(with a bunch of keys and a lamp before a small iron door)
A fear unwonted o'er my spirit falls;
Man's concentrated woe o'erwhelms me here!
She dwells immur'd within these dripping walls;
Her only trespass a delusion dear!
Thou lingerest at the fatal door,
Thou dread'st to see her face once more?
On! While thou dalliest, draws her death-hour near.
(He seizes the lock. Singing within.)
My mother, the harlot,
She took me and slew!
My father, the scoundrel,
Hath eaten me too!
My sweet little sister
Hath all my bones laid,
Where soft breezes whisper
All in the cool shade!
Then became I a wood-bird, and sang on the spray,
Fly away! little bird, fly away! fly away!
Who, headsman, unto thee this power
O'er me could give?
Thou com'st for me at midnight-hour.
Be merciful, and let me live!
Is morrow's dawn not time enough?
(She stands up.)
I'm still so young, so young--
And must so early die!
Fair was I too, and that was my undoing.
My love is now afar, he then was nigh;
Torn lies the garland, the fair blossoms strew'd.
Nay, seize me not with hand so rude!
Spare me! What harm have I e'er done to thee?
Oh let me not in vain implore!
I ne'er have seen thee in my life before!
I now am at thy mercy quite.
Let me my babe but suckle once again!
I fondled it the live-long night;
They took it from me but to give me pain,
And now, they say that I my child have slain.
Gladness I ne'er again shall know.
Then they sing songs about me,--'tis wicked of the throng--
An ancient ballad endeth so;
Who bade them thus apply the song?
'Tis he! 'Tis he! where's now the torturing pain?
Where are the fetters? where the dungeon's gloom?
'Tis thou! To save me thou art come!
And I am sav'd!--
Already now the street I see
Where the first time I caught a glimpse of thee.
There too the pleasant garden shade,
Where I and Martha for thy coming stay'd.
How, dearest? canst thou kiss no more!
So short a time away from me, and yet,
To kiss thou couldst so soon forget!
Why on thy neck so anxious do I feel--
When formerly a perfect heaven of bliss
From thy dear looks and words would o'er me steal?
As thou wouldst stifle me thou then didst kiss I--
Or I'll kiss thee! (She embraces him.)
Woe! woe! Thy lips are cold,-- Are dumb!
Thy love where hast thou left?
Who bath me of thy love bereft?
(She turns away from him.)
I sent my mother to her grave,
I drown'd my child beneath the wave.
Was it not given to thee and me--thee too?
'Tis thou thyself! I scarce believe it yet.
Give me thy hand! It is no dream! 'Tis true!
Thine own dear hand !--But how is this? 'Tis wet?
Quick, wipe it off! Meseems that yet
There's blood thereon.
Ah God! what hast thou done?
Put up thy sword, I beg of thee!
No, thou must linger here in sorrow!
The graves I will describe to thee,
And thou to them must see
The best place give to my mother,
Close at her side my brother,
Me at some distance lay--
But not too far away!
And the little one place on my right breast.
Nobody else will near me lie!
To nestle beside thee so lovingly,
That was a rapture, gracious and sweet!
A rapture I never again shall prove;
Methinks I would force myself on thee, love,
And thou dost spurn me, and back retreat--
Yet 'tis thyself, thy fond kind looks I see.
I dare not go! I've naught to hope for more.
What boots it to escape? They lurk for mel
'Tis wretched to beg, as I must do,
And with an evil conscience thereto !
'Tis wretched, in foreign lands to stray.
And me they will catch, do what I may
Quick! Quick I
Save thy poor child!
Keep to the path
The brook along,
Over the bridge
To the wood beyond,
To the left, where the plank is,
In the pond.
Seize it at once!
It fain would rise,
It struggles still!
Save it. Oh save!
Were we but only past the hill!
There sits my mother upon a stone--
My brain, alas, is cold with dread !--
There sits my mother upon a stone,
And to and fro she shakes her head;
She winks not, she nods not, her head it droops sore;
She slept so long, she waked no more;
She slept, that we might taste of bliss:
Ah! those were happy times, I wis!
Yes! day draws near.
The day of judgment too will soon appear!
It should have been my bridal! No one tell,
That thy poor Gretchen thou hast known too well.
Woe to my garland!
Its bloom is o'er !
Though not at the dance--
We shall meeet once more.
The crowd doth gather, in silence it rolls;
The squares, the streets,
Scarce hold the throng.
The staff is broken,--the death-bell tolls,--
They bind and seize me!
I'm hurried along,
To the seat of blood already I'm bound!
Quivers each neck as the naked steel
Quivers on mine the blow to deal--
The silence of the grave now broods around!