Translation:Puss in Boots/Act 1/Scene 2

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Translation:Puss in Boots by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by wikisource and  Wikisource
Act 1, Scene 2

ACT ONE

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Scene Two


A hall in the royal palace.

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The King with crown and sceptre. The Princess, his daughter.


King

A thousand handsome princes, my esteemed daughter, have already sued for your hand and laid their kingdoms at your feet, but you have refused them all. Tell us the reason for this, my treasure.

Princess

Most gracious father, it has always been my belief that my heart must first evince certain sentiments before I can pass under the yoke of matrimony. For a marriage without love, they say, is truly a hell upon earth.

King

That is right, my dear. Yes, yes, what you say is indeed true: a hell on earth! Alas, would that I were not qualified to discuss it! Indeed I should have preferred to remain blissfully ignorant of it! But as it is, my dear, I could a tale unfold, as they say. Your mother, my consort of blessed memory ah, Princess, see, even in my old age the tears rush to my eyes she was a good queen, she wore the crown with a sublime air of majesty but she gave me very little peace. Well, may she rest in peace among her royal relatives.

Princess

Your majesty excites himself too much.

King

When I think back on it now O my child, on my bended knee I implore you consider carefully before you marry. It is a great truth that linen and a bridegroom should not be bought by candlelight; a sublime truth which every maiden should have inscribed in letters of gold in her chamber. Oh, how I suffered! Not one day passed without a quarrel; I could not sleep in peace; I could not conduct my imperial affairs at my own convenience; I had no time for personal reflection; I could not read the newspaper without being distracted. At dinner, I could never enjoy a fine roast or indulge my appetite; every morsel I swallowed was seasoned with irritation; every course was served with so much squabbling, scolding, sneering, grumbling, griping, grouching, nagging, sulking , biting, grousing, growling and groaning, that more often than not I wished I were amongst the dead rather than amongst the dishes. And yet my spirit occasionally yearns for you, my dear belated Clothilde! My eyes are filling up again oh, what a foolish old man I am!

Princess

affectionately

O father!

King

I tremble whenever I think of all the dangers that face you; for, even if you do fall in love now, my dear, and even if your love and affection are requited ah, just think, my child, wise men have written weighty tomes, often closely printed, warning of the dangers of love; simply falling in love and being loved in return can be enough to make one miserable: the happiest, the most blissful emotion can ruin us; love is, as it were, an ingenious puzzle cup: instead of nectar, it often dispenses poison; next thing you know, your pillow is drenched in tears; all hope, all comfort are gone.

A trumpet sounds.


King

It isn't dinner-time yet, is it? No doubt it's just another prince who wants to fall in love with you. Take care, my dear, you are my only child, and you do not realize how dear to my heart your happiness is.

He kisses her and leaves; applause in the pit.


Fischer

Now, that scene actually had some common sense in it.

Schlosser

I too am moved.

Müller

He's a splendid ruler.

Fischer

But was it really necessary for him to be wearing a crown?

Schlosser

It destroys all the sympathy one feels for him as an affectionate father.

Princess

alone

I do not understand why none of the princes has yet touched my heart with love. I always keep my father's warnings in mind; he is a great ruler, but he is also a good father, and he is always thinking of my happiness; his subjects love him; he is gifted and wealthy; he is usually as gentle as a lamb, but sometimes he forgets himself and his duties and can suddenly fly into the wildest of rages. Yes, fortune and misfortune, it seems, are always coupled together. The arts and the sciences are my only sources of joy; books constitute all my happiness.

The Princess; Leander, the court scholar.


Princess

You are just in time, Master Leander.

Leander

I am always at your service, your majesty.

They sit down.


Princess

Here is my assignment. I have entitled it Night Thoughts.

Leander

reading it

Excellent! Ingenious! Ah! I can almost hear the chimes of midnight striking. When did you write this?

Princess

Yesterday afternoon, after dinner.

Leander

Beautifully conceived! Really, it is beautifully conceived! But, with your gracious permission; The moon shines sadly down on the world please do not take it amiss, but it should read: in die Welt rather than in der Welt.

Princess

Yes, of course. I will take a note of that for the future. You must think me a perfect dunce to find poetry so difficult; I can't write five or six lines without making a mistake.

Leander

The idiosyncrasies of our language are to blame.

Princess

But aren't the emotions tenderly and delicately phrased!

Leander

Indescribably, oh so how shall I put it? so tenderly and lovingly teased out, so finely entwined; all the poplars and weeping willows, and the golden moonlight shining tearfully down on them; and then the purling murmur of the babbling brook it is scarcely comprehensible how a meek feminine mind could conceive such thoughts without first having been scared half to death by the sight of pale ghosts in a churchyard at midnight.

Princess

Now I might try my hand at some Greek metres and ancient verse forms; I would like to set aside the vagueness of romantic poetry and have a go instead at more descriptive pieces.

Leander

You must continue to make progress; you are climbing higher and higher.

Princess

I have also begun a play: The Unhappy Misanthrope; or, Lost Serenity and Innocence Redeemed.

Leander

The title itself is fascinating.

Princess

And then I feel an incomprehensible urge to write some grisly ghost story. As I said before, if only it weren't for all those grammatical blunders!

Leander

Do not worry about such things, incomparable princess! Mistakes are easily corrected.

The Groom of the Chambers enters.


Groom

The Prince of Malsinki, who has just arrived, wishes to wait upon your royal highness.

Exit groom.


Leander

Your obedient servant.

Exit Leander. Prince Nathaniel of Malsinki and The King enter.


King

Here, Sir, is my daughter, a silly young thing, as you see her before you. [To the Princess:] Be polite, my dear, and courteous; he is a distinguished prince from a distant land; his country is not even on my map; I have already looked it up. I have a great deal of respect for him.

Princess

It is an honour and a pleasure to make your acquaintance, your highness.

Nathaniel

Beautiful Princess, reports of your beauty have spread so widely throughout the world that I have journeyed from a remote corner of the globe to see you face to face.

King

Indeed, it is astonishing how many countries and kingdoms there are! You would not believe how many thousands of crown princes have been here already to pay their addresses to my daughter; sometimes they arrive in their dozens, especially when the weather is fine and now you have come all the way from I beg your pardon, topography is such an extensive subject whereabouts does your country lie?

Nathaniel

Your royal highness, first you set off down the great highway; then you turn right and proceed until you reach a mountain; turn left again, and then proceed to the ocean and sail directly north (if, that is, the wind is favorable); if your journey is successful, you will reach my realm in one and a half years.

King

Goodness me! I'll have to get my court scholar to explain all that to me. I suppose you live next to the North Pole or the Zodiac, or something like that!

Nathaniel

I wouldn't know.

King

Perhaps somewhere near the savages?

Nathaniel

I beg your pardon! All my subjects are very tame.

King

But you must live in a confoundedly out-of-the-way place. I still can't get my head around it.

Nathaniel

The exact geography of my country has still not been determined. I hope to discover more of it day by day. Who knows, we may even turn out to be neighbors after all.

King

That would be splendid! And if, in the end, there are still a few countries separating us, I would be happy to help you with your discoveries. My neighbor is not a good friend of mine, so to speak, but he has an excellent country; all our raisins come from there; why, I should be only too glad to have it! And another thing: do tell me how, living so far away, you can speak our language so fluently!

Nathaniel

Ssh!

King

What?

Nathaniel

Hush! Hush!

King

I don't understand.

Nathaniel

quietly to him

Oh do please be quiet about it, or the audience down there will eventually realize that it's very far-fetched.

King

It doesn't matter; they aplauded before, so I can afford to throw them a bone.

Nathaniel

Don't you see, it's only for the sake of the play that I can speak your language. Otherwise, of course, it would make no sense at all.

King

Ah, I see! Yes, of course, we must keep the ladies happy and the play ticking over, even if it means turning a blind eye to some things. Well, come along, Sir, the table is laid!

The Prince escorts the Princess out; the King goes ahead of them.


Fischer

This play is full of bloody anomalies!

Schlosser

And the king is not staying true to his character.

Leutner

Nothing infuriates me more than contradictions and anomalies! Why on earth can the prince not speak some foreign language and have an interpreter with him to translate it into German? And how come the princess doesn't make any grammatical errors when she speaks, since she herself admits that she cannot write five or six lines without blundering?

Müller

Yes, indeed! The whole thing is complete rubbish; the author himself keeps forgetting what he has just written.

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