Act One

Prelude and Scene One

(The curtain rises.)
(The inside of a dwelling place; an apartment built
of wood surrounds the stem of a great ash tree
standing in the center. On the right, in the fore-
ground, is the hearth, behind it the storeroom; at
back, the great entrance door; on the left, at back,
steps lead up to an inner room; lower down, on the
same side, a table with a broad bench behind it, fixed
to the wall; some wooden stools in front of it.)

(The stage remains a while empty; storm without,
just subsiding.)

(Siegmund opens the entrance door from without
and enters. He holds the latch in his hand and looks
round the room: he appears exhausted with over-
exertion: his dress and appearance show that he is in
flight. Seeing no one, he closes the door behind him,
walks, as with the last efforts of an exhausted man, to
the hearth, and there throws himself down on a rug
of bearskin.)

Whoe'er own this hearth,
here must I rest me.

(He sinks back and remains stretched out motionless.)
(Sieglinde enters from the inner chamber, thinking
that her husband has returned. Her grave look shows
surprise when she finds a stranger stretched on the

(still at the back)
A stranger here? why came he hither?
(She comes nearer.)
What man is this who lies on the hearth?
(As Siegmund does not move, she comes still
nearer and looks at him.)

Worn and way-weary lies he there.
Is it but weariness? or is he sick?
(She bends over him and listens.)
I hear still his breathing,
'tis sleep that hath seized him.
Valiant is he, meseems,
though so worn he lies.

(suddenly raising his head)
A draught! a draught!

I bring thee water.
(She quickly takes a drinking horn and goes out.
She returns with it filled and offers it to Siegmund.)

Drink to moisten thy lips I have brought thee:
Water, as thou didst wish!
(Siegmund drinks and gives the horn back. As he
signs his thanks with his head, his eyes fix themselves
on her with growing interest.)

Cooling relief the water has wrought,
my weary load now is made light:
refreshed is my heart, mine eyes are gladdened
by blissful raptures of sight.
Who is't that gladdens them so?

This house and this wife
call Hunding owner;
stranger, take here thy rest:
tarry till he return!

Weaponless am I: a wounded guest will
thy husband make welcome.

(with anxious haste)
Thy wounds now shew to me straight!
(Siegmund shakes himself and springs up quickly
to a sitting position.)

But slight are they, unworthy a word;
still whole are my limbs and trustily knit.
If but half so well as my arm
shield and spear had availed me,
ne'er from foe had I fled;
but in splinters were spear and shield.
The horde of foe-men harried me sore,
by storm and stress spent was my force;
but quicker than I from foe-men
fled my faintness from me:
darkness had sunk on my lids;
now laughs the sunlight anew.
(Sieglinde goes to the storeroom, fills a horn with
mead, and offers it to Siegmund with friendly eagerness.)

A quickening draught of honeyed mead
may'st thou not scorn from me.

Let it first touch thy lips?
(Sieglinde sips from the horn and gives it back.
Siegmund takes a long draught, while his gaze rests
on her with growing warmth. Still gazing, he removes
the horn from his lips and lets it sink slowly while the
expression of his features expresses strong emotion.
He sighs deeply and gloomily lets his eyes sink to the

(with trembling voice)
Thou hast tended an ill-fated one:
(quickly) ill-fate would I might turn from thee!
(He starts up.)
Good rest I found here and sweet repose:
onward wend I my way.
(He goes toward the back.)

(turning quickly around)
Who pursues thee, that thou must fly?

(has stopped)
Ill-fate pursues me where'er I wander;
Ill-fate o'ertakes me where'er I linger:
to thee, wife, ne'er may it come!
forth from thy house I fly.
(He goes hastily to the door and lifts the latch.)

(in impetuous self-forgetfulness, calling to him)
Then bide thou here!
Ill-fate thou canst not bring there,
where ill-fate has made its home!
(Siegmund, deeply moved, remains standing, he
looks searchingly at Sieglinde, who casts down her
eyes in shame and sadness. Siegmund returns.)

Wehwalt called I myself:
Hunding here then shall find me.
(He leans against the hearth: his eyes fix them-
selves with calm and steady sympathy on Sieglinde:
she slowly raises her eyes again to his; they regard
each other, during a long silence, with an expression
of the deepest emotion.)

Scene Two

(Sieglinde starts, listens, and hears Hunding, who
is leading his horse to the stable outside. She goes
quickly to the door and opens it. Hunding, armed
with shield and spear, enters and pauses at the
threshold on perceiving Siegmund. Hunding turns to
Sieglinde with a look of stern enquiry.)

(answering Hunding's look)
Faint, this man lay on our hearth:
need drove him to us.

Hast tended him?

A draught I gave to him,
welcomed him as guest!

(firmly and quietly watching Hunding)
Rest and drink offered she:
wouldst therefore chide the woman?

Sacred is my hearth:
sacred hold thou my house.
(He takes off his armor, and gives it to Sieglinde.)
(to Sieglinde)
Set the meal now for us!
(Sieglinde hangs the arms on the branches of the
ash tree, fetches food and drink from the storeroom,
and prepares supper.)

(Involuntarily she again turns her gaze on Siegmund.)
(Hunding looks keenly and with surprise at
Siegmund's features, which he compares with

(aside) How like to the woman!
The serpent's deceit
glistens, too, in his glances.
(He hides his surprise and turns unconcernedly to

Far, I trow, led thee thy way;
no horse rode he who here found rest:
what rugged paths have wearied thy feet?

Through brake and forest,
meadow and moor,
storm has pursued and sorest need:
I know not the way I have come.
Whither it led me, also I know not:
fain would I learn it from thee.

(at the table, offering Siegmund a seat)
The roof and room that shelter thee,

Hunding calls his own;
wendest thou hence to the west thy way,
in homesteads rich findest thou kinsmen
who guard the honor of Hunding:
guest, now grant me a grace,
and thy name make known in return.
(Siegmund, who has taken his place at the table,
gazes thoughtfully before him. Sieglinde has placed
herself next to Hunding, opposite to Siegmund, on
whom she fastens her eyes with visible sympathy and

(watches them both)
Fearest thou to give me thy trust,
to the wife here tell thy secret:
see her longing in her looks!

(unembarrassed and interested)
Guest, who thou art I would know.
(Siegmund looks up, gazes into her eyes and
begins gravely.)

Friedmund may I not call me;
Frohwalt, would that I were:
but Wehwalt so must I name me.
Wolfe, I called my father:
alone was I not born;
for a sister twinned with me.
Soon lost were both mother and maid;
her who me bore, her who with me was born,
scarce have I ever beheld.
Warlike and strong was Wolfe,
and foes full many he found.
A-hunting oft went the son with the father;
once, worn from the chase,
we came to our home,
there lay the wolf's nest waste.
To ashes burnt the goodly abode,
to dust the oak tree's branching stem;
struck dead was the mother's valorous form,
and lost in the ruins the sister's trace:
the Neidings' cruel host
had dealt us this deadly blow.
Unfriended fled my father with me;
many years the stripling lived on with Wolfe in
woodlands wild:
oft beset were we by our foes;
but bravely battled the Wolf-pair still.
(turning to Hunding)
A Wolfing tells thee the tale
whom as "Wolfing" many well know.

Marvels and monstrous stories
tellest thou, daring guest,
Wehwalt the Wolfing!

Methinks, of the warrior pair
I heard dark rumors spoken,
though I nor Wolfe nor Wölfing knew.

Yet further tell us, stranger:
where roams thy father now?

A fiery onset on us
then did the Neidings begin:
but slain by the wolves fell many a hunter,
in flight through the woods,
chased by their game,
like chaff were scattered the foes.
But torn from my father was I;
his trace I saw not though long was my seeking:
in the woods a wolfskin found I alone;
there, empty it lay; my father found I not.
From the woods driven afar;
my heart longed for men and for women.
Amongst all folk, where'er I fared,
if friend or wife I sought to win,
still was I ever mistrusted:
ill-fate lay on me.
Whate'er right thing I wrought,
others counted it ill;
what seemed evil to me,
others greeted as good.
In feuds I fell wherever I dwelt,
wrath met me wherever I fared;
striving for gladness, woe was my lot:
my name then be Wehwalt ever;
for woe still waits on my steps.
(He turns his eyes to Sieglinde and notes her
sympathetic look.)

She who cast thee fate so forlorn,
the Norn then loved thee not:
gladly greets thee no man
to whom as guest thou com'st.

Craven hearts only fear a weaponless,
lonely man!
Tell us yet, guest, how in the fight
at last thy weapon was lost?

A sorrowful child cried for my help:
her kinsmen sought to bind in wedlock
unloved, a man with the maid.
Help against wrong gladly I gave,
her ruthless clan met me in fight:
before me foe-men fell.
Struck down and dead lay her brothers:
her arms round their bodies she clasped,
her grief had banished her wrath.
From wildly streaming eyes
she bathed the dead with her tears;
for her brothers in battle slain lamented the
ill -fated bride.
Then the host of kinsmen surged like a storm;
full of fury, vengeance they vowed on me:
ever new foe-men rose to assail me.

But from the place ne'er moved the maid;
my shield and spear sheltered her long,
till spear and shield were hewn from my hand.
Wounded, weaponless stood I;
death I saw take the maid:
I fled from the furious host;
lifeless lay she on the dead.
(to Sieglinde with a look of sorrowful fervor)
Now know' st thou, questioning wife,
why 'tis not Friedmund who greets thee!
(He stands up and walks to the hearth. Sieglinde
looks on the ground pale and deeply moved.)

I know a riotous race;
not holy it holds what men revere:
'tis hated by all and by me.
For vengeance forth was I summoned,
payment to win me for kinsmen's blood:
too late came I, and now return home,
the flying outcast's trace
to find again in my house.
(He comes down.)
My house holds thee, Wolfing, today;
for the night, safe be thy rest:
with trusty weapon defend thee tomorrow;
I choose the day for the fight:
as death-debt pa/ st thou thy life.
(With anxious gestures Sieglinde steps between
the two men.)

(harshly) Hence from the hall! linger not here!
My night-draught set me within,
and wait thou there for me.
(Sieglinde stands a while undecided and thought-
ful. She turns slowly and with hesitation steps toward
the storeroom. There she again pauses and remains
standing, lost in thought, with half-averted face.
With quiet resolution she opens the cupboard, fills a
drinking horn, and shakes some spices into it from a
box. She then turns her eyes on Siegmund so as to
meet his gaze which he keeps unceasingly fixed on

(She perceives Hunding watching them and turns
immediately to the bedchamber. On the steps she
turns once more, looks yearningly at Siegmund andindicates with her eyes, persistently and with eloquest
earnestness, a particular spot in the ash tree's stem.)

(Hunding starts and drives her with a violent
gesture from the room.)

(With a last look at Siegmund, she goes into the
bed chamb er and closes the door after her.)

(taking his weapons from the tree stem)
With weapons man should be armed.
(Going, he turns to Siegmund.)
Thou, Wölfing, meet me tomorrow:
my word hearest thou, ward thyself well!
(He goes into the chamber; the closing of the bolt
is heard from within.)

Scene Three

(Siegmund alone. It has become quite dark. The
hall is only lighted by a dull fire on the hearth.)

(Siegmund sinks on a bench by the fire and broods
silently for some time in great agitation.)

A sword, my father foretold me,
should serve me in sorest need.
Swordless I come to my foe-man's house;
as a hostage here helpless I lie:
a wife saw I, wondrous and fair,
and blissful tremors seized my heart.
The woman who holds me chained,
who with sweet enchantment wounds,
in thrall is held by the man
who mocks his weaponless foe.
Wälse! Wälse! Where is thy sword?
The trusty sword,
that in fight shall serve me,
when from my bosom outbreaks
the fury my heart now bears?

(The fire falls together. From the flame which
springs up a bright light strikes on the spot in the ash
stem indicated by Sieglinde's look, on which a sword
hilt is now clearly seen.)

What gleameth there from out the gloom?
What a beam breaks from the ash tree's stem!
The sightless eye beholdeth a flash:
gay as laughter its light!
How the glorious gleam doth pierce my heart!
Is it the glance of the woman so fair
that there clinging behind her she left
as from the hall she passed?
(The fire now gradually sinks.)
Darkening shadow covered mine eyes,
but her glance's beam fell on me then:
bringing me warmth and day.
Blessing came with the sun's bright rays;
the gladdening splendor encircled my head,
till behind mountains it sank.
(Another faint gleam from the fire.)
Once more, ere day went hence,
fell a gleam on me here;
e'en the ancient ash tree's stem
shone forth with a golden glow:
now pales the splendor, the light dies out;
darkening shadow gathers around me:
deep in my breast alone yet glimmers a dim,
dying glow.
(The fire is quite extinguished: complete darkness.)
(The door at the side opens softly. Sieglinde, in a
white garment, comes out and advances lightly but
quickly toward the hearth.)

Sleep'st thou, guest?

(in joyful surprise)
Who whispers there?

(with furtive haste)
It is I: list to my words!
In deepest sleep lies Hunding;
o'ercome by a slumberous draught:
now, in the night, save thy life!

(interrupting her passionately)
Thy coming is life!

A weapon let me now shew thee:
o might'st thou make it thine!
The first of heroes then might I call thee:
to the strongest alone was it decreed.
O heed thou well what I now tell thee!
The kinsmen gathered here in the hall,
to honor the wedding of Hunding:
the woman he chose,
by him unwooed, miscreants gave him to wife.
Sad I sat the while they were drinking;
a stranger entered the hall:
an old man clad all in grey
low down hung his hat,
and one of his eyes was hidden;
at the other's flash fear came on all men
when their eyes met its threat'ning glance:
yet on me lingered his look with sweet yearning
sorrow and solace in one.
On me glancing, he glared on the others,
as a sword he swung in his hands;

which then he struck in the ash tree stem;
to the hilt buried it lies:
but one man might win the weapon,
he who could draw it forth.
Of all the heroes, though bravely they labored,
not one the weapon could win;
guests came hither and guests departed;
the strongest tugged at the steel ...
not a whit it stirred in the stem:
there cleaves in silence the sword.
Then knew I who he was
who in sorrow greeted me: I know too
who alone shall draw the sword from the stem.
O might I today find here the friend;
come from afar to the saddest wife:
what e'er I have suffered in bitterest pain,
what e'er I have borne in shame and disgrace,
sweet were my vengeance, all were atoned for!
Regained were then whate'er I had lost,
and won, too, were then all I have wept for,
found the delivering friend,
my hero held in my arms!

(embracing Sieglinde with ardor)
Thee, woman most blest, holds now the friend,
for weapon and wife decreed!
Hot in my breast burns now the oath
that weds me ever to thee.
Whate'er I have sought in thee now I see;
in thee all that has failed me is found!
Though thou wert shamed and woe was my lot;
though I was scorned and dishonored wert thou:
joyful revenge now laughs in our gladness!
Loud laugh I in fullest delight,
holding embraced all thy glory,
feeling the beats of thy heart!
(The great door springs open.)

Ha, who went? who entered here?
(The door remains open: outside a glorious spring
night; the full moon shines in, throwing its bright
light on the pair, so that suddenly they can fully and
clearly see each other.)

(in gentle ecstasy)
No one went, but one has come:
laughing, the spring enters the hall!
(Siegmund draws Sieglinde to him on the couch
with tender vehemence, so that she sits beside him.
Increas ing brilliance of the moonlight.)

Winter storms have waned in the moon of May,
with tender radiance sparkles the spring;
on balmy breezes, light and lovely,
weaving wonders, on he floats;
o'er wood and meadow wafts his breathing,
widely open laughs his eye:
in blithesome song of birds resounds his voice,
sweetest fragrance breathes he forth:
from his ardent blood bloom out all joy-giving
bud and shoot spring up by his might.
With gentle weapons' charm he forces the world;
winter and storm yield to his strong attack:
assailed by his hardy strokes now
the doors are shattered that, fast and
defiant, once held us parted from him.
To clasp his sister hither he flew;
'twas love that lured the spring:
within our bosoms deeply she hid;
now gladly she laughs to the light.
The bride and sister is freed by the brother;
in ruin lies what held them apart;
joyfully greet now the loving pair:
made one are love and spring!

Thou art the spring
that I have so longed for
in frosty winter's spell.
My heart greeted thee with blissfullest dread,
as thy look at first on me lightened.
Strange has seemed all I e'er saw,
friendless all that was round me;
like far off things and unknown,
all that ever came near.
When thou camest all was made clear:
as my eyes on thee fell, mine wert thou only:
all I hid in my heart, all I am;
bright as the day dawned on my sight,
like echoing tones struck on my ear,
as in winter's frosty desert
my eyes first beheld the friend.
(She hangs in rapture on his neck and gazes
closely into his face.)

(with transport)
O sweetest enchantment! woman most blest!

(close to his eyes)
O let me closer to thee still press me
and see more clearly the holy light
that forth from eyes and face doth break
and so sweetly sways all my sense.

Beneath spring's moon
shinest thou bright;
wrapped in glory of waving hair:

what has ensnared me now well I know
in rapture feasteth my look.

(pushes the locks back from his brow and
gazes at him with astonishment)

How broadly shines thy open brow,
the wandering veins in thy temples entwine!
I tremble with the rapture of my delight!
A marvel wakes my remembrance:
my eyes beheld thee of old
whom first I saw today!

A love-dream wakes in me the thought:
in fiery longing cam'st thou to me!

The stream has shewn me my pictured face,
and now again I behold it:
as from the water it rose,
show'st thou my image anew!

Thou art the image I held in my heart.

(quickly turning her eyes away from him)
O hush! again the voice is sounding:
I heard it, methinks, once as a child—
but no! of late I have heard it,
(excitedly) yes, when the echo's sound
gave back my voice in the woods.

O loveliest song that sounds as I listen!

(again gazing into his eyes)
Thine eyes' bright glow erewhile on me shone:
the stranger so glanced, greeting the wife,
as he soothed with his look her grief.
By his glance then knew him his child;
almost by his name did I call him!
Wehwalt art thou in truth?

Ne'er call me so, since thou art mine:
now won is the highest rapture!

And Friedmund may'st thou gladly not
name thee?

Call me, thyself,
as thou wouldst I were called:
my name I take but from thee!

Yet calledst thou Wolfe thy father?

Wolf was he to fearful foxes!
But he whose eye proudly did glisten,
as, fairest one, glistens thine own, of old,
Wälse was named.

(beside herself)
Was Wälse thy father, and art thou a Wälsung?
Struck was for thee the sword in the stem,
so let me now name thee as I have loved thee:

Siegmund, so name I thee!

(springs up)
Siegmund call me for Siegmund am I!
Be witness this sword I hold now undaunted!
Wälse foretold me in sorest need
this should I find: I grasp it now!
Holiest love's most highest need,
love-longing's piercing passionate need,
burning bright in my breast,
drives to deeds and death:
Nothung! Nothung! so name I thee, sword.
Nothung! Nothung! conquering steel!
Shew now thy biting, severing blade!
come forth from thy scabbard to me!
(With a powerful effort Siegmund pulls the sword
from the tree, and shows it to the astonished and
enraptured Sieglinde.)

Siegmund, the Wälsung, seest thou here!
As bride-gift he brings thee this sword;
so wins for him the woman most blest;
from foe-man's house thus bears her away.
Far from here follow me now,
forth to the laughing house of spring:
there guards thee Nothung the sword,
when Siegmund lies captive to love!
(He has embraced her in order to draw her away with him.)

(in highest excitement tears herself away
and stands before him.)

Art thou Siegmund, standing before me?
Sieglinde am I, who for thee longed:
thine own twin sister thou winnest at once
with the sword!
(She throws herself on his breast.)

Bride and sister
be to thy brother:
then flourish the Wälsungs for aye!
(He draws her to him with passionate fervor. The
curtain falls rapidly.)