn in two with
        his sword. Gunther and Siegfried join hands._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Observes Hagen, who, while the oat was being
        sworn, has stood behind him._

Why hast not thou plighted thy troth?

HAGEN

My blood had soured the good draught.
    It flows not pure
    And noble like yours;
    Stubborn and cold,
    Slow it runs,
My cheek refusing to redden.
    I hold aloof
    From hot-blooded bonds.

GUNTHER [_To Siegfried._

Heed not him and his spleen.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Puts on his shield again._

    Up, then, and off!
    Back to the boat!
Sail swift to the mountain!

        [_He steps nearer to Gunther and points at him._

    By the bank one night
    On board thou shalt tarry,
And then bring home the bride.

        [_He turns to go, and beckons Gunther to follow
        him._

GUNTHER

Wilt thou not rest awhile?

SIEGFRIED

I am eager to be back.

        [_He goes to the shore to unmoor the boat._

GUNTHER

Thou, Hagen, keep guard o'er the homestead.

        [_He follows Siegfried to the shore. Whilst
        Siegfried and Gunther, after laying their arms
        in the boat, are hoisting the sail and making
        ready for departure, Hagen takes up his spear and
        shield. Gutrune appears at the door of her chamber
        just as Siegfried is pushing off the boat, which
        immediately glides into the middle of the stream._

GUTRUNE

So swiftly whither haste they?

HAGEN

        [_While he seats himself comfortably with shield
        and spear in front of the hall._

To woo Brünnhild' for bride.

GUTRUNE

Siegfried?

Hagen

    See how he hastes,
For wife seeking to win thee!

GUTRUNE

Siegfried--mine?

        [_She returns to her room greatly excited.
        Siegfried has seized an oar and rows the boat
        down-stream, so that it is soon lost to view._

HAGEN

        [_Sits motionless, his back against the door-post
        of the hall._

    On guard here I sit
    Watching the house,
Warding the hall from the foe:
    Gibich's son
    Is sped by the wind,
And sails away for a wife;
    A hero bold
    Of the helm has charge,
And danger braves for his sake;
    His bride once loved
    He brings to the Rhine;
With her he brings me--the ring.
    O merry comrades,
    Freeborn and honoured,
Gaily speed on in your pride!
    Base though ye deem him,
    The Niblung's son
Shall yet be your lord.

        [_A curtain which frames the front of the hall is
        drawn, and cuts the stage off from the audience._

[Illustration]

_The curtain is raised again. The rocky height as in the Prelude.
Brünnhilde sits at the entrance to the cave in silent contemplation of
Siegfried's ring. Moved by blissful memories, she covers the ring with
kisses. Distant thunder is heard; she looks up and listens. She turns
to the ring again. A flash of lightning. Again she listens, and looks
into the distance, whence a dark thunder-cloud is approaching the rock._

BRÜNNHILDE

On my ear from afar
Falls an old sound familiar.
    A horse comes flying
    Swift through the air;
    On the clouds it sweeps
    In storm to the rock.
Who seeks the lonely one here?

WALTRAUTE'S voice [_From the distance._

    Brünnhilde, sister,
    Wake if thou sleepest!

[Illustration: Brünnhilde kisses the ring that Siegfried has left with
her See p. 124]


BRÜNNHILDE [_Starts from her seat._

    Waltraute's call!
    How welcome the sound!

        [_Calling to the wing, and then hastening to the
        edge of the rock._

    Dost thou, sister,
    Boldly swinging come this way?
    In the wood--
    Still dear to thee--
    Halt and dismount,
And leave thy courser to rest.

        [_She runs into the wood, from which a loud sound
        like a thunder-clap is heard. She returns in great
        agitation with Waltraute, and remains joyfully
        excited without noticing the latter's anxious fear._

    Art thou so bold
    That thou art come
    Brünnhild' to greet,
Thy love unconquered by dread?

WALTRAUTE

    Thou alone
    Art cause of my haste!

WALTRAUTE

For Brünnhild's sake War-father's ban
Hast thou thus bravely broken?
    Or perchance--O say!--

        [_With some hesitation._

    Has he at last
Softened to his child?
    When against the God
    I sought to shield Siegmund,
    Vainly--I know it--
My deed fulfilled his desire.
    And I know that his anger
    Was assuaged,
For albeit in slumber deep
Here to the rock I was bound,
Doomed to be thrall to the man
Who should wake the maid as he passed,
    To my anguished prayer
    He granted grace;
    With ravening fire
    He surrounded the rock,
To bar to all cowards the road.
    Bane and chastisement
    Turned so to blessing;
    A hero unmatched
    Has won me as wife;
    Blest by his love,
In light and laughter I live.

        [_She embraces Waltraute with wild manifestations
        of joy, which the latter tries with anxious
        impatience to repress._

Hast thou been lured by my lot,
    And wouldst thou, sister,
    Feast on my gladness,
Sharing in my delight?

WALTRAUTE [_Vehemently._

    Sharing the frenzy
That has maddened thee, fool!
Far other the cause why I come,
Defying Wotan in fear.

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Here, for the first time, notices with surprise
        Waltraute's wildly excited state._

    Art afraid?
    Anguished with terror?
So the stern one does not forgive?
Thou fearest his punishing wrath?

WALTRAUTE [_Gloomily._

    Might I but fear it,
At an end were my distress.

BRÜNNHILDE

I am perplexed and amazed.

WALTRAUTE

    Calm thou thy frenzy;
Mark with care what I say!
    The fear that drove me
    Hither to thee
Drives me back to Walhall again.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Alarmed._

What ails, then, the Gods everlasting?

WALTRAUTE

Give earnest heed to what I tell thee!
Since from thee Wotan parted,
    No more has he sent
    Us to battle;
    Anxious and bewildered
We rode to the field.
Shunned are Walhall's bold heroes
    By Warfather;
    Riding alone,
    Without pause or rest
He wandered and roamed through the world.
At last he returned
    With his spear splintered;
    In his hand the pieces;
A hero had cleft it asunder.
    With silent sign
    Walhall's heroes
    Then he sent forth
To hew down the world-ash-tree.
    He bade them pile
    The logs as they hewed them,
    Until they were heaped
High round the hall of the blest.
    The Gods he next
    Called to a council;
    The high seat
    He solemnly took,
    Bidding them
Who gathered in fear sit beside him.
    The heroes filled
The hall, ranged round in their order.
    So sits he,
    Speaks no word,
    Upon his high seat
    Grave and mute,
    The splintered spear
    Held fast in his hand,
    Holda's apples
    Touching no more.
    Fear and amazement
Hold the Gods fast fettered.
    He has sent his ravens
    Forth to seek tidings;
    If they return
And bring him comforting news,
    Then the God will
    With soul serene
Smile evermore and be glad.
    Round his knees in sorrow
    Twined lie the Valkyries;
    He heeds not
    Our glances beseeching;
    By terror and wild anguish
We all are consumed.
    Against his breast
    Weeping I nestled,
    Then soft grew his gaze:
He remembered, Brünnhilde, thee.
He closed his eyes
    As if dreaming,
    Heavily sighed
    And whispered these words:
"If to the deep Rhine's daughters
She would restore the ring that was theirs.
    From the grievous curse
Both God and world were freed!"
    Then I took thought,
    And from his side
    Through the silent ranks
    Stole noiselessly forth.
    In haste, unseen,
    I mounted my horse,
And stormed in tumult to thee.
    Grant, O sister,
    The boon I beg;
    What thou canst do,
    Undaunted perform!
End thou the grief of the Gods!

[Illustration: The ravens of Wotan--See p. 128]

        [_She has thrown herself down before Brünnhilde._

BRÜNNHILDE [_Quietly._

What dreadful dream-born fancies,
Sad one, are those thou dost tell?
    The high Gods' holy
    And cloud-paved heaven
Is no longer my home.
I grasp not what thou art saying;
    Dark its sense,
    Wild and confused.
    Within thine eyes,
    So over-weary,
Gleams wavering fire;
    With thy wan visage,
    O pale-faced sister,
What wouldst thou, wild one, of me?

WALTRAUTE [_Vehemently._

The ring upon thy hand--
'Tis that: ah, be implored!
For Wotan fling it away!

BRÜNNHILDE

The ring--away?

WALTRAUTE

To the Rhine-daughters give it again.

BRÜNNHILDE

The Rhine-daughters--I--the ring?
Siegfried's love-pledge?
    Hast thou gone crazy?

WALTRAUTE

Hear me! Hear my despair!
    On this hangs
The world's undoing and woe.
    Throw it from thee
    Into the water;
End the anguish of Walhall;
The accurst thing cast in the waves!

BRÜNNHILDE

Ha! dost thou know what 'twould mean
    How shouldst thou,
    Maid unloving and cold!
Much is Walhall's rapture,
Much is the fame of the Gods;
    More is my ring.
One glance at its shining gold,
One flash of its sacred fire
    Is more precious
    Than bliss of all the Gods
Enduring for aye!
    For Siegfried's dear love
Shines from it bright and blessèd.
    Love of Siegfried!
Ah, could I but utter the rapture
Bound up in the ring!

    Go back to the holy
    Council of Gods;
    Repeat what I have told thee
    Of my ring:
That love I will not forswear,
Of love they never shall rob me;
    Sooner shall Walhall's glory
Perish and pass!


[Illustration: "The ring upon thy hand--
                ... ah, be implored!
                For Wotan fling it away!"
                               See p. 129]


WALTRAUTE

    This is thy faith, then?
    To her sorrow
Thus coldly thou leavest thy sister?

BRÜNNHILDE

    Up and away!
    Swiftly to horse!
I will not part with the ring.

WALTRAUTE

    Woe's me! Woe's me!
    Woe to thee, sister!
Woe to Walhall's Gods!

        [_She rushes away. A storm-cloud immediately rises
        from the wood, accompanied by thunder._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_As she looks after the brightly lit, retreating
        thunder-cloud, which soon vanishes in the distance._

    Borne by the wind
    In storm and lightning,
    Haste away, cloud,
And may I see thee no more!

        [_Twilight has fallen. The light of the fire
        gradually shines more brightly from below. She
        gazes quietly out on the landscape._

    Eventide shadows
    Dim the heavens,
    And more brightly
The flames that encircle me glow.

        [_The firelight approaches from below.
        Ever-brightening tongues of flame shoot up over the
        edge of the rock._

    Why leap so wildly
The billows that blaze round the rock?
    Up here to the peak
Surges the fiery flood!

        [_Siegfried's horn is heard from the valley.
        Brünnhilde starts up in delight._

    Siegfried?
    Siegfried returned?
With his horn greeting he sends!
Up! Out to the welcome!
Swift to my God's embrace!

        [_She hastens joyfully to the edge of the crag.
        Flames leap up, out of which Siegfried springs
        forward on to a high rock, whereupon the flames
        immediately withdraw and again only shine up
        from below. Brünnhilde recoils in terror, flies
        to the foreground, and from there, in speechless
        astonishment, stares at Siegfried, who, wearing the
        Tarnhelm, which covers the upper half of his face,
        leaving only his eyes free, appears in Gunther's
        form._

BRÜNNHILDE

Betrayed! Who seeks me here?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Remaining on the rock at the back, motionless and
        leaning on his shield, regards Brünnhilde. In a
        feigned (harsher) voice._

Brünnhild'! A wooer comes
Whom thy fire did not dismay.
I want thee for my wife;
Consent to follow me!

BRÜNNHILDE [_Trembling violently._

    What man has done
    This deed undaunted
That the boldest only dares?

SIEGFRIED [_As before._

A hero who will tame
Thy pride by force at need.

BRÜNNHILDE

    A monster stands
    Upon yonder stone;
    An eagle has come
    To rend me in pieces!
Who art thou, frightful one?
    Art thou a mortal,
    Or dost thou hie
From Hella's dark host?

SIEGFRIED

        [_As before, beginning with a slightly tremulous
        voice, but continuing with more confidence._ #/

    A Gibichung am I,
And Gunther is his name
Whom thou must follow hence.

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Breaking out in despair._

    Wotan! Thou cruel,
    Merciless God!
    Woe! Now I see
    How thine anger works!
    To scorn and sorrow
    I am condemned.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Springs down from the stone and approaches._

    Night falls apace;
    Within thy cave
Thou must receive thy husband.

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Stretching out with a threatening gesture the
        finger on which she wears Siegfried's ring._

Stand back! Fear thou this token!
While I am shielded by this,
Thou canst not force me to shame.

SIEGFRIED

Wife it shall make thee to Gunther;
With this ring thou shalt be wed.

BRÜNNHILDE

    Stand back, base robber!
    Impious thief!
Nor dare, overbold, to draw near!
    Stronger than steel
    Made by the ring,
I never will yield!

SIEGFRIED

    That it must be mine
    I learn from thy lips.

        [_He presses towards her. There is a struggle.
        Brünnhilde wrenches herself free, flies and turns
        round as if to defend herself. Siegfried seizes
        her again. She flies; he reaches her. They wrestle
        violently together. Siegfried catches her hand and
        draws the ring from her finger. She gives a loud
        scream. As she sinks helpless into his arms her
        unconscious look meets Siegfried's eyes. Siegfried
        lays her fainting on the stone bench at the
        entrance to the cave._

SIEGFRIED

    Now thou art mine!
Brünnhilde, Gunther's bride,
Lead me the way to thy cave!

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Stares, as if fainting, before her; exhausted._

    O woman undone,
    Where now thy defence?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Drives her on with a gesture of command.
        Trembling and with tottering steps she goes into
        the cave._

Now, Nothung, witness thou
That chastely I have wooed,
And loyal been to my brother;
Lie betwixt me and his bride!

        [_He follows Brünnhilde. The curtain falls. In his
        natural voice._

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



THE SECOND ACT


    _An open space on the shore in front of the
    Gibichungs' hall; to the right the open entrance to
    the hall, to the left the bank of the Rhine. From
    the latter, crossing the stage and mounting towards
    the back, rises a rocky height, cut by several
    mountain-paths. There an altar-stone to Fricka is
    visible, as well as one, higher up, to Wotan, and
    one at the side to Donner. It is night. Hagen, his
    arm round his spear and his shield by his side,
    fits against one of the pillars of the hall asleep.
    The moon shines out suddenly and throws a vivid
    light on Hagen and his immediate surroundings.
    Alberich is seen crouching in front of him, leaning
    his arms on Hagen's knees._


ALBERICH [_Softly._

Hagen, son, art asleep?
Betrayed by drowsiness
And rest thou dost not hear?

HAGEN

        [_Softly, without moving, so that he seems to sleep
        on although his eyes are open._

I hear thee, O baleful Niblung;
What wouldst thou tell me while I slumber?

ALBERICH

    Remember the might
    Thou art endowed with,
    If thou art valiant
As thy mother bore thee to me.

HAGEN [_Still as before:_

Though courage she bestowed,
I have no cause to thank her
For falling under thy spell;
Soon old, wan and pale,
    Hating the happy,
    Where is my joy?

ALBERICH [_As before._

    Hagen, my son,
    Hate thou the happy;
    This joyless and
    Sorrow-laden one,
Him alone thou shalt love.
    Be thou strong
    And bold and wise!
    Those whom with weapons
    Of darkness we fight
Already our hate has dismayed.
And he who captured my ring,
Wotan, the ravening robber,
    By one of his sons
    In fight has been vanquished;
    He has lost
Through the Wälsung power and might.
With the whole immortal race
He awaits in anguish his downfall.
Him I fear no more:
He and all his must perish!
Hagen, son, art asleep?

HAGEN

        [_Remains motionless as before._

    The might of the Gods
    Who then shall wield?

ALBERICH

    I--and thou!
    The world we shall own,
    If in thy truth
    I rightly trust,
Sharest thou my hate and wrath.
    Wotan's spear
    Was splintered by Siegfried,
    The hero who won
    As booty the ring
When Fafner, the dragon, he slew.
    Power supreme
    He has attained to;

[Illustration: The wooing of Grimhilde, the mother of Hagen. See p. 135]

        [_Still mysteriously._

Walhall and Nibelheim bow to his will.
    On this hero undaunted
    My curse falls in vain,
    For he knows not
    The ring's true worth,
    Nor makes use
    Of its wonderful spell;
Laughing he burns life away,
Caring only for love.
    Nothing can serve us
    But his undoing!

Sleepest, Hagen, my son?

HAGEN [_As before._

    Already he speeds
    Through me to his doom.

ALBERICH

    The golden ring--
'Tis that that we must capture!
    The Wälsung
By a wise woman is loved.
    If, urged by her,
    To the Rhine's fair daughters
    --Who bewitched me once
    Below in the waves--
The stolen ring he restored,
Forever lost were the gold,
And no guile could win it again.
    Wherefore with ardour
    Aim for the ring.
    I gat thee
    A stranger to fear,
    That against heroes
    Thou mightst uphold me.
    I had not the strength,
    Indeed, to despatch,
Like the Wälsung, Fafner in fight;
    But I reared Hagen
    To deadly hatred,
And he shall avenge me--
    Shall win the ring,
Putting Wälsung and Wotan to scorn!
Swear to me, Hagen, my son!

        [_From this point Alberich is covered by an
        ever-deepening shadow. At the same time day begins
        to dawn._

HAGEN [_Still as before._

    The ring shall be mine yet;
    Quietly wait!

ALBERICH

Swear to me, Hagen, my son!

HAGEN

    To myself swear I;
    Make thy mind easy!

ALBERICH

        [_Still gradually disappearing, and his voice, as
        he does so, becoming more and more inaudible._

Be true, Hagen, my son!
Trusty hero, be true!
    Be true!--True!

        [_Alberich has quite disappeared. Hagen, who has
        never changed position, looks with fixed eyes and
        without moving towards the Rhine, over which the
        light of dawn is spreading._


[Illustration: "Swear to me, Hagen, my son!"--See p. 138]


    _The gradually brightening red of dawn is reflected
    in the Rhine. Siegfried steps out suddenly from
    behind a bush close to the shore. He appears in his
    own shape, but has the Tarnhelm on his head still;
    he takes this off and, as he comes forward, hangs
    it on his girdle._

SIEGFRIED

    Hoioh! Hagen!
    Weary man!
    Where is thy welcome?

HAGEN [_Rising in a leisurely fashion._

    Hei! Siegfried?
    Swift-footed hero,
    Whence stormest thou now?

SIEGFRIED

    From Brünnhilde's rock.
'Twas there that I drew the breath
I called to thee with;
A quick passage I made!
Slower behind me a pair
On board a vessel come.

HAGEN

    Hast thou won Brünnhild'?

SIEGFRIED

    Wakes Gutrune?

HAGEN [_Calling towards the hall._

    Hoiho! Gutrune!
    Haste and come!
    Siegfried is here.
    Why dost delay?

SIEGFRIED _Turning to the hall._

    How Brünnhild' yielded
    Ye shall both be told.

        [_Gutrune comes from the hall to meet him._

SIEGFRIED

    Give me fair greeting,
    Gibich's child!
I come to thee with joyful news.

GUTRUNE

    Freia greet thee
    To the honour of all women!

SIEGFRIED

    To thy lover glad
    Be gracious;
For wife I have won thee to-day.

GUTRUNE

Comes then Brünnhild' with my brother?

SIEGFRIED

None ever wooed with more ease.

GUTRUNE

Was he not scorched by the fire?

SIEGFRIED

It had not burnt him, I trow;
But I broke through it instead,
That I for wife might win thee.

GUTRUNE

And no harm didst thou take?

SIEGFRIED

I laughed 'mid the surge of the flames.

GUTRUNE

Did Brünnhild' think thee Gunther?

SIEGFRIED

Like were we to a hair;
The Tarnhelm saw to that,
As Hagen truly foretold.

HAGEN

I gave thee counsel good.

GUTRUNE

And so the bold maid was tamed?

SIEGFRIED

Her pride--Gunther broke.

GUTRUNE

Did she give herself to thee?

SIEGFRIED

Through the night the vanquished
      Brünnhild'
To her rightful husband belonged.

GUTRUNE

For her husband thou didst pass?

SIEGFRIED

By Gutrune sojourned Siegfried.

GUTRUNE

But 'twas Brünnhild' lay beside thee.

SIEGFRIED [_Pointing to his sword._

Far as north from east and west,
So far was Brünnhild' removed.

GUTRUNE

But how got Gunther his wife from thee?

SIEGFRIED

Through the flames of the fire as they faded,
When day dawned, through the mist
She followed me down the hill;
    When near the shore,
    None observing,
I gave Gunther my place,
And by the Tarnhelm's magic
Wished myself straight to thee.
A strong wind drives the lovers
Merrily down the Rhine;
Prepare to greet them with joy.

GUTRUNE

Siegfried! Such is thy might,
I am afraid of thee!

HAGEN [_Calling from the shore._

I can see a sail in the distance.

SIEGFRIED

Now be the envoy thanked!

GUTRUNE

Let us give her gracious greeting,
That glad and gay she here may tarry!
    Thou, Hagen, prithee
    Summon the men
To the hall here for the wedding,
While blithe maids
To the feast I bid;
Our joy they will merrily share.

        [_As she goes towards the hall she turns round
        again._

Wilt thou rest, wicked man?

SIEGFRIED

Helping thee is rest enough.

        [_He gives her his hand and accompanies her into
        the hall._

HAGEN

        [_Has mounted a rock at the back, and starts
        blowing his cow-horn._

Hoiho! Hoiho! Hoho!
    Ye Gibich vassals,
    Up and prepare!
    Woeful tidings!
    Weapons! Weapons!
    Arm through the land!
    Goodly weapons,
    Mighty weapons
    Sharp for strife!
    Dire the strait!
Woe! Danger! Danger!
Hoiho! Hoiho! Hoho!

        [_Hagen remains where he is on the rock. Armed men
        arrive in haste by different paths; first singly,
        and then in larger and larger groups._

THE VASSALS

    Why sounds the horn?
    Who calls us to arms?
    We come with our arms?
    We come with our weapons.
    Hagen! Hagen!
    Hoiho! Hoiho!
    Who hath suffered scathe?
    Say, what foe is nigh?
    Who forces war?
    Is Gunther sore pressed?
    We come with our weapons,
    With weapons keen!
    Hoiho! Ho! Hagen!

HAGEN [_Still from the rock._

    Come fully armed
    Without delay!
Welcome Gunther, your lord:
A wife Gunther has wooed.

THE VASSALS

    Is he in straits,
    Pressed by the foe?

HAGEN

    A woman hard won
    With him he brings.

THE VASSALS

    Her kinsmen and vassals
    Follow for vengeance?

HAGEN

    No one follows
    But his bride.

THE VASSALS

    Then the peril is past,
    And the foe put to flight?

HAGEN

    The dragon-slayer
    Helped him at need;
    Siegfried, the hero,
    Kept him from harm.

THE VASSALS

How then can his vassals avail him?
And why hast callèd us here?

HAGEN

    Sturdy oxen
    Ye shall slaughter;
    On Wotan's altar
    Their blood be shed!

THE VASSALS

And after that, Hagen? Say, what next?

HAGEN

    After that for Froh
    A boar ye shall fell,
    And a full-grown and strong
    He-goat for Donner;
    But for Fricka
    Sheep ye shall slaughter,
That she may smile on the marriage!

THE VASSALS


[_With increasing cheerfulness._

    What shall we do
    When the beasts we have slain?

HAGEN

    The drink-horn take
    That women sweet
    With wine and mead
    Blithely have filled.

THE VASSALS

    The drink-horn in hand,
    What task awaits us still?

HAGEN

    Gaily carouse
    Until tamed by wine:
Drink, that the Gods, duly honoured,
Grace may accord to this marriage.

THE VASSALS

        [_Burst into ringing laughter._

    Good luck and joy
    Laugh on the Rhine,
    If Hagen, the grim one,
    So merrily jests!
    To wedding-feasts
    Hagen invites;
    His prick the hedge-thorn,
    Hagen, has lost!

HAGEN

        [_Who has remained very grave, has come down to the
        men, and now stands among them._

    Now cease from laughing,
    Doughty vassals!
Receive Gunther's bride;
Yonder come Brünnhild' and he.

        [_He points towards the Rhine. Some of the men
        hurry to the height; others range themselves on the
        shore to watch the arrival. Hagen goes up to some
        of the men._

    Be to your lady
    Loyal and true;
    Suffers she wrong,
    Swiftly avenge her!

        [_He turns slowly aside and moves towards the back.
        The boat arrives with Gunther and Brünnhilde. Those
        who have been looking out from the height come down
        to the shore. Some vassals spring into the water
        and pull the boat to land. All press closer to the
        bank._

THE VASSALS

    Hail! Hail! Hail!
    Be greeted! Be greeted!
    Welcome, O Gunther!
    Hail! Hail! Hail!

        _Gunther steps out of the boat with Brünnhilde._

THE VASSALS

        [_Range themselves respectfully to receive them._

    Welcome, Gunther!
Health to thee and to thy bride!

        [_They strike their weapons loudly together._

GUNTHER

        [_Presenting Brünnhilde, who follows him with pale
        face and lowered eyes, to the men._

Brünnhild', a peerless bride,
Here to the Rhine I bring.
    No man ever won
    A nobler woman!
The Gods have shown from of old
Grace to the Gibichung stock.
    To fame unmatched
    Now may it mount!

THE VASSALS [_Solemnly clash their weapons._

Hail! O hail, happy Gibichung!

GUNTHER

        [_Leads Brünnhilde, who never raises her eyes,
        to the hall, from which Siegfried and Gutrune,
        attended by women, now come forth. Gunther stops
        before the hall._

Dear hero, greetings glad!
I greet thee, fair sister!
By him who won thee for wife
I joyfully see thee stand.
    Two happy pairs
    Here radiant are shining:

        [_He draws Brünnhilde forward._

Brünnhild'--and Gunther,
Gutrun'--and Siegfried.

        [_Brünnhilde, startled, looks up and sees
        Siegfried. Her eyes remain fixed on him in
        amazement. Gunther, who has released her violently
        trembling hand, shows, as do all present, blank
        astonishment at her behaviour._

THE VASSALS and WOMEN

    What ails her?
    Has she gone mad?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Goes a few steps towards Brünnhilde, who has
        begun to tremble._

Why looks Brünnhild' amazed?

BRÜNNHILDE [_Scarcely able to control herself._

Siegfried ... here? Gutrune....

SIEGFRIED

Gunther's gentle sister,
    Wed to me
    As thou to him.

BRÜNNHILDE [_With fearful vehemence._

I? Gunther? 'Tis false.

        [_She sways and seems about to fall. Siegfried
        supports her._

Light fades from mine eyes. ..

        [_In Siegfried's arms, looking faintly up at him._

Siegfried ... knows me not?

SIEGFRIED

Gunther, see, thy wife is swooning!

        [_Gunther comes to them._

    Wake, Brünnhild', wake!
    Here stands thy husband.

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Perceives the ring on Siegfried's outstretched
        finger, and starts up with terrible vehemence._

    Ha! The ring
    Upon his hand!
    He ... Siegfried?

THE VASSALS

What's wrong?

HAGEN

        [_Coming among the vassals from behind._

    Now pay good heed
    To the woman's tale.

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Mastering her terrible excitement, tries to
        control herself._

    On thy hand there
    I beheld a ring.
    'Twas wrested from me
    By this man here;

        [_Pointing to Gunther._

    'Tis not thine.
    How earnest thou by
    The ring thou hast on?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Attentively regarding the ring on his finger._

'Twas not from him
I got the ring.

BRÜNNHILDE [_To Gunther._

Thou who didst seize the ring
With which I wedded thee,
Declare to him thy right,
Make him yield up the pledge!


GUNTHER [_In great perplexity._

The ring? No ring I gave him,
Though thou dost know it well.

BRÜNNHILDE

Where hast thou hid the ring
That thou didst capture from me?

        [_Gunther, greatly confused, does not answer._

BRÜNNHILDE [_Breaking out furiously._

Ha! He it was
Who despoiled me of the ring--
Siegfried, the treacherous thief!

        [_All look expectantly at Siegfried, who seems to
        be lost in far-off thoughts as he contemplates the
        ring._

SIEGFRIED

    No woman gave
    The ring to me,
    Nor did I wrest it
    From a woman's grasp.
    This ring, I know,
    Was the booty won
When at Neidhöhl' boldly I fought,
And the mighty dragon was slain.

HAGEN

        [_Stepping between them._

Brünnhild', dauntless queen,
Knowest thou this ring well?
If it was by Gunther won,
    Then it is his,
And Siegfried has got it by guile.
For his guilt must the traitor pay.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Shrieking in terrible anguish._

    Betrayed! Betrayed!
    Shamefully betrayed!
    Deceived! Deceived!
    Wrong too deep for revenge!

GUTRUNE

    A wrong? To whom?

VASSALS and WOMEN

    Deceit? To whom?

BRÜNNHILDE

    Holy Gods!
    Ye heavenly rulers!
    Whispered ye this
    In councils dark?
    If I must bear
    More than ever was borne,
    Bowed by a shame
    None ever endured,
    Teach me such vengeance
    As never was raved!
    Kindle such wrath
    As can never be calmed!
    Order Brünnhild's
    Poor heart to be broken,
    Bring ye but doom
    On him who betrayed!

GUNTHER

    Brünnhild', dear wife,
    Control thyself!

BRÜNNHILDE

    Away, betrayer!
    Self-betrayed one!
    All of you, hearken!
    Not he,
    But that man there,
    Won me to wife.

VASSALS and WOMEN

Siegfried? Gutrune's lord?

BRÜNNHILDE

    He forced delight
    And love from me.

SIEGFRIED

    Dost thou so lightly
    Hold thine honour,
The tongue that thus defames it
I must convict of its falsehood.
Hear whether faith I broke!
    Blood-brotherhood
I have sworn unto Gunther;
Nothung, my trusty sword,
Guarded the sacred vow;
'Twixt me and this sad woman distraught
Its blade lay sharp.

BRÜNNHILDE

    Behold how thou liest,
    Crafty man,
    Vainly as witness
    Citing thy sword!
    Full well I know its keenness,
    And also the scabbard
    Wherein so snugly
    Hung on the wall
Nothung, the faithful friend,
When its lord won the woman he loved.

VASSALS and WOMEN

        [_Crowd together in violent indignation._

What! Siegfried a traitor?
Has he stained Gunther's honour?

GUNTHER [_To Siegfried._

    Disgraced were I
    And sullied my name,
    Were not the slander
    Cast in her teeth!

GRUTUNE

    Siegfried faithless?
    False to his vow?
    Ah, prove thou that worthless
    Is her word!

THE VASSALS

    Clear thyself straight;
    If thou art wronged
    Silence the slander;
    Sworn be the oath!

SIEGFRIED

    If I must swear,
    The slander to still,
    Which of you offers
    His sword for the oath?

HAGEN

Swear the oath upon
    The point of my spear;
Bad faith 'twill surely avenge.

        [_The vassals form a ring round Siegfried and
        Hagen. Hagen holds out the spear; Siegfried lays
        two fingers of his right hand upon the point._

SIEGFRIED

    Shining steel!
    Weapon most holy,
Witness my oath sworn for ever!
    On this spear's sharp point
    I solemnly swear;
Spear-point, mark thou my words!
    If weapon must pierce me,
    Thine be the point!
    When by death I am stricken
    Strike thou the blow,
If what she tells is true,
And I broke faith with my friend!

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Strides furiously into the ring, tears
        Siegfried's hand from the spear, and grasps the
        point with her own._

    Shining steel!
    Weapon most holy,
Witness my oath sworn for ever!
    On this spear's sharp point
    I solemnly swear!
Spear-point, mark thou my words!
    Devoted be thy might
    To his undoing!
    Be thy sharpness blessed by me,
    That it may slay him!
For broken his oaths have been all,
And false is what he has sworn.

THE VASSALS

    Help, Donner!
    Roar with thy thunder
To silence this terrible shame!

SIEGFRIED

Gunther, look to this woman
Who falsely slanders thy name.
Let her rest awhile,
The untamed mountain maid,
That the unbridled rage some demon
    In malice has
    Against us roused
May have the chance to subside.
Ye vassals, go ye your ways;
Let the womenfolk scold.
Like cravens gladly we yield,
Comes it to fighting with tongues.

        [_He goes up to Gunther._

Thou art not so vexed as I
That I beguiled her ill;
The Tarnhelm must, I fear,
But half have hid my face.
    Still, women's wrath
    Soon is appeased:
That I won her for thee
Thankful thy wife will be yet.

        [_He turns again to the vassals._

Follow me, men,
With mirth to the feast!

        [_To the women._

    Gaily, women,
    Help at the wedding!
    Joyfully laugh
    Love and delight!
    In hall and grove
    There shall be none
This day more merry than I!
    Ye whom love has blessed,
    Like myself light-hearted,
Follow and share in my mirth!

        [_He throws his arm in the highest spirits round
        Gutrune and draws her into the hall. The vassals
        and women follow, carried away by his example. All
        go off, except Brünnhilde, Gunther, and Hagen.
        Gunther, in deep shame and dejection, with his
        face covered, has seated himself on one side.
        Brünnhilde, standing in the foreground, gazes for
        some time sorrowfully after Siegfried and Gutrune,
        then droops her head._

[Illustration]

BRÜNNHILDE [_Lost in thought._

    What dread demon's might
    Moves here in darkness?
    By what wizard's spell
    Worked was the woe?
    How weak is my wisdom
    Faced by this puzzle!
    And where shall I find
    The runes for this riddle?
    Oh, sorrow! Sorrow!
    Woe's me! Woe's me!
    I gave all my wisdom to him;

        [_With increasing emotion._

    The maid in his power
    He holds.
    Fast in his fetters
    Bound is the booty
That, weeping her grievous shame,
Gaily to others he gives!
Will none of you lend a sword
With which I may sever my bonds?

HAGEN

        [_Going close to Brünnhilde._

    Leave that to me,
    O wife betrayed;
    I will avenge
    Thy trust deceived.

BRÜNNHILDE [_Looking round dully._

    On whom?

HAGEN

On Siegfried, traitor to thee.

BRÜNNHILDE

    On Siegfried? Thou?

        [_Smiling bitterly._

    One single flash
    Of his eye and its lightning--
Which streamed in its glory on me
Even through his disguise--
    And thy heart would fail,
    Shorn of its courage.

HAGEN

    But to my spear
    His perjury gives him.

BRÜNNHILDE

    Truth and falsehood--
    What matter words!
    To arm thy spear
    Seek for something stronger,
Strength such as his to withstand!

HAGEN

    Well know I Siegfried's
    Conquering strength:
How hard in battle to slay him;
    But whisper to me
    Some sure device
For speeding him to his doom.

BRÜNNHILDE

Ungrateful, shameful return!
    I taught him all
    The arts I know,
To preserve his body from harm.


[Illustration:

"O wife betrayed,
 I will avenge
 Thy trust deceived"
 See p. 154
]


    He bears unwitting
    A charmèd life
And safely walks by spells enwound.

HAGEN

Then no weapon forged could wound him?

BRÜNNHILDE

In battle none;--yet--
Did the blow strike his back!
    Never--I knew that--
    Would he give way,
Or turn and fly, the foe pursuing,
So there I gave him no blessing.

HAGEN

And there shall my spear strike!

        [_He turns quickly from Brünnhilde to Gunther._

    Up, Gunther,
    Noble Gibichung!
Here stands thy valiant wife.
Why hang thy head in grief?

GUNTHER

        [_Starting up passionately._

    O shame!
    Dishonour!
    Woe is me!
No man has known such sorrow!

HAGEN

    In shame thou liest--
    That is true.

BRÜNNHILDE [_To Gunther._

    O craven man!
    Falsest of friends!
    Hidden behind
    The hero wert thou
    While won were for thee
    The prize and the glory.
    Low indeed
    The race must have sunk
That breeds such cowards as thou!

GUNTHER [_Beside himself._

Deceived am I--and deceiver!
Betrayed am I--and betrayer!
My strength be consumed,
And broken my heart!
    Help, Hagen!
    Help for my honour!
    Help, for my mother was thine--
Thee too she bore!

HAGEN

    No help from head
    Or hand will suffice:
'Tis Siegfried's death we need.

GUNTHER [_Seized with horror._

Siegfried's death?

HAGEN

Unpurged else were thy shame.

GUNTHER [_Staring before him._

    Blood-brotherhood
    He and I swore.

HAGEN

    Who broke the bond
    Pays with his blood.

GUNTHER

    Broke he the bond?

HAGEN

    In betraying thee.

GUNTHER

    Was I betrayed?

BRÜNNHILDE

    He betrayed thee,
And me ye all are betraying!
    If I were just,
    All the blood of the world
Would not atone for your guilt!
    But the death of one
    Is all I ask for.
    Dying, Siegfried
Atones for himself and you!

HAGEN

        [_Turning to Gunther and speaking to him secretly._

His death would profit thee;
Boundless were indeed thy might
If thou couldst capture the ring,
Which, alive, he never will yield.

GUNTHER [_Softly._

    Brünnhilde's ring?

HAGEN

    The ring the Niblung wrought.

GUNTHER [_Sighing deeply._

'Twould be the end of Siegfried.

HAGEN

His death would serve us all.

GUNTHER

    But Gutrun', to whom
    He has been given!
How could we look in her face
If her husband we had slain?

BRÜNNHILDE [_Starting up furiously._

    What wisdom forewarned of,
    And runes hinted darkly,
    In helpless despair
    Is plain to me now.

        [_Passionately._

Gutrune is the spell
That stole my husband's heart away!
    Woe be her lot!

HAGEN [_To Gunther._

If this grief we must give her,
Conceal how Siegfried died.
    We go to-morrow
    Merrily hunting;
The hero gallops ahead;
We find him slain by a boar.

BRÜNNHILDE and HAGEN

    So shall it be!
    Perish Siegfried!
    Purged be the shame
    He brought on me!
    Faith sworn by oath
    He has broken;
    Now with his blood
    Let him atone!
    Avenging,
    All-hearing God!
    Oath-witness,
    And lord of vows!
Wotan, come at my call!
    Send thou thine awful
    Heavenly host
    Hither to hear
    While I vow revenge!

HAGEN

    Doomed let him die,
    The hero renowned!
    Mine is the hoard,
    And mine I shall hold it!
    From him the ring
    Shall be wrested!

    Niblung father!
    O fallen prince!
    Night warder!
    Nibelung lord!
Alberich! Hear thou thy son!
    Ruling again
    O'er the Nibelung host,
    Bid them obey thee,
    The ring's dread lord!

        [_As Gunther turns impetuously towards the hall
        with Brünnhilde they are met by the bridal
        procession coming out. Boys and girls, waving
        flower-wreathed staves, leap merrily in front.
        The vassals are carrying Siegfried on a shield
        and Gutrune on a seat. On the rising ground
        at the back men-servants and maids are taking
        implements and beasts for sacrifice, by the
        various mountain-paths, to the altars, which they
        deck with flowers. Siegfried and the vassals blow
        wedding-calls on their horns. The women invite
        Brünnhilde to accompany them to Gutrune's side.
        Brünnhilde stares blankly at Gutrune, who beckons
        her with a friendly smile. As Brünnhilde is about
        to step back angrily Hagen comes quickly between
        them and presses her towards Gunther, who takes
        her hand again, whereupon he allows himself to be
        raised on a shield by the men. As the procession,
        scarcely interrupted, moves on quickly again
        towards the height, the curtain falls._

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



THE THIRD ACT


    _A wild wooded and rocky valley on the Rhine,
    which flows past a steep cliff in the background.
    The three Rhine-Maidens, Woglinde, Wellgunde, and
    Flosshilde, rise to the surface and swim and circle
    as if dancing._


THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

        [_Swimming slower._

    The sun
Sends hither rays of glory;
In the depths is darkness.
    Once there was light,
    When clear and fair
Our father's gold shone on the billows.
    Rhinegold!
    Gleaming gold!
How bright was once thy radiance,
Lovely star of the waters!

        [_They sing and again start swimming and circling
        about. They pause and listen, then merrily splash
        the waters._

    O sun,
The hero quickly send us
Who again our gold shall give us!
    If it were ours,
    We should no longer
Envy thine eye for its splendour.
    Rhinegold!
    Gleaming gold!
How glad was thy radiance,
Glorious star of the waters!

        [_A horn is heard._


WOGLINDE

Hark! That is his horn!

WELLGUNDE

    The hero comes.

FLOSSHILDE

    Let us take counsel.

        [_They all dive down quickly._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Appears on the cliff fully armed._

Some elf has led me astray
And lured my feet from the path.
Hey, rogue! Behind what hill
Hast suddenly hidden my game?

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

        [_Rise to the surface again and swim and circle as
        in a dance._

Siegfried!

FLOSSHILDE

What art thou scolding about?

WELLGUNDE

With what elf art thou so wroth?

WOGLINDE

Hast thou been tricked by some sprite?

ALL THREE

Tell us, Siegfried; let us hear!

SIEGFRIED

        [_Regarding them with a smile._

    Have ye, then, hither charmed
    The shaggy-hided fellow
    Whom I have lost?
    Frolicsome maids,
    Ye are welcome to him,
    If he is your love.

        [_The maidens laugh._

WOGLINDE

What would our guerdon be,
Siegfried, if we restored him?

SIEGFRIED

    I have caught nothing yet,
So ask of me what you will.

WELLGUNDE

    A golden ring
    Gleams on thy finger.

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

    Wilt grant it?

SIEGFRIED

    From a dragon grim
I won the ring in fight;
And think ye for a worthless bear-skin
I would exchange the gold?

WOGLINDE

    Art thou so mean?

WELLGUNDE

    In bargains so hard?

FLOSSHILDE

    Free-handed
Thou with women shouldst be.

SIEGFRIED

On you did I waste my goods,
My wife would have cause to scold.

FLOSSHILDE

    Is she a shrew?

WELLGUNDE

    And beats thee sore?

WOGLINDE

Has the hero felt her hand?

        [_They laugh immoderately._

SIEGFRIED

Though gaily ye may laugh,
In grief ye shall be left,
For, mocking maids, this ring
Ye ask shall never be yours.

        [_The Rhine-Maidens have again joined hands for
        dancing._


FLOSSHILDE

    So fair!

WELLGUNDE

    So strong!

WOGLINDE

    So worthy love!

THE THREE

How sad he should a miser be!

        [_They laugh and dive down._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Comes down nearer to the river._

    Why should I stand
    Their taunts and blame?
Why endure their scorn?
    Did they return


[Illustration: "Though gaily ye may laugh,
                In grief ye shall be left,
                For, mocking maids, this ring
                Ye ask shall never be yours"
                                 --See p. 162]


    To the bank again,
The ring gladly I'd give them.

        [_Calling loudly._

    Hey, hey! ye merry
    Water-maidens,
Come back; the ring shall be yours.

        [_He holds up the ring, which he has taken from his
        finger._

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

        [_Rise to the surface again. They appear grave and
        solemn._

    Nay, hero, keep
    And ward it well,
Until the harm thou hast felt
That in the ring lies hid.
Then wouldst thou fain
Be freed by us from its curse.

SIEGFRIED

        [_Calmly puts the ring on his finger again._

Sing something that ye know!

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

Siegfried! Siegfried! Siegfried!
Dark our knowledge for thee!
    The ring thou keepest
    To thy own scathe!
    From the gleaming gold
    Of the Rhine 'twas wrought;
    He who cunningly forged it,
    And lost it in shame,
    Laid a curse on it
    Which, for all time,
    The owner thereof
    Dooms to his death.
    As the dragon fell
    So shalt thou too fall,
    And that to-day;
    Thy fate is foretold,
Wilt thou not give to the Rhine
The ring to hide in its waters.
    Its waves alone
    Can loose the curse.

SIEGFRIED

    Enough, O ye women
    Full of wiles!
Was I firm when ye flattered,
I am firmer now when ye threaten!

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

    Siegfried! Siegfried!
    Our warning is true:
Flee, oh, flee from the curse!
    The Norns who weave
    By night have entwined it
    In the rope
    Of Fate's decrees!

SIEGFRIED

My sword once shattered a spear;
    And if the Norns
    Have woven a curse
    Into the strands
    Of destiny's rope,
Nothung will cleave it asunder.
    A dragon once warned me
    Of this dread curse,
But he could not teach me to fear.

        [_He contemplates the ring._

    The world's wealth
    Has bestowed on me a ring.
    For the grace of love
    Had it been yours,
And still for love might it be got,
But by threats to my life and my limbs--
    Had it not even
    A finger's worth--
The ring ye never shall gain.
    My limbs and my life--


[Illustration: "Siegfried! Siegfried!
                Our warning is true:
                Flee, oh, flee from the curse!"
                              --See p. 164]


    Look!--thus
Freely I fling away!

        [_He lifts a clod of earth from the ground, holds
        it over his head, and with the last words throws it
        behind him._

THE THREE RHINE-MAIDENS

    Come, sisters!
    Fly from the madman!
    Though dauntless and wise
    He seems to himself,
He is blind and in fetters bound fast.

        [_Wildly excited, they swim in wide circles close
        to the shore._

    Oaths he swore,
    And was false to his word;

        [_Moving quickly again._

    Runes he knows
    That he cannot rede.
    A glorious gift
    Fell to his lot;
    He flung it from him
    Unawares;
And the ring that deals doom and death
Alone he will not surrender!

    Farewell, Siegfried!
    A woman proud
Ere night falls thy wealth shall inherit.
Our cry by her will be heard.
To her! To her! To her!

        [_They turn quickly to their dance, and gradually
        swim away to the back singing._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Looks after them smiling, one foot on a piece of
        rock and his chin resting on his hand._

Alike on land and water
I have studied women's ways:
Still those who mistrust their smiles
They seek with threats to frighten,
And, are their threats despised,
At once they begin to scold.
    And yet--
Held I not Gutrun' dear,
Of these alluring maidens
One had surely been mine.

        [_He looks calmly after the Rhine-Maidens, who have
        disappeared, and whose voices gradually die away.
        Horn-calls are then heard. Siegfried starts from a
        reverie and sounds his horn in answer._

HAGEN'S VOICE [_Far off._

    Hoiho!

VASSALS' VOICES

Hoiho! Hoiho! Hoiho!

SIEGFRIED

        [_Having first answered the call with his horn._

    Hoiho! Hoihe!

HAGEN

        [_Appears on the height, followed by Gunther. He
        sees Siegfried._

    So we have found thee
    Where thou wert hidden!

SIEGFRIED

Come down all! Here 'tis fresh and cool.

        [_The vassals now appear on the height, and come
        down with Hagen and Gunther._

HAGEN

Here let us rest
And see to the meal.

        [_They lay the game in a heap._

    Lay down the booty
    And hand round the wine-skins.

        [_Wine-skins and drinking-horns are produced. All
        lie down._

HAGEN

Now be the wonders told us
Of Siegfried and his hunting
That chased the game from us.

SIEGFRIED

No meal at all is mine;
    I beg of you
    To share with me your spoil.

HAGEN

    No luck at all?

SIEGFRIED

I sought for forest-game,
But water-fowl only I found;
Furnished with the right equipment,
A brood of three wild water-birds
I had caught and brought you.
Down there on the Rhine they told me
That slain to-day I should fall.

        [_Gunther starts and looks darkly at Hagen.
        Siegfried lies down between Gunther and Hagen._

HAGEN

A sorry chase were that
If the luckless hunter fell
A victim to the quarry!

SIEGFRIED

Thirst plagues me!

HAGEN

        [_Whilst he orders a drinking-horn to be filled for
        Siegfried, and hands it to him._


It has been rumoured, Siegfried, That thou canst tell the meaning Of
what the birds sing: Does rumour speak true?


SIEGFRIED


I have not listened For long to their song.


        [_He takes the drinking-horn and turns with it to
        Gunther, to whom he offers it after he has drunk
        from it._


Drink, Gunther, drink! Thy brother hands the draught!


GUNTHER

        [_ Looks into the horn with horror. Moodily._

A pale draught thou hast poured!

        [_More gloomily._

Thy blood alone is there.

SIEGFRIED [_Laughing._

With thine, then, be it mingled!

        [_He pours from Gunther's horn into his own so that
        it runs over._


Thus mixed the wine flows over To Mother Earth May it prove a cordial
kind!


GUNTHER [_With a deep sigh._

Thou over-joyous man!

SIEGFRIED [_Low, to Hagen._

His cheer Brünnhild' has marred.

HAGEN [_Low, to Siegfried._


She speaks less plain to him Than speak the birds to thee!


SIEGFRIED


Since I have heard women singing. The birds I have clean forgot.


HAGEN

But thou didst hear them once?

SIEGFRIED

        [_Turning with animation to Gunther._

    Hei! Gunther!
    Moody-faced man!
    Come, I will tell thee
    Tales of my boyhood,
If thou wouldst care to hear them.

GUNTHER

'Twould please me much.

        [_All lie down close to Siegfried, who alone fits
        upright._

HAGEN

Sing, hero, sing!

SIEGFRIED

    Mime was
    A surly old dwarf
    Who because of greed
    Reared me with care,
    That when the childµ
    Grew sturdy and bold
He might slay a dragon grim
That guarded treasure in the wood.
    He taught me to forge
    And the art of fusing,
    But what the craftsman
    Could not achieve
    The scholar did
    By skill and by daring--
Out of the splinters of a weapon
Fashioned featly a sword.
    My father's blade
    Forged was afresh;
    Strong and true
    Nothung was tempered,
    Deemed by the dwarf
    Fit for the fight.
The wood then we sought, and there
The dragon Fafner I slew.

    Listen and heed
    Well to my tale;
I have marvels to tell you.
    From the dragon's blood
    My fingers were burning,
And these I raised to my lips;
    And barely touched
    Was the blood by my tongue,
When what a bird was saying
Above me I could hear.
On a bough it sat there and sang:
    "Hei! Siegfried now owns
    All the Nibelung hoard!
    Oh! could he the hoard
    In the cave but find!
Tarnhelm, if he could but win it,
Would help him to deeds of renown;
And could he discover the ring,
It would make him the lord of the world!"

HAGEN

Didst thou take
The Tarnhelm and ring?

A VASSAL

Was that the end of the singing?

SIEGFRIED

    Having taken
    Tarnhelm and ring,
    Once more I listened
    And heard the sweet warbler;
He sat above me and sang:--
    "Hei! Siegfried now owns
    Both the helm and the ring!
    Oh! let him not listen
    To Mime, the false,
For Mime, too, covets the treasure,
And cunningly watches and spies!
He is bent on murdering Siegfried;
Be Siegfried wary of Mime!"

HAGEN

'Twas well that he warned?

THE VASSALS

Got Mime due payment?

SIEGFRIED

    A deadly-brewed draught
    He brought me to drink;
    But, fear-stricken,
    His tongue stammered truly:
Nothung stretched him out dead!

HAGEN

        [_With a strident laugh._

The steel that he forged not
Mime soon tasted!

        [_He has another drinking-horn filled, and drops
        the juice of a herb into it._

THE VASSALS

What further did the bird tell thee?

HAGEN

    From my horn
    Drink, hero, first:
A magical draught is this;
It will mind thee of things long forgotten,
And bring old days to remembrance.

        [_He offers the horn to Siegfried, who looks into
        it thoughtfully and then drinks slowly._

SIEGFRIED

    In sorrow I listened,
    Grieving looked up;
He sat there still and sang.
    "Hei! Siegfried has slain
    The deceitful dwarf!
    I know for him now
    A glorious bride.
She sleeps where rugged rocks soar;
Ringed is her chamber by fire.
    Who battles the flames
    Wakens the bride,
Brünnhilde wins as reward!"

HAGEN

    The wood-bird's counsel
    Didst thou follow?

SIEGFRIED

    Straight without pause
    I rose and I ran

        [_Gunther listens with increasing astonishment._

Till I came to the fire-ringed rock.
    I passed through the flames,
    And for prize I found,

        [_More and more ecstatic._

Sleeping, and clad in bright mail,
A woman lovely and dear.
    The hard helmet
    I loosened with care,
And waked the maid with my kiss.
Ah, then the burning, sweet embrace
Of Brünnhild's rapturous arms!

GUNTHER

        [_Springing up in the greatest consternation._

    What says he?

        [_Two ravens fly up out of a bush, circle above
        Siegfried, and then fly away towards the Rhine._

HAGEN

    Didst understand
What the ravens there said?

        [_Siegfried starts up suddenly, and, turning his
        back to Hagen, looks after the ravens. Hagen
        thrusts his spear into Siegfried's back._

HAGEN

Vengeance--that was the word!

        [_Gunther and the vassals rush towards Hagen.
        Siegfried swings his shield on high with both hands
        in order to throw it on Hagen; his strength fails
        him; the shield drops from his grasp backwards, and
        he falls down upon it._

GUNTHER and VASSALS

        [_Who have tried to hold Hagen back in vain._

    Hagen, what dost thou?

HAGEN

    Death to traitors!

        [_He turns calmly away, and is seen in the
        gathering twilight disappearing slowly over the
        height. Gunther bends over Siegfried in great
        grief. The vassals stand round the dying man full
        of sympathy._

SIEGFRIED

        [_Supported by two vassals in a fitting posture,
        opens radiant eyes._

    Brünnhilde,
    Heaven-born bride,
Awake! Open thine eyelids!
    Who again
    Has locked thee in sleep
And bound thee in slumber so fast?
    Lo! he that came
    And kissed thee awake

[Illustration: Siegfried's death--See p. 172]

    Again breaks the bonds
    Holding thee fettered
And looks on Brünnhild's delight.
    Ah! those dear eyes
    Now open for ever!
    Ah! the soft fragrance
    Borne on her breathing!
    Death, thou art welcome--
    Sweet are thy terrors--
Brünnhild' greets me, my bride!

        [_He sinks back and dies. The rest stand round him
        motionless and sorrowing. Night has fallen. At
        a silent command from Gunther the vassals raise
        Siegfried's body and bear it away slowly in a
        solemn procession over the height. The moon breaks
        through the clouds, and lights up the funeral
        procession with increasing clearness as it reaches
        the top of the hill. A mist has risen from the
        Rhine which gradually fills the whole stage, on
        which the funeral procession has become invisible.
        After a musical interlude the mist divides again,
        until at length the hall of the Gibichungs, as in
        Act I. appears with increasing distinctness._


_It is night. The moonlight is mirrored in the Rhine. Gutrune comes out
of her chamber into the hall._

Was that his horn?

        [_She listens._

    No!--he
    Has not returned.
    Troubled was my sleep
    By evil dreams!
    Then wildly neighed his horse;
    Brünnhild' laughed,
    And I woke up afraid.
    What woman was it
    I saw go down to the shore?
    I fear this Brünnhild'!
    Is she within?

        [_She listens at the door at the right and calls._

    Brünnhild'! Brünnhild'!
    Art awake?

        [_She opens the door timidly and looks into the
        inner room._

    No one is there!
    So it was she
I saw go downwards to the Rhine.

        [_A distant horn sounds._

    Was that his horn?
    No!
    All silent!

        [_She looks out anxiously._

Would but Siegfried return!

        [_Hagen's voice is heard outside coming nearer.
        When Gutrune hears it she stands for a time
        transfixed with terror._

HAGEN

    Hoiho! Hoiho!
    Awake! Awake!
    Lights! Ho! lights here!
    Burning torches!
    Home bring we
    Spoils of the chase.
    Hoiho! Hoiho!

        [_Increasing light from the torches is seen
        without. Hagen enters the hall._

    Up! Gutrun'!
    Give Siegfried greeting,
    For home to thee
    Thy hero comes.

GUTRUNE [_In great fear._

    What is wrong, Hagen?
    I heard not his horn.

        [_Men and women with lights and firebrands
        accompany, in great confusion, the procession
        returning with Siegfried's body._

HAGEN

    The hero pale
    Will blow it no more;
    No more will he ride
    To battle or chase
Or gaily go wooing fair women.

GUTRUNE [_With growing terror._

    What bring they here?

        [_The procession reaches the middle of the hall,
        and the vassals set down the body on a hastily
        improvised platform._

HAGEN

'Tis a wild boar's spoil they bring thee:
Siegfried, thy husband slain.

        [_Gutrune shrieks and falls upon the corpse.
        General emotion and mourning._

GUNTHER

        [_Bends over the fainting Gutrune._

Gutrun', gentle sister!
    Open thine eyelids!
    Look up and speak!

GUTRUNE

        [_Recovering consciousness._

Siegfried--they have slain Siegfried!

        [_She pushes Gunther back violently._

Hence! false-hearted brother,
Thou slayer of my husband!
    Oh, who will help me!
    Woe's me! Woe's me!
These men have murdered my Siegfried!

GUNTHER

Cast not the blame on me;
'Tis Hagen who must bear it:
He is the accursèd wild boar
That did the hero to death.

HAGEN

With me art wroth for that?

GUNTHER

    Woe and grief
    For aye be thy portion!

HAGEN

        [_Stepping forward with terrible defiance._

Yes, then, 'tis true that I slew him.
    I--Hagen--
    Did him to death!
By my spear he falsely swore,
So by my spear he fell.
I have the sacred right
Now to demand my booty,
And what I claim is this ring.

GUNTHER

Away! Thou shalt not have
What forfeit falls to me.

HAGEN

Ye vassals, judge of my right!

GUNTHER

Thou wouldst seize Gutrune's dower,
Insolent Niblung son?

HAGEN

        [_Draws his sword._

    'Tis thus
The Niblung son demands his own.

        [_He rushes on Gunther, who defends himself: they
        fight. The vassals throw themselves between.
        Gunther falls slain by a stroke from Hagen._

HAGEN

Mine the ring!

        [_He makes a grasp at Siegfried's hand, which
        raises itself in menace. All stand transfixed with
        horror._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Advances firmly and solemnly from the background
        to the front. Still at the back._

    Silence! Your sorrow
    Clamour less loud!
    Now for vengeance his wife comes,
The woman all have betrayed.

        [_As she comes quietly forward._

    I have heard you whining
    As whine children
When milk is spilt by their mother;
    But lamentation
    Meet for a hero unmatched
    I have not heard.

GUTRUNE

        [_Raising herself suddenly from the floor._

Brünnhilde, spite-envenomed!
Thou art the cause of our woe!
For, urged by thee, the men have slain him;
Cursèd hour that brought thee here!

BRÜNNHILDE

Peace, hapless wretch!
Thou never wert wife of his;
    His leman wert thou,
    Only that.
But I am his lawful bride;
To me was the binding oath sworn,
Before thy face he beheld.

GUTRUNE

        [_Breaking out in sudden despair._

    Accursèd Hagen,
Why didst thou give the poison
That stole her husband away?
    O sorrow!
    Mine eyes are opened:
Brünnhild' was the true love
Whom through the draught he forgot.

        [_She turns from Siegfried in shame and fear,
        and, dying, bends over Gunther's body; remaining
        motionless in this position until the end. Hagen
        stands defiantly leaning on his spear and shield,
        sunk in gloomy thought, on the opposite side.
        Brünnhilde stands alone in the middle. After long
        and absorbed contemplation of Siegfried she turns
        with solemn exaltation to the men and women._

BRÜNNHILDE

    Let great logs
    Be borne to the shore
And high by the Rhine be heaped;
    Fierce and far
    Let the flames mount
    That consume to ashes
Him who was first among men!
His horse lead to me here,
That with me his lord he may follow.
    For my body longs
    To have part in his glory
And share his honour in death.
Obey Brünnhild's behest.

        [_The young men, during the following, raise a
        great pyre of logs before the hall, near the bank
        of the Rhine; women decorate this with rugs, on
        which they strew plants and flowers._

BRÜNNHILDE

        [_Absorbed anew in contemplation of Siegfried's
        dead face. Her expression brightens and softens as
        she proceeds._

    Sheer golden sunshine
    Streams from his face;
    None was so pure
    As he who betrayed.
    To wife forsworn,
    To friend too faithful,
    From his own true love--
    His only belovèd--
Barred he lay by his sword.
    Never did man
    Swear oaths more honest,
    No one was ever
    Truer to treaties;
    Never was love
    Purer than Siegfried's;
    Yet oaths the most sacred,
    Bonds the most binding,
    And true love were never
So grossly betrayed!

Know ye why that was?

        [_Looking upward._

    Ye Gods who guard
    All vows that are uttered,
    Look down on me
    In my terrible grief,
Your guilt never-ending behold!
    Hear my voice accusing,
    Mighty God!
Through his most valiant deed--
Deed by thee so desired--
    Thou didst condemn him
    To the doom
That else upon thee had fallen.
    He, truest of all,
    Must betray me,
That wise a woman might grow!

Know I all thou wouldst learn?

    All things! All things!
    All I know now:
All stands plainly revealed.
    Round me I hear
    Thy ravens flapping.
By them I send thee back
The tidings awaited in fear.
Rest in peace now, O God!

        [_She signs to the vassals to bear Siegfried's body
        on to the pyre; at the same time she draws the ring
        off Siegfried's singer, and regards it musingly._

    I claim as mine
    What he has left me.
    O gold accurst!
    Terrible ring!
    I now grasp thee
    And give thee away.
    O sisters wise,
    Ye have my thanks
For your counsel good, ye who dwell
In the waters deep of the Rhine.
    What ye desire
    I gladly give;
    From out my ashes
    Take ye your treasure;
The fire by which I am burnt
Cleanses the ring of its curse.
    Down in the waves
    Wash it away,
    And guard ever pure
    The shining gold
That stolen was to your grief!

        [_She has put the ring on her finger, and now turns
        to the pile of logs on which Siegfried's body lies
        stretched. Taking a great firebrand from one of the
        men, she waves it and points to the background._

    Fly home, ye ravens,
    Tell your lord the tidings
That ye have heard by the Rhine.
    But fly, as ye go,
    By Brünnhild's rock:
    Still Loge flames there;
Bid him follow to Walhall;
    For the Gods are drawing
    Near to their doom.

[Illustration: Brünnhilde on Grane leaps on to the funeral pyre of
Siegfried--See p. 182]

Thus--thrown be the brand
On Walhall's glittering halls!

        [_She hurls the brand on to the pile of wood, which
        quickly breaks into flame. Two ravens fly up from
        the rock by the shore and vanish in the background.
        Brünnhilde perceives her horse, which has just been
        led in by two men._

    Grane, my horse,
    Be greeted fair!

        [_She springs towards him, and, catching hold of
        him, removes his bridle and bends towards him
        affectionately._

    Knowest thou, my friend,
    To whom we are going?
    Thy lord lies radiant
    There in the fire,
Siegfried, my hero blest!
    Thou neighest with joy
    To think thou shalt join him?
    Laughing, the flames
    Allure thee to follow?
    Feel thou my bosom,
    Feel how it burns;
    Flames of fire
    Have laid hold on my heart.
    Ah, to embrace him,
    By him be embraced,
    United for ever
    In love without end!
    Heiajoho! Grane!
    Give thy lord greeting!

        [_She has swung herself on to the horse, and urges
        it forward._

    Siegfried! Siegfried!
See! Brünnhild' greets thee, thy bride!

        [_She urges her horse with one leap into the
        burning pile of logs. The flames immediately blaze
        up, so that they fill the whole space in front of
        the hall and seem to catch hold of the building
        itself. The terrified men and women press as far
        to the front as possible. When the whole stage
        appears to be filled with fire the glow gradually
        fades, so that there is soon nothing left but a
        cloud of smoke, which drifts towards the back and
        hangs there as a dark bank of cloud. At the same
        time the Rhine overflows and the flood rolls up
        over the fire. The three Rhine-Maidens swim forward
        on the waves, and now appear over the spot where
        the fire was. Hagen, who since the incident of
        the ring has been watching Brünnhilde's behaviour
        with growing anxiety, is much alarmed by the fight
        of the Rhine-Maidens. He throws away his spear,
        shield, and helmet, and dashes into the flood as
        if mad, crying out, "Back from the ring!" Woglinde
        and Wellgunde fling their arms round his neck and,
        swimming away, draw him down with them into the
        depths. Flosshilde, swimming ahead of the others
        towards the back, joyously holds up the recovered
        ring. Through the bank of cloud on the horizon a
        red glow of increasing brightness breaks forth,
        and, illumined by this light, the Rhine-Maidens
        are seen merrily circling about and playing with
        the ring on the calmer waters of the Rhine, which
        has gradually retired to its natural bed. From the
        ruins of the fallen hall the men and women watch in
        great agitation the growing gleam of fire in the
        heavens. When this is at its brightest the hall of
        Walhall is seen, in which the Gods and heroes fit
        assembled, as described by Waltraute in the first
        Act. Bright flames seem to seize on the hall of the
        Gods. When the Gods are completely hidden by the
        flames the curtain falls._

[Illustration: The Rhine-Maidens obtain possession of the ring and bear
it off in triumph.]





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