Siegfried - Operntext in English

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015


SIEGFRIED by RICHARD WAGNER

for more information and images about Siegfried see:

Act 1

Scene 1

A forest
The foreground represents part of a cave in the rocks, extending inwards more deeply to the left, but occupying about three-quarters of the stagedepth to the right. There are two natural entrances to the forest, the one to the right opening directly, and the other, broader one opening sideways, to the background. On the rear wall, to the left, is a large smith’s forge, formed naturally from pieces of rock; only the large bellows are artificial. A rough chimney, also natural, passes through the roof of the cave. A very large anvil and other smith’s tools.

MIME:
(sits at the anvil
and with increasing anxiety
hammers at a sword;
at length he stops working, in
ill humour)

Wearisome labour!
Work till I drop!
The strongest sword
I struggle to make,
an amazing weapon,
fit for a giant:
but when I have made it,
that insolent Siegfried
just laughs and snaps it in two,
as though I’d made him a toy!

(In ill humour, Mime throws the sword down on
the anvil, places his arms akimbo, and gazes at the
ground in thought.)

I know one sword
that could not be shattered:
Notung’s fragments
he never would break,
if only I could forge
those pieces,
if but my skill
could achieve that deed!
If I could forge those fragments,
all my shame would change into joy!

(He sinks back further
and lowers his head in thought.)

Fafner, the mighty dragon,
lies there within these woods
and protects with his monstrous bulk
the Niblung gold,
guarding it well.
Siegfried’s conquering strength
could quickly lay Fafner low:
the Niblung’s ring
would then come to me.
And one sword’s all that I need,
and Notung only will serve,
when Siegfried deals him the blow:
and I cannot forge it,
Notung, the sword!

(He has readjusted the sword,
and returns to his hammering
in deepest dejection.)

Wearisome labour!
Work till I drop!
The strongest sword
that ever I make
will prove too weak
for that one mighty deed!
I tinker and tap away
because Siegfried commands:
he laughs and snaps it in two,
and scolds me, if I don’t work!

(He lets the hammer fall.)

SIEGFRIED:
(in rough forest dress, with a silver horn
slung from a chain, comes in boisterously from the
forest. He has bridled a large bear with a bast
rope, and in exuberant high spirits he sets it at
Mime)

Hoiho! Hoiho!
Come in! Come in!
Bite him! Bite him,
the lazy smith!

(He laughs. Mime drops the sword in his fright,
and runs behind the forge. Siegfried urges the bear
to chase him about.)

MIME:
Off with that beast!
Why bring me a bear?

SIEGFRIED:
He came with me
to teach you to hurry:
Bruin, beg for the sword!

MIME:
Hey! let him go!
There lies your weapon,
forged and finished today.

SIEGFRIED:
Well, then today you are free!

(He releases the bear,
and gives him a flick on the
back with the rope.)

Off, Bruin!
You’re needed no more.

(The bear runs off into the forest.)

MIME:
(comes out trembling
from behind the hearth)

To killing bears
I’ve no objection,
but why bring live ones
inside the cave?

SIEGFRIED:
(sits down to recover from his
laughter)

I wanted a better comrade
than the one I leave at home;
and so I called with my horn,
set the forest glades resounding:
Would I find what I longed for,
a faithful friend?
that’s what I asked with my call!
From the bushes came a bear,
who growled as I played my tune;
and I liked him better than you
though better still I shall find!
So I bridled him
and brought him along
to see if the sword had been finished.

(He jumps up and goes
across to the anvil.)

MIME:
(takes the sword
to give it to Siegfried )

I made it keen and sharp,
and its shine will gladden your heart.

(Anxiously he holds
on to the sword, but Siegfried
snatches it from him.)

SIEGFRIED:
What use is this shiny sharpness
if the steel’s not hard and true!

(testing the sword with his hand )

Hey! what a useless
thing you’ve made!
A feeble pin!
Call it a sword?

(He smashes it on the anvil,
so that the splinters fly about.
Mime shrinks in terror.)

Well, there are the pieces,
blundering boaster;
I should have smashed it
there on your brainpan!
Now will the liar
brag any longer,
talking of giants,
and boldness in battle,
and deeds of daring,
and fearless defence?
And weapons you’ll forge me,
swords you’ll handle,
praising your skill,
and proud of your craft?
Yet will I handle
what you have fashioned
a single blow
destroys all your trash!
If he were not
too mean for my rage,
I should sling in the fire
the smith and his works
the aged doddering dwarf!
My anger would then have an end!

(In a rage Siegfried flings himself down on a stone seat
to the right. Mime has carefully kept out of his way.)

MIME:
Again you rage like a fool,
ungrateful, heartless boy!
Maybe today I’ve failed you;
but when my work is not good
then you at once forget
the good things I have done!
Must I once more remind you
that you should be more grateful?
And you should learn to obey me,
who always showed you such love.

(Siegfried turns away crossly,
his face to the wall,
his back to Mime.)

Now once again you’re not listening!

(He stands perplexed, and then goes to the cooking
pots at the fireplace.)

But food is what you need:
come, try this meat I have roasted;
or would you prefer this soup?
For you, all is prepared.

(He brings food to Siegfried,
who without turning round
knocks bowl and meat out of Mime’s hands.)

SIEGFRIED:
Meat I roast for myself:
you can drink your slops alone!

MIME:
(in a querulous screech)


Fine reward
for all my loving care!
Thus the boy repays
what I’ve done!
A whimpering babe,
born in these woods
Mime was kind
to the tiny mite;
feeding you well,
keeping you warm,
sheltering you safe
as my very self.
And as you grew older
I was your nurse;
when you were sleepy
I smoothed your bed.
I made you nice toys
and that shining horn,
toiling away,
trying to please:
my clever counsels
sharpened your wits;
I tried to make you
crafty and bright.
Staying at home
I slave and sweat,
while you go
wandering around.
I toil for your pleasure,
think only of you,
I wear myself out
a poor old dwarf!

(sobbing)

Then you repay me
for all that I’ve done
with your furious scolding
and scorn and hate!



(Siegfried has turned round again and looks
steadily into Mime’s eyes. Mime encounters his gaze
and tries timidly to conceal his own.)

SIEGFRIED:
Much you’ve taught to me, Mime,
and many things have I learnt;
but one thing you most long to teach me,
that lesson I never learn:
how not to loathe your sight.
When you bring food
and offer me drink,
my hunger turns to disgust;
when you prepare
soft beds for my rest,
then sleep is driven away;
when you would make me
clever and wise,
I would be deaf and dull.
I am repelled
by the sight of you;
I see that you’re evil
in all that you do.
I watch you stand,
shuffle and nod,
shrinking and slinking,
with your eyelids blinking
by your nodding neck
I’d like to catch you,
and end your shrinking,
and stop your blinking!
So deeply, Mime, I loathe you.
If you’re so clever,
then tell me something
which long I have sought in vain:
through the woods roaring,
trying to avoid you
what is it that makes me return?
Everything to me
is dearer than you:
birds in branches
and fish in the brook
all are dear to me,
far more than you.
What is it then makes me return?
If you’re wise, then tell me that.

MIME:
(sits facing him, familiarly,
a little way off)

My child, that shows quite clearly
how dear to your heart I must be.

SIEGFRIED:
(laughing)

I cannot bear the sight of you
have you forgotten that?

MIME:
(shrinks back, and sits down again at the
side, facing Siegfried)

That comes from your wild young heart,
from the wildness you must tame.
Young ones are ever yearning
after their parents’ nest;
love’s the cause of that yearning:
and that’s why you yearn for me:
you love your dear old Mime
you must learn to love me!
What the mother-birds are to fledglings,
while in the nest they lie,
long before they can flutter,
such to you, dearest child,
is wise and careful old Mime
such must Mime be!

SIEGFRIED:
Hey, Mime, if you’re so clever,
there’s something else you can teach me!
The birds were singing
so sweetly in spring,
their songs were loving and tender:
and you replied,
when I asked you why,
that they were fathers and mothers.
They chattered so fondly,
and never apart;
then building a nest,
they brooded inside,
and soon little fledglings
were fluttering there;
the parents cared for the brood.
And here in the woods
the deer lay in pairs,
and savage foxes and wolves, too:
food was brought to the den
by the father,
the mother suckled the young ones.
I learnt from them
what love must be;
I never disturbed them
or stole their cubs.
You must tell me, Mime,
where your dear little wife is.
Where is my mother, tell me!

MIME:
(crossly)

Why do you ask?
Don’t be so dull!
For you’re not a bird or a fox!

SIEGFRIED:
‘A whimpering babe,
born in these woods,
Mime was kind
to the tiny mite…’
But who created
that whimpering babe?
For making a babe
needs a mother too!

MIME:
(in great embarrassment)

I’ll explain it,
try to believe me:
I’m your father
and mother in one.

SIEGFRIED:
You’re lying, foul little dwarf!
Every young one is like his parents;
I know, for I’ve seen it myself.
One day in the shining stream
I could see every tree
and forest creature,
sun and shadow,
just as they are,
reflected below in the brook.
And there in the stream
I saw my face
it wasn’t like yours,
not in the least,
no more than a toad
resembles a fish.
No fish had a toad for a father!

MIME:
(much vexed)

What an absurd
and stupid idea!

SIEGFRIED:
(with increasing animation)

See here, at last
it’s clear to me,
what before I pondered in vain:
through the woods I wandered
trying to avoid you
do you know why I returned?

(He leaps up.)

Because you alone can inform me
what father and mother are mine!

MIME:
(shrinking from him)

What father? What mother?
Meaningless question!

SIEGFRIED:
(seizes him by the throat)

Well then I must choke you,
force you to tell me!
All kindness
is wasted on you!
You’ll only answer
when I thrash you.
If I had not taught you
to teach me,
I would not even know
how to speak!
Now out with it,
rascally wretch!
Who was my father and mother?

MIME:
(having nodded his head
and made signs with his hands,
is released by Siegfried)

You nearly choked me to death!
Let go! What you’re eager to learn
I’ll tell you, all that I know.
O hard-hearted
ungrateful child!
Now hear, and learn why you hate me!
I’m not your father,
not kin to you,
and yet you owe everything to me!
You’re no kin to me,
and yet I was kind,
and my pity alone
gave you this home:
a fine reward I receive!
What a stupid fool I have been!
I found once in the wood
a woman who lay and wept:
I helped her here to my cave,
and by the fire there I warmed her.
A child stirred in her body;
sadly she gave it birth.
That birth was cruel and hard;
I helped as best I could.
Great was her pain! She died.
But Siegfried, your were born.

SIEGFRIED:
(lost in thought)

She died, my mother, through me?

MIME:
To my charge she entrusted the child:
I gladly cared for you.
What love I lavished on you!
What kindness and care you received!
‘A whimpering babe,
born in these woods…’

SIEGFRIED:
I think I have heard that before!
But say: why am I called Siegfried?

MIME:
The wish of your mother
that’s what she told me:
as ‘Siegfried’ you would grow
strong and fair.
‘And Mime was kind
to the tiny mite…’

SIEGFRIED:
Now tell me the name of my mother.

MIME:
Her name I never knew.
‘Feeding you well,
keeping you warm…’

SIEGFRIED:
Her name I told you to tell me!

MIME:
Her name I forget. No, wait!
Sieglinde, now I remember;
I’m sure that that was her name.
‘And sheltering you safe
as my very self…’

SIEGFRIED:
(even more urgently)

Now tell me, who was my father?

MIME:
(roughly)

His name I never knew!

SIEGFRIED:
Did my mother say what his name was?

MIME:
He fell in battle,
that’s all that she said.
The tiny orphan
was left in my care;
‘And as you grew older
I was your nurse;
when you were sleepy
I smoothed your bed…’

SIEGFRIED:
Stop that eternal
snivelling!
If I am to trust your story,
if truth at last you’re speaking,
then I must see some proof!

MIME:
But what proof can I show you?

SIEGFRIED:
I trust you not with my ears;
my eyes alone I’ll believe:
what witness can you show?

MIME:
(reflects for a moment,
and then fetches the
two pieces of a broken sword)

This, this your mother gave me;
for payment, food, and service,
this was my wretched wage.
Look here, just a broken sword!
She said your father had borne it
when he fought his last, and was killed.

SIEGFRIED:
(excited)

And now these fragments
Mime will forge me:
I’ve found my father’s sword!
So! hurry up, Mime!
Back to your work;
show me your skill;
employ all your craft!
Cheat me no more
with worthless trash.
These fragments alone
serve for my sword!
But if I find
flaws in your work,
if you should spoil it,
this splendid steel,
you’ll feel my blows on your hide;
I’ll make you shine like the steel!
Today, I swear, hear me!
I will have my sword;
the weapon today shall be mine.

MIME:
(alarmed)

But why do you need it today?

SIEGFRIED:
Through the wide world
I shall wander,
never more to return!
I am free now,
I can leave you,
nothing binds me to you!
My father you are not,
in the world I’ll find my home;
your hearth is not my house,
I can leave your rocky lair.
As the fish swims
through the waters,
as the bird flies
through the branches,
so I shall fly,
floating afar,
like the wind through the wood
wafting away!
Then, Mime, I’ll never return.

(He rushes out into the forest.)

MIME:
(in the utmost terror)

Siegfried! Stop there!
Stop there! Come back!

(He calls into the forest
at the top of his voice.)

Hey! Siegfried!
Siegfried! Hey!

(He gazes in astonishment
as Siegfried rushes away,
then returns to the forge
and sits behind the anvil.)

He storms away!
And I sit here,
my former cares
joined by a new one.
I’m helpless, caught in my trap!
Now what can I say?
And when he returns
then how can I lead him
to Fafner’s lair?
I can’t forge these pieces
of obstinate steel!
For no fire of mine
can ever fuse them;
nor can Mime’s hammer
conquer their hardness.
This Nibelung hate,
toil and sweat,
cannot make Notung new,
can’t forge the sword once again!

(Mime crouches in despair on the stool
behind the anvil.)

Scene 2

The Wanderer (Wotan) comes in from the forest by the entrance at the back of the cavern. He is wearing a long dark-blue cloak, and uses his spear as a staff. On his head is a large hat with a broad round brim, which hangs over his missing eye.

WANDERER:
Hail there, worthy smith!
This wayweary guest
asks to rest
awhile by your fire!

MIME:
(starting up in fright)

Who’s there? Who has sought me
here in the woods?
Who disturbs me in my retreat?

WANDERER:
(very slowly, advancing just a step at a
time)

‘Wanderer’, so I am called:
widely have I roamed,
on the earth’s broad surface
travelling afar.

MIME:
Then travel some more,
live up to your name;
let the Wanderer move on!

WANDERER:
Good men ever give me welcome;
gifts from many have I gained;
for ill fate falls only
on evil men.

MIME:
Ill fate haunts me
here in my home;
why do you want to increase it?

WANDERER:
(still advancing slowly)

Much I sought for,
and much I found.
I have often
taught men wisdom,
often lightened
heavy sorrows,
eased their afflicted hearts.

MIME:
Much you have learnt
maybe much you have found;
but don’t you come seeking in my house.
I don’t need you,
and I live alone.
Loiterers cannot stay here.

WANDERER:
(again advancing a little)

Many fancy
wisdom is theirs,
but what they most need,
that they don’t know.
When they ask me,
freely I answer:
wisdom flows from my words.

MIME:
(increasingly uneasy, as he watches the Wanderer advance)

Useless knowledge
many ask for,
but I know all that I need.

(The Wanderer has advanced right up to the hearth.)

And my wits are good;
I want no more.
So, wise one, be on your way!

WANDERER:
(sitting at the hearth)

I sit by your hearth,
and wager my head
it’s yours if I prove not wise.
My head is yours,
it falls to your hand,
if I, when you ask
all you want,
fail to redeem it aright.

MIME:
(has been staring open-mouthed at the
Wanderer; he shudders, and says timorously to
himself)

How can I get rid of this spy?
I’ll ask him three tricky questions.

(With an effort he recovers himself.)

Your head pays me
if you fail:
take care, use cunning to save it!
Three the questions
that I shall ask!

WANDERER:
Three times I must answer.

MIME:
(racks his brains)

You’ve wandered so far
on the earth’s wide surface,
and long you’ve roamed through the world:
and so you should know
what dusky race
dwells on the earth’s deep caverns?

WANDERER:
In the earth’s deep caverns,
that’s where the Niblungs dwell;
Nibelheim is their land.
Black elves, those Niblungs;
Black-Alberich
once was their master and lord!
By a magic ring’s
all-conquering spell,
he ruled that hard-working race.
Richest treasures,
shimmering gold,
he made them find,
to buy all the world for his kingdom
I’ve answered: what else would you ask?

MIME:
(thinking still harder)

Much, Wanderer,
much you know
of the earth’s dark secret caves.
But now can you say,
what mighty race
dwells on the earth’s broad surface?

WANDERER:
On the earth’s broad surface,
that’s where the giants dwell;
Riesenheim is their land.
Fasolt and Fafner,
the giants’ chieftains,
envied the Nibelung’s might;
and his powerful hoard
they gained for themselves
and in that hoard was the ring.
To gain that treasure
the brothers fought,
and Fasolt fell then.
In dragon shape
Fafner now guards all the gold
One question still you have left.

MIME:
(rapt in thought)

Much, Wanderer,
much you know
of the earth and all her dwellers.
And now can you say,
what lordly race
dwells on cloud-hidden heights?

WANDERER:
On cloud-hidden heights,
that’s where the gods dwell;
Walhall is their home.
Light-spirits are they;
Light-Alberich,
Wotan, rules o’er that clan.
From the world-ashtree’s
sacred branches
Wotan once tore his spear:
dead the tree
but still mighty the spear;
and with that spear-point
Wotan rules the world.
Bargains and contracts,
bonds and treaties,
deep in that shaft he graved.
Who holds that spear-shaft
rules the world;
and that spear-shaft
by Wotan’s hand is held.
In thrall to him
the Nibelung band;
the giants’ strong race
bows to his will;
all must obey him as master
that spear’s all-powerful lord.

(As if involuntarily, he strikes the ground with his
spear; a slight thunder is heard, which terrifies Mime.)

Now tell me, crafty dwarf,
were all my answers right?
And have I redeemed my head?

MIME:
(after carefully observing the Wanderer with
the spear, falls now into a state of great terror,
searches in confusion for his tools, and timidly
averts his glance)

The answers were right;
your head is safe:
now, Wanderer, go on your way!

WANDERER:
What you needed to know
you should have asked me,
while I had wagered my head.
You merely asked me
what you knew,
so now we’ll stake your head in turn.
You refused greeting
to your guest,
and so I had
to risk my head
to gain some rest at your hearth.
The law demands
your head in turn,
if you should fail
to answer me well.
So, Nibelung, sharpen your wits!

MIME:
(very timidly and hesitantly, at length
composing himself in nervous submission)

I left home
many years ago;
years ago I left
my mother’s womb.
I shrink beneath Wotan’s glances;
he came to spy in my cave:
his glance frightens
my wits away.
But now I must try to be wise;
Wanderer, ask what you will!
Perhaps good luck will help me;
the dwarf still can save his head?

WANDERER:
(again seating himself comfortably)

Now, worthiest dwarf,
answer me truly:
What’s the name of the race
that Wotan treated harshly
and yet holds most dear in his heart?

MIME:
(gaining courage)

I’m no expert
in heroes’ families
but what you ask I can soon guess.
The Wälsungs must be
that chosen race
that Wotan cared for
and loved so dearly,
though he was cruel and harsh:
Siegmund and Sieglind,
children of Wälse,
that wild and desperate
twin-born pair.
Siegfried, he was their child,
the Wälsungs’ brave mighty son.
So this time, Wanderer,
have I saved my head?

WANDERER:
(pleasantly)

Yes, it is safe,
for your answer was right:
it’s not easy to catch you!
But though you guessed
the first one right,
my second may prove too hard.
A wily Niblung
cared for Siegfried,
planned that he should kill Fafner,
gain the ring for the Niblung,
and make him lord of the world.
Name the sword
that Siegfried must strike with,
if he’s to kill the foe.

MIME:
(forgetting more and more his present
situation, and keenly interested in the topic, rubs
his hands with pleasure)

Notung, that’s the name
of the sword,
the sword that Wotan struck
into an ashtree:
and one alone could win it,
he would draw it forth.
Where mighty warriors
struggled in vain,
Siegmund the Wälsung
drew it forth;
thus he mastered the sword,
till by Wotan’s spear it was snapped.
Now the bits are saved
by a wily smith;
for he knows that only
with Wotan’s sword
a brave but foolish boy,
Siegfried, can kill the dragon.

(highly delighted )

Now twice the dwarf
has rescued his head?

WANDERER:
(laughing)

The wittiest
and the wiliest Niblung!
the cleverest dwarf I’ve known!
But since you’re so wise
to use for your purpose
the youthful strength of the hero,
let me ask
my final question now.
Tell me, you wily
weapon-smith:
Whose hand can make new those fragments?
Notung, the sword – who will forge it?

MIME:
(jumps up in extreme terror)

The fragments! The sword!
Alas! You’ve caught me!
What can I say?
What can I do?
Accursed steel!
Would I’d never seen it!
To me it has brought
only pain and woe!
Stubborn and hard,
my hand cannot weld it;
heat and hammer,
all are in vain!

(As if demented, he throws his tools about, and
gives way to total despair.)

The wisest of smiths
fails at the task.
Who can forge that sword
if my hand fails?
How can I give you an answer?

WANDERER:
(has risen calmly from the hearth)

Thrice you asked me your questions,
thrice I answered you right:
but what you asked
was meaningless;
you gave no thought to your need,
failed to ask what was required.
Now when I tell it
you’ll feel despair.
Your wily head
I can claim as my prize!
So, Fafner’s dauntless destroyer,
hear, you wretched dwarf:
‘One who has never
learnt to fear
he makes Notung new.’

(Mime stares at him wide-eyed; he turns to go.)

Your wily head
guard it with care!
I leave it forfeit to him
who has never learnt to fear.

(He turns away smiling and disappears quickly into
the forest. As if crushed, Mime has sunk down on
the stool behind the anvil.)

Scene 3


MIME:
(stares out before him into the sunlit forest,
and is seized increasingly by violent shudders)

Accursed light!
The air is aflame!
What’s flickering and flashing,
what flutters and swirls,
what floats in the air
and swirls in the wind?
What glistens and gleams
in the sun’s bright glow?
What hisses and hums
and roars so loud?
It growls and it heaves,
comes crashing this way!
It breaks through the trees;
where can I hide?

(He leaps up in terror.)

The threatening monster
opens its jaws;
the dragon will catch me!
Fafner! Fafner!

(With a shriek he collapses behind the anvil.)

SIEGFRIED:
(breaks through the thicket and calls out,
still off-stage, his movements evident from the
snapping of the undergrowth)

Hey there! You idler!
Say, have you finished?

(He enters the cave and pauses in surprise.)

Quick, I’ve come for my sword.
But where’s the smith?
Stolen away?
Hey, hey! Mime, you coward!
Where are you? Come out, I say!

MIME:
(in a feeble voice, from behind the wall)

It’s you then, child?
Are you alone?

SIEGFRIED:
(laughing)

Under the anvil?
Say, what work took you there?
Were you sharpening my sword?

MIME:
(coming out much confused and disturbed)

The sword? The sword?
How can I forge it?

(half to himself)

‘One who has never
learnt to fear
he makes Notung new.’
So how could I
undertake such work?

SIEGFRIED:
(violently)

Give me an answer!
Want me to help you?

MIME:
(as before)

No man can help in my need.
My wily head
I had to stake,
I’ve lost it; it’s forfeit to him
‘who has never learnt to fear’.

SIEGFRIED:
(impatiently)

Trying to escape me?
Still no reply?

MIME:
(gradually recovering himself a little)

I fear this youth
who knows not fear!
But wait: though I was eager to teach him,
yet, fool, I forgot
to teach him fear.
Love was the main thing
that I tried for;
but alas, that lesson failed!
So how can I teach him to fear?

SIEGFRIED:
(seizes him)

Well, must I help you?
What work has been done?

MIME:
I thought of your good;
I sank into brooding,
thinking of weighty things to teach you.

SIEGFRIED:
(laughing)

You certainly sank
under the anvil:
what weighty advice did you find?

MIME:
(steadily regaining self-possession)

What fear is, that’s what I learnt;
that’s what I mean to teach you.

SIEGFRIED:
(with quiet curiosity)

And what can this fear be?

MIME:
You’ve not learnt to fear,
and you’d leave the world,
go forth in the wood?
Oh, what use is the mightiest sword
till you can fear as well?

SIEGFRIED:
(impatiently)

Foolish words
I hear from your lips!

MIME:
(approaching Siegfried ever more
confidingly)

They are your mother’s words,
heard from her lips;
words that I promised
one day I’d teach you.
In the wide wicked world
I shan’t let you venture,
until you can fear as well.

SIEGFRIED:
(brusquely)

Is it a skill,
a craft I should learn?
Then speak, and teach me what fear is!

MIME:
Have you not felt
within the woods,
as darkness fell
in dusky glades,
a dreadful whisper,
hum and hiss,
savage, growling
sounds draw near?
Dazzling flashes
wildly flicker;
howling, roaring
assail your ears.
Have you not felt mysterious horrors
that threaten to harm you?
Shivering and shaking,
quivering and quaking,
while your heart trembles and faints,
wildly hammers and leaps?
Till you have felt these things
then fear to you is unknown.

SIEGFRIED:
(thoughtfully)

Wonderful feelings
those must be!
Yet my heart
firmly beats in my breast.
The shivering and shaking,
the glowing and sinking,
burning and fainting,
trembling and quaking:
I am yearning to feel them.
When may I taste these joys?
Can I learn them
Mime, from you?
How can a coward instruct me?

MIME:
Easily learnt!
The way I know well:
brooding brought it to mind.
I know where a dragon dwells,
who lives and feeds on men.
Fear you’ll learn from Fafner;
follow me; we’ll find his den.

SIEGFRIED:
And where is his den?

MIME:
Neidhöhle,
that’s what it’s called:
to the east, at the edge of the wood.

SIEGFRIED:
Is that not near to the world?

MIME:
From Neidhöhl the world isn’t far.

SIEGFRIED:
Then lead me on to your Fafner.
Fear he can teach me,
then forth to the world!
Now quick! Forge me the sword!
In the world I have to wield it.

MIME:
The sword? Ah no!

SIEGFRIED:
On with your forging!
Show me your skill!

MIME:
Accursed steel!
My skill is too weak for the task.
No dwarf can forge it
or master the magic spell.
One who fear does not know,
he might more easily succeed.

SIEGFRIED:
Lazy scoundrel,
lying to cheat me,
making excuses,
trying to delay.
So Mime is too weak for the task!
Give me these pieces,
I’ll have to teach you!

(striding to the hearth)

My father’s sword
yields to his son;
and I’ll forge it myself!

(He sets to work impetuously, pitching Mime’s tools
about.)

MIME:
If you’d been careful
to learn your craft,
then now you’d have your reward;
but you were always
lazy and slow,
and now you’ll wish you’d obeyed me.

SIEGFRIED:
When my teacher has failed,
could I be successful
if I had always obeyed?

(He cocks a snook at him.)

So move aside,
out of my way,
or else with the sword I’ll forge you!

(He has heaped up a mass of charcoal on the
hearth, and he keeps the fire going while he fixes
the fragments of the sword in a vice and files them
to shreds.)

MIME:
(who has sat down rather to one side,
watches Siegfried at work)

You’re doing it wrong!
There is the solder,
prepared, melted and hot.

SIEGFRIED:
Off with your trash!
I need it not.
No solder patches my sword.

MIME:
But the file is finished,
the rasp is ruined!
You’re filing the steel to splinters!

SIEGFRIED:
It must be splintered
and ground into shreds;
what is broken, this way I mend.

(He files on vigorously.)

MIME:
(aside)

My skill is useless,
I see that now
only his folly
can serve in his need!
See how he toils
with mighty strokes!
The steel is in shreds,
yet he is not warm!

(Siegfried has the forge fire to its brightest
glow.)

Though I grew as old
as cave and wood,
no sight like this would I see.

(While Siegfried with furious energy goes on filing
down the fragments of the sword, Mime seats
himself still further away.)

He will forge that sword,
I see that now;
fearless, he will succeed.
The Wanderer’s words were true!
Though I must hide
my fearful head,
or else it falls to the boy,
if I can’t teach him to fear!

(With increasing anxiety he leaps up, and cringes.)

But woe to Mime!
That dragon is safe
if he can teach fear to the boy.
Then how would I gain the ring?
Accursed problem!
I’m caught in a trap
if I can’t find some way
by which Siegfried is bent to my will.

SIEGFRIED:
(has filed down the pieces and put them
in a melting-pot which he now places in the forge
fire)

Hey, Mime! Tell me
the name of the sword
which I have filed into pieces.

MIME:
(gives a start, and turns to Siegfried)

Notung, that is
the name of the sword:
for your mother told me its name.

SIEGFRIED:
(during the following blows up the fire
with the bellows)

Notung! Notung!
Sword of my need!
What mighty blow once broke you?
I’ve filed to splinters
your shining steel;
the fire has melted and fused them.
Hoho! Hoho!
Hohi! Hohi! Hoho!
Bellows, blow!
Brighten the glow!
Wild in the woodlands
grew that tree
I felled in the forest glade;
I burnt to ashes
branches and trunk;
on the hearth it lies in a heap.
Hoho! Hoho!
Hohi! Hohi! Hoho!
Bellows, blow!
Brighten the glow!
The blackened charcoal
so bravely burns;
how bright and fair its glow!
A shower of sparks
is shooting on high:
Hohi! Hoho! Hohi!
and fuses the splintered steel.
Hoho! Hoho!
Hohi! Hohi! Hoho!
Bellows, blow!
Brighten the glow!

MIME:
(still to himself, sitting apart)

The sword will be forged
and Fafner conquered:
all that I can clearly foresee.
Gold and ring
will pass to the boy:
can I capture them both for me?
By wit and guile
I must obtain them,
and save my head as well.

SIEGFRIED:
(back at the bellows)

Hoho! Hoho!
Hohi! Hohi! Hohi!

MIME:
(in the background, to himself)

After the fight he’ll be tired,
and I’ll quench his thirst with a drink;
from roots of flowers
which I have gathered
I’ll make a dangerous draught.
If he drinks but one drop
of my potion,
sound sleep follows at once.
Then I’ll seize that weapon,
the sword that he’s forging;
I’ll simply chop off his head;
then mine are the ring and gold.

(He rubs his hands in glee.)

Hey, wise old Wanderer,
am I so dull?
Do you not approve
my crafty plan?
Have I found
my path to power?

SIEGFRIED:
Notung! Notung!
Sword of my need!
I smelt your shining steel!
The fiery stream
must fill this mould.

(He pours the glowing contents of the melting-pot
into a mould, which he holds aloft.)

And now you are shaped as my sword!

(He plunges the filled mould into the water-trough;
steam and loud hissing ensue from its cooling.)

In the water flowed
a fiery flood:
fury and hate
hissed from the blade!
That fire was soon quenched
by the fiery flood;
no more it stirs.
Strong, stubborn and hard,
there lies my new-made sword.
Burning blood
soon wets your blade!

(He thrusts the steel into the forge fire, and
vigorously plies the bellows.)

Once more I must heat you,
so I can shape you,
Notung, sword of my need!

(Mime has jumped up in delight; he fetches various
vessels, and from them shakes spices and herbs into
a cooking-pot, which he tries to put on the hearth.
Siegfried, during the work, watches Mime, who
carefully puts his pot on the fire from the other side
of the hearth.)

But what’s the booby
doing with the pan?
I work with steel;
you’re cooking soup there?

MIME:
The smith is put to shame:
the teacher is taught his craft.
When the master finds his skill has gone,
as cook he serves the child.
You make a broth of the steel;
old Mime stirs the pan
and makes soup.

(He goes on with his cooking.)

SIEGFRIED:
Mime the craftsman
turns to cooking;
his anvil pleases him no more.
All the swords he made
broke into pieces;
what he cooks, I never will eat!

(During what follows Siegfried takes the mould
from the fire, breaks it, and lays the glowing steel
on the anvil.)

What fear is
I hope I shall soon discover.
Out there one dwells who can teach me;
seeing Mime can’t help,
he’s no use to me;
whatever he does, he does badly!

(during the forging)

Hoho! Hoho! Hohi!
Forge me, my hammer,
a hard strong sword!
Hoho! Hahi!
Hoho! Hahi!
Your steely blue
once flowed with blood;
its ruddy trickling
reddened my blade;
cold laughter you gave,
the warm blood cooled on your heart!
Hiaho, haha,
hahiaha!
But now with fire
you redly gleam,
and your weakness yields
to my hammer’s blow.
Angry sparks you are showering
on me who conquers your pride!
Hiaho! Hiaho!
Hiahohoho!
Hahi!

MIME:
(aside)

He’s forging a bright, sharp sword.
Fafner will feel it
and meet his end.
I’ve brewed a deadly drink;
Siegfried will follow
when Fafner’s dead.
The ring will gain me the prize;
the ring and gold will be mine!

(During what follows, he busies himself with
pouring the contents of the pot into a flask.)

SIEGFRIED:
Hoho! Hoho!
Hahi!
Forge me, my hammer,
a hard strong sword!
Hoho! Hahi!
Hoho! Hoho!
This cheerful sparkling
delights my heart;
this flash of anger
suits well my blade.
Now you laugh at your lord,
though you pretend to be grim!
Hiaho, haha,
hahiaha!
Both heat and hammer
serve me well;
with sturdy strokes
I beat you straight.
Now banish your blush of shame,
and be cold and hard as you can.
Hiaho! Hiaho!
Hiahohoho!
Hiah!

(He swings the steel and plunges it into the watertrough.
He laughs at the loud sizzling.While
Siegfried fastens the forged blade into a hilt, Mime
fusses about in the foreground with his flask.)

MIME:
Once my brother forged
a bright shining ring,
and in it he worked
a powerful spell.
That shining gold
will belong to me,
soon I will control it.
I’m master now!

(While Siegfried is tapping with the small hammer
and grinding and filing, Mime skips about
vivaciously, with increasing glee.)

Alberich too,
who made me slave,
will bend his knee
and beg for my grace;
as Nibelung prince,
all will obey me;
that Niblung band
will bow to me!
And the boy they despised
they will treat as a king!
All the heroes and gods
will respect my gold;

(with ever more lively gestures)

the world will cower
when I command;
they’ll beg my favour,
fearing my frown!
For me they’ll labour,
to make me rich.
For me they’ll labour,
to make me rich.
Mime the conqueror,
Mime is king now,
prince of the Niblungs,
lord of the world!
Hi! Mime, you fortunate smith!
For who would believe such luck!

SIEGFRIED:
(during Mime’s song has given the final
blows to flatten the rivets on the hilt. He takes up
the sword)

Notung! Notung!
Sword of my need!
You are fixed again firm in the hilt.
Snapped into two,
once more you are whole;
no stroke again shall ever smash you.
You broke when my father
was doomed to death;
his living son
forged you again:
for me now you laugh and shine,
and your gleaming edge will be keen.

(brandishing the sword)

Notung! Notung!
Sword of my need!
To life once more I have waked you.
You lay there
so cold and dead,
but shine now defiant and fair.
Let every traitor
quail at your gleam!
Strike at the false one,
strike at the rogue!
See, Mime, you smith:

(He raises the sword to strike.)

so strong is Siegfried’s sword!

(He strikes the anvil, which splits from top to bottom
and falls apart with a great crash. Mime, who has
jumped up onto a stool in his exaltation, falls to the
ground with fright and lands on his bottom.
Triumphantly Siegfried holds the sword on high. The
curtain falls.)

Act 2

Top Act 1
Scene 1

In the depths of the forest.
At the very back, the entrance to a cavern. The ground rises towards the centre of the stage, where it forms a small knoll; from there it descends to the cavern, so that only the upper part of the entrance is visible to the spectator. To the left, through the forest trees, a fissured cliff-face can be discerned. Dark night, at its darkest towards the back, where to start with the spectator can distinguish nothing.

ALBERICH:
(stationed at the cliff-face, gloomily
brooding)

In gloomy night
by Fafner’s cave I wait,
my ears alert,
keeping careful watch.
Fateful day,
when will you break?
When will the dawn
drive this dark away?

(A stormy wind blows
from the forest on the right;
a bluish gleam shines
from there.)

Is a light glittering there?
Nearer and nearer
it seems to shine;
it runs like a fiery steed,
breaks through the wood,
rushing this way.
Can it be him I’m waiting for,
author of Fafner’s death?

(The stormwind subsides; the gleam fades away.)

The light has gone;
the glow fades from my sight.
Night and darkness!

(The Wanderer enters from the wood, and pauses
opposite Alberich.)

Who comes there, lighting the shadows?

WANDERER:
To Neidhöhl
by night I have come:
Who is hid in the darkness there?

(As if through a cloud suddenly rent, the
moonlight breaks through and lights the Wanderer’s
face.)

ALBERICH:
(recognises the Wanderer,
flinches in fear, but then
instantly breaks out in rage)

You dare show yourself here?
I jeer at your face.
Out of my sight!
Go elsewhere, shameless thief!

WANDERER:
(calmly)

Black-Alberich,
lurking here?
watching over Fafner’s hoard?

ALBERICH:
Driven by your greed
to new evil deeds?
Go on your way,
take yourself elsewhere!
Too long we have suffered,
tricked by your scheming and lies.
So, you traitor,
leave us in peace!

WANDERER:
The Wanderer watches,
takes no action.
Who dares to bar Wanderer’s way?

ALBERICH:
(laughs maliciously)

You false, infamous schemer!
I am not so stupid
as once you found me,
when you and Loge tricked me.
It’s not so easy
again to capture my treasure!
Beware! I am warned,
wise to your schemes.
I know your weakness;
nothing’s hid from the Niblung.
My stolen treasure
saved you from ruin;
my ring paid
for the giants’ work,
who built that hall where you rule.
The terms of that bargain,
all that you swore then,
are graved for ever more
on that spear you hold in your hand.
You dare not
ever take back by force
that fee you paid to the giants:
for if you paid it
you would break the bond,
and in your hand
the shaft of your spear,
so mighty, would snap like a straw!

WANDERER:
Yet no bonds nor graven bargains
bound evil
Alberich to me:
By force, I bent your will to mine;
my spear brings victory in war.

ALBERICH:
How grand you sound,
how proudly you stand there,
and yet in your heart there is fear!
The dragon must die,
for, by my curse
on the gold, I’ve doomed him:
then who shall inherit?
Will the glittering gold
belong once again to the Niblung?
That thought gives you endless torment!
Just wait till I grasp
the ring in my hand.
I’m not a foolish giant.
I’ll use that magic spell:
till you and your heroes
tremble before me!
Alberich’s army
conquers Walhall’s height:
the world then shall be mine!

WANDERER:
(calmly)

Though I know what you plan,
I care not at all.
The ring’s new master,
he shall be lord.

ALBERICH:
How darkly you tell me
what so clearly I know!
A hero helps you,
that’s what you plan,



that son who was born from your blood?
Have you not raised up a hero
in hopes that he will gather



that fruit you dare not pluck?

WANDERER:
Not my plan!
Struggle with Mime;
your brother threatens your hopes:
to this place he’s leading the boy,
and Fafner will fall to him.
He knows naught of me,
but Mime urges him on.
So mark my words, good friend:
you may act as you please!

(Alberich makes a gesture
of urgent inquiry.)

Take my advice,
be on your guard!
The boy knows naught of the ring,
till Mime tells him the tale.

ALBERICH:
(eagerly)

And will you play no part at all?

WANDERER:
Since I love him,
I must refuse to help him;
he stands or he falls
unhelped by me:
gods rely only on heroes.

ALBERICH:
With only Mime
I strive for the ring?

WANDERER:
Only you and he
have plans on the gold.

ALBERICH:
And yet I can’t make it my own?

WANDERER:
(quietly drawing nearer)

A hero nears
to rescue the hoard;
two Nibelungs long for the gold:
Fafner falls,
he who guards the ring.
When it’s seized – luck to the winner!
Would you know more?
There Fafner lies:

(He turns towards the cave.)

why not warn him of death?
Maybe he’ll give you the ring.
I’ll wake him up with my call.

(He takes up a position on the knoll in front of the
cave, and calls into it.)

Fafner! Fafner!
You dragon, wake!

ALBERICH:
(excited and astonished, to himself )

Has he lost his senses?
Can it be mine now?

(From the dark depths of the background Fafner’s
voice is heard through a powerful speakingtrumpet.)

FAFNER:
Who wakes me from sleep?

WANDERER:
(facing the cave)

A friend has arrived here,
warning of danger;
he hopes that he can save you
will you reward his help
with the treasure that you’re guarding?

(He inclines his ear
towards the cave, listening.)

FAFNER:
What would he?

ALBERICH:
(has joined the Wanderer, and calls into
the cave)

Waken, Fafner!
Dragon, awake!
A valiant hero comes
to try his strength against yours.

FAFNER:
Then food is near!

WANDERER:
Bold is his youthful heart,
sharp-edged is his sword.

ALBERICH:
The golden ring,
that’s all he wants:
just give that ring to me,
and then he won’t fight.
You keep all the rest,
and live your life in peace!

FAFNER:
I’ll keep what I hold

(yawning)

let me slumber!

WANDERER:
(laughs aloud, and turns back to
Alberich)

Now, Alberich! That plan failed!
Yet call me not a rogue!
Still more I’ll tell you;
heed my advice!

(approaching him confidentially)

All things go their appointed way;
their course you cannot alter.
I’ll leave you alone here,
be on your guard!
Beware of Mime, your brother;
he is your kind, and you understand him.

(turning to go)

But stranger things
you’ll learn in good time!

(He disappears into the forest. A stormy wind
rises, a bright gleam breaks out; then both quickly
subside.)

ALBERICH:
(gazes after the Wanderer
as he rides away)

He rides on his way
on fiery steed,
and leaves me to care and shame.
Yet laugh away,
you light-spirited,
self-worshipping
clan of immortals!
One day
I shall see you all fade!
So long as gold
reflects the light,
here a wise one will watch:
watching, waiting to strike!

(He slips aside into the cleft in the rocks. The stage
remains empty. Day dawns.)

Scene 2

As day breaks, Mime and Siegfried enter. Siegfried is wearing the sword in a belt of bast-rope. Mime examines the place carefully; he looks at last toward the background, which remains in deep shadow even while, later on, the knoll in the middle foreground is lit up ever more brightly by the sun; then he addresses Siegfried.

MIME:
We go no further!
Here’s the place!

SIEGFRIED:
(sits down under a large lime tree and
gazes around )

Here, then, shall this fear be taught me?
So far I’ve let you lead me;
for the whole night long we’ve wandered
through this dark wood, side by side.
Mime, I need you
no longer!
If I don’t learn
what I’ve come to find,
alone I shall go onward;
from Mime, I must be free!

MIME:
(sits down opposite Siegfried,
where he can keep one eye
on the cave)

Child, believe me,
if you do not learn
to fear today,
no other place,
no other time,
can ever teach you fear.
Look back there;
do you see that dreadful cave?
Deep inside
there lives a cruel dragon,
terribly big,
and savage and fierce.
As soon as he sees you
he’ll open his jaws,
to eat you whole.
In one single gulp
the brute will gobble you down!

SIEGFRIED:
(still sitting under the lime tree)

Well then, in order to stop him,
I’ll close up his jaws with my sword.

MIME:
Poisonous foam
he will pour from his mouth;
if you are splashed
by one single drop,
it shrivels your body and bones.

SIEGFRIED:
But that poisonous foam cannot harm me,
if I step neatly aside.

MIME:
A scaly tail
he lashes around:
and if you should be caught,
he’ll coil it tight;
your bones will be broken like glass!

SIEGFRIED:
Then that scaly tail must not catch me;
I’ll have to watch it with care.
But tell me one thing:
has the brute a heart?

MIME:
A merciless, cruel heart.

SIEGFRIED:
And is that heart
in the usual place,
at the left of his breast?

MIME:
Of course; dragons
have hearts just like men.
Does your heart begin to feel fear?

SIEGFRIED:
(who has so far been lolling carelessly,
quickly sits up erect)

Notung! Notung!
I’ll thrust in that heart!
In that way may fear be taught me?
Oh, you’re stupid!
Have you brought me
all this way
to teach me that?
Mime, be off and leave me;
since fear I shall never learn here.

MIME:
Just wait a while!
You think I’ve told you
trifling and empty tales:
but Fafner
you must see for yourself;
for Fafner can teach you to fear.
When your eyes grow dim,
your body grows weak,
when trembling shudders
fill your heart,

(very affectionately)

you’ll thank the dwarf who has brought you,
be glad of Mime’s love.

SIEGFRIED:
You must not love me!
Did you not hear?
I hate the sight of you!
Leave me alone:
I’ll hear no more talk about love;
don’t dare to love me again!
That shuffling and slinking,
those eyelids blinking
how long must I
endure the sight?
When shall I be rid of this fool?

MIME:
I’ll leave you now,
at the stream I’ll cool myself.
Wait by the cave;
soon, when the sun is in the sky,
watch for the dragon.
From his cave he’ll slowly emerge,
wind his way
past this place,
to reach the cooling stream there.

SIEGFRIED:
(laughing)

Mime, wait by the stream,
and let the dragon catch you there:
I can wait here
till Fafner has found you,
then we can fight
after you’ve been swallowed.
Or else, take my advice,
better not stay by the stream;
hurry away
as fast as you can,
and don’t come back to me!

MIME:
When after the fight
you’ll need refreshment,
won’t you be glad to see me?

(Siegfried shoos him away.)

Call for my help
if you should need me.

(Siegfried impatiently
repeats the gesture.)

Let me know when your fear has been learnt.

(Siegfried rises, and drives Mime off with furious
gestures.)

(to himself, as he goes)

Fafner and Siegfried,
Siegfried and Fafner
if only each would kill the other!

(He disappears in the forest on the right.)

SIEGFRIED:
(stretches himself out comfortably under
the lime tree, and watches
Mime’s departure)

So he’s no father of mine:
that thought fills my heart with joy!
Now I delight
in this fair green wood;
I delight
in this glorious day,
now I’m free from that loathsome dwarf,
and I won’t have to see him again!

(He falls into silent reverie.)

My father, how did he look?
Why, of course, like his son!
If Mime had fathered a son,
wouldn’t he look
just like Mime?
Shuffling and slinking,
grizzled and gray,
small and crooked,
with insolent hunchback,
insolent bearing,
eyes that are bleary…
Off with the imp!
I hope he’s gone for good!

(He leans back and looks up through the branches.
Deep silence. Forest murmurs.)

Could I but know
what my mother was like!
That’s something
I cannot imagine!
Her eyes must have shone
with soft gentle light,
like the eyes of the roedeer,
only more lovely!
In fear and grief she bore me,
but why did she die through me?
Must every human mother
die when her children
come to the world?
Sad the world must be then!
Ah, how this son
longs to see his mother!
See my mother
who lived and died!

(He sighs gently and leans back still further. Deep
silence. The forest murmurs increase. Siegfried’s
attention is then caught by the song of the forest
birds. He listens with growing interest to a bird in
the branches above him.)

You lovely woodbird,
how sweet is your song:
here in the wood is your home?
I wish I could understand you!
I’m sure you’ve something to tell
perhaps of a loving mother?
A surly old dwarf
said to me once
that men could learn
the language of birds,
and know what they were saying.
How can I learn the tongue?

(He reflects. His glance falls on a clump of reeds not
far from the lime tree.)

Hey! Let me try
pipe your notes
on a reed, copy your chirping!
Your song I will echo,
mimic your warbling;
while your tune I am piping,
perhaps I shall learn what you say!

(He runs to the stream nearby, cuts a reed with his
sword, and quickly whittles a pipe from it. He
listens again.)

He stops and waits:
well, let me begin!

(He blows on the pipe, breaks off, cuts it again to
improve it, pipes again, shakes his head, and cuts
the pipe once more. He tries again, gets angry,
pinches the reed with his hand, and makes another
attempt. Then, he gives up.)

Well, that’s not right;
and this reed won’t serve
to capture the lilt of your song.
Woodbird, I think
I must be dull;
From you I cannot learn.

(He hears the bird again, and looks up at it.)

You put me to shame
as you perch there and hallo;
you wait – and I cannot answer.
Hey then! Then hear
the call of my horn.

(He holds up the reed and tosses it far away.)

I can pipe no tune
on a feeble reed.
But I’ll play you
a tune on my horn,
a song that will ring through the woodlands
a song that I hoped
may find me a friend:
though no one heard me
but wolf and bear.
Now let us see
who’ll answer my call
the friend whom I’m longing to find?

(He takes the silver horn and blows on it. At each
long-sustained note he looks up expectantly at the
bird. There is a stir in the background. Fafner, in
the form of a huge, scaly dragon, has risen from his
lair in the cave; he breaks through the undergrowth
and drags himself up from below to the higher
ground until the front part of his body rests on this,
whereupon he utters a loud noise like a yawn.
Siegfried looks round, and fastens his astonished
gaze on Fafner.)

Ha ha! At last with my call
I have lured something lovely!
What a pretty playmate I’ve found!

FAFNER:
(at the sight of Siegfried
has paused on the knoll,
and remains there)

Who is there?

SIEGFRIED:
Hi, so you’re a beast
that can speak to me;
perhaps you’ve some news to tell me?
Can you tell me
what fear might be:
are you prepared to teach me?

FAFNER:
You are far too bold!

SIEGFRIED:
Bold, maybe far too bold,
I know not!
I know that I will fight you,
if you can’t teach me to fear.

FAFNER:
(makes a laughing noise)

Drink I wanted,
now I have found food!

(He opens his jaws
and shows his teeth.)

SIEGFRIED:
What a splendid array
of dazzling teeth,
glinting and glistening
within those jaws!
Well, maybe it’s wiser to close them:
those jaws are open too wide.

FAFNER:
For idle chatter.
far too wide;
but all the better
for my meal.

(He threatens with his tail.)

SIEGFRIED:
Oho! You cruel
merciless brute!
But I’ve no wish
to be your breakfast.
Far better plan, I think,
to destroy you here on the spot.

FAFNER:
(roaring)

Pruh! Come,e
insolent boy!

SIEGFRIED:
Take care, growler!
The boy draws near!

(He draws his sword, springs towards Fafner, and
stands in an attitude of defiance. Fafner drags
himself further up the knoll and spits from his
nostrils at Siegfried. Siegfried avoids the venom,
leaps nearer, and stands to one side. Fafner tries to
reach him with his tail. When Fafner has nearly
caught Siegfried, the latter leaps with one bound
over the dragon, and wounds him in the tail.
Fafner roars, draws his tail back quickly, and rears
up the front part of his body to throw its full weight
on Siegfried, thus exposing his breast. Siegfried
quickly notes the place of the heart and plunges his
sword in there up to the hilt. Fafner rears up still
higher in his pain, and sinks down on the wound,
as Siegfried lets go of the sword and leaps to one
side.)

So there, merciless brute!
Notung now has destroyed you!

FAFNER:
(in a weaker voice)

Who are you, youthful hero,
who has pierced my breast?
Who roused up your fearless heart
to this murderous deed?
And who told you to do
what you have done?

SIEGFRIED:
Not much have I learned;
I know not who I am;
but you roused me to kill you,
prompted my deed by your threat.

FAFNER:
So bold, youthful, and fearless,
unknown to yourself:
now let me tell you
whom you’ve killed.
The giants who ruled on the earth,
Fasolt and Fafner,
the brothers, both have now fallen.
For the cursed gold
we gained from the gods,
I put Fasolt to death.
In dragon shape,
the treasure’s guardian,
Fafner, the last of the giants,
falls at the hand of a boy.
Guard yourself well,
bold, fearless hero!
He who urged you on to this deed,
has planned next this bold hero’s death.

(dying)

Mark how it ends then!
Recall my fate!

SIEGFRIED:
Who was my father?
Do you not know?
Wisdom inspires you
now you are dying:
maybe my name will tell you:
Siegfried, that is my name.

FAFNER:
Siegfried!…

(He raises himself with a sigh, and expires.)

SIEGFRIED:
The dead can tell no tidings.
To life I’ll be led
by the light of my sword!

(Fafner, in dying,
has rolled on his side. Siegfried
draws the sword from his breast, and in doing so
smears his hand with blood. He draws back his
hand violently.)

Like fire burns his blood!

(Involuntarily he puts his fingers
to his mouth to suck the blood from
them. As he gazes
thoughtfully before him, his attention is
caught increasingly by the song of the forest
birds.)

Almost, it seems,
the woodbirds are speaking to me.
Is it a spell
that lies in the blood?
My woodbird’s there again;
hark he sings to me!

VOICE OF THE WOORBIRD:
(from the branches of the
lime tree above Siegfried )

Hi! Siegfried inherits
the Nibelung hoard;
O, there it is lying
within that cave!
There is the Tarnhelm, whose magic
will serve him for glorious deeds;
and if he discovers the ring,
it will make him the lord of the world!

SIEGFRIED:
(has listened with bated breath and
enraptured look)

Thanks, dearest woodbird,
for your advice!
I’ll do as you say!

(He turns towards the back,
descends into the cave,
and at once disappears from sight.)

Scene 3

Mime slinks on, peering round timidly to assure himself that Fafner is dead. Simultaneously, Alberich emerges from the cleft on the other side. He observes Mime closely. Mime, seeing that Siegfried is no longer there, is going warily towards the cave at the back, when Alberich rushes forward and bars his way.

ALBERICH:
Hehe! Sly
and slippery knave,
where are you going?

MIME:
Accursed brother,
I need you not!
What brings you here?

ALBERICH:
Pestilent imp,
you’d steal my gold?
You covet my wealth?

MIME:
Off on the instant!
The place here is mine:
you’ve no business here!

ALBERICH:
Do I disturb
a thief at his work?
Caught in the act?

MIME:
What I’ve achieved
through years of toil
shall not escape me.

ALBERICH:
Was it then you
who robbed the Rhine of its gold?
And was it your hand
that worked the spell in the ring?

MIME:
Who made the Tarnhelm,
changing your shape at will?
Though you desired it,
that helm was made by me!

ALBERICH:
You miserable bungler,
mine was the skill that inspired you!
My magic ring
showed how the helm could be made.

MIME:
And where is that ring?
You coward, the giants have seized it.
What you have lost,
I can gain by guile for myself.

ALBERICH:
What the boy has won
will the miser lay hands on?
When the hero finds it,
that hero will keep his prize.

MIME:
I brought him up;
for my care now he can pay;
for years I slaved;
my labours have won their reward!

ALBERICH:
So you brought him up!
Does the beggarly,
miserly knave
think he’s earned
such pay? King he would be?
A flea-bitten dog
had better right
than you to the gold!
You’ll never win,
you schemer, that mighty ring!

MIME:
(scratches his head )

Well, keep it then,
and guard it well,
that shining ring!
You be lord:
but still treat me as brother!
Give me the Tarnhelm
which I have made,
you keep the gold;
then both are paid;
each of us shares in the prize.

(He rubs his hands insinuatingly.)

ALBERICH:
(laughing scornfully)

Share it with you?
And the Tarnhelm yours?
How sly you are!
Not one moment’s peace
I’d have from your scheming!

MIME:
(beside himself )

You won’t share them?
You won’t bargain?
Nothing for me?
All must be yours?

(screaming)

Not one thing will you leave me?

ALBERICH:
Not a trinket!
No, not a nail-head!
All I deny you.

MIME:
(in a towering rage)

Neither ring nor Tarnhelm
then shall reward you!
I’ll bargain no more!
But I’ll set against you
Siegfried himself
with his cruel sword;
that fearless boy
will pay you, brother of mine!

(Siegfried appears in the background.)

ALBERICH:
Better turn round!
From the cavern, see where he comes.

MIME:
(looking around)

Trinkets and toys
he’s sure to have found.

ALBERICH:
He’s found the Tarnhelm!

MIME:
Also the ring!

ALBERICH:
Accurst! The ring!

MIME:
(laughing maliciously)

Get him to give you the ring, then!
Yet all the same I shall win it!

(He slips back
into the forest.)

ALBERICH:
Just wait, in the end
it will belong to its master.

(He disappears into the cleft. During the foregoing,
Siegfried has come slowly and thoughtfully from the
cave with the Tarnhelm and ring. He regards his
prizes meditatively, and pauses on the knoll in the
middle of the stage, near the tree.)

SIEGFRIED:
Tarnhelm and ring,
here they are:
I chose these things
from the hoard of heaped-up gold,
because the woodbird said I should.
I know not their use:
yet they’ll serve to remind me
these toys are the proof
that I conquered Fafner in fight;
but what fear is, that I’ve not learned!

(He puts the Tarnhelm in his belt and the ring on
his finger. Dead silence. The forest murmurs
increase. Siegfried again involuntarily becomes
aware of the bird, to whose song he listens with
bated breath.)

VOICE OF THE WOORBIRD:
Hi! Siegfried discovered
the Tarnhelm and ring!
Now let him beware
of the treacherous dwarf!
Oh, let Siegfried attend
to the crafty words Mime speaks!
What he really means
you will now understand,
made wise by the taste of the blood.

(Siegfried’s demeanour and gestures show that he
has understood the sense of the bird’s song. Seeing
Mime approach, he remains motionless, leaning on
his sword, observant and self-contained, in his place
on the knoll, until the end of the following scene.)

MIME:
(slinks on and observes Siegfried from the
foreground)

He broods, and he wonders
what he’s found:
can he have met
a wily Wanderer,
roaming around,
advising the boy
with crafty talk and tales?
Doubly sly
I’ll have to be:
my cunningest snares
for him I shall lay,
and use my friendliest,
falsest flattery
to capture this obstinate boy.

(He comes closer to Siegfried,
welcoming him with
wheedling gestures.)

Be welcome, Siegfried!
Say, my brave one,
tell me if fear has been learned?

SIEGFRIED:
No teacher here could be found.

MIME:
But that cruel dragon
I see that you’ve slain him?
Did he not inspire you with fear?

SIEGFRIED:
Though he was cruel and fierce,
his death fills me with grief,
when far wickeder scoundrels
live their lives still unpunished.
He who brought me here to fight
I hate far more than my foe!

MIME:
(very affectionately)

Now gently! for soon
you’ll see me no more:
when death has closed
your eyes in dark, eternal sleep!
For all that I needed

(as if praising him)

you have achieved;
one thing but remains
for me to do: to win the treasure.
I think that task should be easy;
you were never hard to deceive!

SIEGFRIED:
Deceive me, and then destroy me?

MIME:
(astonished )

Is that what I said?

(continuing tenderly)

Siegfried! Hear me, my dear son!
You and all your kind
in my heart I have hated;
and love played no part
in bringing you up.
The gold that’s hid in Fafner’s cave,
that gold alone I sought to win.

(as if he were promising him something pleasant)

Give me all
that shining treasure, or else

(as if he were ready
to lay down his life for him)

Siegfried, my son,
you see it’s quite clear,

(with affectionate jocularity)

your life you’ll just have to yield me.

SIEGFRIED:
Learning you hate me,
brings me joy:
as for my life, why should I yield it?

MIME:
(angrily)

I did not say that!
You have heard me all wrong!

(He produces his flask,
and takes evident pains to
be convincing.)

After your fighting
I know you’re tired;
after such toil you are hot;
let me refresh you
with cooling drink;
Mime knew what you’d need.
While your sword you were forging,
I made some broth;
drink but a drop,
and then I will seize your sword
and gain the gold as well!

(He sniggers.)

SIEGFRIED:
So you’d seize my sword
and all that it’s won me;
ring and Tarnhelm, you’d take them?

MIME:
(vehemently)

Why can’t you hear what I say!
Tell me, am I not clear?
I’m being so careful,
choosing my words,
and hiding my meaning,
trying to deceive you;
and the foolish booby
misinterprets my words.
Open your ears now,
and attend to me!
Listen what Mime plans!

(again very affectionately, with an evident effort to
make himself understood )

Take this and drink it to cool you!
My drinks pleased you before:
when you were thirsty,
tired or hot,
I brought you drink;
you grumbled, but you still drank it.

SIEGFRIED:
(without altering his expression)

A refreshing drink
I should like:
but say how this one was brewed.

MIME:
(gaily joking, as if describing
how pleasant and merry
the brew will make him)

Hi! Just drink it,
trust to my skill!
And you’ll be seized
by sleep that you cannot resist:
you will sink unconscious,
drugged, drowsy, and helpless.
While you’re asleep
I’ll easily
steal the ring and the Tarnhelm,
but if once you should wake,
then from you
I’d never be safe,
even as lord of the ring.
So with the sword
that you made so sharp,

(with a gesture
of uncontrolled merriment)

I will just crop
your head right off;
then I will be safe, I’ll have the ring!

(He chuckles again.)

SIEGFRIED:
While I’m sleeping you plan to kill me?

MIME:
(in a furious rage)

To kill you? Why do you say that?

(He makes an effort to assume his most charming
tone of voice.)

I merely plan

(with meticulous clarity)

to chop your head right off!

(with an expression of heartfelt anxiety for
Siegfried’s health)

Not only because
I hate you so;
not only because
I have suffered such scorn and shame,
and long to take my vengeance;

(gently)

but because I must destroy you;
if I plan to kill you,
how could I be sure of my treasure,
since Alberich covets it too?

(He pours the brew into the drinking-horn and
offers it to Siegfried with pressing gestures.)

Now, my Wälsung!
You Wolf ’s son!
Drink and choke to death!
You’ll never drink again!

(Siegfried raises his sword, and as if seized by
violent loathing aims a swift blow at Mime, who
immediately falls down dead.)

SIEGFRIED:
Taste then my sword,
horrible babbler!

(Alberich’s mocking laughter is heard from the cleft.
Siegfried quietly puts his sword back again, gazing
at the fallen body.)

Hatred’s paid
by Notung:
that’s why I needed to forge it.

(He picks up Mime’s body,
carries it to the knoll at
the entrance to the cave,
and throws it down inside.)

In the cavern there,
lie with the hoard!
You schemed so long
and strove for that gold;
so now take your joy in that treasure!
Let me place this guardian
there by your side,
so from all thieves you’ll be safe.

(With a great effort
he drags the body of the dragon
to the entrance to the cave,
blocking it completely.)

You lie there too,
mighty dragon.
The glittering gold
you now can share
with your foe who longed for its gleam;
and so you both have found your rest!

(He gazes thoughtfully
down into the cave for a while,
and then returns slowly to the
foreground, as if tired. It is noon.
He passes his hand over his brow.)

I’m worn out
by the heavy task.
Fever seems
to burn my blood.
This hand burns on my brow.
High stands the sun above me;
his brilliant eye
gazes down
from the blue and beats on my head.
Here it’s cooler;
I’ll rest under these branches.

(He lies down under the lime-tree
and again looks up
into the branches.)

You’re back then, dearest woodbird,
not flown away
after the fight?
Let me hear again your singing!
On a branch I see you
swaying and swinging;
chirping and chirruping
brothers and sisters
surround you with laughter and love!
But I am quite alone,
have no brothers nor sisters,
and my mother died,
my father fell,
unknown to their son!
One comrade was mine,
a detestable dwarf.
Love was never known
between us;
loving and sly,
he wanted to catch me;
so at last I was forced to kill him!

(Sadly, he looks up
again to the branches.)

Dear little woodbird,
can you be my guide?
Can you tell me
where I’ll find a friend?
You must know some way to help me.
So often I’ve called
and yet no one has come.
You, my woodbird,
you might do better,
for you’ve advised me so well.
Now sing! I’m listening for your song.

VOICE OF THE WOORBIRD:
Hi! Siegfried is free
from the evil dwarf!
Next he must awake
his glorious bride:
high on a mountain she sleeps,
guarded by threatening flames.
Who goes through the fire,
wakens the bride,
Brünnhilde then shall be his!

SIEGFRIED:
(leaps up impetuously
from his seat )

O joyful song!
Sweet, happy strain!
Your glorious words
strike fire in my breast;
like flames they burn me,
kindle my heart!
What new thought inspires
my heart and senses?
Tell me, my dear, sweet friend!

(he listens)

VOICE OF THE WOORBIRD:
Gaily in grief,
I sing of love;
joyful in woe,
I weave my song;
and lovers can tell what it means.

SIEGFRIED:
Joy fills me,
shouting with gladness,
forth I shall go to that rock!
But one thing more tell me,
dearest woodbird:
say, can I pass through the fire?
Can I awaken the bride?

(Siegfried listens again)

VOICE OF THE WOORBIRD:
Who wakens the maid,
Brünnhild the bride,
no coward can be:
one unacquainted with fear!

SIEGFRIED:
(laughs with delight)

A foolish boy,
unacquainted with fear,
dear woodbird, why, that is me!
Today in vain
I attempted to learn
I hoped that the dragon could teach me.
Now joy fills my heart,
since from Brünnhild I’ll learn it!
What way must I take to the rock?

(The bird flutters out, circles over Siegfried, and
then flies off hesitatingly.)

Fluttering overhead, you guide me;
and where you flutter,
there I shall go!

(He pursues the bird, which for a while teasingly
leads him in different directions: then it takes a
definite course towards the background and flies
away. Siegfried follows. The curtain falls.)

Act 3

Top Act 2
Scene 1

A wild place
at the foot of a rocky mountain, which rises steeply at the left towards the back. Night: storm, lightning and violent thunder; the latter ceases after a while; the lightning continuing to flash through the clouds.

WANDERER:
(strides resolutely to a vault-like
cavernous opening in a rock
in the foreground and stands there,
leaning on his spear, while
he calls the following towards
the mouth of the cave)

Waken, Wala!
Wala! Awake!
From lasting sleep
rise and appear at my call.
I call you again:
Arise! Arise!
From earth’s hidden caves,
imprisoned in darkness, arise!
Erda! Erda!
Woman all-wise!
From silence and darkness
rise to the world!
With spells I rouse you,
rise up and answer;
your slumbering wisdom
I would awake.
All-knowing one!
Wisdom’s guardian!
Erda! Erda!
Woman all-wise!
Waken, awaken,
O Wala! Awaken!

(The cavern begins to glow with a bluish light, in
which Erda is seen rising very slowly from the
depths. She appears to be covered by hoar-frost: her
hair and garments give out a glimmering shine.)

ERDA:
Strong is your call,
mighty spells have roused me.
From wisdom’s dreams,
I rise at your call.
Who drives my slumber hence?

WANDERER:
The Wanderer wakes you;
I need your wisdom;
my spells have called you
from caverns far below.
On earth I’ve wandered,
far I have roamed;
I searched for wisdom,
strove day and night to achieve it.
No one on earth
is wiser than you;
you know what’s hid
in the caves of night,
what hill and dale,
air and water do hold.
Where life is found,
Erda is stirring;
where brains are brooding,
you stir their thoughts.
All things, all things,
all you must know.
Seeking your wisdom and counsel,
I arouse you from sleep!

ERDA:
My sleep is dreaming;
my dreaming, brooding,
my brooding brings all my wisdom.
But while I sleep
the Norns are waking,
and winding their cord,
and weaving all that I know:
the Norns can give your answer.

WANDERER:
e They weave for the world,
spin what you tell them,
but cannot change that world with their weaving.
But you are wiser,
you can advise me
if the cruel wheel of fate can be stopped?

ERDA:
Deeds of men
have beclouded all my thoughts;
my wisdom itself
once felt a conqueror’s force.
A brave daughter
I bore to Wotan:
at his command
she chose heroes for Walhall.
She’s valiant
and wise as well:
so why wake me?
You’ll learn your answer
from Erda’s and Wotan’s child.

WANDERER:
My Valkyrie daughter,
Brünnhild the maid?
She disobeyed the lord of the tempest
when he’d controlled the storm in his breast:
When my son was in need
I longed to help him,
yet I renounced him
and doomed him to death.
She knew my will,
yet she defied me
and dared to break my commandment
Brünnhild herself in her pride.
I had to
deal with the maid;
so I closed her eyelids in sleep;
on that rock asleep she lies.
Our holy maid
can be awakened alone,
roused by some man who makes her his bride.
What can I learn from the maid?

ERDA:
(is lost in dreams;
she begins again after a
long silence)

My waking
leaves me confused:
wild and strange
seems the world.
The Valkyrie,
the Wala’s child,
lay in fetters of sleep,
while her all-knowing mother slept?
How can pride’s teacher
punish pride?
He who urged the doing,
punish the deed?
He who rules by right,
to whom truth is sacred,
scorn what is right,
rule by falsehood?
I’ll return to the dark,
seal in slumber my wisdom!

WANDERER:
O woman, you may not leave:
You are bound by my sorcerer’s might.
All-wise one,
you drove a thorn
of cares and sorrows
in Wotan’s fearless heart:
with fear of ruin,
shameful downfall
you filled my spirit,
with words of warning and doom.
If you are the world’s
wisest of women,
say to me now:
how a god can master his care?

ERDA:
You are not
what you declare!
Why come here, stubborn and wild one,
to trouble the Wala’s sleep?

WANDERER:
You are not
what you have dreamed.
Wisdom of ages
finds its ending:
your wisdom grows weak
before my wishes.
Know you what Wotan wills?

(long silence)

You unwise one,
learn what I will,
then carefree you may sleep in peace!
That the gods will die soon
gives me no anguish;
I have willed that end!
What in an hour of fiercest anguish
despairing once I resolved,
freely and gladly
I shall now bring to pass.
Once I declared in my loathing
the Niblung might claim all the world;
today to the Wälsung
I have bequeathed my realm.
One who has never known me,
though chosen by me,
a youth of dauntless daring,
unhelped by Wotan,
has gained the Nibelung’s ring.
Free from hate,
joyful and loving,
that youth is not harmed
by Alberich’s curse,
for he knows naught of fear.
She whom you once bore,
Brünnhild,
wakes to that hero’s kiss.
Then your wisdom’s
child will achieve
that deed that will free our world.
So back to your dreams;
dream on in darkness;
dream of the gods’ destruction.
Whatever may happen
the god will gladly
yield his role to the young!
Return then, Erda!
Mother of dread!
World-sorrow!
Return! Return
to endless sleep!

(Erda has already closed her eyes and begun
to descend gradually. She now disappears entirely;
the cavernous opening too has become quite
dark. The moon lights the scene. The storm has
ceased.)

Scene 2

The Wanderer has advanced close to the cavern: he leans with his back against the rock, facing the stage.

WANDERER:
I see that Siegfried’s near.

(He remains in his position by the cave.
Siegfried’s woodbird flutters towards the foreground,
then suddenly stops, flutters hither and
thither as if alarmed, and disappears hastily at the
back.)

SIEGFRIED:
(enters in the foreground, right, and
pauses)

My woodbird fluttered away
with sweetest songs,
and sweetest voice,
gaily he showed me my path;
but now he’s fluttered away!
So I’ll discover
the rock for myself
. The path my bird pointed out,
that path I must pursue.

(He goes further towards the back.)

WANDERER:
(He remains in his
position by the cave.)

Young man, hear me;
where are you going?

SIEGFRIED:
(pauses and turns round )

Who speaks to me?
Can he show me my path?

(He comes closer to the Wanderer.)

I must find a mountain;
by blazing fire it’s surrounded:
there sleeps a maid:
I must waken her!

WANDERER:
Who told you then
to seek this mountain?
Who said this maid would be found there?

SIEGFRIED:
I heard a lovely
woodbird:
it told me of the mountain.

WANDERER:
A woodbird chirps as it pleases;
but men can’t understand;
so how did you know
what it was singing?

SIEGFRIED:
I tasted a drop
of a dragon’s blood,
who fell at Neidhöhl before me;
and when I’d tasted
that fiery blood,
then the birdsong I heard clean as speech.

WANDERER:
To fight so fierce a foe,
who urged you on,
if you have really killed the dragon?

SIEGFRIED:
My guide was Mime,
an evil dwarf,
when fear he wanted to teach me;
and then the dragon
urged me himself,
dared me to use my sword,
when he opened threatening jaws.

WANDERER:
Who forged your sword
so sharp and true,
that it slew so fierce a foe?

SIEGFRIED:
I forged it myself,
when the smith was beaten:
swordless else I should be.

WANDERER:
But who made
those mighty fragments,
from which the sword could then be forged?

SIEGFRIED:
Ha! How can I tell?
I only knew
that the broken sword was useless,
till I had forged it myself.

WANDERER:
(breaks into a happy, good-humoured
laugh)

That’s certainly true!

(He looks at Siegfried
approvingly.)

SIEGFRIED:
(surprised )

You’re laughing at me
with your questions!
Mock me no more,
keeping me here with your chatter.
Old man, if you
can help me, then do so,
and if you can’t,
then hold your tongue!

WANDERER:
Young man, be patient!
If I seem old,
then you should honour the aged.

SIEGFRIED:
Honour the aged!
When all my life
there stood in my path
an aged fellow;
now I have swept him away.
If you stay longer,
trying to obstruct me,
have a care, old one,

(with appropriate gesture)

or else, like Mime you’ll fare!

(He goes up closer
to the Wanderer.)

How strange you look!
Why do you wear
that great big hat?
Why have you pulled it down over your face?

WANDERER:
(still without
changing his position)

That’s how the Wanderer wears it,
when against the wind he must go!

SIEGFRIED:
(observes him more closely)

But an eye underneath it you’re lacking?
No doubt some stranger
once struck it out
when you decided
to bar his way?
Out of my way,
or else you may lose
the other eye that is left you.

WANDERER:
I see, my son,
one thing you know
to get your way as you want it.
Yet be careful,
for with eyes quite as blind
as that eye I’ve lost, you are gazing
on the eye that is left me for sight.

SIEGFRIED:
(who has listened thoughtfully,
now involuntarily bursts
out laughing)

At least you’re good for a laugh, then!
But hear, I’m getting impatient;
at once, show me my path,
then your own way find for yourself.
What use
is a foolish old man?
So speak, or I’ll push you aside!

WANDERER:
(softly)

Child, if you knew
who I am,
you’d then spare me your scorn!
Sad from one so dear
sounds such scornful defiance.
Dear to my heart
is your glorious race
though I was harsh
and they shrank from my rage.
You, whom I love so,
youthful hero!
do not waken that rage;
it would ruin both you and me!

SIEGFRIED:
Still no reply,
stubborn old fool!
Out of my way then,
for that path, I know,
leads to the slumbering maid.
I learnt from the woodbird
who now has fluttered away.

(It quickly becomes quite dark again.)

WANDERER:
(breaking out in anger,
imperiously)

It left you to save its life!
The ravens’ ruler
it knew was here.
Ill fate follows its flight!
The path that it showed you
you shall not tread!

SIEGFRIED:
(astonished, steps back in a defiant
attitude)

Ho! Ho! So you’d stop me!
Who are you then
to say I can’t go on?

WANDERER:
I am the rock’s defender!
And mine the spell
that enfolds the slumbering maid.
He who can wake her,
he who can win her,
makes me powerless for ever!
A sea of flame
now circles the maid,
burning and blazing
protects the rock.
He who seeks the bride
must brave that barrier of flame.

(He points with his spear to the rocky heights.)

Look, on the heights!
Can you see that light?
The splendour grows,
the flames leap high;
fire clouds are rolling,
lightnings are flashing,
raging and rearing
and coming this way.
A light-flood
now shines round your head;

(On the summit, a flickering fire becomes more and
more clearly visible.)

and soon that fire
will seize and destroy you.
Stand back, then, foolhardy boy!

SIEGFRIED:
Stand back, old boaster, yourself!

(He advances;
the Wanderer bars his way.)

There, where the flames are burning,
to Brünnhilde now I shall go!

WANDERER:
If you’ve no fear of the fire,

(stretching out his spear)

the shaft of my spear bars your way!
I grasp in my hand
that mighty shaft:
the sword that you bear
was broken by this shaft;
and once again
I’ll break it on this my spear!

(He stretches out his spear.)

SIEGFRIED:
(drawing his sword )

Then my father’s foe
faces me here?
Glorious vengeance
I’ve found at last!
Stretch out your spear:
and see it break on my sword!

(Siegfried with one blow strikes the Wanderer’s spear
in two: a flash of lightning darts from it towards the
summit, where the flames, glowing dully before, now
break out more and more brightly. The blow is
accompanied by violent thunder that quickly dies
away. The fragments of the spear fall at the
Wanderer’s feet. He quietly picks them up.)

WANDERER:
(falling back)

Pass on! I cannot prevent you!

(He suddenly disappears
in complete darkness.)

SIEGFRIED:
With his spear in splinters,
he has escaped me!

(Siegfried’s attention is caught by the growing
brightness of the fire-clouds as they roll down the
mountain.)

Ha! Flame of delight!
Glorious blaze!
Shining, my pathway
opens before me.
In fire I should find her!
Through fire I shall make her mine!
Hoho! Hahi!
My comrade shall wake to my call!

(Siegfried raises his horn to his lips and, playing his
call, plunges into the sea of fire, which has swept
down from the heights and is spreading over the
foreground. Siegfried appears to be going towards
the heights; soon he is no longer visible. The flames
reach their brightest, and then begin to fade,
gradually dissolving into a finer and finer mist, lit
as if by the red of the dawn.)

Scene 3

The clouds, which have become increasingly thin, dissolve into a fine rosy mist, which now divides. The upper part drifts away altogether, revealing at last only the bright blue sky of day, while on the edge of the rocky height, which now becomes visible – exactly the same scene as in Act III of The Valkyrie – there hangs a veil of reddish morning mist, suggesting the magic fire that still rages below. The arrangement of the scene is precisely as at the end of The Valkyrie: in the foreground, under the wide-spreading fir-tree, lies Brünnhilde in full shining armour, her helmet on her head, and her long shield covering her. She is in a deep sleep.

SIEGFRIED:
(reaches the rocky summit of the
cliff from the back. At first only the upper
part of his body is visible. He looks around
for a while in astonishment)

Here, in the sunlight,
a haven of calm!

(He climbs right to the top and,
standing on a rock at the edge of
the precipice at the pack, surveys the
scene with wonder. He looks
into the wood at the side and
takes a step or two towards it.)

What lies there sleeping
in the shade of the pines?
A horse there,
resting in deepest sleep.

(Coming forward slowly,
he pauses in astonishment
as he sees Brünnhilde’s form
some distance away.)

What flashes in the sunlight?
What glittering steel is there?
Is it the fire
still dazzling my eyes?

(He comes closer.)

Shining armour?
Let me approach!

(He raises the shield and
sees Brünnhilde’s form,
though her face is still largely
concealed by the helmet.)

Ha! in armour, a man.
My heart most strangely is stirred!
His noble head
pressed by the helm?
Shall I loose it,
easing his rest?

(He carefully loosens the helmet
and removes it from the sleeper;
long curling hair falls down.
Siegfried starts.)

Ah! How fair!

(He is rapt in the sight.)

Shimmering clouds
encircle in splendour,
a holy, heavenly sea;
glorious sunlight
streams from his face,
shines through the clouds all around!

(He bends lower
towards the sleeper.)

The weight of the armour
bears on his breast!
Shall I unfasten the breastplate?

(Carefully, he tries
to loosen the breastplate.)

Come, my sword!
Cut through the metal!

(He draws his sword, and gently
and carefully cuts through the rings
of mail on both sides of the armour.
Then he lifts off the breastplate and
the greaves; Brünnhilde lies before him
in soft woman’s drapery. He starts
back in astonishment and alarm.)

It’s not a man!

(He stares at the slumbering
form with wildest emotion.)

Burning enchantments
burn in my breast;
fiery spells
dazzle and blind me;
my heart grows feeble and faint!

(in desperation)

On whom shall I call?
Ah, who can help me?
Mother! Mother!
Remember me!

(He sinks, as if fainting,
on Brünnhilde’s breast.
Long silence. He rises with a sigh.)

How waken the maid,
and see her eyes gently open?
Her eyes gently open?
Will they not dazzle and blind?
How can I dare
to gaze on their light?
Beneath my feet
the ground seems to sway!
Anguish and yearning
conquer my courage;
on my heart, beating wildly,
trembles my hand!
Am I a coward?
Is this what fear is?
O mother! Mother!
Your bold fearless child!
A woman lies here in sleep,
and she now has taught me to fear!
How conquer my fear?
How steel my heart?
If I’m going to wake myself,
first the maid must awaken.

(As he approaches the sleeper
anew he is again filled
with tender emotion at
the sight of her. He bends
lower over her.)

Sweet and quivering
her lovely mouth.
A quaking madness
draws fear from my heart!
Ah! How enchanting
her ever warming breath!
Awaken! Awaken!
Holiest maid!

(He gazes upon her.)

She hears me not.

(slowly, with tense and urgent expression)

Then life I shall gather
from lips filled with sweetness;
what though I die by this kiss!

(He sinks, as if dying, on the sleeping figure, and
with closed eyes presses his lips on her mouth.
Brünnhilde opens her eyes. Siegfried starts up and
stands before her. Brünnhilde slowly rises to a sitting
position. She raises her arms in solemn gestures,
greeting the heaven and earth that now she sees again.)

BRUNNHILDE:
Hail, bright sunlight!
Hail, fair sky!
Hail, O radiant day!
Long was my sleep;
but now I wake:
Who is the man
wakes me to life?

SIEGFRIED:
(deeply moved by her look
and her voice, stands as if
rooted to the spot)

I have braved the dangers
baking around your rock;
from your head I unclasped the helm;
Siegfried wakes you,
brings you to life.

BRUNNHILDE:
(sitting straight up)

Wotan, hear me!
Hear me, world!
Hear me, glorious nature!
My sleep is at an end;
awake, I see
Siegfried! Siegfried
has brought me life!

SIEGFRIED:
(breaking out
in ecstasy)

I bless my mother,
giving me birth!
bless the earth
that gave me my strength!
Now I behold those eyes,
bright stars which laugh on my joy!

BRUNNHILDE:
(in impassioned accents)

I bless your mother,
giving you birth!
bless the earth
that gave you your strength!
Your eyes alone could behold me,
my heart to you alone wakes!

(Each remains lost in radiant, rapt contemplation
of the other.)

Siegfried! Siegfried!
Glorious hero!
Victorious conqueror,
conquering light!
O learn from me, joy of the world,
how I have always loved you!
You were my gladness,
my cares as well!
Your life I sheltered,
in Sieglinde’s womb;
before she had borne you,
I was your shield.
So long I have loved, Siegfried!

SIEGFRIED:
(softly and shyly)

My mother is alive, then?
Sleep enfolded her here?

BRUNNHILDE:
(smiles, and stretching out her hand to
him affectionately)

O innocent child!
Nevermore you’ll look on your mother.
But we are one,
if you can grant me your love.
What you would learn,
learn it from me;
for wisdom fills my soul,
now that I love you!
O Siegfried! Siegfried!
conquering light!
I loved you always,
for I divined
the thought that Wotan had hidden,
guessed the secret thought
I dared not even whisper;
I did not shape it,
rather I felt it;
and so I fought,
urged by that deed,
when I defied the god
who conceived it;
and then I suffered,
slept on that rock,
for that thought still secret,
that thought I felt!
Know what that thought was;
ah, you can guess it!
That thought was my love for you!

SIEGFRIED:
Ah, glorious song,
enchanting to hear;
but yet the meaning is dark.
I can see your eyes
that shine so bright;
I can feel your warm
and fragrant breath;
I can hear your song
so clear and sweet:
but what your singing can mean,
how can I understand?
You sing of the past,
but how can I listen,
while I have you beside me,
see and feel you?
In bonds of fear
I have been bound:
from you alone
could I learn how to fear.
Since you have bound me
in powerful fetters,
give me my freedom again!

(He remains in profound agitation, directing on
her a look of yearning.)

BRUNNHILDE:
(gently turns her head aside and looks
towards the wood )

And there is Grane,
my sacred horse;
he grazes in gladness
where once he slept!
Like me, to Siegfried he wakes.

SIEGFRIED:
(remaining in the same position)

My eyes are grazing
on pastures more lovely;
with passionate thirst
my lips too are burning,
for they long to graze where my glance does!

BRUNNHILDE:
(points to her weapons, which she now
perceives)

And there is my shield
that sheltered heroes;
beside it the helmet
that hid my head.
They shield, they hide me no more!

SIEGFRIED:
Now a glorious maid
has wounded my heart;
wounds in my head
were struck by that maid:
I came with no shield or helm!

BRUNNHILDE:
(with increasing sadness)

And there is the steel
that guarded my breast.
A shining sword
cut it in two,
when the maid was stripped
of all her defence.
I have no defence, no shield;
quite unarmed, a sorrowing maid!

SIEGFRIED:
Through furious fire
I fared to your rock;
no breastplate, no armour
guarded my breast;
the flames have broken through
to my heart.
My blood’s ablaze
and burns in my breast;
a passionate fire
within me is kindled;
that blaze which guarded
Brünnhilde’s rock
now flames fiercely in my breast!
O maid, you started the fire!
You can extinguish the flame!

(He has embraced her ardently. She springs up,
repulses him with the utmost strength of terror, and
flies to the other side.)

BRUNNHILDE:
No god dared to come near!
The heroes bowed
and knelt to the maiden:
holy came she from Walhall.
Sorrow! Sorrow!
Woe for my shame,
how keen my disgrace!
And he who wakes me
deals me the wound!
He has broken breastplate and helm:
Brünnhilde am I no more!

SIEGFRIED:
You’re still to me
that slumbering maid;
Brünnhilde’s sleep
still binds her fast.
Awaken, you are my bride!

BRUNNHILDE:
(intoxicated)

My mind’s in confusion,
my reason sways:
must all my wisdom fail me?

SIEGFRIED:
You said
that all your wisdom came
by the light of your love for me.

BRUNNHILDE:
(staring in front of her)

Shadows and darkness
close on me now.
My eyes are blinded,
my sight grows dim.
Night falls around.
From darkness and gloom
wildly my fears
seem to seize on me.
Dreadful horrors
arise in the dark!

(Impulsively she covers
her eyes with her hands.)

SIEGFRIED:
(gently removing
her hands from her eyes)

Night enfolds
those eyes you’ve hidden.
When I free them
all gloomy fears depart.
Rise from the darkness, and see:
bright as the sun, here shines the day!

BRUNNHILDE:
(profoundly agitated )

Bright as the sun
shines but the day of my shame!
O Siegfried! Siegfried!
See my dismay!

(Brünnhilde’s expression reveals
that a pleasing idea has come to
her mind, and at this she turns again
and looks tenderly at Siegfried.)

Oh! I cared always.
Oh! I shall always
care with sweet,
warm, tender longing
yes, always for your dear life!
O Siegfried,
glorious hero!
Wealth of the world!
Fair, laughing hero!
Light of the earth!
Leave, ah, leave,
leave me in peace!
Do not come near me
with passionate frenzy,
do not pursue me
with masterful might,
or else you’ll destroy all our love!
You’ve seen your face
in the shining stream?
And it delighted your eyes?
But when that water
is stirred by a wave,
your smiling reflection
breaks and is gone;
your face greets you no more
when that shining stream is disturbed!
So disturb me no more,
trouble me not!
Ever bright,
may you ever see
in me your reflection,
brave and smiling and fair!
O Siegfried!
Laughing youth!
Love yourself,
and leave me in peace;
destroy not this maid who’s yours!

SIEGFRIED:
I love you:
did you but love me!
Mine I am no more:
were you but mine!
A sea of enchantment
flows around;
with all my senses
I see alone
those surging, glorious billows.
Though in the deep
I may not see my face,
burning, I long
for those cooling waters;
and now, as I am,
leap in the stream
if only those waves
could engulf me forever,
my yearning would fade in the flood!
Awaken, Brünnhilde!
Waken, O maid!
Live in laughter,
sweetest delight.
Be mine! Be mine! Be mine!

BRUNNHILDE:
(with intensity)

O Siegfried! Yours
I’ve always been!

SIEGFRIED:
(ardently)

If you were mine,
be mine again!

BRUNNHILDE:
Yours ever
I shall be!

SIEGFRIED:
If you’ll be mine,
be so today!
When in my arms
I hold you embraced,
feeling your glance,
hearing beside me,
joining our glances,
sharing one single breath,
eyes together,
mouth to mouth:
then I shall know
that you are truly mine!
End my doubts, let me now be sure
that now Brünnhilde’s mine!

(He has embraced her.)

BRUNNHILDE:
That I am yours?
Godly composure
change into wildness;
virginal light
flare into frenzy;
heavenly wisdom
fly to the winds:
love, and love alone
inspires all my heart!
That I am yours?
Siegfried! Siegfried!
Can you not see?
When my eyes blaze on you,
then are you not blind?
When my arm’s embrace
not set you on fire?
By the heat of my blood
in its passionate surge,
a fire is kindled
can you not feel?
Tell me then, Siegfried,
do you not fear
this wild, passionate maid?

(She embraces him passionately.)

SIEGFRIED:
(in joyous terror)

Ha!
In the fire our blood has kindled,
in the flames that glow from our glances,
in our burning, ardent enchantments,
I find again
my boldness of heart,
and what fear is, ah!
I have failed to learn;
what fear is, not even
you can teach!
My fear, I find,
has faded and gone like a dream!

(At the last words he has involuntarily released
Brünnhilde.)

BRUNNHILDE:
(laughing wildly in an outburst of
extreme joy)

O radiant youth!
O glorious hero!
My proudly fearless,
brave, noble boy!
Laughing I shall love you,
laughing, welcome my blindness,
laughing, let us be lost together,
with laughter die!
Farewell, Walhall’s
bright glittering world!
Your glorious halls
now may fall to dust!
Farewell, proud, radiant,
godly race!
End in joy,
you eternal clan!
And rend, O Norns,
that rope you weave!
Gods may sink
to eternal night!
Twilight and darkness
seize all the clan!
I live by the light
of Siegfried’s bright star!
He’s mine forever,
he is my joy,
my wealth, my world,
my one and all!
Light of our loving,
laughter in death!

SIEGFRIED:
Laughing, you wake
in gladness to me!
Brünnhilde lives,
Brünnhilde laughs!
Blessed the days
that shines around us!
Blessed the sun
that lights our way!
Blessed the light
that dispels the night!
Blessed the world
where Brünnhilde lives!
She wakes, she lives,
she greets me with laughter.
All my light
in Brünnhilde’s star!
She’s mine forever,
she is my joy,
my wealth, my world,
my one and all!
Light of our loving,
laughter in death!

(Brünnhilde throws herself into Siegfried’s arms)

_________________________________


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