Translation:The Fair Magelone/XII

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Fair Magelone (1797)
by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by Wikisource
Section 12
1141714The Fair Magelone — Section 121797Ludwig Tieck

12: The Lamentations of Fair Magelone

Magelone woke up refreshed after a sweet sleep, thinking that her beloved was still by her side. But when she sat up and saw that he was no longer there, she became alarmed. She waited a short while, but when he failed to return, she began to walk to and fro, calling out his name in a loud voice. Her cries, however, remained unanswered, and she began to weep and sob. She retraced her steps and searched high and low throughout the wood, crying until she was hoarse; but still her cries went unanswered. Her anxiety became so great that her head began to ache. She sank to the ground and lay for some time in a painful swoon. When she regained consciousness, she thought how easy it must be to die. She no longer looked at the birds, which were hopping playfully around her, because when she opened her eyes, it seemed to her that every creature that was stirring and moving about was happier than she.

With great difficulty she climbed a tree and had a look around. In one direction there was nothing to be seen no dwellings, no villages but woods as far as the eye could see. In the other direction, the empty sea stretched to the horizon. Disconsolate, she climbed back down and wept, and lamented anew:

O faithless knight, she exclaimed, why have you abandoned your innocent lover? Did you abduct me from my parents only to leave me languishing here in the wilderness? What have I done to deserve this fate? Did I love you too much? Have you grown weary of me because I showed you my weak heart too soon? Then you must be the most wretched of men!

She began to walk back and forth through the forest in a frantic manner. Eventually she came upon the horses, which were still standing where Peter had secured them.

Oh, forgive me, my love, she exclaimed. I realize now that you are innocent and that you did not leave me intentionally. What strange fate has torn us apart?

It grew dark as night fell, and the Moon cast its broken rays through the forest. Strange and unusual voices could be heard in the distance, and Magelone was afraid that they were the cries of wild animals. With difficulty, she scaled another tree. Lit up strangely by the moon, clouds metamorphosed as they rushed about in disorder through the heavens. Magelone fancied she could see her hero figured forth in these atmospheric phenomena, fighting with monsters and defeating them. The clouds shifted and took on a different appearance, and now in the dim light she saw cities and tall towers, or mountains on which fiery castles were ablaze, or horsemen setting out in squadrons to engage their enemies in the valley. The pale green heavenly tract could be seen splendid between the clouds, as though a flash of lightning had illuminated the landscape. Then she realized that she was imagining things, and with anxious horror she turned her gaze onto the woods beneath her, which slept, black and sombre and unchanging. She looked away towards the sea, whose immense surface trembled and glimmered in front of her eyes. In the quiet of the night the plashing of the waves fell on her ear, now like moaning, now like angry invectives. Then she thought she could hear the voices of her mother and father. And so her mind worried itself with an endless succession of fantasies until morning broke. How different this morning was from yesterday morning! How far away hope was now, which only yesterday had danced along in front of her like a butterfly with light blue wings, showing her the way to a loving home, and searching out all the flowers along the way and pointing them out to her.
The birds of the forest began to sing their songs again; dawn's early glimmer worked its way through the dense forest, creeping bent and wondrous low through the low shrubs, and awakened the grass and the flowers. The forest burned in dark red flames and the mist was transformed into golden pillars among the tree trunks. Magelone had decided in the night not to return to her father because she feared his anger. She would instead search for some quiet dwelling, remote from other people, where her thoughts would always be of her beloved, and where she could die in piety and fidelity. So she climbed down from the tree and returned to where the faithful horses were still tied, their sad heads lowered to the ground. She loosened their reins, so that they could go wherever they wanted, saying:

Go on now. You must wander alone through the wide and sad world and find your own way back to your master, just as I must find my way back to mine.

The horses walked away sadly in two different directions.

Magelone wandered through the dense forest, taking some food with her. In order to make herself unrecognizable, she covered her long golden hair and pulled a veil over her face. She also tried to alter her dress. And as she passed through many villages and towns, she was always sad.

After wandering like this for many days, she found herself one evening in a quiet cheerful meadow. Opposite her was a small hut. Cattle were grazing on the nearby hills; their bells sounded pleasant in the quiet of the evening. On the other side lay a forest, and Magelone's soul was quiet and serene here for the first time in a long while. She resolved therefore to dwell in this peaceful spot. She went up to the hut and was met by an old shepherd, who had settled here with his wife to raise innocent lambs and till his small field far from the rest of mankind. She addressed him, begging shelter and assistance for an unhappy wretch. He readily invited her into his home, and in return she offered to do him whatever service she could. But she concealed her history from her new hosts. It sometimes happened that they would assist unfortunate sailors who were shipwrecked on the nearby coast; on such occasions, Magelone showed herself to be particularly helpful and active. Whenever the old man went out, she would watch over his house, sometimes singing to herself as she sat alone with her spindle by the door:

How soon the light fades:
So soon fades all glory.
Morning breaks and finds
A withered wreath

That yesterday bloomed
In all its splendour;
For it has faded
In the dark night.

The stream of life
Floats by.
It blushes brightly,
For its hopes are frustrated.

The sun declines;
The red blush is put to flight;
The shadow rises,
And darkness draws on.

So floats love
Into the wastelands,
Ah, that it might linger
Until the grave!

But we awaken
To deeper torment.
Our vessel founders;
The light is put out.

From the fair land
We are driven far far away
To a desolate shore
Where night surrounds us.