The HERALD announces various poets, poets by nature, courtly and knightly minstrels, sentimentalists as well as enthusiasts. In the throng of competitors of all kinds no one allows another to begin a speech. One slips past with a few words.
Satirist. Know ye what my soul as poet Chiefly would delight and cheer? Sing and say, if I dared do it, That which none would like to hear.
The poets of night and churchyards excuse themselves, because they are just engaged in a most interesting conversation with newly-arisen vampire, and from it a new school of poetry may perhaps arise; the HERALD is obliged to accept their apologies and meanwhile he calls forth Greek mythology which, in modern masks, loses neither its character nor its charm.
Aglaia. Charm we're bringing into living, So be charming in your giving!
Hegemone. Charming be ye in receiving! Lovely is desire's achieving.
Euphrosyne. And when peacefully ye're living, Be most charming your thanksgiving!
Atropos. I, the eldest Fate, from yonder For the while to spin am bidden. Much to think of, much to ponder, In life's tender thread is hidden. Finest flax I winnow featly That your thread be supple, tender; Fingers shrewd will twirl it neatly, Make it even, smooth, and slender. Ye who, warm with dance and pleasure, All too wanton, snatch a token, Think that this thread has a measure, Have a care! It might be broken. Clotho. Know ye that the shears were lately Given to my care to ply; For our Ancient's conduct greatly Did, in truth, none edify. She drags on most useless spinnings On and on in air and light, Promise of most glorious winnings Clips and drags to realms of night. Yet when I was young and reigning, I, too, erred oft in those years; Now I yield to curb restraining, In their case I keep the shears. So I gladly wear a bridle, And this scene with joy survey. In these hours so gay and idle, Revel, riot, sport, and play! Lachesis. Unto me, alone discerning, Was the thread's control decreed; For my reel, forever turning, Never erred through too great speed. Threads are coming, threads are reeling, Each one in its course I guide; None may slip from spindle wheeling, Each must in its orbit glide. Could I once forget in leisure, For the world I'd fear with pain; Hours, they count, and years, they measure, And the Weaver takes the skein. Herald. Those coming now, ye'd never recognize them, However learned ye were in ancient letters. To look at them- the world's worst ill-abettors- Ye'd call them welcome guests and prize them. They are the Furies, no one will believe us. Fair are they, well-made, friendly, young moreover; But if ye lend them ear, ye will discover How serpent-like such doves can wound and grieve us. Malicious are they- true!- and with effront'ry, But now when each fool boasts his reputation, They too ask not angelic exaltation; They know they are the pests of town and country.
Alecto. What boots it? For to trust us ye'll not stickle, For each is young and fair, a coaxing kitten. If one among you by a girl is smitten, We shall not cease, his ears to scratch and tickle, Until we dare to tell him, to his loathing, That for this man and that one she is primping, Crooked in her back, all wit doth lack, and limping, And if betrothed to him, she's good-for-nothing! And the betrothed- we know the way to sting her. Why scarce a week ago her precious lover To such-and-such a girl spoke basely of her; Though they be reconciled, a sting will linger. Megaera. That's but a jest! For when they once are married, I go to work in every case to fritter The fairest bliss away with fancies bitter. The moods of men are varied, hours are varied. None holds embraced what his desire has chosen, But seeks a More-desired with foolish yearning And from long-wonted, highest blessings turning, Flees a warm love and tries to warm a frozen. I'm skilled in managing such household troubles, And Asmodeus, comrade true, I summon To scatter strife betimes twixt man and woman; Thus I destroy the human race in couples. Tisiphone. Poison, steel- not words malicious- Mix I, whet I, for the traitor. Lov'st thou others? Sooner, later, Overwhelms thee ruin vicious. What the sweetest moment offers, Turns perforce to wormwood galling! Here no haggling, pulling, hauling; As one sins, one always suffers. None shall sing about forgiving! To the rocks my cause I'm crying. Echo, hark! "Revenge!" replying. For the unstable, death! not living!
Herald. Now, if it please you, stand aside a pace, For what comes now is not your kind or race. Ye see a mountain pressing through the throng, Its flanks with brilliant housings proudly hung, A head with long tusks, snake-like snout below. A mystery! but soon the key I'll show. A dainty woman on his neck is sitting And with her wand subjects him to her bidding; Another stands aloft, sublime to see, Girt by a radiance dazzling, blinding me. Beside them chained, two noble women near, Fearful the one, the other blithe of cheer. One longs for freedom and one feels she's free. Let each declare now who she be. Fear. Lamps and lights and torches smoking Through this turmoil gleam around; Midst these faces, shamming, joking, I, alas, in chains am bound. Hence, ye throngs absurdly merry! I mistrust your grins with right; Every single adversary Presses nearer in this night. Friend turned foe would here bewray me, But his mask I know well. Stay, Yonder's one who wished to slay me; Now revealed, he slinks away. Through the wide world I would wander, Following every path that led, But destruction threatens yonder, Holds me fast twixt gloom and dread. Hope. Hail, beloved sisters, hail! Though today and yesterday Ye have loved this maskers' play, Yet tomorrow ye'll unveil. This I know of you quite surely. If beneath the torches' flaring We can't find our special pleasure, Yet in days of cheerful leisure, As our will doth bid us purely, Now in groups, now singly faring, We'll roam over lovely leas, Resting, doing, as we please, In a life no cares assailing, Naught forgoing, never failing. Everywhere as welcome guest Let us enter, calm in mind, Confident that we shall find Somewhere, certainly, the best. Prudence. Two of man's chief foes, behold them, Fear and Hope, in fetters mated; From this crowd I'll keep and hold them. Room, make room! Ye're liberated. I conduct the live colossus, See the burden that it carries, And the steepest pass it crosses, Step by step, and never wearies. But upon the summit of it Yonder goddess with her pinions Broad and agile, seeking profit, Turns to spy all man's dominions. Girt is she by splendour glorious Shining far along all courses, Victory her name! Victorious Goddess of all active forces. Zoilo-Thersites. Ho, ho! Just right I've reached this spot, We're one and all a wretched lot! And yet the goal I've chosen me Is she up there, Dame Victory. She with her snowy wings spread out Thinks she's an eagle, past all doubt, And wheresoever she may stir, Thinks men and lands belong to her. But when some glorious deed is done, At once I put my armour on. Up with the low, down with the high, The crooked straight, the straight awry- That, only, makes me feel aglow, And on this earth I'll have it so. Herald. Then take thou that, a master-blow From my good staff, thou wretched hound, Then straightway writhe and twist around!- How swift the two-fold dwarfish clump Balls up into a loathsome lump!- But see! lump turns to egg- a wonder! Puffs itself up and bursts asunder. Thence comes a pair of twins to earth, Adder and bat- a wondrous birth! On in the dust one crawls and creeps, The black one round the ceiling sweeps, And where they haste to join again, To be the third I am not fain.
Murmuring. Come! they're dancing now back there!- No! I want to flee from here- Feel ye not the ghost-like breed Creeping, wheeling, round us speed?- Something whizzes past my hair- My foot felt a something there- Still not one of us is harmed- But we all have been alarmed- Now all ruined is our fun- This, the beasts! they wanted done.
Herald. Since on me, when masquerading, Herald's duties ye've been lading, Stern I guard the portal, wary Lest into your revels merry Aught may slink of harmful savour; Neither do I shrink nor waver. Yet I fear lest spectres erring Through the windows may be faring; If black arts and spooks beset you, From them I could never get you. Of the dwarf we were suspicious. Lo! Back there a pageant issues! As a herald, it's my duty To explain those forms of beauty, But what's past all comprehending, For that I've no explanation. Help ye, all, my education!- See what hitherward is tending! Lo! a four-yoked chariot splendid Through the crowd its way has wended, Yet the crowd it does not sunder; I can see no crushing yonder. In the distance colours shimmer, Stars gay-coloured beam and flimmer, Magic-lantern-like they glimmer. All storm on as to assault. Clear the way! I shudder! A Boy Charioteer. Halt! Steeds, let now your wings fall idle, Feel the well-accustomed bridle; Master self as you I master; When I thrill you, on! and faster! Let us honour now these spaces! Look around at all the faces; More and more admirers cluster. Herald, up! Take wonted muster! Ere we flee, tell thou our stories, Name us and describe and show us; For we all are allegories, Therefore thou shouldst surely know us. Herald. There's no name I could ascribe thee, But I rather might describe thee. Boy Charioteer. Try it then! Herald. I must avow, Firstly, young and fair art thou. A half-grown boy thou art; but women rather Would see thee full-grown altogether. It seems that thou wilt be a fickle wooer, Right from the start a real undoer. Boy Charioteer. That's well worth hearing! On with thee, Discover now the riddle's happy key. Herald. Thy flashing ebony eyes, locks black and glowing, More radiant from the jewelled diadem! And what a graceful robe doth stream From shoulder down to buskin flowing, With glittering gaud and purple hem! Now might we flouting "Maiden!" deem thee, Yet, good or ill as it might be, Already maidens would esteem thee. They'd teach thee soon thine A B C. Boy Charioteer. And yonder one, in splendour glowing, Who proudly sits on chariot throne? Herald. A king he seems, of wealth o'erflowing; Happy the man who has his favour won! He has naught more to earn and capture, He swift espies where aught's amiss, And has in giving more pure rapture Than in possessing and in bliss. Boy Charioteer. To stop with this will not avail; Thou must describe him in far more detail. Herald. There's no describing Dignity. The healthy, full-moon face I see, The lips so full, the cheeks so blooming Beneath the turban's beauty looming, The flowing robe he's richly wearing- What shall I say of such a bearing? He seems a ruler known to me. Boy Charioteer. Plutus, the god of wealth, is he. Hither he comes in gorgeous trim; Sorely the Emperor longs for him. Herald. Now thine own What and How relate to me! Boy Charioteer. I am Profusion, I am Poesy! The poet who's attained his goal When he's poured out his inmost soul. I too am rich with untold pelf And value me the peer of Plutus' self, Adorn, enliven, make his revels glow; And what he lacks, that I bestow. Herald. Bragging becomes thee charmingly, But now thine arts, pray, let us see. Boy Charioteer. Here see me snap my fingers. Lo! Around the chariot gleam and glow! And now a necklace of pearls appears!
Continuing to snap his fingers in every direction.
Here spangled gold for neck and ears And flawless comb and coronet And rings with precious jewels set. Flamelets I scatter too in turn, Waiting to see where they may burn. Herald. How the dear mob is snatching, seizing, Even the giver almost squeezing! Dream-like he's scatt'ring gems where all Are snatching in the spacious hall. But what is this? A brand-new juggle! However busily one snatch and struggle, His trouble really does not pay; The gifts take wing and fly away. The pearls are loosened from their band And beetles scrabble in his hand; He shakes them off, the poor biped, And then they hum around his head. Others, instead of solid things, Catch butterflies with flimsy wings. How much he promises, the knave! Glitter of gold was all he gave. Boy Charioteer. Of masks, I note, thou canst proclaim each feature. Beneath the shell to fathom out the nature Is not the herald's courtly task; A keener eye for that we ask. But feuds I shun, if only in suggestion; To thee, lord, I address my speech and question.
Turning to PLUTUS.
Didst thou not give me charge supreme Over the four-yoked, whirlwind team? Guide I not happily as thou leadest? Am I not everywhere thou biddest? And on bold pinions did I not for thee Bear off the palm of victory? However oft for thee as I've contended, Success was ever my portion; and when now The laurel decorates thy brow, Did not my hand and art entwine and blend it? Plutus. If need be that I testify, then hear it! I say with joy: Thou art spirit of my spirit! Thy deeds are ever after my own will; Rich as I am, thou art richer still. Thy service to reward in fitting measure, The laurel more than all my crowns I treasure. This truth in all men's hearts I would instill: In thee, dear son, I have much pleasure. Boy Charioteer [to the crowd]. The greatest gifts my hand deals out, Lo! I have scattered roundabout. On this head and on that one too There glows a flamelet that I threw. From one to other head it skips, To this one cleaves, from that one slips; It seldom flares up like a plume, And swiftly beams in transient bloom. Ere many its worth recognize, It burns out mournfully and dies. Women's Chatter. There on the chariot sits a man Who surely is a charlatan, Hunched up behind, a perfect clown, By thirst and hunger so worn down As naught before, and if ye'd pinch, He has no flesh to feel and flinch.
Starveling. Away from me, ye odious crew! Welcome, I know, I never am to you. When hearth and home were women's zone, As Avaritia I was known. Then did our household thrive throughout, For much came in and naught went out! Zealous was I for chest and bin; 'Twas even said my zeal was sin. But since in years most recent and depraving Woman is wont no longer to be saving And, like each tardy payer, collars Far more desires than she has dollars, The husband now has much to bore him; Wherever he looks, debts loom before him. Her spinning-money is turned over To grace her body or her lover; Better she feasts and drinks still more With all her wretched lover-corps. Gold charms me all the more for this: Male's now my gender, I am Avarice! Leader of the Women. With dragons be the dragon avaricious, It's naught but lies, deceiving stuff! To stir up men he comes, malicious, Whereas men now are troublesome enough. Women [en masse]. The scarecrow! Box his ears, the japer! Why does the wooden cross threat here? As if his ugly face we'd fear! Dragons are made of wood and paper. Have at him, crowd him, scoff and jeer!
Herald. Peace! By my staff! Peace or begone! And yet my aid's scarce needed here. In yonder space so quickly won See the grim monsters moving on, Swift to unfold their pinions' double pair. The dragons shake themselves in ire; Their scaly jaws spew smoke and fire. The crowd has fled, the place is clear.
PLUTUS descends from his chariot.
Herald. He's stepping down, what royal grace! He becks, the dragons move apace; Down from the chariot they've borne the chest With all its gold, and Avarice thereon. There at his feet it stands at rest; A marvel how it was ever done. Plutus [to the CHARIOTEER]. Now art thou rid of thy too heavy burden, Free art thou! Off to thine own sphere and guerdon! Thy sphere's not here! Here shapes most hideous, Distorted, motley, wild, press in on us. Where thou see'st naught but lovely clarity, Where thine own vision is enough for thee, Thither where only Good and Beauty please and wait, Away to Solitude! there thine own world create! Boy Charioteer. Thus I esteem myself a worthy envoy of thee, And as my nearest kinsman do I love thee. Where thou art, Plenty is; where I remain, Each feels himself enriched by glorious gain. Oft in the clash of life a man doth waver: Shall he in thee or me seek favour? Thy followers can idly rest, it's true; Who follows me always has work to do. My deeds in darkness never are concealed; If I but breathe, I am at once revealed. And so, farewell My bliss thou grantest me, But whisper low and I am back with thee.
Exit as he came.
Plutus. It's time now to unloose the precious metals. I strike the padlocks with the herald's rod. The chest flies open! See in brazen kettles A boiling, bubbling up of golden blood. First, ornaments of crowns, chains, rings will follow! Seething, it threatens all to melt and swallow.
Alternating Cries from the crowd. See here! and there! how treasures brim! The chest is filling to the rim- Vessels of gold are grilling there, And coins in rolls are milling there.- As if just minted, ducats jump, Oh, how my heart begins to thump!- All that I want I see and more! They're rolling there along the floor.- It's yours, they say- appease your itch, Just stoop a bit and rise up rich.- Swift as the lightning, we, the rest, Will take possession of the chest.
Herald. What does this mean? Ye silly folk! It's but a masquerading joke. Naught more can be desired tonight; Think ye we give you gold outright? Verily in this game for such As ye, yes, vouchers were too much. Blockheads! A pleasant show, forsooth, Ye take at once as solid truth. What's truth to you?- Delusion vain, Catch where ye can, ye clutch amain. Plutus, chief mummer, hero of the masque, Drive from the field this folk, I ask. Plutus. Thy staff is apt for it, I see; Lend it a little while to me. I'll dip it swift in seething glare. Now, on your guard, ye masks, beware! Snaps, sparks, and flashes, see it throw! Thy staff already is aglow. Whoever crowds too close to me I'll straightway singe relentlessly. And now upon my rounds I'll go.
Cries and Crowding. Alas! it's up with us, oh woe!- Away, escape! Escape who can!- Fall back, fall back, thou hindmost man! Hot sparks are flying in my face.- I stagger from the glowing mace!- Lost are we all, we all are lost!- Back, back, ye masquerading host! Back, senseless mob, don't come so nigh! Had I but wings, away I'd fly!-
Plutus. Backward the circle round us shrinks, And no one has been scorched, methinks. Scattered by fright, The crowd takes flight. Yet, symbol of the reign of law, A ring invisible I'll draw. Herald. A glorious deed hast done tonight. How can I thank thy sapient might? Plutus. My noble friend, be patient yet; Many a tumult still doth threat. Avaritia. Here, if we like, we can look on And view this circle at our leisure; To stand in front always gives women pleasure Where gaping or where nibbling's to be done. Not yet so wholly rusty are my senses But that a woman fair is always fair; And since today it costs me no expenses, We'll go a-courting with an easy air. Because, though, in such over-crowded places Not every ear distinctly hears all phrases, I'll wisely try- I hope not vainly- In pantomime to show my meaning plainly. Hand, foot, and gesture will not now suffice, So I must use a farcical device. I'll treat the gold as were it mere wet clay; This metal I can turn in any way. Herald. The skinny fool! What is that he began? Can he have humour, such a starveling man? He's kneading all the gold to dough; Beneath his hands it's soft, yet though He squeeze it, roll it, as he will, Misshapen is it even still. He turns to the women there, and they All scream and want to get away, With gestures of disgust and loathing. The mischievous rogue will stop at nothing. I fear a joyous man is he When he's offended decency. Through silence I'll not lend my backing; Give me my staff to send him packing. Plutus. What threatens from without he does not see. Let him go on with his tom-fooling; There'll be no room soon for his drooling; The Law is mighty, mightier Necessity.
Tumult and Song. The wild host comes in all its might, From woodland dell and mountain height. They stride along- resist who can! They celebrate their great god Pan. They know indeed what none can guess; Into the vacant ring they press.
Plutus. I know you well, you and your great god Pan! Together ye've performed a daring plan. I know right well what is not known to all And ope the circle duly to their call. Oh, may good fortune be decreed them! The strangest thing may now befall, They know not where their steps may lead them; They have not looked ahead at all.
Savage Song. Ye folk bedight, ye tinsel-stuff! They're coming rude, they're coming rough; In lofty leap, in speedy chase, They come, a stout and sturdy race.
Fauns. The faun-host flocks In merry round, The oak-wreath bound On curly locks; A pair of finely pointed ears Out from the curly head appears, A stubby nose, face broad and flat. With women no one's harmed by that; And if the faun his paw advance, The fairest will hardly refuse to dance. A Satyr. The satyr now comes hopping in With foot of goat and withered shin; He needs to have them wiry-thin, For chamois-like on mountain heights To look around him he delights. Braced by the air of freedom then, He jeers at children, women, and men, Who deep in the valley's smoke and stew Fondly imagine they're living too, While pure and undisturbed and lone The world up there is all his own. Gnomes. Tripping, a little crowd appears. They do not like to go in pairs; In mossy garb, with lamplet bright, They move commingling, swift and light, Where each his task can best perform, Like firefly-ants, a crowding swarm. They scurry, busy, here and there, Bustling and working everywhere. Kinship to kind "Good-men" we own, As surgeons of the rocks are known, The mountains high, go sapping them, The swelling veins, go tapping them; Metals we hurl on pile on pile, With cheery hail- "Good Luck while,"- the while, A greeting well-meant through and through. We're friends of all good men and true. Yet gold we bring and gold reveal That men may pander and may steal, That iron fail not his proud hand Who ever wholesale murder planned. He whom these three commandments fail to bother Will pay no heed to any other. For all that we are not to blame; As we are patient, so be ye the same! Giants. "The Wild Men of the Woods"- their name, In the Hartz Mountains known to fame. In nature's nakedness and might They come, each one of giant height, A fir tree's trunk in each right hand, Around their loins a bulging band, Apron of twigs and leaves uncouth; Such guards the Pope has not, in truth. Nymphs in chorus [surrounding GREAT PAN]. He's really here!- Of this world-sphere The All we fete In Pan the Great. Ye gayest ones, surround him here, Dance madly, hov'ring round him here, For since he's solemn and yet kind, Man's happiness he has in mind. Even beneath the azure, vaulted roof He ever kept slumber far aloof; Yet purling brooks seek him in quest And soft airs cradle him to rest. And when he sleeps at mid of day, No leaflet stirs upon its spray; Health-giving plants with balsam rare Pervade the still and silent air. Then may the nymph in joy not leap And where she stood, she falls asleep. But when at unexpected hour, His voice is heard in all its power, Like crack of lightning, roar of sea, Then no one knows which way to flee. Brave warriors into panic break, And in the tumult heroes quake. Hence honour to whom honour's due, Hail him who led us here to you!
Deputation of Gnomes [to GREAT PAN]. When the treasure rich and shining, Winds through clefts its thread-like way And naught but the rod's divining Can its labyrinths display, Troglodytes in caverns spacious, Under vaulted roofs we bide, While in day's pure air thou, gracious, All the treasures dost divide. We discover here quite near us Treasure rich, a fountain vein, Aptly promising to bear us More than one could hope to gain. This thou mayst achieve at pleasure, Take it, Sire, into thy care! In thy hands doth every treasure Yield the whole world blessings rare. Plutus [to THE HERALD]. We must possess ourselves, serene in spirit, And come what may must confidently bear it. Still hast thou shown indeed a valiant soul, But soon a thing most horrible will try it. Stoutly men now and later will deny it. Inscribe it truly in thy protocol. Herald [grasping the staff which PLUTUS keeps in his hand]. The dwarfs lead Pan, the great god, nigher, Quite gently, to the well of fire. It seethes up from the deepest maw, Then down again the flames withdraw, And gloomy gapes the open jaw. The foam and flame roll up again. Complacent doth Great Pan remain, Rejoicing in the wondrous sight, While pearls of foam spurt left and right. How can he in such wizardry confide? He stoops down low to look inside.- But now his beard is falling in!- Whose can it be, that beardless chin? His hand conceals it from our gaze.- A great mishap is taking place. The beard flies backward, all ablaze, And kindles wreath and head and breast; Turned into sorrow is the jest.- To quench the fire they race and run, But free from flames there is not one, And as they slap and beat it too, They only stir up flames anew; In fiery flames entangled, caught, A maskers' group is burned to naught. But hark! what news is spreading here From mouth to mouth, from ear to ear! O evermore ill-fated Night, How thou hast turned our bliss to blight! Tomorrow morn will everywhere Proclaim what no one likes to hear. Yet everywhere I'll hear the cry: "The Emperor suffers agony!" Oh, would that something else were true! The Emperor burns, his escort too. Accursed who led him so astray, Who bound about them resined spray, Raging around with boisterous song, Bringing to ruin all the throng. O Youth, O Youth, and wilt thou never Keep within proper bounds thy pleasure? O Highness, Highness, wilt thou never Use might and reason in due measure? The mimic woods are catching fire, The tongues of flame lick higher, higher, Where netted rafters interlace; A fiery doom threats all the place. Now overflows our cup of woe, And who shall save us I don't know. The ashes of a night will be All that was once rich majesty. Plutus. Terror has enough been spread, Let us now bring help instead! Strike, thou hallowed staff, the ground Till earth quiver and resound! Fill thyself, O spacious air, With cool fragrance everywhere. Hither come, around us steaming, Mist and clouds with moisture teeming, Come and veil the rampant flame; Cloudlets, whirl ye, drizzling, purl ye, Hither glide ye, softly drenching, Quelling everywhere and quenching; Ye, who're moist, allaying, bright'ning, Change to harmless summer lightning All this empty fiery game! And when spirits threat and lower, Then let Magic show its power!