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I can't but know, is going forward round me.
I see it gath'ring, crowding, driving on,
In wild uncustomary movements. Well,
In due time, doubtless, it will reach even me.
Where think you I have been, dear lady? Nay,
No raillery. The turmoil of the camp,
The spring-tide of acquaintance rolling in,
The pointless jest, the empty conversation,
Oppress'd and stifled me. I gasp'd for air-
I could not breathe-I was constrain'd to fly,
To seek a silence out for my full heart;
And a pure spot wherein to feel my happiness.
No smiling Countess! In the church was I.
There is a cloister here to the heaven's gate, * .
Thither I went, there found myself alone.
Over the altar hung a holy mother;
A wretched painting 'twas, yet 'twas the friend
That I was seeking in this moment. Ah,
How oft have I beheld that glorious form .
In splendour, mid extatic worshippers ;
Yet, still it mov'd me not ! and now at once
Was my devotion cloudless as my love.
Coun. Enjoy your fortune and felicity!
Forget the world around you. Meantime, friendship
Shall keep strict vigils for you, anxious, active.
Only be manageable when that friendship
Points you the road to full accomplishment,
How long may it be since you declared your passion ?
* I am doubtful whether this be the dedication of the cloister, or the name of one of the city gates, near which it stood. I have translated it in the former sense; but fearful of having made some blunder, I add the original :
Es ist ein Kloster hier zur Himmelspforte.
Max. This morning did I hazard the first word.
Coun. This morning the first time in twenty days ?
Max. 'Twas at that hunting-castle, betwixt here
And Nepomuck, where you had join'd us, and-
That was the last relay of the whole journey!
In a balcony we were standing mute,
And gazing out upon the dreary field :
Before us the dragoons were riding onward,
The safe-guard which the Duke had sent us-heavy
The inquietude of parting lay upon me,
And trembling ventur'd I at length these words:
This all reminds me, noble maiden, that
To-day I must take leave of my good fortune.
A few hours more, and you will find a father,
Will see yourself surrounded by new friends,
And I henceforth shall be but as a stranger,
Lost in the many—“Speak with my aunt Tertsky !"
With hurrying voice she interrupted me.
She faulter’d. I beheld a glowing red
Possess her beautiful cheeks, and from the ground
Rais'd slowly up, her eye met mine-no longer
Did I control myself.
(The Princess Thekla appears at the door, and
remains standing, observed by the Countess, but
not by Piccolomini.)
With instant boldness
I caught her in my arms, my mouth touch'd her's ;
There was a rustling in the room close by;
It parted us- – 'Twas you. What since has happened,
Coun. (after a pause, with a stolen glance at Thekla)
And is it your excess of modesty;
Or are you so incurious, that you do not
Ask me too cf my secret ?
Of your secret ?
Coun. Why, yes! When in the instant after you
I stepp'd into the room, and found my niece there,
What she in this first moment of the heart,
Ta'en with surprise-
Max. (with eagerness)
Thekla (hurries forward), Countess, Max. Piccolomini.
Thek. (to the Countess) Spare yourself the trouble. That hears he better from myself.
Max. (stepping backward) My Princess !
What have you let her hear me say, aunt Tertsky !
Thek (to the Countess) Has he been here long?
Yes ; and soon must go.
Where have you stay'd so long?
Alas! my mother
Wept so again ! and I-I see her suffer,
Yet cannot keep myself from being happy.
Max. Now once again I have courage to look on you. To-day at noon I could not. The dazzle of the jewels that play'd round you Hid the beloved from me. Thek.
Then you saw me With your eye only—and not with your heart ?
Max. This morning, when I found you in the circle Of all your kindred, in your
Beheld myself an alien in this circle,
O! what an impulse felt I in that moment
To fall upon his neck, to call him father!
But his stern eye o'erpower’d the swelling passion-
It dar'd not but be silent. And those brilliants,
That like a crown of stars enwreath'd your brows,
They scar'd me too! O wherefore, wherefore should he
At the first meeting spread as 'twere the bann
Of excommunication round you, wherefore
Dress up the angel as for sacrifice,
And cast upon the light and joyous heart
The mournful burthen of his station ? Fitly
May love dare woo for love ; but such a splendour
Might none but monarchs venture to approach.
Thek. Hush! not a word more of this mummery.
You see how soon the burthen is thrown off.
(to the Countess)
He is not in spirits. Wherefore is he not ?
'Tis you, aunt, that have made him all so gloomy!
He had quite another nature on the journey-
So calm, so bright, so joyous eloquent.
It was my wish to see you always so,
And never otherwise !
You find yourself
In your great father's arms, beloved lady!
All in a new world, which does homage to you,
And which, were't only by its novelty,
Delights your eye.
Yes ; I confess to you
That many things delight me here: this camp,
This motley stage of warriors, which renews
So manifold the image of my fancy,
And binds to life, binds to reality,
What hitherto had but been present to me
As a sweet dream!
Alas! not so to me.
It makes a dream of my reality.
Upon some island in the etherial heights
I've liv'd for these last days. This mass of men
Forces me down to earth. It is a bridge
That, reconducting to my former life,
Divides me and my heaven.
Looks cheerful, when one carries in one's heart
The unalienable treasure.
'Tis a game,
Which having once review'd, I turn more joyous
Back to my deeper and appropriate bliss.
(breaking off, and in a sportive tone)
In this short time that I've been present here,
What new unheard-of things have I not seen?
And yet they all must give place to the wonder
Which this mysterious castle guards.
Can this be then? Methought I was acquainted
With all the dusky corners of this house.
Thek. (smiling) Ay, but the road thereto is watch'd by
spirits, Two griffins still stand sentry at the door.
Coun. (laughs) The astrological tower !-How hap
That this same sanctuary, whose access
Is to all others so impracticable,
Opens before you e'en at your approach ?
Thek. A dwarfish old man with a friendly face
And snow-white hairs, whose gracious services
Were mine at first sight, open'd me the doors.
Max. That is the Duke’s astrologer, old Seni.
Thek. He question'd me on many points; for instance, When I was born, what month, and on what day, Whether by day or in the night.