Translation:The Fair Magelone/IX

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Fair Magelone  (1797)  by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by Wikisource
Section 9

9: A Tournament is Held in Honour of the Fair Magelone

King Magelon of Naples now wished to see his beautiful daughter married shortly to Sir Henry of Capua, who had long tarried in court with this very intention. So another splendid tournament was proclaimed, which it was hoped would surpass all previous tournaments in magnificence. Many famous knights came from Italy and France. One of Peter's uncles also came from Provence to attend the tournament: it was the same one who had dubbed the young count a knight.

The jousting began. All the great knights marched into the arena and acquitted themselves valiantly. Peter, who was impatient, was one of the first to enter the lists. He performed so gallantly that he unseated many knights, among whom was Sir Henry. Magelone watched the tournament from her balcony now blenching with fear, now blushing with heartfelt desire. Peter was finally challenged by his uncle, who did not recognize him. Peter, however, knew him very well, so he called the Herald to him and sent him to his kinsman with the message that as he had once done him a great service in the field of chivalry, he could not tilt with him, but he acknowledged him all the same as the better knight. But the old knight was wroth when he heard this, and said:

If I have ever done him a service, he should be all the more willing to break a lance with me or to oblige me in any other way that I see fit. Does he think then that I am not as worthy a knight as he? For he is taken here for an exceeding gallant knight, and indeed his feats of arms have sufficiently shown that he truly is so.

He remained mounted on his horse in the lists while the herald conveyed his angry response to the young knight. Then the two knights ran against each other, but Peter carried his lance cross-wise so as not to injure his kinsman. The other man, who was called Sir James, struck Peter so hard that he shattered his lance and was almost unseated. The spectators were astonished. The two opponents retreated to the ends of the lists and tilted with each other once again. Peter held his lance cross-wise, as before. All were amazed at this, but only Magelone knew why he acted thus. Sir James rode furiously against his opponent. His lance glanced off Peter's cuirass, but the young knight remained seated in the saddle. The blow was so great, however, that Sir James was unseated by his own stroke. When Sir James realized what had happened, he retired and had no more desire to tilt with the young knight. Peter then defeated the rest of the knights and was duly awarded the spoils of victory. The king and all his court were greatly astonished, and the other noblemen returned to their homelands in high dudgeon because they had still not yet learnt the name of the anonymous victor.

Meanwhile, Peter had secretly visited his beloved so many times, that he decided to put their love to the test once and for all. When he saw her again, therefore, he pretended he was very sad, and said in a plaintive voice that he would have to take his leave of her very soon because his parents would be anxious on his account, as they had not seen him for so long and had received no news of him. When Magelone heard these words, she turned pale and began to weep passionately and sank back in her chair.

Yes, take your leave, then, she said, and all my sad forebodings shall have come true. I will never set eyes on you again: my death is certain. But what do you care about that? For that matter, what do I care about it? O pardon, my dear. No. It is true. You must see your parents again. You have tarried here too long on my account. O how they must grieve for you. O how they must sigh for your presence. Yes, farewell, then. farewell forever!

Peter said:

No, my dearest Magelone. I will stay. How could I leave and never see you again? Never again to behold these dear eyes or find hope and strength in them? Nor to hear your sweet voice again, that plays on my ear like a song of angels? No. I will stay. How can I have any thoughts for my home or for my parents when all my thoughts are of you!

Magelone was happy once again; then she reflected for a while.

Even if you love me, she began again, you should nevertheless depart from this place. Your words have awakened a thought in me that has been lying dormant in my soul for so long time that I must tell you of it. Tomorrow my father intends to give me away in marriage to Sir Henry of Capua. Flee, therefore, and take me with you, for I put my trust in your magnanimity. Tomorrow morning, when it is still dark, be at the garden gate with two strong horses. Make sure they are horses that will be able to withstand a long and fast journey, for woe unto us if we are caught!

The young man listened to these words with joyous surprise.

Yes, he exclaimed, we will flee quickly to my father, and the dearest bands shall bind us to each other for ever.

He hurried off at once to make the necessary preparations as quickly and as secretly as he could. Magelone for her part too did all that was necessary, but she spoke not a word of her resolution to her nurse, for fear that she would reveal everything.

Peter bid farewell to his chamber and to the environs of the city, through which he had wandered so often in blissful intoxication, and which he looked upon as witnesses of his love. He was moved when his eyes fell on the faithful lute that was lying on the table; touched by his fingers, that instrument had so often given voice to the feelings of his heart; it had been a confidante of his sweet secret. He took it up once more and sang:

We must part,
O beloved lute.
It is time for me to pursue
My distant and wished-for goal.

I shall take to the battlefield.
I shall go in search of plunder.
I shall take the spoils of victory.
Then homewards I'll flee.

In dawn's red glow
I will flee with her.
My lance shall protect us,
And my coat of mail.

Come, O dear weapons,
Often borne in sport,
Safeguard now my happiness
On this new path.

I shall swiftly plunge into the waves,
I shall embrace my glorious fate.
Already many have been dragged under,
But the valiant swimmer remains afloat.

Ah! How joyful to shed
My noble blood!
To protect the joy of my life,
My precious possession!
To suffer no scorn,
Who lacks the courage?

Let the reins fall,
O happy night!
Spread your wings.
Already the dawn smiles on us
Over those distant hills.