The dark scene again becomes glamorous. SEELCHEN is seen with her
hand stretched out towards the Piazza of a little town, with a plane
tree on one side, a wall on the other, and from the open doorway of
an Inn a pale path of light. Over the Inn hangs a full golden moon.
Against the wall, under the glimmer of a lamp, leans a youth with the
face of THE WINE HORN, in a crimson dock, thrumming a mandolin, and
"Little star soul
Through the frost fields of night
Roaming alone, disconsolate--
From out the cold
I call thee in
Striking my dark mandolin
Beneath this moon of gold."
From the Inn comes a burst of laughter, and the sound of
"Lips of my song,
To the white maiden's heart
Go ye, and whisper, passionate.
These words that burn
'O listening one!
Love that flieth past is gone
Nor ever may return!'"
SEELCHEN runs towards him--but the light above him fades; he has
become shadow. She turns bewildered to the dancing moth-
children--but they vanish before her. At the door of the Inn
stands LAMOND in a dark cloak.
Smiling, he points to the doorway. And silent as shadows there
come dancing out, two by two, two girls and two youths. The
first girl is dressed in white satin and jewels; and the first
youth in black velvet. The second girl is in rags, and a shawl;
and the second youth in shirt and corduroys. They dance
gravely, each couple as if in a world apart.
SEELCHEN [Whispering] In the mountains all dance together. Do they
never change partners?
How could they, little one? Those are rich, these poor.
A CORYBANTIC COUPLE come dancing forth. The girl has bare limbs.
a flame-coloured shift, and hair bound with red flowers; the
youth wears a panther-skin. They pursue not only each other.
but the other girls and youths. For a moment all is a furious
medley. Then the Corybantic Couple vanish into the Inn, and the
first two couples are left, slowly, solemnly dancing, apart from
each other as before.
SEELCHEN [Shuddering] Shall I one day dance like that?
The Youth of THE WINE HORN appears again beneath the lamp. He
strikes a loud chord; then as SEELCHEN moves towards that sound
the lamp goes out; there is again only blue shadow; but the
couples have disappeared into the Inn, and the doorway has grown
Ah! What I do not like, he will not let me see.
THE SHUTTERS of the houses are suddenly thrown wide. In a
lighted room on one aide of the Inn are seen two pale men and a
woman, amongst many clicking machines. On the other side of the
Inn, in a forge, are visible two women and a man, but half
clothed, making chains.
SEELCHEN [Recoiling from both sights, in turn] How sad they look
--all! What are they making?
In the dark doorway of the Inn a light shines out, and in it is
seen a figure, visible only from the waist up, clad in
gold-cloth studded with jewels, with a flushed complacent face,
holding in one hand a glass of golden wine.
Can it not walk? [He shakes his head] Is that all they
make here with their sadness?
But again the mandolin twangs out; the shutters fall over the
houses; the door of the Inn grows dark.
What is it, then, you would have? Is it learning? There
are books here, that, piled on each other, would reach to the stars!
[But SEELCHEN shakes her head] There is religion so deep that no man
knows what it means. [But SEELCHEN shakes her head] There is
religion so shallow, you may have it by turning a handle. We have
When a feather dies, is it not loving the wind--the unknown?
When the day brings not new things, we are children of sorrow. If
darkness and light did not change, could we breathe? Child! To live
is to love, to love is to live-seeking for wonder. [And as she draws
nearer] See! To love is to peer over the edge, and, spying the
little grey flower, to climb down! It has wings; it has flown--again
you must climb; it shivers, 'tis but air in your hand--you must
crawl, you must cling, you must leap, and still it is there and not
there--for the grey flower flits like a moth, and the wind of its
wings is all you shall catch. But your eyes shall be shining, your
cheeks shall be burning, your breast shall be panting--Ah! little
heart! [The scene falls darker] And when the night comes--there it
is still, thistledown blown on the dark, and your white hands will
reach for it, and your honey breath waft it, and never, never, shall
you grasp that wanton thing--but life shall be lovely. [His voice
dies to a whisper. He stretches out his arms]
The mandolin twangs out, the doorway for a moment is all
glamorous; and they pass through. Illumined by the glimmer of
the lamp the Youth of THE WINE Hour is seen again. And slowly
to the chords of his mandolin he begins to sing:
"The windy hours through darkness fly
Canst hear them little heart?
New loves are born, and old loves die,
And kissing lips must part.
The dusky bees of passing years
Canst see them, soul of mine--
From flower and flower supping tears,
And pale sweet honey wine?
O flame that treads the marsh of time.
Flitting for ever low.
Where, through the black enchanted slime.
We, desperate, following go
Untimely fire, we bid thee stay!
Into dark air above.
The golden gipsy thins away--
So has it been with love!"
While he is singing, the moon grows pale, and dies. It falls
dark, save for the glimmer of the lamp beneath which he stands.
But as his song ends, the dawn breaks over the houses, the lamp
goes out--THE WINE HORN becomes shadow. Then from the doorway
of the Inn, in the shrill grey light SEELCHEN comes forth. She
is pale, as if wan with living; her eyes like pitch against the
powdery whiteness of her face.
There is nothing. [He holds her fast] I have shown you the
marvels of my town--the gay, the bitter wonders. We have known life.
If with you I may no longer live, then let us die! See! Here are
sweet Deaths by Slumber and by Drowning!
The mandolin twangs out, and from the dim doorway of the Inn come
forth the shadowy forms. DEATH BY SLUMBER, and DEATH BY DROWNING.
who to a ghostly twanging of mandolins dance slowly towards SEELCHEN.
stand smiling at her, and as slowly dance away.
SEELCHEN [Following] Yes. They are good and sweet.
While she moves towards the Inn. LAMOND'S face becomes
transfigured with joy. But just as she reaches the doorway.
there is a distant chiming of bells and blowing of pipes, and
the Shepherd of THE COW HORN sings:
"To the wild grass come, and the dull far roar
Of the falling rock; to the flowery meads
Of thy mountain home, where the eagles soar,
And the grizzled flock in the sunshine feeds.
To the Alp, where I, in the pale light crowned
With the moon's thin horns, to my pasture roam;
To the silent sky, and the wistful sound
Of the rosy dawns---my daughter, come!"
While HE sings, the sun has risen; and SEELCHEN has turned.
with parted lips, and hands stretched out; and the forms of
death have vanished.
LAMOND [Clasping her knees] Little soul! Must I then die, like a
gnat when the sun goes down? Without you I am nothing.
SEELCHEN [Releasing herself] Poor heart--I am gone!
It is dark. [He covers his face with his cloak].
Then as SEELCHEN reaches the Shepherd of THE COW HORN, there is
blown a long note of a pipe; the scene falls back; and there
rises a far, continual, mingled sound of Cowbells, and Flower
Bells, and Pipes.