« PreviousContinue »
With our now gracious lady—'Twas, in truth,
A bright and happy day—I trusted, then,
No cloud would rise on that pure smiling sky!
Now, for the last time, I attend
And must, obediently, prepare this dress,
To be my noble master's shroud, Oh, Heaven!
Is not this hard on your old faithful servant ?-
Why have I lived to see this day?
Zring. Nay, Francis,
Thou good and faithful soul, do not thus weep,
Never to nobler victory was I call'd-
Never for brighter festival didst thou
Adorn me - This is my third holiday !
And therefore do I wear my bridal dress,
And shall, indeed, with loving arms, embrace
Death, who awaits me now,-to me no spectre,
But smiling and attractive-- Where's my sabre?
Scher. Which will you wear, sir ?
Zriny. Bring them all, and then
I shall decide.
Thus am I ling’ring in life's twilight glow-
The next hour brings to me dark night, and death.-
Thus at the goal I stand of all my labours,
And grasp the wreath that Fortune proffer'd me.
I feel it now-I have not fought in vain-
Through death's dark night beams forth th' eternal morn ;
And if I must mine earthly life resign,
Heaven will reward me with the crown of glory.--
The voice even of that century will decay,
And all the race of men that here have known me
But to these ruins will, in after times,
Full many a hand be pointed-Grateful, then,
Full many a tongue will name me.-He who thus
Dares bravely die to save his native land,
Rears for himself a monument eternal
In the true hearts of all his countrymen,
A structure that all tempests may defy.-
I follow reckless that deep impulse now,
That with mine earliest deeds of war awoke
My cheeks are kindling yet with noble fire,
By the warm breath of pure devotion fann'd.
Só for the last time I take up mine arms,
And that which even in dreams I had not hoped for,
The noblest of all victors' wreathes I claim,
And for my people and my faith shall die !
What have they done, whom poets deify,
To whom all nations wake the hymn of praise ?
They bore up bravely in the battle's rage,
Maintaining virtue, and the rightful cause !
Fate may, indeed, the hero's frame destroy
But o'er heroic souls no power prevails-
The worm may grovel in his kindred dust
The noble heart must combat, and will conquer !-
ZRINY, SCHERENK, (with the Sabres.)
Here are the sabres, noble sir-Now choose.
Zriny. Well do I know this
In the battle field
At Pesté 'twas to fame devoted first.
It is, methinks, too cumbrous now and heavy-
I must choose lighter arms. This too I know,
It did brave work at Esseg, and obtain'd
Mine Emperor's thanks and favour ; but it seems
Too plain and simple for this holiday.-
Hold! This is right-Here shall I fix at last.
This sabre from my father I received
Before Vienna. It has won for me
Mine earliest honours, and shall serve me now
To gain my last.—Thou tried, and faithful blade,
How dark soe'er the fate that threatens us,
Never shall I resign thee! Thus I lay
My hand upon thine iron-thus I swear,
Living I shall not yield: nor e'er be led
Captive, in mockery through the camp.--May Heaven,
As I shall hold mine oath, save or renounce me!
Scher. The coat of mail
Zriny. I'll have no coat of mail
But offer to the foe my guardless breast.
What boots it that the frame is cased in steel,
If death is all that I demand ?--Away!
I'll wear no mail; but, lightly thus attired
As for a banquet, I shall march to battle ;
Dauntless look Death in his grim countenance,
And rapidly fulfil my task. By Heaven !
The foe that takes my life at last must pay
No common price.
Scher. Here are the hundred guildres,
As you commanded, and the key.
Zriny. 'Tis well.
The pagan dogs shall not complain at last,
That Zriny's corse has not been worth the plundering.
These, and the key, I wear here in my girdle,
As it becomes a faithful Castellan.
These no one shall, by Heaven, e'er wrest from me,
Ere Death has mined his way into my heart,
And dash'd life's gates asunder!
Zriny, Scherenk, Evá, Helena.
Zriny. You are resolved and tranquil now?
Eva. I am.
I have now reconciled my soul with heaven,
And for dismissal wait.
Zriny. And thou, Helena ?
Helena. That which my mother has consoled, on me Has also shed its balm. The clouds of grief Have clear'd away; and I am all prepared, When thou command'st, before Heaven's throne to appear.
Zriny. 'Tis well. Be then these fleeting moments given To confidential interchange of thought. My dearest Eva, let me thank thee now, For all the blessings I have owed to thee Full many a day thy presence has illumed, And many an hour with pleasure thou hast wing’d.
Our mutual vows pledged at the holy altar,
Nobly hast thou fulfilld, --with changeless love,
Strife and affliction aided me to bear,-
And many a spring-flower, willingly resign'd,
Which my life's stormy waves denied to thee.-
For this may Heaven reward you !
Eva. Dearest Zriny,
Thou hast a thousand times rewarded all
That I have done, even by the faithful love
Of such a noble heart-Even with the moment,
When first that treasure thou bestow'dst on me,
I could have gladly died.-But how is this?
You wear a festal garment !
Zriny. Know'st thou then
Eva. Could I forget it? Thus array'd,
You met me at the altar, and thus look'd
When first your loving arms embraced your bride.
Zriny. In this attire I went, that happy morn,
Unto the brightest festival ; and now
I chose it, when in life's last closing hour,
I go to win my noblest victory!
Death to our second wedding here invites us-
Come, Eva, let us now maintain our vows !
Eva. Ah, dearest Zriny, giddiness assails me,
When my soul strives to win a height like thine.
Heleni. Oh, father! mother! has this earth e'er borne
A nobler pair ? Two souls of joy more worthy ?
And you must die !-Fate thus indeed would rob
Life of its pride and choicest ornament-
And yet this world deserves not to possess you,
If all its blessings are to you not granted.
Zriny. Oh, blame not fate, Helena! Rather thank
Its fatherly protection, that to us
Has thus allow'd, by searching fire, to prove
The pure gold of the heart! Virtue, indeed,
With calm prosperity is seldom join’d.
In chill Misfortune's clime all nobleness
And greatness ripen-From her arms of old
Came forth the famed unconquerable bands,
Pride even of all the world, gigantic forms,
That through the mist of ages we recall.-
Where stern Adversity inspired the soul,-
There power resistless woke, and for itself
Fashion'd a path to all before unknown.
Thus with the immortal stars their glory twines ;
An atom spreads forth to infinity-
And that which else had perish'd, is eternal.-
The moment now is come; the sacrifice
To death begins—Yet tell me, where shall I
Meet thee, and how ?
Eva. There, Zriny, there in Heaven,
And not of thee unworthy.-Have no care
Nor thought for me My resolution now
Is ripe and firm ; but with our parting kiss
Shalt thou first know how much a woman dares !
Zriny. But for our daughter-for Helena
Helena. Fear not !
Soon shall I hover up from earth to meet you !
Nay, I shall be there earliest—My Lorenzo
Will not the last kiss to his bride refuse,
Zriny, Eva, HELENA, Lorenzo, PAPRUTOWITCH, ALAPI, &c.
Lorenzo. For the last time, arm’d, you behold us here.-
Lightly, and without mail, as you commanded,
Our guardless hearts are to their daggers open.
Paprutowitch. Your faithful bands are in the court assembled,
And long for your last greeting, and to meet
Death for their country, and their holy faith.
Alapi. A fugitive, who from the enemy's camp
Escaped by night, has brought intelligence
That Gyula now is fallen, -for Keretschin
Has traitorously resign'd it to the foe.-
Zriny. Curse on his treachery to his emperor !
Rouse, brethren, rouse !-and, from Hungaria's oak,
Let our sharp swords erase the caitiff's name,
And guard our old heroic tree !
Officers. On !-on!
We follow thee !-We all maintain our oath !
Helena. Oh, father“-yet your blessing on your children !
Zriny. Ay—take my richest blessing not for life,
But gladly do I bless the sacrifice,
For honour-liberty-our holy faith-
And native land.-Let the death-angel now
hands.We all shall meet again
With the next morning's dawn,-whose dazzling light
Fades never !--Those who truly loved on earth
Have there their home,--and wreaths of glory twine
Their beamy blossoms round pure souls that here
With true devotion glow'd.-
(A pause. Trumpets, and shouting without. Alapi. Hear how they shout! Your faithful people call you.
Zriny. Be it so!-
Come, let me now, for the last time on earth,
Salute my chosen heroes. Then away !
We are prepared for death!
(Exeunt all but Lorenzo and Helena.
(A pause, while they silently embrace.) Lorenzo. Yet one kiss and let me depart !
Helena. Not so !
We part not thus, Lorenzo. Would'st thou leave
Thy bride 'mid all the terrors of this hour? -
Must I from drunken Janissaries beg
The boon of death ?-Shall some fierce stranger's hand
Guide to my heart the dagger,-merciless
Rending that bosom, wherein every vein
That vibrates,-every pulse that beats,--to thee
Alone has been devoted ?-Heard you not
My father's words ? -" Let the death-angel join
Your hands”—and will you scorn his last command ?-
No, no, Lorenzo ! Be it thine to strike
The dagger to my heart—and with thy kiss
Receive my parting soul !
Lorenzo. Oh, Heaven! what would'st thou ?
Helena. I ask no more than even the trembling hand
Of a weak girl would not refuse to thee,
If wounded here you lay and could no more
Seek death in open field. But you, perchance,
Shrink from the task of executioner.
I would myself, even without faultering, seize
The dagger, and at once unite our souls.
Lorenzo. I should kill thee ?-No-no ! I cannot.-Death
Oftimes has thunder'd round and
Have fall’n in multitudes-Nay, once I stood
O'er my departed father's corse, nor blench'd
Nor trembled then, but thirsting for revenge,
Threw myself ʼmid the enemy's murderous crowd-
But to break now this beauteous rose !—The storm
Tears up the towering beech and gnarled oak-
But leaves unhurt the tender flowers.-O'er them
Its thunder sinks even to the zephyr's sigh-
And shall I fiercer than the raging storm,
Life's brightest vernal garland thus destroy ? -
More cruel than the reckless elements
That blossom break, whereon the hand of Fate
Yet ventures not?-No, no !-It may not be !
Helena. Nay, nay, Lorenzo !--If thy cherish'd vows
Are not all scatter'd to the wind-By all
That is on earth most sacred-Innocence-
Love-Liberty-our native land—and Heaven,---
I do conjure you-Oh, Lorenzo ! kill me!
There in the realms of light, we meet again
There shall I reach to thee the palm-tree wreath-
Now, if thou lov'st methou can’st not refuse !
Death is mine only refuge !-Could'st thou bear
That, ʼmid the Turkish Emperor' slaves, thy bride
Should be degraded ?-Is not shame to me
Far worse than death ?-Shall violence-
Lorenzo. Hold—no more!
It shall be done
(About to stab her.)
Helena. Nay-dearest-yet not 60 -
Not in the storm of passion.- Tranquilly
And calmly sheathe thy dagger in my heart,
And open to my soul its path to Heaven !
Embrace me !--Oh how happy now I am!
The veil is torn-all now is clear before me !
The light of a new morn illumes my
Therefore, oh kill me !-From my pale lips kiss
My soul away!
Lorenzo. T'here shall we meet in heaven?
Helena. There I am thine for ever!
Lorenzo. And wilt thou
Look down thence on Lorenzo ?
Helena. Stay not long-
Your bride will call you.
Lorenzo. If my brethren, too,
And Death should call ?
Helena. Then, like an hero die
And triumph!- I will, smiling, haste to meet you.
Lorenzo." Then take this kiss-The realms of heaven receive you!
(He stabs her.)
Helena. Thank you-oh thank you for this sweet, sweet death!
Let me not wait too long-Yet this one kiss
And now my soul departs.